jump to navigation

Support “gay Muslims” with proper concepts! December 1, 2009

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Concepts, Media, Responses.
trackback

Inayat Bunglawala is a British activist who is not afraid to express opinions that upset enemies of Islam and Muslims, or sometimes fellow Muslims. I appreciate his efforts, even if I disagree with some things he says. Recently he has supposedly opened debates on the place of “homosexuals” (by which we mean here: people who identify as such, or same-sex attracted people who don’t) among the Muslim community – debates we have been advocating on this blog for a long time, alhamdu lillah.

The title of his recent Guardian blog post (probably added by an editor) was: Gay Muslims need support.

But what sort of support? I think anything that could be done to jeopardise a human being’s standing before his Lord does not deserve to be dubbed “support”. As religious people, we should only advocate support that entails guiding people to goodness in this life and satisfaction in the Hereafter.

Bunglawala mixes a few issues that really ought to be addressed individually. First, he praises the Muslim Council of Britain’s support for the Equality Act a few years ago:

The 2006 act did not in any way compel believers to change any view they had about the practice of homosexuality being against the teachings of their religion. However, it did rightly insist that if someone wanted to provide goods and services to the public, then they should do so without discrimination on grounds of ethnic background, faith or sexual orientation.

So far, we are only talking about provision of goods and services, and I have no quarrel with this point, as you can read about in a previous post of mine about the MCB and “homophobia”. But it is a considerable leap to his next public suggestion for his own organisation:

Would it not be another positive step if the MCB – as a broad-based umbrella organisation – were to include a gay Muslim support group as an affiliate?

Which support group would that be, then? Something of the nature of Al-Fatiha or Imaan (formerly Al-Fatiha UK), which would tell people that homosexuality is part of their nature and that Islam is – at most – only ambiguously negative towards acts of perversion?

What we all need first and foremost is to understand our concepts correctly, as we consistently argue on this site. Let’s be clear on Islam’s definitive prohibition of homosexual acts. Let us state clearly that people should not be categorised according to their inner feelings, so there is no proper meaning to the term “gay Muslim” in the first place. A Muslim who has same-sex attractions has the right (or rather, the duty) to resist the temptations that would lead to destruction in this life and the next. Feelings alone do not make anyone sinful or less worthy in the sight of God.

Such clarifications are the job of our scholars. But as Bunglawala would have it:

Islamic scholars and imams should ideally be performing a much-needed pastoral role by helping in these situations and providing guidance. At the very least they should insist that any intimidation or discrimination against gay Muslims is unacceptable.

But what if calling their actions immoral is defined as “discrimination”? Discrimination is to deny people their rights. So is “marriage” a right, and ought Muslims to back such legislation? Or is Bunglawala just throwing generalities about to please liberals and avoid the awkward details?

But to really drive home the wishy-washy point, he says:

Actively working to ensure that people are able to live free of discrimination based on one’s ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation is a worthy goal and should be viewed as an Islamic goal.

So where, in this, do you fit in the authentically Islamic goals of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong?

Advertisements

Comments»

1. gamasp - January 25, 2010

I believe that primarily one needs to establish the meaning of homosexual practice. Does god punish lust or love? If a human being loved another of the same sex I don’t think god will see anything sinful in that. What god will be upset by is lust and having sexual intercourse for the sake of it.
There is no verse in the Quoran or a hadith stating that god punishes human beings who fall in love.
The verses about qawm lottt are open to interpretation as god did not punish Sodom and Gamora because of love but rather because they were immoral due to their bandits activities and raping men as well as women. They were nations that lived on stopping commercial convoys and robbing them and raped the tradesmen whom they held captive.
The reason why homosexuality is frowned upon by Muslims societies has more to do with ancient customs that existed well before Islam.
Islam was interpreted to suit local customs and traditions.
We still have live examples of the above in Muslim countries like Algeria where it is seen acceptable to take and give bribes knowing that corruption is a Kabira in Islam. Yet, homosexuality is frowned upon. Don’t you think that it is hypocritical?

Rasheed Eldin - January 26, 2010

Dear gamasp,

What God punishes is the contravention of His commands, among the most serious of which are any sexual activities outside of the bond of marriage, which can only be between a man and woman according to the clear texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Actually, much love is dispraised in the Qur’an and Sunnah, particularly love for evil and sin, and loving to disobey Allah, and loving what the Shaytan has beautified in the sight of those people who have been fooled by his tricks. So in fact you are wrong to say that the Qur’an and hadiths are silent on the issue of “falling in love”.

The verses concerning the People of Lut (peace be upon him) are very clear in that their sin was acting on homosexual desire, and the claim of the issue being “rape” or any of their lesser sins is contradicted by any fair examination of the Qur’an. Please see this article and comments for details:
http://gaymuslims.org/2007/02/23/why-were-the-sodomites-destroyed/

Homosexual behaviour is against the principles of Islam, as is bribery. Just because some people are selective, that doesn’t change our stance in defence of every teaching of Allah’s religion.

Peace.

2. Jennie W. - March 4, 2010

Hello and thanks so much for this great blog!!

I would like to know if anyone knows of any organizations that have been started for Muslims to help them struggle against same sex attractions.

In particular, I’m wondering if there is any network of trained therapist/psychologists/etc who can help with this issue.

I myself am a therapist and I would like to find like-minded therapists.

Thanks for your reply!

Rasheed Eldin - March 5, 2010

Dear Jennie, the StraightWay Foundation runs an online support group which has a number of qualified people involved, and that might be a starting point to find out more:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/straightstruggle

3. anon - April 8, 2010

a psychiatrist friend of mine once told me that being gay – just like an adulterous relationship- only became a solid ‘disease’ , when the person accepted the idea as something permissible. most of us have platonic loves and admiration for ppl within our gender, but now with the ever blossoming distortion of innocent admiration in the form of lesbianism- we start to think that mentally- something is amiss.
that perhaps we were made gay and this will be our burden…as opposed to us inviting a thought, which has taken malignant hold..and can not be easily thrown out.
so its all in the mind.

isnt that where most things start?

the only thing stronger than the mind, though…is the heart.
May Allah turn our hearts towards Him, and keep us on the straight path, without doubt and without regret, ameen.

Rasheed Eldin - April 8, 2010

Salam Anon, and thanks for your thoughtful comment. Ameen.

4. ali - May 15, 2010

I would like to start off by saying jazakullah khayr for making this site. It’s a relief from people saying “oh those perverted homosexuals will burn in hell, you weren’t born gay”.

I would simply liked to be assured that as long as I do not ACT on my SSA attraction, there is no sin on me? Because no matter what anyone says, I was born this way. There is so much scientific evidence there is no point arguing about it.

About straightway….I remember going on their website before and I never plan on it again. They displayed a complete lack of understanding of homosexuality by saying it doesn’t exist and theorizing on why people identify as gay. That, to put it in civil terms, made me extremely angry and frustrated — did I mention they have a link on their site which says to put homosexuals in a room for curative therapy? When will people realize you can’t change it?!

Sometimes I feel so frustrated and upset because I am giving so much of my life (I’m not complaining) for Islam, and all I hear is “those disgusting, perverted homosexuals”. If I had a choice, I would be straight, but that is obviously not the case! Sometimes I can’t stand the fact that my own fellow Muslims would be disgusted by me or hate me if they knew I was homosexual (even though I never plan on acting on it)!

Rasheed Eldin - May 15, 2010

Salam dear Ali, and thank you for your heartfelt comment.

As you said, the meaning of sin is to carry out any action that displeases God and contravenes the rules He has revealed in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of His Messenger (SAW). Therefore the impulse/temptation in itself is not sinful, and indeed a person who resists these for Allah’s sake will be rewarded for it. Any sexual relations with the same sex (or even the opposite sex outside marriage) are sinful and condemned.

As long as we’re agreed on that, then I have no argument with you except on some points of definition. However, I do believe that definitions are important, so I wish to respond to what you’ve said about them, but please take it as advice and think it over in order to understand our perspective.

When talking about God’s attributes and creative acts, scholars are careful to use suitable terms in order not to misrepresent the matter or show a lack of reverence and respect. An example of the latter would be to suggest that He “created people homosexual”. No doubt, all that is in existence stems from His knowledge, ability and will, but the intention that people have when stating the above is usually to “sanctify” sins that they wish to carry out using their divinely-granted free will.

Brother, nobody is saying you have a choice about what you feel inside (at least nobody who understands this issue), but you know very well that you have the choice not to act upon it, a choice you have taken, al-hamdu lillah. But also, you have a choice of how to identify yourself, and the label of “homosexual” is inappropriate for many reasons.

The main problem I would like to stress here is that, with this label, you are putting yourself in a box, defining yourself by something (among many others) that Allah has tested you with. Aside from that, do you want to identify yourself along with the flagrant sinners who care nothing for Allah’s command? Or those who want to distort His religion?

You are a Muslim who is affected by same-sex attraction, and your dignity is in your humanity and your Islam.

As for the idea that “being homosexual” is something that cannot be overcome, well that is contrary to reality as well as the sound Islamic belief. We have to have hope in Allah, and strive with everything we have – the results are up to Him. Many people who were in similar situations are now married, some with kids too. It’s not a magic wand, not a spurious “treatment”, but a path of discipline and worship.

May Allah enlighten our hearts and guide us on the path to His pleasure.

ali - May 15, 2010

Thank you for your response, Rasheed. As to “overcoming” homosexuality, I have to disagree. Many non-Muslim homosexuals have married and have had children, but that does not mean they 1) were physically attracted to their wives and 2) no longer have SSA. So of course, a Muslim homosexual may do the same, and which I may also do.

You mentioned keeping hope in Allah. True, Allah can do anything. So does that mean if I pray to become African, Allah will change my ethnicity? Praying for strength and staying on the Straight Path is one thing, but what use is it to pray for something already decided?

Some scientists say genetics play a 40-60% cause in homosexuality. Scientists have said hormones affecting the hypothalamus also account for homosexuality, so in a sense, it is a “glitch” in the brain. The arrangement of the brain of a homosexual is like that of a straight person of the opposite sex – it does not match the same gender.

A homosexual committed suicide because he could not change and was encouraged to try to change by his mother. His mother would often pray to God about her son’s homosexuality, and after his suicide, repeatedly asked why He didn’t “cure” her son (she was Christian). Anyway, so one day she had a dream she saw her son as a baby again, but his head was slightly distorted. When she woke up she took this to mean her son was born with homosexuality. Now, IF that dream was from Allah, it has a big effect on me because many scientists repeatedly assert homosexuality has to do with the brain – a “glitch” if you will.

Muslims need to realize that people are “born gay” but the action itself is sinful. Otherwise, it will just put Muslim homosexuals in. further turmoil. Everything would be so simple if scholars said “if you abstain, Allah will probably reward you a lot in jannah, inshaAllah. You guys are great for doing all this”, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Many Muslims may also not be bothered by the fact that homosexuals may be discriminated against practically everywhere – work, school, wherever. Not because of actions, but simply because of attraction. By denying the blatant proof homosexuality is innate, many homosexuals become confused, wonder what “turned” them gay and many straight people are strengthened in the ridiculous belief it is a choice.

As to calling yourself “homosexual”, why not? Homosexual simply means a SSA person. As to grouping yourself with “sinners”, that is ridiculous. In that case, maybe I shouldn’t call myself an American or Pakistani or even human. If you always associate homosexuality with sin (which isn’t always the case) you WILL have normal people being hostile towards religious gay people. In the end, its just a small technicality, and dodging around words and inventing new but similar concepts is confusing and a complete waste of time.

Wahid Hussaini - February 4, 2011

Hello,

I want to start off by saying that I am also gay born and raised in a Muslim family. And I wonder why there is a debate on whether we should call someone a homosexual or ssa. I feel that people on this blog (and a lot of other places) want to avoid ‘homosexual’ for their own reasons. But the plain and simple truth is that a homosexual is one who is attracted to the same sex (which you pointed out correctly).

Secondly, I have tried for basically most of my adolescent and young adult life to try to turn myself straight. I always knew that I was attracted to other men but I knew that my family would never come to accept such a thing as they are conservative Muslims.

I have tried consulting websites such as straightaway, but again you are right. They don’t understand that people do not have a choice in regards to their attraction. They seem to avoid the problem and give it other names.

For example, this blog seems to use ssa instead of the straightforward words ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’. I remember one website I went on to called it “hero worship.” It is as if they think that calling it something else will simply make it go away.

Therefore, the first step in regards to someone’s homosexuality, is to accept that they are indeed a homosexual. That was my first step and it was probably the hardest step. Admitting it to myself.

I know this is long winded but I understand that you are also gay and I hope to at least spark some new thoughts in you. I want you to first think of your homosexuality at a critical point of view. What is wrong with being attracted to the same gender? Why is it wrong to love another man (or women loving other woman) and participate in acts of love (sex being one of them of course)?

For me, I kept questioning why homosexuality, loving someone of the same gender and expressing that love, is so wrong. If I loved another man I’m not hurting anyone else. Loving another man and expressing that love will only make me happier.

And therefore I started talking to other gay men, many of them who were in a similar situation as I was in. And long story short, I came to accept my homosexuality without trying to “heal” myself or turn myself straight.

I know that I am not likely to change your mind and I hope that no one influences you in the wrong way. I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you being a homosexual and the first step is to just come out to yourself.

Look at homosexuality from your own critical perspective, taking in information from both sides. The Hadith is the main text condemning homosexuality, and in the Hadith we would also not be able to wear cologne or perfume, we can’t bank, listen to music, etc etc. Do we listen to any of those rules? Why should we only listen to the rules concerning homosexuality?

I honestly do hope that you become a man who is very satisfied with his love life. You deserve nothing less, and no other gay man or woman should deny themselves the right to love whomever they want and to lead happy, fulfilling lives.

Kindest Regards,
Wahid

Rasheed Eldin - February 4, 2011

Wahid, you say:
“But the plain and simple truth is that a homosexual is one who is attracted to the same sex”

That is the common definition, but we critique it quite thoroughly so please try to understand that before telling us what’s “plain and simple”.

Besides that, I won’t waste my time replying point by point because on this site we are people who follow the teachings of Islam, as contained in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Both forbid homosexual acts categorically.

For your information, your points about wearing perfume, banking (and even perhaps music) are incorrect, but *if* those or any other things are forbidden by *authentic* hadiths, then absolutely we stay away from it, so your analogy is pointless.

Wahid Hussaini - February 4, 2011

Rasheed,
I was giving a different point of view for gay Muslims on their homosexuality and religion.

I’m sure many people, if not most, who read this blog are from the West. The reason why Muslim families immigrated and continue to immigrate to the west is for freedom and much greater opportunities. And I think for most Muslim immigrants, or children of immigratns fail to give respect to the culture of their host country.

It is quite ridiculous to go into one nation, choosing to live there, and the continuously criticizing their culture.

If a gay Muslim wants to inhibit their desires for people of the same sex, that is fully their choice and right. On the other hand, if a gay Muslim wants to engage in a realtionship with someone of the same sex, they should be able to do so without discrimination from fellow Muslims.

Discrimination does clearly exist in Islam against homosexuals, and anyone who wants to do away with that discrimination should be fully supported. Religious freedom should not go so far as to allow people of a certain faith to openly discriminate against homosexuals, or any other group of people.

Hamdullah - February 23, 2011

Assalamualaikum, sorry first for my english as i am german,

i feel a little bit in between, of what both of you say, Rashid and Whahid Husseine.

We are all weak and who can clame from himselfs that he follows what Islam says fully , you rashid declare somehow.
Lets be honest, one thing is what Islam we think we understand says, as a guide line.
I agree and know, there is no way for homosexuall dreamings or desires !
On the other side we have to accept our destination, which is also from Allah.
I mean, i did not choose, and let me say it this way, not to be able to desire the body of a woman, like a so called “hetero” is doing. I mean what we are missing is someone from you “hetero” muslims, condamming homosexuallity ,to understand what does that mean to be destinated like that.

I mean to have somebody on your side, charing your life, or at least to hope or dream for it is the main issue of every human beeing in this world and this life, just to be home with somebody ( every single cinema film has it in it )….imaging you must accept, not to be ever able in your life to have that chance to achieve something like that, how difficuld it is to accept that…i mean its a terrifying thought esspecially for youngsters to be excluded from this comfort in life…how Allah can do something like that, its like a trapp. Stay lonly all your life ???

The other side is, that it is not islamic way, and i like that, to advertice our weaknesses. This is what i really hate from those who are facing same destination like me.
For what reasan?
Ya satar , we cover our weaknesses and it is not our way to run arround and announce to every body in which state of our existance we faile, regarding what islam is asking from us…we are all weak, every body has his “building side” where he struggles to full fill what islam is asking from us…

But again it is havy, may be one of the most havyest things, the idea to be excluded to feel home with somebody, or lets say in “love”….and so so so painfull…
The balancing of point of view is missing.
To accept this destination, that Allah did not granted some of us to desire a women.
That Islam is asking us not to follow our homosexual desires.
To hope in Allahs mercy, if we dont manage to full fill his request, which is out of a love we dont always percive.
To chare our struggle with those who support us in this hope, but not to claim that our incapacity to full fill should be established as a status quo.
I am against what we call “outing”
Its such a silly idea, that advertising my weekness has to do something with freedome or release or truth….
I argue with my lord,i struggle, like Hijob (english Yob ??) did when everything he had, was taken away from him.
Why he created me like that, gave me this destination.
I ask him for forgiveness if i faile, but for what showing of…
I keep on with him, , in my weekness.
Its a grade walk, and we should keep it walking, and keep on standing up again if we fall…
Its a havy destination, and honestly i dont blame anybody if he just try to escape facing this delemmer…
But sorry boys, no escape, it seems to be that he wants us to face this trapp !!!
We may help each other, and support our hope in him.
Inshaallah, we may reach a state, where we percive his love so deaply, that its a real unlimited pleasure , our limited desires now just bedcomes an unattractive shadow of it.

5. Taleb Haqq - May 16, 2010

Salam dear Ali,

the problem is that the term “homosexual” does not mean someone who has same-sex attractions, it means someone who engages in sexual acts with the same sex…at least that is one of its definitions in the language. Therefore, identifying as a Muslim with same-sex attractions is more accurate and leaves no room for misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

Salam.

ali - May 16, 2010

Dictionary.com: “sexually attracted persons to the same sex”.

Wassalam

Rasheed Eldin - May 18, 2010

Ali, of course you’ll have noticed at dictionary.com that what you pasted isn’t the only meaning presented, and in fact I didn’t find that wording and only ones talking about “orientation” etc. as well as what Taleb said about “intercourse”.

Regardless, I’d like to avoid a lengthy debate about dictionaries in this thread, but when I have time I’ll write a special post on the issue where we can discuss it further inshaAllah. More background explanation is needed for my point to be clear.

You could have a look at these for a starter:
Here are a few related articles:
(By M. Mustaqim):
http://gaymuslims.org/2006/03/08/are-we-going-to-hell/
http://gaymuslims.org/2006/01/22/muslim-before-anything/
http://gaymuslims.org/2006/04/10/actions-attractions-and-personal-responsibility/

(By R. Eldin):
http://gaymuslims.org/2006/02/18/l-g-b-and-t/
http://gaymuslims.org/2006/04/04/were-not-ex-gay/

6. Rasheed Eldin - May 18, 2010

Regarding your earlier points, some comments…

Being SSA (or “homosexual”) is not an empirically observable matter like colour, for example, so if someone says he has overcome that challenge and got married, I don’t think it’s fair for you to say he’s still “homosexual”, let alone casting doubt on his attraction to his wife etc. Of course we know some people in this situation who still struggle with their SSA even though they have gained control over that.

With respect, I don’t think the science of “orientation” is quite as advanced as you imply, and indeed it was people with agendas who coined these recent terms like “homosexuality”, so I think it’s fine to use other terms that are actually much simpler.

As for the argument in your last paragraph, well there’s a big difference between “homosexual” and “American/Pakistani/human”. The former is to claim that you were created with a specific disposition that is declared by God to be an abomination. The ones who made up this term are those who engage in sodomy, not sincere strugglers such as yourself.

If that labelling works for you personally, then of course you can go ahead, but I don’t think it’s appropriate and I wouldn’t advocate it for others. I would be interested in how you would reply to those who say that “gay Muslims” should act on their “nature” because otherwise that is disrespect to the Creator, or hypocrisy!

7. ali - May 20, 2010

Hmm I see your point of view, Rasheed. However, “homosexual” seems more like a scientific term (to me, at least), but I definitely understand your point of view. In some cases, yours is actually better, but when having a short conversation with someone explaining the fact that you’re SSA but not exactly homosexual would be confusing. I haven’t really “come out”, but with the people with whom I’m have I’ve made it clear I think homosexual actions are wrong along with gay marriage which would make homosexual actions acceptable. Both are a mouthful I guess, but with the same effect.

Anyway, I would make it clear that Muslims must submit themselves to Allah and Allah has prohibited homosexual ACTS. Why, we don’t know, but Allah has power and knowledge over all things, and He knows best. Allah is not unjust, and inshaAllah SSA people who abstain from haram acts will be rewarded.

It’s funny, you mentioned in an article the word “azwaj”. I’m hafiz and the first thing that registered in my mind was “azwaja zawjiha”. Anyway, I began to read Quran and on that first page that ayah was there. I checked the translation and the ayahs before and after that specific ayah mentioned how the people who “patiently endure” will enter Jannah. I honestly feel such peace as I never felt before.

May Allah reward you for standing up for what is true and right!

8. Rasheed Eldin - May 20, 2010

May Allah bless you Ali, and may He accept everything that is done for His sake. I’m glad we haven’t quibbled over a point of terminology as it’s the proper understanding and actions that are more important.

9. Gft - June 22, 2010

Forcing gay men to pretend they are straight is cruel and won’t work – it’s miserable for their wives too. Stupid psychiatrists above 😦
If you don’t learn tolerance people will ignore you and leave the faith. Gay people are different. It exists in every country and the animal kingdom too. Leave them alone.

Rasheed Eldin - June 22, 2010

Gft – unfortunately our emphasis on proper conceptualising has been lost on you. Nobody here is interested in “forcing” anybody with anything, but our only wish is to inform and clarify. Obviously you felt you were offering sound advice, otherwise you would have “left us alone”, no?

10. NSC - January 27, 2011

Salam. I just want you brother Rasheed to know that ever since I learned about you and this page, I have been very thankful to God and that I pray for you. I’m from the Philippines and I am planning to make a blog similar to this but to be written in our native tongue so people here may understand. May Allah keep you and all brothers and sisters working for His sake safe and steadfast until the Last Day. Jazakallahu khairan ya akhiel habeeb.

Rasheed Eldin - January 27, 2011

Wa ‘alaikum as-salam dear NSC, and thank you for your kind words. If you need any help/advice for your project please get in touch by e-mail. Your prayers are very valuable, may Allah bless you and all our Filipino brothers and sisters.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: