Why Does Allah Hate Homosexuals?
Not a week goes by without seeing a news story about a gay person being killed in a Muslim-majority country, whether it’s teenage boys being hung from a crane in Iran1 or men being stoned in Iraq2. Brunei has even put into effect a new law which allows death by stoning for anyone who has sex with someone of the same gender3. The sovereign Islamist government of Brunei claims the ruling is based on Shariah Law (Islamic Law).
The vast majority of Muslims condemn the disgusting practice of killing someone over their sexual orientation, which they rightly should. Any human being with an ounce of morality will reject the murder of any woman or man, simply based on her or his sexual orientation. Few things are as absurd as carrying out the death penalty on an individual for engaging in consensual sex with another adult of the same gender. Anyone who insists on this punishment should be exiled to an isolated cave somewhere, where they can practice all the preposterous rules they want. Humans with that mindset are not fit for modern society, especially not in Western countries. They are a threat to both Muslims as well as non-Muslims. All rational individuals, regardless of religious creed, can agree on this.
The more moderate or reformist Muslim scholars in our present times even go as far as arguing that punishing homosexuals is a practice that is alien to Islam. They compare it to other vile customs that allegedly pre-date Islam, such as female genital mutilation. The fact that they insist that homosexuals shouldn’t be murdered proves that they are rational and moral people. And I respect them for that. However, I don’t appreciate the sugarcoating of the Islamic scriptures’ position on homosexuality. This is intellectual dishonesty. To deny what the scriptures say is to blatantly abuse scholarly authority through deception.
For the purposes of this writing piece, I will refer to Sunni Islamic primary sources as I have not studied Shia Islam. In this piece, I use the term “Islamic” interchangeably with “Sunni”.
The Qur’an is regarded by Muslims to be the unaltered book of Allah (God). All major Islamic schools of thought agree that anyone who rejects the preservation of the Qur’an is a Murtad (apostate). Apostasy – and it’s punishment – is a topic that I will examine in another piece. The other primary source in Sunni Islam is the corpus of Hadith, or the compiled sayings of the founder of Islam, Muhammad. These sayings were compiled through an extremely rigorous process that brought the total number of authentic narrations from millions down to just tens of thousands. Islamic scholars regard six major Hadith collections as authentic. The rest are disputed and are open to difference in opinion. I will avoid listing them here for the sake of brevity. Anyone who wants to find out more about Hadith and their preservation process can Google the subject. For the purposes of quoting Hadith, I will only refer to the collections of Bukhari and Abu Dawud. These two collections are among the six collections regarding as authentic by Sunni Muslim scholars.
The sayings of Muhammad are second only to the Qur’an in terms of religious authority. Please note that I have no interest in debating whether or not these Hadith are taken out of context. Even a child will be able to see that these sayings are completely self-explanatory and don’t need further explanation. Any person is free to verify them independently. I am just quoting the text here. I have no desire to provide my own commentary. For this very reason, I will avoid quoting the Qur’an. Any mainstream Muslim will tell you that an average person cannot pick up the Qur’an and interpret it. I couldn’t agree more. It is so chock-full of contradictions and the language is so unclear (even in the original Arabic), that only a scholar who has submitted her or his rational mind to Allah/Muhammad can make sense of it. Unlike the Qur’an, the Hadith collections are broken down into individual narrations that don’t really require any context for our purposes. However, for the sake of fairness, I will also later provide commentary from Islamic scholars on these statements. Here are the sayings of Muhammad from the Hadith collections on homosexuals:
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed effeminate men; those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, “Turn them out of your houses.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) turned out such-and-such man, and ‘Umar turned out such-and-such woman. (Bukhari 7:72:774)
Narrated By Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lut’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done. (Abu Dawud 38:4447)
Narrated By Abdullah ibn Abbas: If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death. (Abu Dawud 38:4448)
As promised, here are the views of a classical Islamic scholar as well as a modern day Islamic scholar on the subject. We’ll start with Ibn Kathir, regarded as one of the biggest authorities on Islamic jurisprudence in the Sunni tradition. He lived from 1301-1373:
And the two persons among you who commit illegal sexual intercourse, punish them both. Ibn `Abbas and Sa`id bin Jubayr said that this punishment includes cursing, shaming them and beating them with sandals. This was the ruling until Allah abrogated it with flogging or stoning, as we stated. Mujahid said, “It was revealed about the case of two men who do it. As if he was referring to the actions of the people of Lut, and Allah knows best. The collectors of Sunan recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever you catch committing the act of the people of Lut (homosexuality), then kill both parties to the act.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)
Now let us see what a modern day Islamist scholar from Saudi Arabia says:
“The shar’i punishment for the crime of homosexuality is execution – by the sword, according to the most correct view – as was narrated in the discussion above about the differences among the scholars as to how this execution should be carried out.” (Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 5177)4
Any person who claims to be rational can see that Sheikh Al-Munajjid is not pulling this Fatwa out of thin air. Clearly his views are supported by both the sayings of Muhammad as well as a major classical Islamic scholar. The classical Islamic scholars were unanimous in their views on the punishment for homosexuality and agreed with Ibn Kathir. Again, a simple internet search will show you many more sources. It makes no sense for me to copy and paste a whole myriad of quotes. It is clear, however, that the Islamist Sheikh Al-Munajjid, is in fact, quoting the real Islamic position on the subject. At the very least I appreciate his intellectual honesty and his willingness to provide Muhammad’s views on the subject even if it makes the Sheikh look like a barbarian who crept out of the Dark Ages.
Fortunately, many modern day Muslims disregard these scholars and their ridiculous immoral opinions. However, to claim that the scholars’ findings are not derived from the Islamic religion is a grave injustice to the decades that they spent studying the religion. Even worse are the modern Islamic scholars who reject the interpretations of the classical Islamic scholars. As if the religion was misinterpreted for over a millennium before the modern day authorities came around to fix it. Now why would Allah do that?
I am certainly not arguing that absurd practices such as stoning to death of homosexuals shouldn’t be condemned by modern Muslim scholars. However, I am absolutely claiming that modern scholars have no right to claim that classical scholars did not base their views on the Islamic texts. This intellectual dishonesty is completely unacceptable. It is dangerous because it hides the truth about Islam from Muslims and non-Muslims, particularly from new converts in the West who don’t have access to the Arabic texts. Some of the English translations of Islamic texts are missing pages upon pages from the original Arabic versions since they’ve been watered down to appease Westerners5. By doing this, we avoid facing the real problems that are rooted in Islamic scriptures, texts, and history. Islamists are not the sole problem. Islam itself deserves equal blame. The hard-line views of Islamists are obviously barbaric and in direct conflict with modern day society. However, to claim that their views have no basis in Islam, or that Muhammad was tolerant of homosexuals is almost as big a lie as claiming the holocaust never happened.
Finally, I want to touch upon the philosophical dilemma that Islam’s position on homosexuality brings. I want all Muslims to read this part very carefully. Modern day science has proven beyond a doubt that sexual orientation is deeply embedded in our DNA and genetic makeup. We have no control over it just as we don’t have control over the color of our skin. Anyone who argues against scientific evidence cannot possibly be taken seriously in the year 2014. Back when I was a naive Muslim boy, I would stubbornly argue that science is wrong and that people in fact “choose” to be gay. Millions of Islamists as well as Christian fundamentalists hold this view. Even after a childhood Muslim friend came out of the closet, I insisted that he was misguided and that he should pray to Allah for guidance. He was one of the most religious people I knew. The fact that he came from a hard-line Islamist Pathan family gave him all the more motivation to not pursue other men sexually. However, I insisted on my hardheadedness and claimed it was a choice. Science obviously proved me wrong. Now for the sake of argument let us assume that Islam is the correct religion and that the creator of the entire universe does in fact call for the execution of homosexuals. The obvious question that arises is why create LGBT people in the first place? What kind of a sadistic godhead would create something just to brutally punish it? The Islamic version of hell is far more brutal and explicit than the Christian one. The early Arabs were a literal people. I urge readers to read passages about hell in the Qur’an and truly comprehend what is being said.
Now imagine if I built a table from scratch and painted it red. And then I burned it and destroyed it brutally because the table refused to turn blue. Every single rational human being on the planet would call me psychotic, and rightly so. Why then does Allah escape the same criticism? Why don’t people look at Allah and say “this guy is obviously psychotic”. Why does he deserve unquestionable worship? Perhaps it’s due to the stigma attached with criticizing Islam. Similar to the punishment of homosexuality, the punishment for blasphemy and apostasy in Islam is also death. It is for this reason that writers like me are forced to use pseudonyms even while living in Western countries. This is rapidly changing due to the courageous efforts of a select few women and men. However, that’s a topic of discussion for another day. I will end with the following quote from Muhammad al-Razi (865-925 AD). He was one of the greatest minds that ever came out of the Middle East. Islamists love to attribute his successes in medicine to the “Islamic Golden Age”. Here is what he had to say about the religion:
“If the people of this religion [Islam] are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.”
5 – A video from an Arabic speaker demonstrating how the English translation of Ibn Kathir’s Tafsir is missing an entire section on Muhammad having sex with his slave girl, Mary the Coptic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr1ck0n-Oio