The role of the “scholars” April 8, 2006Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Proggies, Queer Muslims.
An anonymous posting on the MuslimGayMen group illustrates the importance to some people of finding "scholarly" voices that will massage their desires and assure them that their choices are legitimate Islamically. Excerpt:
I'm a gay, Muslim male in my late 20s. I follow, respect and admire the work of such wonderful people as Daayiee Abdullah, Amina Wadud, Muhsin Hendricks, Kecia Ali, Siraj Kugle etc. I myself have become quite spiritually alienated from Islam for various reasons, but I am by no means hostile to `Islam' anymore. The `Islam' I am hostile to is the one that, for years, made me feel horrible about myself and made me live in fear of being myself.
It's been such a huge relief to discover the works of these people I've mentioned, because they give me another option of Islam. But I guess there are just some things that are more difficult to recover, for example, my spiritual connection to Islam. I consider myself a re-constructed Muslim. One who doesn't need to believe this faith is superior to any other. One who believes that in essence, any belief system that makes a person strive to be unconditionally kind and loving must be a good one. I'm a Muslim who could as well be a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jew, or even an agnostic, but who remains Muslim by choice.
But I still struggle with many things. I live in an extremely conservative, homophobic and predominantly Muslim environment. There is an encroaching fundamentalism that scares me, too. I'm actually comfortable being in my own skin as a gay Muslim man now, but I fear for my life if anyone were to find out that I'm gay. It's funny – the more I learn to accept myself as a gay Muslim, the more pronounced the threats around me seem to grow.
A few points come to mind. The first is this embrace of a "progressive" interpretation (although the writer doesn't use the word here). While there are plenty of differences of opinion between scholars on so many aspects of Islam, the prohibition of homosexuality is something we simply don't find disagreement on, except among these very particular people as mentioned above. So those who want to have live as homosexuals and Muslims need to go down this "progressive" route.
But to learn about Islam more generally, they would surely need to read/learn from a lot of other scholars who (can) write about subjects other than "female-led prayer" and "homomarriage"! So the situation pertains that so much these people know about Islam comes from the same Muslim scholars they denounce as being "homophobic".
There will always be some people who, knowing that something is wrong but wanting it really badly, will do it anyway. Plenty of Muslims drink alcohol, but it is rare to hear such people trying to justify it religiously. If they resort to justifications, these will be along the lines of trying to integrate, or saying that it's not such a serious thing, and they are just having fun, and so on. But we should be worried when people come out and try to make the haraam into halaal through abuse of scripture. Then people like the "re-constructed Muslim" above will use these writings to legitimise their views.
Even worse: confused and naive people worrying about their sexuality could find these writings and think that they make sense, while not finding anything that offers a sound and relatable alternative (i.e. other than "Being gay is haram! Stop it!").
Let's look at this list: "Daayiee Abdullah, Amina Wadud, Muhsin Hendricks, Kecia Ali, Siraj Kugle…". I'm reminded of the list Afdhere Jama, editor of Huriyah Magazine and Daayiee fan, wrote in his debate with Mujahid Mustaqim: "I have NO problem — whatsoever — with previous and contemperary scholars like Rummi, Ziyyad, Ghazala Anwar, sheikh Ahmed, Amina Wadud, Omid Safi, Ayesha Imam, Asghar Ali, Rashid Rida, Leila Ahmed and many many many more." What was particularly funny was how he presented the opposing view as being represented by: "Usama Bin Laden, Ja'far Umar T., Abu Hamza al-Masari, T. Baroud"!
The problem is that these people, of various levels of (or even claims to) scholarship, are writing their views with virtually no challenge presented by the world of Muslim scholarship, which could quash their vain speculations with no problem at all. It is incumbent on this Ummah, or rather a specific part of it, to present responses to their dangerous claims. It would be fair to say "Ignore them, they know nothing," were it not for the fact that little has been written from a sound Islamic perspective on these issues, plus the fact that increasing numbers of young Muslims are falling into the trap of these liars!
I am not a scholar, but I (following the example of my colleague here) have decided to fight back against these people's wild interpretations, and discredit them one by one. We have already tackled a few of the names above, but more will have to follow. We will refute their claims, and, where applicable, discredit their false posturing as "scholars". You can already read a few posts at this blog along these lines: