May 5, 2014 By Posted after Editorial Meet

Homosexuality: Editorial Clarification


As expected, our post on Muslim Homosexuals elicited rousing reactions. To read the article, please go to…. Most replies and messages in the inbox of our social media platforms were not meant for publishing, they said, for three basic reasons: Replies are short reactions and hence least fit for public reading; our platform is too homophobic (for a section of commentators) or too liberal (for another section); comments might be read in the light of the article. So their freedom as independent judgments or critiques of the issue will be curtailed by the tenor and tone of the article. Comments posted down the article were meant to be read. Those comments among them which we believed are worthy of attention and sincere in their approach have been carried as separate articles in the debate section of this magazine.

We believe that the article expresses our view on the issue rather unambiguously as it was premised on two points: one, our acceptance of man-woman sexuality as the paradigmatic sexual relationship according to the Quran and, second, our reluctance to discard the reading of Muslim homosexuals of the Quran as invalid, heretical or nonsensical. We believe that the headline of the article expresses the idea rather clearly: Why need there be so much fuss around them, as there is no question of ‘our’ having to be ‘them’. It is merely the question of what reaction we must have towards them: cold-blooded rejection; denigration as heretical or ‘critical’ acceptance. We believe that the third reaction is better and will open the door for interactions and debates. Interactive is the name of this magazine; not collapsing all debates into one formula or closing all doors of discussions and interactions.

Since we believe that the paradigmatic, not necessarily normative, sexual relationship according to the Quran is male-female relationship, we have no problem, and in fact are ready, to promote it as ideal. A close reader of the article can’t say using texts in the article that we take a different stand on this. Majid Suleyman, who hails from Netherlands and is a gay, criticizes our stand on the issue as ambiguous and stealthily homophobic. By positioning ourselves on the paradigmatic assumption, we have virtually supported, he says, all other homophobic theological positions. Our response, he further argues, does not emerge from sympathy towards homosexuals; but from a secret desire to be different from the mainstream, while being not actually different from the homophobic theologians. Jaffer Aziz, who works in Kuwait and is a sympathizer of Jamat-e-Islami Hind, argues, while agreeing with the content of the article to a certain extent, that we have maliciously opened the Pandora’s Box for no reason whatsoever, while there are more serious and less debated issues to discuss like the ideal political stance a Muslim must take against Narendra Modi in India and Sisi in Egypt, whom a certain section of Muslim scholars support.

We would like to explain to both of them that the immediate reason for carrying the article was the then recent verdict of the Supreme Court of India upholding a 150 year old Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual intercourse, thereby striking down the Delhi High Court Verdict de-criminalizing the same. Some of our readers asked us to discuss the issue. Most of them are believers, university students to be precise, who share space and even hostel rooms with people who are openly gay or lesbians. We were trying to answer them. Homosexuality in Islam is a topic hotly debated in university campuses which Muslim students can’t actually skirt. In certain societies, it might be a Pandora’s Box. Our attempt was not to be different, but to study the issue on the basis of some relevant texts and arguments with the larger aim of tolerating, not alienating, readings and interpretations that those who practice same-sex relationships and maintain such an identity use to commit themselves to Islam and the community of Muslims. Though we don’t agree with those readings and interpretations, those are debatable and valid readings whose veracity and truth will finally be assessed by God Almighty in whom we all believe. We believe that the difference between our approach to the issue and a homophobic approach is that we believe that their reading and understanding is arguable, debatable and valid (because those readings and interpretations rely on linguistic, textual and historical tools and don’t throw silly, blind arguments) though we don’t agree with those readings (as we believe our reading is more valid).  In order to make the issue arguable and debatable, we just summarized the positions of some readings sympathetic to them. We are happy that it elicited response and would like the arguments to go on.

Of all the feedbacks Vinod Ahmed’s comment carried weighty arguments and smacked of sincerity. We carried the comment on to the debate section of the magazine so that more readers can read it and debate. I think we have the following arguments to make in response to certain valuable questions he posed in the comment. Readers of this post are advised to read the comment section of the article to know about his questions and doubts.

1.   Sure, a homosexual person can quote from our text to his/her parents to justify his/her act or position. If the parents are not able to satisfy his/her doubts based on his/her reading about the sacred texts, the parents and the leaders in the community on whom they rely will be in a situation in which they can’t adequately justify their stance on a critical issue of faith to their own children. So they will have to read and reread fundamentals and sources in such a way as to place their understanding of the paradigmatic and normative sexual relationship in the Quran above their wards’ understanding. To be a Muslim is not to close all doors of enquiry and critical understanding and sit in a sound-proof, argument-proof ivory tower asking people to do this and do that based on our own uncertain ‘certainties.’

one of the reasons why ‘Muslim gays’ and ‘Muslim lesbians’ find the paradigmatic man-woman relationship no longer alluring and ideal is that marriage whose foundations as per the Quran are mercy and love has deteriorated into a relationship in which there are no such values and the couples who otherwise observe religion to its letter and spirit are enclosed within the cocoon of their egos. Marital relationship is in some cases a relationship between master and slave or a set up to consolidate authority and power. In the asphyxiating atmosphere in families, divorce seems to be the only opening to breathe in the free air, though God   dislikes it the most. We must rethink why people choose alternatives to paradigmatic man-woman relationship and restructure it in such way as to make it imbibe mercy, love and compassion that are its natural god given bases.

2.    To conflate homosexual Muslim to Muslim drunkard, Muslim adulterer and, worse, Muslim polytheist is wrong. Fundamentally there is the conflation of dogma and praxis. We think that for someone to be a Muslim, s/he should believe in the one and only Absolute God and in the finality of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be Upon Him. All Muslim sects except for Kharijites believe that one’s belief in the dogma will make one a Muslim, even if s/he commits sin. There are ahadith (reported by Bukhari) which say that an adulterer and a person who drinks liquor is not a believer at the time of doing adultery or drinking wine. But, the iman which has left adulterer during the act will come back to him once it is over. This means that belief and sinning don’t go together. A person who is committed to belief should abhor both. If under any circumstance s/he comes to practice it, we have no right to call him/her non-Muslim after that practice (a person can’t legally practice them in public), because the door of redemption is always open.  Sheikh Hamza Yusuf argues commenting on a jurisprudential statement (mas’ala): ‘the prayer of person known as a ‘ma’boon’, a person who has that condition of being attracted to the same sex is a valid prayer, even if they lead the prayer. But the idea of acting on it and also just purely rectal [inter]course for male and female is prohibited, it’s simply seen as something that harms people, and so that physical act is prohibited. (See more at: If a classical fiqh scholar does not have any problem in upholding the validity of the prayer of a person known as a ‘ma’boon’, let alone calling him/her a Muslim, we have no problem whatsoever. A polytheist does not dogmatically believe in the Oneness of God. To collapse all categories into that is not a valid exercise.

3.    As regards the Quranic verses cited, homosexual Muslims differentiate the tenor and meaning of those verses from the tenor or meaning of Bible interpretations that are harsher and more severe. They understand, following Al-Kisa’i’s Stories of the Prophet, a 12th century text, that the destruction of the Lot’s community was not caused by their sexual orientation, but their overall transgression, including waylaying, rape especially public euphoria of homosexual violence, xenophobia etc.  Applying the verse exclusively to homosexual orientation without addressing other transgressions that exist in Muslim societies, we believe, is a travesty of justice.

This does not mean that we vouch for the contemporary gay and lesbian behavior in western societies ‘with lavishing attention on looks, clothes, certain kinds of pop music and promiscuity’ which echoes the excesses of Lot’s people and which is aped blindly in Muslim societies,’ as Ziauddin Sardar says.

The commentator has listed Taha Hussein as among the scholars who had a sympathetic view of homosexuality. Taha Hussein was an active critic of homosexuality and believed that it was smuggled to Arab societies from Persia [Massad: Desiring Arabs]

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