I have read one or two of your articles on your website. It’s really insightful, jazakumullah ahsanul jaza. I have a question similar yet specific about homosexuality. How does Islam view if there is two friends of the same sex who love each other in a platonic-romantic way, and have strong desire to express their love with kissing or even making out, yet no intention of leading it to eventually having sex? Thank you.
The generally accepted principle of fiqh (Islamic law and jurisprudence) is that seeking sexual gratification with another person is only allowed in the context of an officially sanctioned relationship (i.e. marriage). From this principle, kissing someone you desire, whether they are of the same sex or the opposite sex, is considered forbidden, since it is in the wrong context.
Therefore if sexual desire and gratification is involved when you kiss someone of the same sex, then that is in the non-permissible zone.
While what you describe may appear harmless, in moral philosophy acts are considered not in isolation, but in the context of such acts becoming commonplace. If everyone started making out with people they desired, saying they did not intend to have sex, what would be the result?
Some unmarried Christians use oral sex as a loophole for enjoying sexual gratification, thinking that this preserves Christian sexual morality. This shows a lack of understanding for sexual morality. Sexual morality exists to channel sexual desires in ways that do not harm the persons involved and the rest of society. If everyone started having oral sex with people they desired, the result is a general laxness of attitudes toward sexual morality. It will seem quite foolish and arbitrary to most people that one form of sexual gratification with another person is allowed but another form is not.
The issue of making out is less dramatic than that of oral sex, but permitting it comes with the same consequences. Christians, again, provide a good case study. While 1000 years ago they were far more insistent on limiting contact between the sexes, the standards were slowly lowered, so that it became commonly accepted for unmarried people to enjoy some sexual gratification with each other, starting with the toleration of intense dances that greatly increased contact to letting unmarried couples spend hours of alone time together. That led to today’s Christian culture, where sex outside of marriage is the norm rather than the exception. Open-minded Christians have difficulty accepting the prohibition on extramarital sex because their religious authorities tolerate some extramarital sexual gratification.
Islam’s solution to this is to prohibit all forms of sexual gratification with another person outside of marriage, even if it is merely holding hands, because once any form of extramarital sexual gratification becomes commonplace, the door is opened for it to be extended slightly. Each generation lowers standards until a point is reached where sex outside of marriage becomes commonplace. This has happened in all Christian countries, and it is slowly happening in the non-devout sections of Muslim countries too.
One may go on to ask what the point of sexual morality is. What is so bad about sex outside of marriage? What is bad is that it reduces society’s fitness, causing it to slowly disintegrate. Look at the world’s civilizations and you will see that wherever sexual freedom is tolerated, that civilization is slowly going extinct due to below-replacement fertility rates. The people have lost their hope in the future and do not consider themselves worthy of having children, or they selfishly prefer their freedom and pleasure over bringing up children, and the result of these trends is that the number of old people dying is greater than the number of children being born every year, so that their society slowly goes extinct and is replaced by other societies that do not tolerate sexual freedom.
One of Islam’s primary goals is the long-term survival of humanity. Islam believes that there is a positive value in the existence and continuation of humanity and its practices are geared toward this goal. Usury, which enables the wealthy to drain the wealth of society, is forbidden, one reason being that it makes it unaffordable for people to have children. Many people in the West are enslaved to hundreds of thousands of dollars of student, car and mortgage debt, having to pay $2000 or more monthly in interest to the super rich, so how can they afford to have children?
Islam forbids all things that are destructive to humanity’s long-term survival; it thinks in terms of generations and centuries, and it forbids short-term gratification if it brings with it long-term harm.
So regarding your specific question of doing those acts with a member of the same sex, Islamic morality forbids it. Since (or if) sexual attraction is involved, then the case is similar to the case of an unmarried man and woman. This is a matter of conscience between you and God. Islam forbids that you eat bacon, even though eating it will not be the end of the world, you avoid it as a matter of respect for God’s laws, even if the thing seems relatively quite harmless. The same applies to drinking a can of beer.
God forbids certain things and requires that we carry out other things, all of which are there to enforce upon us a highly specific way of life. Telling one lie, making out with someone you are not married to, stealing $50 dollars when it seems like it wouldn’t harm anyone, and drinking a can of beer are all forbidden although they may all seem relatively harmless at the time, because all of these go against the enforcement of God’s structure. God wants us to act a certain way for humanity’s long-term good, even if occasionally breaking His laws does not seem to be harmful to anyone. Giving yourself the right to break any of His laws causes a degradation within your soul and makes it easier for you to break another law. For this reason, for your own good, it is best to avoid all things that your conscience is not comfortable with or that seem to go against His laws, no matter how seemingly unimportant.