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We’re not “ex-gay” April 4, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Concepts, Ex-Gay, Queer Muslims, Responses.

There are various people, including from religious backgrounds, who, becoming dissatisfied with the homosexual lifestyle, or rejecting it outright without acting on their same-sex attractions (SSA), take on the label “ex-gay“. For some people, that makes sense, in that they have lived the “gay” life and have since turned away. We just found that we have been added to a list of “ex-gay blogs”, even though we don’t identify ourselves that way!

Mujahid Mustaqim, founder of StraightWay, has always avoided this term, along with all the other eggs in the “orientationist” basket. Using words like “ex-gay” or even “heterosexual” are just as mistaken as using “gay”, “lesbian”, “bisexual” etc., if we maintain the philosophical position that people should not be categorised according to feelings, and that “sexual orientation” is an arbitrary (and mistaken) way of describing the empirical facts (which include that some people experience SSA to one degree or another).

Saying that you are “ex-gay” is, in a sense, admitting to having been once “gay”, i.e. affirming that such an identity is legitimate to speak of. Again, I say that while plenty of people hold that view, our understanding of Islam and its worldview leads us to the conclusion that SSA are not intrinsic to identity, and that in general, people should not be put into boxes according to whom they’re attracted to.

If we consider being “gay” as a whole package of feelings, actions and lifestyle, then using the term “ex-gay” can make sense but have a rather negative feel to it (why define yourself by your past?). If it refers just to feelings/attractions, then when does an “ex-gay” truly become “ex”? Not everyone overcomes their feelings completely; probably most people just can’t.

So, we disagree respectfully with the name choice of the person who set up the Ex-Gay Muslims discussion group, but it’s a good place to go for a chat anyway.

Mujahid once wrote of StraightWay:

All of us describe ourselves as “straight” in the sense of striving to be on Allah’s path, according to His Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah (peace be on him). Some of us suffer from same-sex attractions (SSA), to varying degrees. Maybe a few among us have committed sins in the past, from which they repented. Each person has his or her own motivations for working in this field. But we all totally reject the idea of labelling ourselves as “gay”, or even “ex-gay”, because this terminology is mistaken from an Islamic point of view.

Imaan Chairperson Farzana has just alerted Imaan forum readers to our existence, and I welcome that move. We are always keen to establish dialogue, and it seems that Imaan are somewhat more plausible partners in this dialogue than various others we have faced off with. Shame that Farzana was also “loathe…to give any publicity to this group”! She states that StraightWay and this blog

actively promote the idea that its possible to change your sexuality.

This is a relatively fair description, compared to the loaded “definitions” that have been attached to our thought and work since it emerged a few years ago. (And more neutral than the likes of “Fake Sheikh” Daayiee Abdullah, who claimed that we “lambaste and shame you for your innate self”.)

More accurately, what we promote is the idea that people can and should resist their sexual urges if acting upon them results in disobeying God (and this applies to fornication etc. in general, not just homosexual acts). We do not buy the notion that someone who “is gay” should act according to “his nature”, and we certainly do not accept the extravagant idea that to turn away from this “nature” is something abhorrent, or even sinful!

Someone who remains celibate from awe of the Almighty, and out of respect for His commandments, is among His most noble servants, and he/she will meet blessings in life and a generous reward in the Hereafter. Everything abstained from for His sake will be more than amply recompensed.

But celibacy is not the only option. We consider that the ideal is to fulfil the Sunnah of marriage (obviously with the opposite sex, as that is part of the definition of marriage), and to procreate if Allah blesses one with that. This level of achievement will not be reached by everyone, as everybody is different.

We maintain that SSA have causes that are, in principle, explainable. By getting to the bottom of these issues (or perhaps even without that), it is possible to overcome homosexual desire, and perhaps restore attraction to the same sex. (And it does happen!) In some cases we might use a word like “healing” as a short-hand for this, but people should avoid hysterically accusing us of calling homosexuals “diseased”, or assuming that we have some weird therapy programme involving nasty electrodes and brain caps, or worse.

Farzana’s tone seems to indicate that our view is outlandish, as though it were not the same thing thought by most people until recently. The notion of fixed “arrows of sexual orientation” is novel, and I say that it is not well established. Certainly most Muslims would find my views easier to accept than those of Imaan! It’s sweetly ironic that these groups hardly see the need to justify their opinions, which they have swallowed wholesale from homosexualist theorists and campaigners and struggled to reconcile with Islam (usually by hosing down the latter).

Finally, Farzana mentions the “disturbingly great detail” in which this blog has “targeted Imaan and others”. Well, targeted sounds rather aggressive, and therefore is unfair. But yes, we are turning our eye on you, and giving the Muslim community an Eye onto your ideas and activities. I’m sure this could be seen as welcome publicity for you. But our intention is to bring to light what has been going on behind closed doors, misleading those who have knocked, looking for someone to help them through confusing times, to answer their questions and make them feel better. They have fallen into pots of ignorant bliss, stirred by people of sin and masters of deceit.

All manner of nonsensical arguments and justifications have been put forth to back up this Queer Fasaad (corruption – arrogantly called Queer Jihad by some), yet nobody has taken the time to deconstruct them and provide the alternative. Plenty of Muslims have tutted or even fumed about the existence of “gay Muslim” groups, but have done nothing about it. Now here we are… and we are ready for the healthy debate to follow, if you are.



1. Feras - April 9, 2006

You’re so right. “Ex-gay” is a false term, and many people whom I’ve met who use this term deny that they truly identify with it. But sadly society has taken it on and now the only way to make people understand seems to be by using their terminology. Society these days needs to be corrected in so many ways in order to return to the straight path; perhaps starting with correcting the terminology is the best way to allow others to engage in healthy debate and then understand each other. Good job on this site! Keep it up! salams…

2. Mustafa Arif - April 16, 2006

I don’t think we should be categorising communities on the basis of semantics. People define themselves based on different aspects of their self that they deem important.

Let’s take an example – geography. For many people, their local community is an important part of their identity. For others, such as myself, it’s non-existent. I live in Golders Green (suburban North London). Golders Green has a strong, vibrant community, which I rarely dip into as I’m too absorbed in my work/studying and the only time I’m ever in Golders Green is when I’m at home. So for me it’s not an important aspect of my life – but it is for many people who live their lives more locally.

Similarly, I’m sure there are people who experience same-sex attractions who do not see it as part of their identity. But the truth is that in the last 30-40 years a “gay” identity has emerged. It may not be entirely logical but it is there. So, whatever the rights or wrongs, there is a “gay” community. I would suggest that the cause of the development of this identity is a direct consequence of the hatred and discrimination that many such people have suffered.

Of course this does not have any bearing on the Islamic view of homosexuality which you articulate well. However, as co-citizens in a secular country I think we need to be able to have a healthy dialoge with the gay community and that cannot happen unless we recognise that they exist.

3. Rasheed Eldin - May 6, 2006

Mustafa: your comments are interesting. Far too interesting for a brief reply! I’m keeping them in mind for a future discussion insha’ Allah. Please do keep commenting.

4. Back in Business! « Disputed Mutability - September 26, 2006

[…] I think I’m mostly caught up on email and comments.  I haven’t yet replied to Rasheed Eldin’s comment on my post about the word “exgay,” which includes a link to this excellent post:  “We’re Not Ex-gay,”    which discusses (among other things) what I think is probably the best reason for avoiding the exgay label–namely, the fact that it significantly buys into the whole gay/sexual-orientation way of thinking about things.  Anyway, I’ve put off responding in the comment thread as I want to do another post on the question of the “exgay” label soon, and so it seems like it would be best to hit those two birds with one stone.  But check out Rasheed’s whole blog Eye On Gay Muslims in the meantime. […]

5. sonia - September 27, 2006

never mind the term – so you’re gay then? 🙂 and making such a fuss about everybody else..

6. Rasheed Eldin - September 27, 2006

So you’re an idiot then? Never mind the term…

7. Strugglers: the homosexualist blind-spot? « Eye on ‘Gay Muslims’ - March 21, 2011

[…] are tricky enough without getting muddled up by loose words. I have critiqued the term “ex-gay” on several grounds, but I’ll add another: it’s used by homosexualists to push […]

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