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Genetics and Morality May 29, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Concepts, Islam, Responses.

I was just passed this dissertation on "Sexuality in Islam" [PDF] for comment. It was compiled by Heba Kotb MD towards her PhD at the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists.

What can I say? It seems to be a compilation of various materials, and is written informally, with religious exhortations included. What amazes me is that the section on homosexuality is lifted almost entirely from articles by Shabir Ally, Alia Amer and Bilal Philips. [Note also that, oddly, in several places it says "Allah" where it ought to read "Islam", "Qur'an" or "Muslims".]

Here we shall look at one particular argument, in fact written by Dr. Bilal Philips:

Islam considers homosexuality to be the result of a choice. It is inconceivable that Allah made people homosexuals then declared it a crime and prescribed punishments for it in both this life and the next. To accept such a proposition is to accept that God is unjust.



Mufti leading the homophobia? May 26, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Islam, Religion.
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Islamophobia Watch has noted that Peter Tatchell, in his latest article, has apparently magnified the role of Muslims in leading the negative reactions to Russia's Gay Pride parade.

What caught my eye were his quotes from the Mufti:

"Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God."

It's strange to see someone who is so opposed to homosexuality using terminology that affirms its status as a "sexual minority" and "alternative sexuality". I wonder what he said in his own language, and how accurate the English rendering is.


CNN “ex-gay” video May 24, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Media, Religion.

The most popular video on the CNN website right now is 'Gay cure' controversy, a report by Deborah Feyerick featuring Richard Cohen and various perspectives. Check it out.

UPDATE: Now that it's been archived by CNN, here's an alternative accessible link at YouTube.

Ex-gay billboard defaced (USA)
We’re not “ex-gay”

The Queer Muslim Reformation May 24, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Media, Proggies, Queer Muslims.
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For anyone confused by writers who have linked the "gay Muslim liberation" struggle to the attempt to create an "Islamic Reformation" (e.g. Shaykh Riyad Nadwi), just take a look at this promotion for the aforementioned propaganda piece, vainly called "In the Name of Allah". It is clearer in a newsletter received by e-mail, from which I quote this excerpt:

As a result, many gay and lesbian Muslims end up renouncing their religion. But the real-life characters of In the Name of Allah aren't willing to abandon a faith they cherish, despite its flaws. Instead, they struggle to reconcile their ardent belief with the innate reality of their being.

The international chorus of gay, lesbian and transgender Muslims brought together by In the Name of Allah doesn't seek to vilify or reject Islam, but rather negotiate a new relationship to it. In doing so, the film's extraordinary characters point the way for all Muslims to move beyond the hostile, war-torn present, toward a more hopeful future.

As one can imagine, it was a difficult decision for the subjects to participate in the film due to the violence they could face. However, those who have come forward to tell their stories feel this film is too important for 1.4 billion Muslims and non-Muslims around the world for them to say no. They feel Islam is at a tipping point and they are willing to take the risk.

To raise funds, they are having a cocktail party (!!) on June 12th in New York. You can't make this stuff up.

The Dangers of Denial May 22, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Concepts, Shari'ah.

Have you seen on the train how some seats are reserved between stations, and those seats have a little slip of card placed in them so they are kept vacant for the relevant ticket-holders? Well, someone showed me such a slip today and asked if I could explain the following declaration:

Penalty for unauthorised removal of this label: £200

Penalty for unauthorised occupation of this seat: £50

Surely the act of sitting in the seat is a more serious matter than just taking away the slip of paper, and would naturally incur the greater fine? I tried to think of the logic of the train company, and short of asking them, I can only guess. Here's my idea, and the relevance to the blog will become clear soon!


Close encounters May 21, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Queer Muslims.
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Yusuf Smith got back safely on Friday night from a meeting addressed by Peter Tatchell, Ali Hilli (both OutRageous) and Houzan Mahmoud.

I haven't commented on the Sistani fatwa issue before now, mainly because – like many things coming from Iraq – it's rather hard to ascertain the exact reality unless you have contacts who can help, and I am extremely wary of any "information" coming from OutRage, especially where quoting or interpreting scholars' edicts is concerned. Remember Qaradawi?

But for what it's worth, I agree with Yusuf when he says: "…of course, as Muslims, we don't condone homosexual behaviour, but we absolutely condemn gangsterism, kidnapping, blackmail, armed thugs presuming to be moral vigilantes, and the threatening of families for one member's deeds."

This caught my weary eye:

She asked if gay organisations had tried to contact trade unions, to which Ali Hilli replied that they had not, but were trying, and that they presently numbered only thirty people who were presently involved in a media campaign against homophobic fatwas.

I wish people could respect the difference between the worlds of media, politics and religious teachings/judgement, despite whatever overlaps exist. This is a theme I will be labouring on a bit in my forthcoming (promised) response to Brian Whitaker's blog.

Gay Muslims a BB staple? May 19, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Media, Queer Muslims.
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Shahbaz. Duh.It looks like Channel 4 is following up its January documentary (see here and here) with an in-depth case study as part of the seventh series of Big Brother in the UK. Shahbaz Choudhary is a 37-year-old Glaswegian "Paki poof" (his words, even though his family's Indian), and his first act upon entering the house was getting everyone up to sing "Celebrate Good Times". Eurgh.

Last year there was a chap called Kemal who pranced around in women's clothes, but is now apparently going out with a female fellow contestant. I do remember him chatting about sexuality and religion, and what better platform for sharing your ideas? Just ask George Galloway.

We wonder whether religion has much significance to this year's guy. He's been described as a hell-raising cross-dresser and apparently goes by the nickname "Trash Mahal". Someone joined a man-ogling forum yesterday to say:

Lovely to see Shahbaz on telly. I last saw him on roller skates, dressed as Wonder Woman, being pulled along a street in the west end of Glasgow by two dalmations on leads. He tried to get off with my boyfriend.

Sigh… Hopefully he'll be out of the house before long so I can save myself from giving him too much attention on here!

Liar Hirsi “Ali” flees Netherlands May 16, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Islam, Media.

From Indigo Jo Blogs.

The power of wishful thinking May 16, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Responses, Shari'ah.

Khaled Diab has written up a review and author interview of Brian Whitaker’s Unspeakable Love: Gay and lesbian life in the Middle East – and I would be inclined to read then ignore these, had they not been published in Al-Ahram Weekly in a more condensed form. I’ve written about Whitaker’s book before, but haven’t got myself a copy yet. I’ve just noticed that he’s added his theological theories (without detailed analysis) to his blog, so I’ll come back and tackle those directly in my next post. First, let’s tackle Diab. He quotes Whitaker as saying:

I don’t particularly see Islamic scholars as a force for social change. If the experience of the Christian church is anything to judge by, some will eventually revise their view of scripture in the light of reality; others will stay where they are and ultimately be deserted by many of their followers.

Well, to throw back a quip, I believe we need to revise our view of reality in the light of scripture. That may sound like a terribly fundamentalist perspective (hey, what’s wrong with that?), but it’s perfectly valid to state that our worldview is better shaped by divine revelation than by changing social norms and masters of a media-supported agenda.

So while homosexualists insist that homosexuality is a matter of innate identity, and that sexual practices are unobjectionable as long as they’re consensual, we continue to affirm that inner feelings do not define people, and that all acts ultimately need God’s consent and otherwise should not be promoted in society at all.

By the way, Whitaker observed, in a rather out-of-proportion article back in January:

Sunni clerics, especially those influenced by Saudi Wahhabism, like to assert their authority by forbidding anything that might be remotely pleasurable.

Now I’ll look at the five paragraphs Khaled Diab wrote in summary (not necessarily accurate) of Whitaker’s argument about the Islamic position being unclear, under the title of “The power of dogma“.


When Muslims are brick walls May 15, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Islam, Proggies, Responses, StraightWay.

The StraightWay Foundation, and this blog run by an adviser to them (i.e. yours truly), take among our aims to inform the Muslim community about the realities of same-sex attractions (SSA) and how they affect many Muslims, and how these Muslims deal with the situation – whether silent struggle, flagrant disobedience or any of the many shades in between.

We speak as mainstream Muslims ourselves, believing in and practising Islam just as our brothers and sisters do. We don't have some unique interpretation of the religion, nor is our position on homosexuality any different from the accepted view: except that ours is thought out more clearly and in more detail, and expressed better!

Among us are some people who personally experience SSA, and are just as 'qualified' to speak on the subject as those who affirm a "gay" identity for themselves. Some have even committed what Islam regards as among the most serious of sins. But all of us agree on the Islamic prohibition of homosexual acts, and are committed to the ideas of self-restraint and self-development; our work helps individuals in their struggles along this path.

LISTEN, O MUSLIMS: the phenomenon of same-sex attractions exists, and it affects Muslims too!  (Even if it is to a lesser extent, as you prefer to assume.)
You can ignore this all you want, but it will not go away that way. Listen to what we, your faithful brothers and sisters, are saying to you – and engage in fruitful discussions so we can work towards a way out of the growing problems of homosexuality amongst Muslims, and the "gay Muslim" movement.

Here I'll furnish you with two recent examples of Muslims who have dealt with us in an inexplicably negative manner.