This is the translated version of the original article written in Malay. The original article can be accessed here.
I would like to thank sis Azira and bro. Abu Hannan for their efforts in translating and editing the original article. May Allah reward them with the best rewards.
1. What is the Islamic view on homosexuality ?
2. Most homosexuals are of the opinion that their inclination for the same sex is a natural phenomenon occurring within themselves and that they are victims of circumstances. How can one who is inclined to the same sex resist such urges?
3. How can they repent ?
In my opinion, Islam forbids homosexual practices.
What I mean by homosexual here is the sexual act between those of the same sex; be it in the form of penetration or foreplay; not the affection or love that one has for the same sex. The latter is not prohibited by Islam at all for the following reasons;
• Islam commands us to spread love amongst Mankind.
Rasulullah (pbuh) mentioned, “Love all that exist on Earth, surely you will be loved by the One in the Heavens (Allah).” (Narrated by Al-Turmuzi)
• Islam also encourages all Muslims (men and women) to give their up-most love to the Prophet (pbuh)
Rasulullah (pbuh) mentioned, “One is not of perfect faith lest I become the person most beloved than his parents, offspring and mankind.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
• Rasulullah (pbuh) and his companions were most loving towards one another as mentioned in 48:29 of the Qur’an.
With regards to the prohibition of a sexual relationship between men, the Qur’an narrates the story of Lut who was sent by Allah to rehabilitate his people who were practicing this act.
They were subsequently destroyed by Allah for their impenitence.
Though there is no clear statement in the Qur’an that points out the impermissibility of sex between men the way Allah clearly prohibited carcasses in 5:3, there is however, a clear logic for its prohibition as seen in the following points:
• As such, it can be concluded that a sexual relationship between men is prohibited.
Indeed, the Quran also does not use the term jima’ (intercourse) in describing the despicable act of Lut’s people but this does not negate the above conclusion because :
• The word “tatuuna” in the verses describing the action of Lut’s people such as 7:81, while originally carrying the meaning of “coming to”, does not represent an accepted form of social interaction because in the said verse the Qur’an associated it (the term “coming to”) with a lustful act and “fahisyah” – something which is prohibited – when “coming to” in the form of a social interaction between men is not something which is absolutely prohibited as reflected by the social lifestyle of the Prophet (pbuh) with the male companions.
• The description of “fahisyah” in the Qur’an is often used as a metaphoric reference to fornication which is a form of sexual relationship which is impermissible.
• In fact, the word jima’ which directly translates to the act of having sex itself is itself not used at all in the Qur’an even in describing fornication.
• The devastating punishment which was delivered unto the people of the Prophet Lut is an indication of of how their actions were forbidden and not something which is merely disliked. (makruh)
Based on the arguments and logic above, the prohibition of sexual activities between men has a strong basis.
Indeed, the Qur’an does not mention the issue of homosexuality involving women but the prohibition upon it can be analogised (qiyas) to the prohibition upon sexual relationship between men because of the same issue being addressed.
This is further strengthened by the hadith which forbids same-sex relationship between women.
In Islam, a sexual relationship is only permissible through a) a man-woman couple and b) a solemnised marriage.
A majority of the scholars are of the opinion that Islam also forbids a sexual relationship involving anal penetration even between a husband and his wife.
This is because Allah, the Creator of Man, does not create the anus for sexual purposes.
In fact, Islam also forbids men and women from self-satisfying the sexual desires (masturbation).
Islam encourages men and women to marry to fulfil their respective sexual needs.
This is a way which is most suitable to the nature of Man’s creation and fulfils the objective of leading a life most pure.
The perception that such tendencies (for a same-sex sexual relationship) is natural phenomenon since birth is inaccurate as Islam holds the belief that every child is born upon a nature most pure; far from undesirable tendencies.
The Prophet mentioned, “Every child is born upon a pure nature. His parents are responsible for him becoming a Jew, a Christian or a Zoroastrian.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
Why didn’t Rasulullah include the act of a child becoming a Muslim in the above hadith as well?
This is due to the fact that Islam is the pure nature of all Mankind and thus is free from such tendencies (of engaging in same-sex sexual relationships).
The argument that homosexual tendencies are natural or genetically caused is inconclusive scientifically.
Ustaz Dr. Firdaus Yahya wrote an article entitled LGBT: A Critical Study which was published by Pergas in its publication’s (Jurnal Dakwah) December 2012 edition which can be accessed from the Internet by searching the title of the article itself.
In this article, he highlights the weakness of the claim that homosexualilty is genetic or natural using various scientific studies.
I concur with this article’s deduction that the said tendency is a consequent rather than an inherent factor.
It is probably caused by factors tied to one’s education, social influence or even an ailment.
The Gay’s Argument & the Counter-Argument
A segment of the Muslim community in sympathising with gay Muslims argue that a homosexual relationship is permissible because the premise for it being rebuked and prohibited is when it is manifested in the form of rape (without the willingness of one party) or in the form of a sexual relationship devoid of marital ties just like how a heterosexual relationship is prohibited for the very same reasons.
The abovementioned members of society also premise their argument on the Qur’anic verse found in chapter 16:72 that Allah has created pairs from amongst the human race without limiting the formation of these pairs to those of the opposite sex.
With reference to the above arguments, they then concluded that a sexual relationship involving a gay couple is permissible if bonded by marital ties where both are in agreement that they will seriously officialise their relationship through a formal marriage, just like how a heterosexual relationship is only permissible through marital ties.
However, this argument is problematic for the following reasons:
• Even though 16:72 does not specify the term “partners” to one which refers to an opposite-sex partnership, but there is a clear indicator in this verse which points to a matrimony involving a man and a woman, not one involving those of the same sex.
This is evident in the phrase, “… made partners for you from among yourselves, and has given you sons and grandchildren…” which refers to a form of matrimony which naturally is able to consequent in the delivery of an offspring or fulfils the objective of ensuring the continuity of the human race by means of a natural reproductive process.
This phrase on its own eliminates the justification for a same-sex marriage as it is a public knowledge that such a marriage will never be able to attain the objective of continuing the production of the human race.
• Based on this, it can be concluded that the form of marriage which is recognised by the Quran is only that which involves partners of the opposite sex.
• As such, it can also be summed up that a same-sex relationship remains prohibited by virtue of a mutual consensus between the pair and through the process of marriage and carries a higher degree of prohibition when undertaken on the basis of force or out of the realms of matrimony.
The Right Attitude
Even though gays and lesbians have transgressed in the sight of Islam, addressing them requires an adherence to the general da`wah principle which is through wisdom, good exhortation and disputations handled with the best of manners (16:125) .
To merely condemn, isolate and insult them will not solve the problem at hand.
Their vice should also not become a reason for discrimination in the work sector or in other matters which have nothing to do with their habit or lifestyle, and unjust treatment such as bully
The Qur’an encourages Muslims to be fair and just even towards those who had once oppressed them or those who have committed sins (5:8).
The Qur’an has also commanded that relationships between Man should be conducted with respect and also through the act of honouring others as Allah Himself honours all children of Adam (17:70) regardless of the obedient or transgressors.
A Muslim must not be self-righteous, believing that he is better and holier, even towards that of a transgressor as it is an act which is prohibited in the Qur’an (53:32) and is a deplorable trait of the satan (38:76).
Our moral standing that homosexuality is prohibited must not consequent in our deduction that all gays will be damned because such issues fall under the sole purview of Allah only, and not of mankind, as He mentions in the Quran : “You (Muhammad) have no concern in the affair whether He turns to them (mercifully) or chastises them, for surely they are unjust.” (3:128)
In addition, Allah will call Man to account (for his deeds) comprehensively, not only the misdeeds which he had committed.
As such, even though homosexuals have committed an act which is prohibited, it is not impossible that Allah will place them in heaven by virtue of their other good deeds or as a result of His Graciousness as seen in story of the murderer of a hundred people.
In another hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari, the Prophet shared how a prostitute was forgiven by Allah for providing water for a thirsty dog.
With regards to repentance, the following are my suggestions;
For a start, the people in question must realise and acknowledge that the abovementioned tendency is not one which is healthy and good.
In fact, it is a despicable act from the social, health and religious perspective.
Secondly, they must have the determination to change for the better.
If they themselves do not have the desire to change their current conditions and do not put in the necessary effort, no one can change them.
The Qur’an says, “Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own.” (13:11)
Thirdly, the determination to change must entail the following positive actions, amongst which are;
a. Avoid elements and environments that are associated with the above tendencies.
Leave (for good) such places and friends.
In a hadith, there is story of a man who had committed murder and intended to repent.
He was advised to a new place to start his life anew.
Anyone who studies social problems will surely acknowledge the influence of a particular environment and peers towards the characteristics of an individual.
This does not mean that we isolate those with such tendencies, but these are crucial first steps towards a fresh start.
One can surely return to help his old friends after he has rehabilitated and has the strength within himself to provide the assistance.
b. Get a religious teacher to provide religious guidance.
Religion is a good source of strength to protect someone.
c. Get a counsellor to provide guidance in the aspect of character development.
This is because most of the abovementioned issues are related to psychology.
d. Seek medical help from a doctor.
At times, this problem can be addressed through medical treatment.
Islam is of the opinion that all ‘ailments’ have their cure.
The same goes for this tendency.
Allah will not change the conditions of a particular people unless they themselves take the necessary action to change their existing conditions.
Where there is a will, there will surely be a way.
It is most pertinent that one strives to overcome their respective ailments.
And in striving, there will be times where one will fail but he must continue to strive and not give up.
Allah is Most Gracious and He will never let the attempts of His servants towards goodness be in vain.
Allah knows best.