On Islam, Homosexuality and Homosexual Muslims

You don’t have to answer this because its a very complex question but do you think you can be Muslim and gay? And how should we as Muslims feel about gays? How shall we treat them? How do you reconcile Islam (in the sense it is a religion that discourages/disagrees with homosexuality) with homosexuality? Is there even anything to reconcile? How should Islam (or I guess Muslims) move about in this world that supports homosexuality? Is there a compromise that can be made in such a pluralistic world?

There is nothing wrong with having homosexual feelings, the same way there is nothing wrong with a man having sexual desire toward another man’s wife. The desire exists, what Islam forbids is acting upon it.

We can speculate about the reason why God forbids these things, for example it appears that any society that approves of sex outside of marriage and homosexuality quickly dies out due to low fertility rates. There isn’t a single civilization on Earth today that has tolerated homosexuality for centuries on end and survived.

I don’t doubt that some people can have highly fulfilling homosexual relationships, the same way that people can have highly fulfilling relationships outside of marriage. What matters is that God considers these harmful, and so He forbids them.

We do not need to be convinced of the harms of these things to avoid them. God forbids that we eat bacon, although by all accounts it is an extremely tasty thing to eat. We do not need to be convinced that bacon is bad for our health, God forbids it, therefore we avoid it. God forbids that we eat during the daytime in Ramadan, even though the food and water in the Ramadan daytime are just as nourishing as they are at night. The food and drink don’t turn into poison during the day, yet God forbids that we consume them.

The Quran gives a certain structure to our lives that we have to implement, even if we do not fully appreciate the wisdom behind it. The matter all boils down to the Quran, one reads it, becomes convinced that it is truly from the Creator, and decides of their own free will to follow it, which means they will follow all of it, including the parts of it that they do not fully understand, because, since they are convinced that it is from the Creator, they trust Him to know what is best for them.

Part of the structure that the Quran gives to our lives is to not have sex outside of marriage, and to not engage in homosexual relationships, despite whatever fulfillment that exists in these things. As God’s lowly servants, we can only say “We hear and we obey.” (The Quran, verse 24:51).

Reconciling Islam with homosexuality is similar to reconciling Islam with the desires of a man who is not satisfied with having sex within marriage only but constantly desires other women. While there might be scientific reasons for their desires, and while carrying out their desires might give them extreme fulfillment, Islam requires that they do not act on their desires for the greater good, therefore there can be no reconciliation.

A person who has homosexual desires might wonder, “What is so wrong with desiring a person of the same sex? We don’t mean harm to anyone, and our relationship is consensual.” What’s wrong with it is that it goes against the structure that God wants to give to our lives. It is similar to eating in the daytime during Ramadan. You can do it without meaning harm to anyone, and it can give you pleasure, but it goes against the rules that God has placed.

If one thinks God’s rules are silly and not worth following, then this is not about homosexuality, it is about their not believing in the Quran. And if they believe in the Quran but feel that it is unjustly discriminating against them, this is similar to a person feeling it is unjustly discriminating against their desire for alcohol, or for sex outside of marriage. It might feel unjust and oppressive, but it is for the greater good.

If a person feels that giving up the fulfillment of a homosexual relationship for the greater good is not worth it, then they are choosing the present life at the expense of the hereafter. Millions of people have taken this choice in various ways, choosing fulfillment in the present life instead of being content with God’s commandments, to their ultimate loss.

Homosexuality is just another condition that prevents a Muslim from having satisfactory intimate relationships. There are thousands of such conditions, and there is nothing special about homosexuality that makes one deserve to break God’s laws so that one can attain fulfillment.

A Muslim engaging in homosexual sex saying there is no other way for them to receive fulfillment is like a poor Muslim man of 60 who really desires women but who has never had sex saying that he deserves to sleep with a prostitute in order to receive fulfillment, since God has prevented him from getting fulfillment the acceptable way, or like a crippled Muslim woman who thinks she can never get married saying that she is allowed to get sex outside of marriage since there is no other way for her.

There are many people living with horrible conditions that prevent them from enjoying life and cause them great suffering, or that prevent them from ever having intimate relationships. Being homosexual and not being able to enjoy heterosexual relationships is just one of those thousands of conditions. Many Muslims patiently suffer through such conditions, and they do not justify breaking God’s laws in order to attain fulfillment.

Millions of Muslim men and women desire marriage but live their lives without enjoying an intimate relationship even once because they are too poor or too unattractive to marry, or they are attractive but there is no one they can marry, and in this way they get old and die without marrying.

For a homosexual Muslim, the matter is entirely between themselves and God. They should read the Quran and use their conscience to decide the best course of action, and they should reject the 24/7 propaganda in the West that constantly tells them they should act on their desires.

As for dealing with a Muslim who has homosexual desires but who does not act on them, then they should be treated like any other Muslim, since they haven’t broken any Islamic laws.

And as for dealing with Muslims who do engage in homosexual acts, they should be dealt with like other sinners, for example those who engage in heterosexual sex outside of marriage, or those who drink alcohol. We should treat them in public with politeness like we treat all people. If we have a close friend who is a sinner, we can admonish them with kind words if they are close enough to not be offended by our words. As for distant friends and acquaintances; we will not cause a Muslim alcoholic to suddenly come back to the Straight Path by calling them sinners or sending them articles about how people like them will go to hell. In such cases, it is best to avoid them, or if we have to interact with them, to be as polite and generous as we always are.

If such a person seeks our friendship or help, we should not reject them automatically. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: “For God to guide another person through you is greater in worth than red camels.” Red camels were considered the most valuable commodity in Arabia at that time. (Bukhari and Muslim)

But he also says: “The similitude of good company and that of bad company is that of the owner of musk and of the one blowing the bellows. The owner of musk would either offer you some free of charge, or you would buy it from him, or you smell its pleasant fragrance; and as for the one who blows the bellows (i.e., the blacksmith), he either burns your clothes or you smell a repugnant smell.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Associating with any type of sinner can be good for both of you; they may be encouraged to become better people, and you could earn the rewards of being a cause for them to come back to the Straight Path. But it could also be harmful for both of you, in that you could become involved with their sin, and in this way both of you could earn punishment, you for falling into sin, and they for being a cause for it. What one should do is not a clear matter, it is a conscience call, and one should decide on a case-by-case basis. There is no single rule that fits all cases.

To reiterate regarding your main question (whether there is something to reconcile), there isn’t. Homosexual sex is like sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol or engaging in usury. There is nothing to reconcile. Regardless of how common it is, or the billions of dollars that leftist billionaires spend promoting it, we must judge things according to how God judges them, even if this makes us unfashionable. Fashions come and go, but God’s words remain the same. Today it is fashionable to legally steal money from the poor through usury, and every rich celebrity engages in it by “investing” their money into various financial institutions that lend money at usury. Just because fashionable people do this does not mean we should follow their example or approve of it or try to reconcile Islam with their desires. They may all have a mental condition that makes them really like stealing money from the poor. Islam, however, asks them to not carry out their desires for the greater good even if what they do is perfectly acceptable according to today’s fashions.

200 years ago in the West usurers were treated like the most disgusting wretches of society by Christians. Today almost every single Christian engages in usury through mortgages and various investments, and even the Vatican lends money at usury through the Vatican Bank. Have they gained anything by this other than God’s wrath and the hollowing out and demise of their culture and civilization?

Question:

I’m not Muslim but I’ve been looking into the religion lately. I’m just wondering why don’t Muslims stand up for the ways LGBT are treated in Muslim countries? I understand that the Koran is against homosexual acts but I don’t understand why they are OK with gays and lesbians being alienated, beaten and killed in Muslim countries. It scares me that Muslims have so much hatred for them. If I can understand this part then maybe I can understand the rest of the religion.

It first be noted that Islam is not forced upon people. People are free to embrace it or leave it as they see fit. Classical Islam ignores this right and considers leaving Islam a punishable offense, which is against the Quran. I deal with this issue in my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Ideally, Islamic law is enacted by democratic choose. If the majority of the people in a state are Muslim, they can elect to have Islamic law as the basis of their legal system. While if Muslims are a minority and are not in charge of the country, as in the West, then they do not have the right to use force to make others follow Islam, therefore they must either tolerate what the law allows or leave the country. They can take part in the democratic process, like the various different religious and political groups in the United States do, in order to affect the legal system.

In Islamic law, engaging in homosexual acts is a punishable crime, meaning that a Muslim majority country can use the democratic process to enact a law that punishes homosexual acts.

Punishing sexual acts is something that is done throughout the world, but different countries have different ideas about what is acceptable. In the United States, for example, pedophilia is punishable by law and the police is allowed to use extreme violence against people wanting to engage in it, or to even watch videos of people engaging in it. The reason for this is that the people of the United States agree that pedophilia is harmful to the child involved and to the rest of society. Regardless of how much fulfillment pedophilia brings to a pedophile, they are required to keep themselves in check and to neither engage in it, or even watch videos of others engaging in it. They are required to stay put and act as if they are not pedophiles, for the sake of society’s greater good.

Homosexual acts are of course not like the acts of pedophiles, since it involves consenting adults. So why would a society punish consenting adults for doing what brings them fulfillment and which seemingly harms no one?

The reason is that, according to the Islamic view, tolerating homosexuality has long-term harms to society. Even if in the short-term it brings great fulfillment to the people involved, in the long-term, thinking in terms of generations and centuries, it brings great harm. A plague is still a plague whether it takes one year to cause a civilization to go extinct, or whether it takes two centuries.

There isn’t a single civilization existing today that has tolerated homosexuality for multiple centuries and survived. The civilization always experiences declining fertility rates and either collapses, is conquered, or its entire population is slowly replaced by a section of its population that does not tolerate homosexuality.

The harms of homosexuality are similar to the harms of usury (the charging of interest). You can get a credit card, a mortgage and invest in bonds without seemingly doing any harm to anyone, and without suffering harm. But on a macro level (looking at the entire economy), usury always leads to exponentially increasing wealth inequality, a soulless corporate economy that is controlled by the banks, a corrupt corporate media that is fully in bed with the banks and the political elite, and a defense-military-intelligence complex that constantly seeks to get into new wars, because new wars require the issuance of bonds, and the super-rich earn hundreds of billions of dollars every single year on their bond investments, so the more bonds, the better, and if they get the country into a war that costs trillions, that means tens of billions of extra annual interest income for them.

Islam, since it is a religion from God, takes society’s long-term interest into account, its interest over generations and centuries, and for this reason it requires them to avoid short-term fulfillment (sex outside of marriage, credit cards, cars bought on loan) for the sake of the long-term good of themselves and their civilization.

You can argue that since homosexuality is between consenting adults, it is unlikely to do any short-term or long-term harm to society. But you do not know that. Every society on earth that tolerates homosexuality has a below-replacement fertility rate as far as I know, and this means that the society is slowly, but surely, going extinct. Since this process takes many generations, most people couldn’t care less about it. But Islam cares, because Islam has a very-long-term view, it is a religion that thinks in terms of generations and centuries.

For these same reasons, Islam forbids sex outside of marriage, even though it is perfectly natural for people to have sexual desire toward each other and want to be intimate.

The central mission of Islam is to follow the Straight Path, and the Straight Path is made up of two things:

  • Ensuring humanity’s long-term survival
  • Preserving humanity’s short-term moral integrity (never justifying evil for utilitarian purposes)

So a society of intelligent and devout Muslims living on an isolated planet have both of these things assured. Their civilization will not die out like so many other civilizations do. And their civilization never justifies evil (such as killing innocent people when there is something to be gained by it, like the CIA and every intelligence organization in the world does) for the sake of some gain. Even if doing an evil act will ensure great gain for the civilization (such as the US funding various terrorist groups because it advances its geopolitical goals), the civilization instead chooses to lose out on that opportunity, because to it, its mortal integrity is more important than material gain.

Islam’s punishment for all sex outside of marriage is flogging, and this includes homosexual acts. Homosexual acts are just a subcategory of “sex outside of marriage”.

As for killing homosexuals, it is similar to killing adulterers, both of which are against Quranic law, although most classical Islamic scholars support both of them, because they ignore the Quran in favor of less reliable historical texts (hadith). For a discussion of this see my essay Quran-Focused Islam: A Rationalist, Always-Modern and Orthodox Alternative to Salafism.

Any punishment homosexuals receive should be after due process. There is no such thing in Islam as individuals taking the law into their own hands. This is similar to honor killings, which in Islam would be considered murder, but which is carried out in the Middle East and Southeast Asia by many cultures, Muslim and non-Muslim. Classical Islamic scholars have been party to this crime (of killing people without due process) by being silent about it, and by accepting the corruption of the Quran’s place as Islam’s central authority, preferring less reliable hadith narrations over its principles and teachings.

As I mentioned in the earlier part of this essay, a homosexual who doesn’t engage in homosexual acts is not a sinner and Islamic law has nothing against them they are similar to anyone else wanting to have sex outside of marriage but not doing it.

The reason that in Muslim countries few people stand up for the “rights” of homosexuals is the same reason that few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles. Homosexuality is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in Muslim countries. Pedophilia is taboo and practicing it is forbidden and considered harmful in the United States.

Very few people in the United States stand up for the “rights” of pedophiles, even if it is a pedophile who has a genetic preference for children and who promises to never touch a child, because standing up for their rights causes one to be associated with them, and very few people want that. In the same, in Muslim countries standing up for the “rights” of homosexuals is similarly taboo and few people want to be associated with them.

As the world progresses, Muslim countries will hopefully adopt the Quranic attitude toward homosexuality, which is that there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is not acted upon, and that if acted upon and proven after due process, the punishment is not execution but the Quranic punishment of 100 lashes.

As for what “hope” there might be for homosexual rights in Muslim-majority countries, it is similar to what “hope” there is for pedophiles in the United States. They are required to stay put and not to engage in their desires for the greater good.

Again, I am aware that homosexuality and pedophilia are extremely different, but it is useful to compare them since both of them involve sexual acts that are violently suppressed by society. While the Western view of “sexual acts that must be violently suppressed” only includes pedophilia and rape, the Islamic view expands this definition to also include sex outside of marriage, which automatically includes all homosexual acts.

A homosexual is treated with hatred in Muslim countries for the same reason that a pedophile is treated with hatred in the United States. Both of them threaten to do harm to society, it is just that the Islamic view takes very-long-term harm into account, while the Western view is short-sighted and only cares about immediate or short-term (single-generation) harm.

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