Support “gay Muslims” with proper concepts! December 1, 2009Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Concepts, Media, Responses.
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?