Genetics and Morality May 29, 2006Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Concepts, Islam, Responses.
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.
This is a very confused collection of sentences, starting from the problem of defining "homosexuality" here. Is it to do with "behaviour", "practices" and "lifestyle", as elsewhere in Philips' article, or as a matter of feelings and "orientation", as he also discusses? If the latter, then in what sense can he mean it is a matter of choice?
Let's be clear that what Allah has "declared a crime" can only refer to actions. If we take homosexuality to be about actions, then it makes no sense even to ask whether "made people homosexuals". People are not born with any sort of actions: they eventually do them!
The confusion here is that the Sheikh has failed to clarify the distinction between actions and attractions, as detailed in Mujahid's article on Actions, Attractions and Personal Responsibility. Once we sort out this basic starting point, we can ask the more sensible questions, such as:
- Which actions are forbidden by God?
- Are some people born with homosexual attractions?
I don't intend to discuss these in detail now, but is there an explicit Islamic position on the latter point, as Philips claims? I believe not. While it seems more correct to argue that homosexual feelings develop some time later in childhood, I don't see any conclusive Islamic argument to say that there can be no predisposition towards them present from before birth.
If scientific studies ever did prove something akin to the much-sought-after "gay gene", that would not shake my conviction in the Qur'an and Sunnah, and would not affect the Islamic ruling at all. To understand why, read this fatwa from Muzammil Siddiqi. I quote:
Even if it is genetic, just for the sake of argument, does that mean that you should do it? Someone could say their desire to commit adultery is genetic. Does that mean that we should do it? Or even his desire to steal or tell lies? To abuse or accuse people, causing fitnah? The point is that the rules of morality are not taken from genetic research. The rules of morality are taken from Allah and His messenger (SAAWS). Whatever Allah has allowed, that is permissible. Whatever He has forbidden is haram and must be avoided.
So, contrary to what Bilal Philips said, believing that homosexuality has a genetic (or more generally: congenital/biological) basis is not to accept that Allah is unjust. People are indeed born with all sorts of tests, and every single one of us is tested in this life: that's what life is about.
Same-sex attractions are a serious and difficult test, but probably not the most serious or difficult. The problem is made worse by the over-emphasis on sex generally in modern society. I know it's flippant to say, but is being deprived of the sexual intimacy you crave really worse than being born without, say, sight? The prevalence of congenital blindness has not presented an insurmountable obstacle to Islamic theology, so why should SSA?
Note to Daayiee Abdullah: see, I just managed to disagree with this writer by expressing my arguments clearly, placing them here for public analysis and criticism. I didn't need to go off on one about oil money.