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IslamOnline.net Special Coverage January 26, 2010

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Media, Relevant.

Islam Online, probably the biggest Islamic website out there, has a special page discussing issues relevant to this blog, under the title:

Unveiling Homosexuality

While we don’t necessarily agree with all the content, it is a good thing to see the issue taken seriously, and we hope it will lead to further in-depth analysis of this pressing issue, which affects society as a whole, in addition to the people affected by same-sex attractions.

Update: Also see this page at their subsite, Reading Islam:

All About Homosexuality

Quite a few people have left comments, and it is a shame there is no mechanism for constructive debate at the site.



1. anna - April 19, 2010

Hi Rasheed. I stumbled across your blog recently and I find it really interesting, although I am not personally affected by the issues herein. I did have an issue I wanted to bring up with you, though, out of interest. It seems that Islam has a much closer adherence to its text (I mean the Quran) than the other monotheistic faiths. Am I right in thinking this is the case? I wonder if it’s connected to the way in which the Quran came about, ie a direct transcription of a direct experience with God, rather than the mix of history, myth and reportage that characterises the Bible…?
I wonder if this is the reason why homosexuality looms larger as a problem in Islam than it does in many forms of Judaism or Christianity. Of course in the Judaeo-Christian texts there are warnings against homosexuality, but as these appear in the same book as proscriptions against “cutting the corners of your beard” and intricate guidance on how to deal with unruly oxen, over time in many quarters these have been reinterpreted or abandoned entirely, without the faith totally collapsing.
As someone from a Jewish background (though I have Muslim relatives), I am a little bit perturbed by the idea that the Quran has to be taken either whole or not at all, as I am aware that there are a number of apparently anti-semitic passages. And yet I get on fine even with devout Muslims, despite being Jewish. So I wonder, how literally literal is the Quran?
Further, (sorry this is getting so long!) there are a number of countries, say Turkey, or Afghanistan, where very different modes of living as a Muslim exist, even including same-sex sex – is there no way to accept this without saying “well they’re not real Muslims”? I suppose what I’m saying or asking, in an incredibly roundabout way, is, is there no room within Islam for the idea that the Quran could be interpreted in a number of different ways, that as mortal, limited people we have to take an instinctive and faith-based approach to our religious beliefs in lieu of being able to say “I know exactly what God/Allah meant” (I am thinking here of the people who comment on your site saying that they don’t instinctively FEEL any contradiction between having a same-sex lover and being a good person), and that sex, rather than being the deciding factor in whether or not you suffer eternally, could also be interpreted as a small, personal matter? Don’t individual Muslims and individual Muslim communities, like Jews and Christians, make decisions all the time about which aspects of their faith are the most important to them?
I just realised this hasn’t been updated since January…. in a way I hope this is because you’ve met the man of your dreams and decided it’s OK after all, but in another way, I really admire and feel oddly inspired by your faith in clear thinking, and your faith in your faith.

Rasheed Eldin - April 20, 2010

Dear Anna,

Thanks for your message and its very interesting questions. Even when there aren’t new posts added for some time, we do try to keep moderating and responding to comments. For what it’s worth, I live in God’s blessing with the woman of my dreams, but my personal life doesn’t have much impact on the essential questions that are based on scripture and reasoning as opposed to wishes and desires.

You’re right to identify a difference in approach between followers of the Qur’an as opposed to other scriptures, which is why the distinction between “fundamentalists” and other believers makes little sense in the Islamic context (born, as it was, in the recent history of Christendom).

Belief in the whole Qur’an doesn’t automatically mean that everything is taken literally, because the text is complex and requires mental harmonisation between its parts. Along with the Sunnah (teachings of Muhammad), they are understood primarily by those who have put in the time to master the essential sciences, i.e. the scholars.

The idea of anything in the Qur’an becoming outdated is preposterous to a Muslim, even though we acknowledge that new levels of understanding may come over the passage of time. So a reference to “camels” remains valid, but may also indicate cars and whatever comes in the future.

If there is updating to do, it’s not in creed and also not in morality. I don’t believe there is anything “anti-Semitic” in God’s revelation, unless we mean the sort of critique of the Israelites as is found (in much more severe forms) in the writings of the Hebrew prophets.

The question of whether homosexual acts are permitted or forbidden is a matter of law, based on jurisprudence which has its detailed methods. I don’t see any reason why this needs “updating”, since what was declared an abomination since millennia doesn’t become acceptable even if every person on the planet comes to that opinion.

The idea that sexuality is central to identity is actually something I argue against, so I’m not one to claim that homosexuality is “the deciding factor in whether or not you suffer eternally”. However, it is a fact that sexual transgression (including adultery with the opposite sex) is classed as among the most heinous of sins.

Still, there are worse sins, and indeed the Islamic creed tells us that God may choose to forgive a person guilty of sexual transgression or any other sin (with the exception of worshipping other-than-God) in the Hereafter if it so pleases Him. But should that prevent sincere Muslims from warning against homosexuality?

Add to this the fact that we see many people today abandoning the essentials of faith and worship because they are so desperate to act upon their homosexual desires. It is generally not a “small matter” for them, so it becomes less likely that it would be considered so in the sight of the Almighty.

Thanks again, and I hope these answers are useful.

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