- Homosexuality and Islam
Islamic views on homosexuality have always been influenced by the rulings prescribed by the
Qur'anand the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammed. Traditionally, Qur'anic verses and hadithhave condemned sexual acts between members of the same sex.
The Qur'an cites the story of "people of Lot" (also known as the
Sodomites) who were destroyed by the wrath of Allah because they engaged in homosexual acts. The legal punishment for sodomy has varied among juristic schools: some prescribe capital punishment; while other prescribe a milder discretionary punishment. Homosexuality is a crime and forbidden in most Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. In some relatively secular or multi-religious Islamic countries, this is not the case, Algeria, Malaysia, Indonesiaand Turkeybeing some examples. Despite this, homoerotic themes were present in poetry and other literature by some Muslims which celebrated male love, and were more common than expressions of attraction to women."Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World", MacMillan Reference USA, 2004, p.316]
Some movements in Islam, such as the
Al-Fatiha Foundation, accept and consider homosexualityas natural, either regarding Qur'anic verses as obsolete in the context of modern society, or pointing out that the Qu'ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love. Writer Irshad Manji, a lesbianherself and a staunch critic of Islam, [cite news|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/04/international/americas/04FPRO.html|title=An Unlikely Promoter of an Islamic Reformation|author=Krauss, Clifford|date= 2003-10-04|accessdate=2006-07-11|publisher=nytimes.com] is of the opinion that homosexuality is permissible within Islam; however, it only remains a minorityviewpoint. Within the Shi'a school of thought in Islam, thinkers such as Ayatollah Khomeinihave argued the legality of sex-change operations if a man is homosexual, and feels effeminate. [ [http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/brian_whitaker/2007/09/no_homosexuality_here.html 'No homosexuality here'] Brian Whitaker, Guardian.co.uk]
Eminent scholars of Islam, such as
Sheikh ul-Islam Imam Malik, Imam Shafiamongst others, rule that the Islam disallows homosexuality and ordains a capital punishment for a person guilty of it. [http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503545556 Homosexuality and Lesbianism: Sexual Perversions] Fatwa on Homosexuality from IslamOnline.net]
Rulings in the Islamic Law
Homosexuality is traditionally deemed forbidden by Islamic law. The
Qur'an, the central text of Islam believed by Muslims to be the revelation of God,cite encyclopedia|last=Nasr |first=Seyyed Hossein |authorlink=Seyyed Hossein Nasr |title=Qur’ān |year=2007| encyclopedia=Encyclopedia Britannica Online |accessdate=2007-11-04|location= |publisher= |http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-68890/Quran] is explicit in its condemnation of homosexuality. [Duran (1993) p. 179] Kligerman (2007) pp. 53-54] The Qur'an proclaims Islam as the "religion of nature," and sanctifies and encourages sexual intercourse within marriages only. Specific verses condemning homosexuality include:
quote=We also (sent) Lut: He said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women : ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." And his people gave no answer but this: they said, "Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who legged behind. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!
quote=The people of Lut (those who dwelt in the towns of Sodom in Jordan) rejected the messengers. Behold, their brother Lut said to them: "Will ye not fear (Allah)? I am to you a messenger worthy of all trust. So fear Allah and obey me. No reward do I ask of you for it: my reward is only from the lord of the Worlds. Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!" They said: "If thou desist not, O Lut! thou wilt assuredly be cast out!" He said: "I do detest your doings." "O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!" So We delivered him and his family,- all. Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might Most Merciful.
quote=(We also sent) Lut (as a messenger): behold, He said to his people, "Do ye do what is shameful though ye see (its iniquity)? Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant!" But his people gave no other answer but this: they said, "Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" But his people gave no other answer but this: they said, "Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)!
quote=And (remember) Lut: behold, he said to his people: "Ye do commit lewdness, such as no people in Creation (ever) committed before you. Do ye indeed approach men, and cut off the highway?- and practise lewdness (even) in your councils?" But his people gave no answer but this: they said: "Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth." He said: "O my Lord! help Thou me against people who do mischief!"
quote=If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four (Reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way. If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.
Hadith", which are oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the last Islamic prophet Muhammedand regarded as important tools for determining the Muslim way of life by all traditional schools of jurisprudence, also contain numerous statements condemning homosexuality.
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1457 Ibn Maajah, 2563. It was narrated by Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him): "“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘There is nothing I fear for my ummah more than the deed of the people of Loot.’”" (Classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaaniin Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 1552).
Narrated by Ahmad, 1878: It was narrated that Ibn Abbaas said: “The Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "“… cursed is the one who has intercourse with an animal, cursed is the one who does the action of the people of Loot.”" (Classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 5891).
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1456; Abu Dawood, 4462; Ibn Maajah, 2561: It was narrated that Ibn Abbaas said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Whoever you find doing the deed of the people of Loot, kill the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”" (Classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 6589).
Another Hadith narrative reports Muhammed as having said: "No man should look at the private parts of another man, and no woman should look at the private parts of another woman, and no two men sleep [in bed] under one cover."
One narrative, attributed as part of Muhammad's farewell speech, says that "Whoever has intercourse with a woman and penetrates her rectum, or with a man, or with a boy, will appear on the Last Day stinking worse than a corpse; people will find him unbearable until he enters hell fire, and God will cancel all his good deeds." [Duran, K. (1993) "Homosexuality in Islam" p. 182. Cited in: Kligerman (2007) p. 54]
Another widely reported hadith (from
Sunan al-Tirmidhi, which is one of the Sunni Six major Hadith collections) reports Prophet Muhammedas having prescribed the death penalty for homosexuality while saying "Whoever you find committing the sin of the people of Lut, kill them, both the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.".]
Rulings by Scholars of Islam
Based on the principles of the Qur'an and the Hadith, several eminent scholars of Islam, such as
Imam Malik, Imam Shafi, Ahmad and Ishaaq have ruled that the person guilty of homosexuality should be stoned regardless of his married or unmarried nature..] Ibn Kathir's commentary on the words of Qur'an with respect to homosexuality are “The words of Allah ‘And the two persons (man and woman) among you who commit illegal sexual intercourse, hurt them both’ mean, those who commit immoral actions, punish them both. Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him), Sa’eed ibn Jubayr and others said: By condemning them, shaming them and hitting them with shoes. This was the ruling until Allaah abrogated it and replaced it with whipping and stoning. ‘Ikrimah, ‘Ata, al-Hasan and ‘Abd-Allah ibn Katheer said: This was revealed concerning a man and woman who commit fornication. Al-Saddi said, it was revealed concerning young people before they get married. Mujaahid said: it was revealed concerning two men if they admit it bluntly; a hint is not sufficient - as if he was referring to homosexuality. And Allah knows best.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/463] [ [http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/10050 Why does Islam forbid lesbianism and homosexuality?] , Fatwa No. 10050, IslamQA] Ibn al-Qayyimis reported to have said "Both of them – fornication and homosexuality – involve immorality that goes against the wisdom of Allah’s creation and commandment. For homosexuality involves innumerable evil and harms, and the one to whom it is done would be better off being killed than having this done to him, because after that he will become so evil and so corrupt that there can be no hope of his being reformed, and all good is lost for him, and he will no longer feel any shame before Allah or before His creation. The semen of the one who did that to him will act as a poison on his body and soul. The scholars differed as to whether the one to whom it is done will ever enter Paradise." [Cite book | author=Ibn al-Qayyim | title=al-Jawaab al-Kaafi | pages=115] Ahmad Kutty, senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in his lectures on the subject has expressed the view a Muslim practicing homosexuality needs to give it up since it is considered 'one of the most abominable sins in Islam'. [ [http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503546996 How to Give Up Homosexuality] by Ahmad Kutty] Muslims like Dr. Nadia El-Awady, the Health & Science Editor at IslamOnline, have attempted to discuss and understand homosexuality in an Islamic [ [http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2003/02/article01-1.shtml Islamic Stance on Homosexuality,] by Nadia El-Awady, IslamOnline.net] as well as a scientific light, [ [http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2003/02/article01-7.shtml Diseases Related To Homosexuality,] by Nadia El-Awady, IslamOnline.net] citing its apparent ill-effects for the Islamic as well as the moral society. [ [http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2003/02/article01-0.shtml Homosexuality in a Changing World: Are We Being Misinformed?] by Nadia El-Awady, IslamOnline.net] Islamic UK-based group, the Shari'ahCourt of the UKhas issued a fatwa[ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/493436.stm UK Fatwa for 'gay Jesus' writer] October29, 1999, BBC News] calling for a death sentence for playwright Terrence McNallyfor depicting Jesusand his followers as a group of homosexuals. Many scholars of Shari'a, or Islamic law, interpret homosexuality as a punishable offence as well as a sin. There is no specific punishment prescribed, however, and this is usually left to the discretion of the local authorities on Islam. [Duran, K. (1993) "Homosexuality in Islam" p. 184. Cited in: Kligerman (2007) p. 54]
References in Arabic and Other Literature
According to the "Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World"
Whatever the legal strictures on sexual activity, the positive expression of male homeoerotic sentiment in literature was accepted, and assiduously cultivated, from the late eighth century until modern times. First inIn a tradition from the "
Arabic, but later also in Persian, Turkish and Urdu, love poetry by men about boys more than competed with that about women, it overwhelmed it. Anectodtal literature reinforces this impression of general societal acceptance of the public celebration of male-male love (which hostile Western caricatures of Islamic societies in medieval and early modern times simply exaggerate). .... . Arabian nights", Muhammadwas said to have warned his followers against staring at youth because of their beauty: "Do not gaze at beardless youth, for they have eyes more tempting than the huris." [Murray and Roscoe, 1997, p. 90]
Legal status in modern Islamic nations
Homosexualityis a crime and forbidden in most Islamic countries, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. In some secular or multi-religious Islamic countries, this is not the case, Albania, Indonesiaand Turkeybeing examples. However, the governments of Albania, Indonesia, and Turkey are presidential representative democratic republics and are not Islamic Republics, like in the case of Iran.
Same-sex intercourse officially carries the death penalty in several Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran,
Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen. [ [http://www.ilga.org/news_results.asp?LanguageID=1&FileID=1111&ZoneID=7&FileCategory=50 ILGA:7 countries still put people to death for same-sex acts] ] [ [http://www.religionfacts.com/homosexuality/islam.htm Homosexuality and Islam - ReligionFacts ] ] It formerly carried the death penalty in Afghanistanunder the Taliban. The legal situation in the United Arab Emiratesis unclear. In many Muslim nations, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeriaand the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines, or corporal punishment. In some Muslim-majority nations, such as Turkey, Jordan, Indonesiaor Mali, same-sex intercourse is not specifically forbidden by law. In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws. (See Cairo 52.) On the other hand, homosexuality, while not legal, is tolerated to some extent in Lebanon, and has been legal in Turkey for decades.
In Saudi Arabia, the maximum punishment for homosexuality is public execution, but the government will use other punishments—e.g., fines, jail time, and
whipping—as alternatives, unless it feels that homosexuals are challenging state authority by engaging in LGBT social movements. [ [http://www.sodomylaws.org/world/saudi_arabia/saudinews19.htm Is Beheading Really the Punishment for Homosexuality in Saudi Arabia? ] ] Iran is perhaps the nation to execute the largest number of its citizens for homosexuality. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, the Iranian government has executed more than 4,000 people charged with homosexual acts [cite web |url=http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/homosexuality.html#Islam |title=Homosexuality and Religion] . In Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, homosexuality went from a capital crime to one that it punished with fines and prison sentence.
Most international human rights organizations, such as
Human Rights Watchand Amnesty International, condemn laws that make homosexual relations between consenting adults a crime. Since 1994, the United Nations Human Rights Committeehas also ruled that such laws violated the right to privacy guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsand the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, most Muslim nations (except for Turkey, which has been ruled by secular law since 1856 and recently has modernized its laws in order to meet the requirements of entry to the European Union) insist that such laws are necessary to preserve Islamic morality and virtue. Of the nations with a majority of Muslim inhabitants, only Lebanon has an internal effort to legalize homosexuality. [ [http://www.helem.net/ Helem ] ]
Homosexuality laws in Muslim countries
LGBT movements within Islam
Al-Fatiha Foundationwhich supports homosexuality, the Imaan is also social support group for Muslim LGBT people and their families in the UK [ [http://www.imaan.org.uk/] ]
There are also a number of Islamic
ex-gay(i.e. people claiming to have experienced a basic change in sexual orientation from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality [cite journal
title=Initial empirical and clinical findings concerning the change process for ex-gays
coauthur=Pattison, M. L.
American Psychological Association
journal=Professional Psychology: Research and Practice
doi=10.1037/0735-7028.33.3.242] ) groups aimed at attempting to guide homosexuals towards heterosexuality. The
StraightWay Foundationis a UK based ex-gay organization which works with homosexual Muslims who seek to eliminate their same-sex attractions. [ [http://straightway.sinfree.net/ The StraightWay Foundation] Retrieved 2007-04-06] Al-Tawbah is an internet based ex-gay group [ [http://www.al-tawbah.faithweb.com Al-Tawbah] ] . It should be noted that the efficacy of ex-gaytreatments and therapies has been brought into serious doubt by many well-respected psychological and medical groups, such as the American Psychological Association. [ American Psychological Association. (2008). [http://www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.html#whatabout|Answers to your questions: For a better understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality.] Washington, DC: Author. [Retrieved from www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.pdf.] ]
In addition to the aforementioned groups, Muslim writers like
Irshad Manjiexpress the view that homosexuality is permissible within Islam; however, this remains a minority viewpoint. Within Shi'a Islam, thinkers such as Ayatollah Khomeini's original fatwa has been reconfirmed by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and is also supported by many other Iranian clerics. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/4115535.stm Iran's sex-change operations] , BBC.] The law remains in force in Iran, where the state will pay a portion of the cost for a sex-change operation. see also|Transsexuality in Iran
Afdhere Jama, editor of "Huriyah"
Irshad Manji, Canadian lesbian and human rightsactivist
El-Farouk Khaki, founder of Salaam, the first queer Muslim group in Canada
Arsham Parsi, Iranian LGBT activist
Maryam Hatoon Molkara, campaigner of transsexual rights in Iran
Faisal Alam, Pakistani AmericanLGBT activist and founder of Al-Fatiha Foundation
Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni
Waheed Alli, Baron Alli, British gay politician
Criticism of the Qur'an
A Jihad for Love", documentary about devout gay Muslims
Festival of Muslim Cultures
Gay Muslims", documentary
*Duran, Khalid. "Homosexuality in Islam", in: Swidler, Anne (ed.) "Homosexuality and World Religions" (1993). Trinity Press International, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. ISBN 156338051X
*Kilgerman, Nicole (2007). "Homosexuality in Islam: A Difficult Paradox". Macalester Islam journal 2(3):52-64, Berkeley Electronic press.
*Khaled El-Rouayheb, "Before Homosexuality in the Arab–Islamic World, 1500–1800" Chicago, 2005
*Everett K. Rowson, J.W. Wright (eds.), "Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature" New York, 1997
*Arno Schmitt and Jehoeda Sofer (eds.), "Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies" Harrington Park Press 1992
*Arno Schmitt and Gianni de Martino, "
Kleine Schriftenzu zwischenmännlicher Sexualität und Erotik in der muslimischen Gesellschaft", Berlin, Gustav-Müller-Str. 10 : A. Schmitt, 1985
*Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe (eds.), "Islamic Homosexualities: culture, history, and literature" NYU Press New York 1997
*Wafer, Jim (1997) "Muhammad and Male Homosexuality" in "Islamic Homosexualities: culture, history, and literature" by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe (eds.), NYU Press New York
*Wafer, Jim (1997) "The Symbolism of Male Love in Islamic Mysthical Literature" in "Islamic Homosexualities: culture, history, and literature" by Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe (eds.), NYU Press New York 1997
* [http://abdurrahman.org/character/sodomy.html Homosexuality: What is the real sickness?] Illustrative Article from AbdurRahman.org
* [http://newsgroups.derkeiler.com/Archive/Soc/soc.culture.canada/2005-09/msg00250.html Islam's Stand on Homosexuality]
* [http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=9662 Gay Rights: Who are the Real Enemies of Liberation?] ,
* [http://www.straightstruggle.com/ The StraightWay Foundation (UK)]
* [http://www.diabolicdigest.net/Middle%20East/Unspeakable_review.htm Intolerant cruelty] This special edition of Diabolic Digest explores the question of homosexuality in the Middle East.
* [http://www.uib.no/jais/v004/schmitt1.pdf Islamic law: (much) Theory and (just enough) Practice]
* [http://www.safraproject.org/sgi-intro.htm Safra Project — Sexuality, Gender and Islam]
* [http://www.uib.no/jais/v004/schmitt1.pdf Sodomy in Islamic Jurisprudence (article in German; engl. Summary )]
* [http://books.google.com/books?id=Kw_BVSVmNsUC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=sofer+schmitt+male+sexuality&source=web&ots=klfkx4gXIl&sig=Cy9HrOdQRJ3ZfOb4VpMha5veCMc Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies by Arno Schmitt and Jehoeda Sofer (eds.), Harrington Park Press 1992]
* [http://www.geocities.com/mikailtariq/homo.htm Islam and Homosexuality]
* [http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/GESUND/ARCHIV/kotb2.htm Kotb, H.G.: "Sexuality in Islam" at the Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology]
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