The Spirit of Al-Fatiha February 14, 2006Posted by Mujahid Mustaqim in Islam, Queer Muslims, Responses, StraightWay.
BY MUJAHID MUSTAQIM
I notice that a lot of posts here recently have been responding to the Muslim homosexualists, and the words used are sometimes fairly harsh. It just occurred to me that we need to make something quite clear, especially since a commenter at The Golmal Press, which has kindly linked to us, said: “that blog you linked to doesn’t sound too sympathetic”.
I don’t think that’s a fair criticism, but a casual visitor might indeed assume that we are intolerant and unkind, even aggressive or militant. I hope that those who look deeper into the blog will find something quite different. We are indeed firm in defence of the religion, and for principles we view as crucial for successful society. But we recognise the reality of same-sex attractions for many Muslims, and respect those who are struggling for the sake of God.
What about the others? We do believe in the “live and let live” principle as a way of getting along in society, but that doesn’t mean overlooking what is clearly sinful according to Islam, let alone changing our beliefs to “suit the changing times”. No, we just say that our duty is to inform and advise, and whenever people distort the truth or call to wrongdoing, we will stand in opposition to them and do our best to correct their errors and lies.
When I first heard about the existence of the “gay Muslim” groups, I was as shocked as anyone else. But I went beyond that shock and chose to read whatever I could find about them online. Then I decided that there should be at least one group, or at least one website, dedicated to responding to their misconceptions.
Among the people the Muslims (and their scholars) must address are those who, facing the trial of same-sex attractions and finding no sound advice in the mainstream, have fallen into the trap of these deviant groups. Once in, any notion of reform is quickly beaten out of them. (I don’t suggest that physical torture is used, but strangely enough, Al-Fahisha people have indirectly suggested that we do stuff like that!!)
So while being firm and even harsh against the insincere propagandists who mislead others from the path, and spread the fitnah of homosexuality (as a ‘lifestyle’) into the Muslim community, we should also be soft on those who, while perhaps being part of the groups, have open minds and hearts ready to receive guidance – and we ask Allah to grant us guidance from Him.
Below is an article I wrote right back at the beginning, in 2002. It reflects my earliest thoughts on the issue, and I still like to look back at it. Hopefully my understanding has evolved a lot since then. Basically it is a reflection on Surah al-Fatiha, based on a tafseer article by Sheikh Salman al-Oadah.
THE SPIRIT OF AL-FATIHA
By Mujahid Mustaqim
The StraightWay Foundation
“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds;
Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
Master of the Day of Judgment.
You alone do we worship, and from You alone we seek help.
Guide us to the Straight Way,
The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not of those who have earned Your anger nor of those who go astray.”
Thus reads the first chapter of the Holy Qur’an, Al-Fatihah, meaning “The Opening” (of the Book). It has various titles, including “The Mother of the Qur’an”, “The Chapter of Praise” and “The Glorious Recital”. Its seven verses are also known as “The Seven Oft-repeated” because they are recited several times in each of the five daily prayers of Muslims, and their meaning is reiterated throughout the Qur’an.
A different story online
Sadly, if one does an internet search for “Al-Fatiha”, it is very likely that a certain organisation’s website will come up as the top result. The Al-Fatiha Foundation was established by Faisal Alam in the USA in 1998, and since then has grown in profile, and now has various branches around the world, including one in London, UK. This group promotes the idea of the “Gay Muslim” and tries to reconcile homosexual lifestyles with Islam.
In future articles, we shall discuss exactly what “Al-Fatiha” says, but it would be useful to look briefly at that subject now. According to their leader, “Al-Fatiha does NOT argue that gay muslims should practice homosexuality!” However, even in their using the term “gay Muslims”, they are playing a dangerous game. They do not accept that the Qur’an and Sunnah are clear in their condemnation of sodomy (homosexual acts), and they promote the idea that Muslims should accept homosexuality as being an alternative way of life. Besides these official statements, their mailing lists and discussion boards are full of confused people and liars trying to bring the Shari’ah (Allah’s law) in line with their own desires rather than aligning their own behaviour with divine guidance.
Quite why the group has called itself “Al-Fatiha” is not clear. In short, it is named after the glorious surah quoted above, and is supposed to represent some sort of “Opening” or a way forward for these supposedly forward-thinking Muslims. The reality, however, is that they have lost the meaning of the words of Surah Al-Fatihah.
True understanding of the Surah
The same chapter contains a motto for another organisation, called The StraightWay Foundation. The name comes from the sixth verse, “Guide us to the Straight Way”. The verse is rich and full of meanings and inspiration for any believer who trusts in Allah and strives to please Him. Here are a few aspects to consider:
1. The Straight Way is to obey Allah’s commandments and avoid what He has prohibited.“…We have made the (Qur’an) a Light, wherewith We guide such of Our servants as We will; and verily you guide to a Straight Way: the Way of Allah, to Whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth…” [42:52-3]
2. “Guide us on the Straight Way” means “Strengthen us in guidance and increase our faith”. It is also an appeal for increase in knowledge, insight and understanding.
3. Truly being on the Straight Way means being aware of what Allah wishes (i.e. what He commands and prohibits) at every given time and in every situation. All of this life is a test, which requires constant awareness and careful choice of courses of action.
4. Not only must we know what Allah wishes, but we must also have a strong desire to follow this, as opposed to our carnal desires and the whispered suggestions of the Shaytaan (Satan).These concepts are all part of our struggle as Muslims, and our philosophy at the StraightWay Foundation. We strive to please Allah in every action, to carry out what He has commanded and to avoid and shun what He has prohibited. We trust His guidance as being the unique truth about the correct way of life for success in this world and the next. These beliefs are what we remind our Muslim brothers and sisters of, and invite others to adopt.
Living the Straight Way!
Of course, nowadays the word “straight” has an additional definition. It is a colloquial term for “heterosexual”, and although we do not take this as an evidence that our opinions are correct, the fact that the “Straight Way” is the “Heterosexual Way” is backed up by this terminology! We believe that Allah has given us natural instincts to fulfil His wishes, even though some people are more susceptible to certain misguidance (from Satan) than others.
A person who is affected by lust towards members of the same sex has several choices. He or she could carry out those urges to the full – or have a sexual relationship without crossing the final “boundary” – or “come out” as a “gay Muslim” but without any relationship – or turn to pornography and un-Godly discussion with people of similar inclination.
None of these is the Straight Way.
Only by following Allah’s commands – evident in the Creation, detailed in the Qur’an (and Sunnah), and understood and explained by qualified scholars – can we hope to live a fruitful life and enjoy a blissful afterlife. “Fear Allah as much as you can, and listen and obey..” [64:16] We will be judged based on our efforts and how much we strive in this life to fulfil Allah’s commands.
This is “The Way of those on whom [Allah] bestowed [His] Grace” – the way of the Prophets, the pious, the martyrs and the righteous. We ask Allah again to guide us on this Straight Way!
The other two ways
“…not of those who have earned Your anger nor of those who go astray.”
These other two categories deserve some elaboration in this context too. Who are the ones who have earned Allah’s anger? Scholars mention that among these are people who know the truth but abandon it. There are many from the “homosexual” camp who fall under this category today. Sadly, many people prefer to follow their desires and lusts rather than seek refuge in the All-Knowing, to Whom we will all return to account for our deeds.
Why are these people mentioned before “those who go astray”? Scholars say that it is because they are in a far more condemned position. At least straying people can be given knowledge that will bring them back to the Straight Way. If, however, they are straying because of their vain desires, then returning from error and repenting is a much more difficult matter.
We believe that most “gay Muslims” fall into the latter category, and are astray. In the face of powerful and compelling propaganda, it is difficult for a young person to realise the truth, especially when so many religious leaders fail to explain the issue of homosexuality in an informed, sensitive and caring manner.
This is where the StraightWay Foundation sees its main role. Our intention is to bring this issue to light under the banner of the Qur’an and Sunnah and with reference to the works of reputable, qualified scholars. We ask Allah to guide us on His Straight Way, increase us in faith and knowledge, and give us the desire and ability to act on this in the way that is most pleasing to Him and beneficial for the Muslims and the world.