Question 4-2021 from Mr Love Everyone

Okays, so my kaki sent me your link since I’m always questioning Islamic rules. And since you also say can ask anything other than marriage stuff…

My question is why are we Muslims so against gays?

U say the Quran condemns homosexuality & sodomy but there’s absolutely nothing against being a gay right? So what’s your problem? Muslims, like the Christians, keep saying “hate the sin but not the sinner” but that’s just splitting hairs. Cos when you condemn homosexuality, you also condemn the persons involved. So enough of this mumbo jumbo of being understanding!

I am a gay Muslim man. This is who I am. God made me this way. I didn’t choose to be gay. I just am. So there’s nothing sinful or wrong about me falling in love with another man. Love is Love. And to love someone is a basic human right. And human rights is championed in Islam. So please stop persecuting us gay Muslims!

Dear Love Everyone,

Alhamdulillah, we are glad you identify yourself as a Muslim based on how you frame your question, “why are we Muslims so against gays?” That is most important of all.

We see two major issues in your question. The first is the acceptability of homosexuality in Islam and the second is Muslims’ attitude towards gays.

To address the first issue, we really need to differentiate between homosexuality and homosexual behaviour. These words should not be used interchangeably and their mutual causality should not be taken for granted. There are “ex-gays” who choose not to actualise their homosexual tendencies in the form of gay sex and there are situational gays who engage in gay sex out of necessity although they are very much heterosexual in inclination. Similarly, the phrase, “being a gay”, could mean having a homosexual tendency or partaking in homosexual activities. Differentiating the condition from the activity is key in answering your question: “there’s absolutely nothing against being a gay, right?”

There are clear unequivocal condemnations of homosexual activities in the Quran and the Prophet’s sayings. For example:

We also (sent) Lut: He said to his people: “Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women:
ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.”
(A’rāf 7:80-81)

“If any of your women are guilty of lewdness … confine them to houses until death do claim them …If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. It they repent andamend, leave them alone; for Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful.”(Nisāa 4:15 … 16)

“A man shall not look at the aurat of another man, nor a woman of a woman, nor should a man go under one cloth with another man, nor a woman with another woman.” (Hadith reported by Muslim, Abu Dawud, An Nasai and Ibn Majah)

So, if what you mean by “being a gay” is engaging in gay sex, then it is clearly forbidden and condemned in Islam. If, however, you are referring to the homosexual condition, inclination, or tendency, yes you are right that there is no outright condemnation of these, as far as we know. However, the absence of this condemnation cannot justify the permissibility of gay sex because the Prophet s.a.w made this clear in this hadith:

“Allah has forgiven my ummah for whatever crosses their mind so long as they do not speak of it or act upon it.” (Hadith narrated by Bukhari)

This brings us to the crux of the matter. Is homosexuality an innate condition, or in your words, “God made me this way”? And if it is so, why does Islam outlaw its actualisation in the form of gay sex? Honestly, we personally cannot determine it either way. We hear from many LGBTQ clients that their homosexual feelings are natural and inborn, whereas, some others would allude to some form of deliberate or circumstantial grooming. Possibly, it takes all sorts to make this world.

Notwithstanding this, the God-created status of any human condition is not a blanket reason for its permissibility. Our inborn conditions are part and parcel of our nafs or self. The entire meaning of being a Muslim is about what the Prophet s.a.w called “the greater jihad” to upgrade our nafs with all its inborn conditions from ammarah to lawwamah to mutmainnah, which is the highest grade of nafs that would be admitted to Paradise. So, to indulge whatever tendency, inclination, or preference that we naturally find in our nafs is missing the point of being a Muslim, if the Creator and His Prophet s.a.w had defined that particular indulgence as undesirable.

Gay Muslims must understand that you are not alone in having to fight against your supposed inborn condition to lead life as a Muslim. Among others, so do male Muslim womanisers whose desire for multiple women lovers is an inborn condition, corroborated by no less than the scientific theory of “natural selection” where males “spread their seeds” for the survival of its species. Let alone those addicted to porn due to this undisputedly natural God-given attraction towards beautiful naked bodies. Don’t get us wrong. We are not doubting your innate attraction towards men, if you say so.

On the other hand, if you do not belittle other people’s struggles, you would realise that we are all in the same boat. We are not in paradise yet where we get to fulfil all our whims and fancies. On this Earth we are being tested and developed for the next world. And part of the test comes from within ourselves, including those that are innate.

Next, let us address your loose usage of the word “love”. We agree that “there’s nothing sinful or wrong about me falling in love with another man. Love is love.” However, to justify your homosexual activities on this premise is to equate “love” with “love-making”. They are not the same. Agreeably, for a man to love another man is not only a basic human right; in fact, it is a duty between believers, based on this hadith:

“You will not enter Paradise until you believe and you will not believe until you love each other. Shall I show you something that, if you did, you would love each other? Spread peace between yourselves.” (Hadith reported by Muslim)

Here, the Prophet s.a.w was not referring to a different kind of love between men than what you were talking about. Like YOU said “Love is love”. The issue is not with love, but the expression of love. How people express their love for their parents, spouse, siblings, pets, and others, differ according to what they consider as right and wrong. So, as far as we Muslims are concerned, how we express our love to another man must conform to what Allah and His Prophet s.a.w said,as clarified above. In other words, men making love with another man as an expression of their mutual love is clearly forbidden if you believe in Allah s.w.t and His Prophet s.a.w.

 Let’s look at the second issue, “why are we Muslims so against gays?” We have to say that this is a gross generalisation of the Muslim community. Not all Muslims are interested in “persecuting us gay Muslims”, to use your words. From your question, we surmise you have met plenty of Muslims who “hate the sin but not the sinner”. Unfortunately, you are not satisfied with this stance and regard it as “mumbo jumbo”.

We believe this is due to your inability or refusal to differentiate between the offense and the offender. Whether or not this can be considered “splitting hairs”, what we know is: this IS possible to do. It is very much like how we treat drug addicts. We condemn their drug-taking as an offence but not the addict himself. In fact, we have a duty to help them rehabilitate out of love for fellow human beings, especially when they accept our help.

Perhaps it is difficult for you to feel the love because of the unkind ways you have been treated by Muslims in general. Admittedly, there are Muslims who tend to take the part of verses like Nisaa 4:15-16 which focuses on “punish them both” and, when they can’t, resort to condemn, vilify, insult, name-call or many other nasty things they do towards an LGBTQ person.

On the other hand, there are others who prefer to focus on “Allah is Oft-returning, Most Merciful” and show empathy towards your struggles in being a good Muslim. Unfortunately, there are gays who scorn such an empathetic attitude by straight Muslims as “mumbo jumbo” even as other gays appreciate it. Ultimately, it takes all sorts to make this world and hence that second issue cannot be generalised but must be evaluated and hence handled in proper perspective.   

Human sexuality is not a binary condition – meaning, humanity is not divided between gays and straights. Instead, sexuality is a spectrum between homo- and heterosexuality. As Muslim counsellors, our interest in this matter is towards an Islamically productive environment for every Muslim – meaning, an environment where every Muslim – whether gay, straight, or in-between – is assured the freedom to worship, obey, and serve Allah s.w.t to the best of his or her ability without any judgment, condemnation, vilification, and such from fellow human beings.

Truth be told, even though Nisaa 4:16 mentioned “punish them both”, the punishment is famously left indefinite in Islam. Hence, throughout Islamic legal history the legal status of LGBTQ offences had ranged between being a major crime deserving capital punishments (hudud) to being a lesser offence deserving discretionary punishments (ta’zir) to being left alone. It all depends on the prevalence of the offence, brazenness of offenders, its social impact, and such factors, which all differ between one community to another.

With that in mind, straight Muslims need to reconsider the Islamic productiveness of these judgmental attitude and nasty things we say towards LGBTQ Muslims. If, according to the Prophet s.a.w, a life-time prostitute and a hundred-time murderer can enter Paradise, whereas a pious man can become bankrupt off his rewards due to his ill-treatment of fellow mankind resulting in Hell for him, we may not have what it takes to judge, let alone punish and persecute them, especially if they are minding their own business. A congenial environment is more productive in encouraging those struggling to “repent and amend” (Nisāa 4:16) as much as those adamant with their error today to see the light one day.

We realise, you may be offended by our comparison with drug addiction as you see that as an offence, whereas gay sex is not to you. If you were a non-believer, we would have no basis to do so. However, because you are a Muslim, alhamdulillah, you and us all must treat gay sex as an offence, as Allah and His Prophet s.a.w had made it clear.

But we are all in the same boat. We are as much a sinner as you are. We struggle daily to be good Muslims. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. However, by His Mercy, we will not be judged based on our failures, but rather our efforts commensurate with the abilities He has equipped us with. Only He Knows you, how much struggling you put up with or how much excuses you give, and thus only He can judge you.

Our parting words to you is this: To sin is human, to Forgive is Divine, but to question and defy His clear-cut definition of sin would put us in a completely unforgiveable territory.