Islam & Homosexuality – In Brief

The issue of homosexuality and Islam is one that often crops up in current discourses. Some Muslims have embraced the LGBT movement and the liberal values that come with it, which has put this particular stance in direct opposition to Islamic teachings and the values it espouses.

This article takes a brief look into the position of Islam with regards to homosexuality and summarises key points and stances.

What does the Quran say about Homosexuality? Is it something that was taboo in the past but should now be accepted? Do Muslims really hate gay people? If being gay is ‘natural’ how can it be forbidden or bad? Muslim lands and previous nations have had Homosexuals in them, we know this from the story of the Prophet Lut (pbuh) from the Quran amongst other things. However, we are possibly going through the first period in our history where some are now legitimising Homosexuality and calling for it to be accepted theologically. Something which is completely unprecedented.

Let us first visit what the Islamic texts say about this issue:

“Verily, you practice your lusts on men instead of women. Nay, but you are a people transgressing beyond bounds” (Quran 7:80)

“What! Do you approach the males from among the creatures: And leave what your Lord has created for you of your wives? Nay, you are a people exceeding limits” (Quran 26:165 & 166)

“And (mention) Lot, when he said to his people “Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has ever done before you: Indeed, you approach men and obstruct the road and commit evil deeds in your meetings”. And the answer of his people was not but they said, “Bring us the punishment of Allah, if you should be of the truthful” (Quran 29:29 & 30)

“A man should not look at the private parts of another man, and a woman should not look at the private parts of another woman.” (Hadith, Abu Dawud)

“A man should not lie with another man and a woman should not lie with another woman without covering their private parts.” (Hadith, Abu Dawud)

There are also several hadith about the punishment for Homosexuality and equating it to Zina (fornicating) and Adultery. The Quran and Hadith are clear on the issue of Homosexuality being a sin, forbidden and a transgression. The Sahabah, the four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence and all classical scholars are unanimous in Homosexuality being amongst the major sins. Therefore, it is abundantly clear there is no room for interpretation, compromise, tweaking, difference of opinion or ambiguity around this issue. It is without doubt a flagrant sin and a major transgression.

We may encounter some that label themselves as Progressives, Modernists or Reformists who call for Homosexuality to be legitimatised in the Shariah. They would be more accurately labelled as ‘Deformists’ and ‘Deviants’. We do not have the right to pick and choose what is halal and haram. We cannot have our own tailored versions of Islam, one based on rejecting some aspects because it does not suit us or it is not fashionable or ‘politically correct’. As Muslims, our ethics and morals are not based on popularity, a majority vote or our own whims and desires. We have our ethics and values from the Quran and Sunnah and this is what we submit to if we believe in Allah and His Messenger.

There is an argument that is used which is that your sexuality or orientation is genetic or with you from birth. This is often rejected by faith-based communities who argue that it is your environment that determines this and so the ‘Nature vs Nurture’ debate arises. From an Islamic perspective, ‘Nature vs Nurture’ is irrelevant. Islamic Law does not deal with emotions or desires – it deals with actions. Feelings in the heart are not sinful, Allah does not punish based on this or what you desire. Rather it is the actions that are punished. As humans, we all have our dispositions and desires. A man may have a strong attraction to a certain type of woman, be it in her beauty or figure. Does this mean he is free to act however he pleases? What about those who have other types of urges, such as those who steal. Should their actions be justified because they are simply manifesting their desires? For both of these examples you could get into the Nature vs Nurture debate, but this is a non-issue in Islamic Law.

It could be that being attracted to a member of the opposite gender is your test and struggle where as another is struggling with their emotions and attractions to someone of the same gender. The fact that someone has a disposition does not mean they have to (or should) act on it.

How should we classify or treat those that do act upon it? I have heard statements such as “You cannot be gay and Muslim” or “If you are gay you are no longer a Muslim”. This position is incorrect. They would be classed as a major sinner but not a kafir. We do not hear people label Muslims who drink alcohol, take drugs or fornicate as ‘Kafir’. Rather they are looked upon as sinners and wrong doers. Why is the position different for someone who commits this sin? Why the double standard? Homosexuality, as stated is a major sin but it is not ‘Kufr’. Another important point to make is there is a difference to what is done privately behind closed doors and what is done openly and publicly. The former being a sin nonetheless, but a matter between you and God. There is also no distinction or labelling such as ‘gay muslim’ or ‘heterosexual muslim’, these concepts and terms do not exist within the religion.

We do however have to draw a line somewhere. This is where someone justifies, legitimises and flaunts Homosexuality. Those that not only have the desire and not only act upon it, but completely and arrogantly deny the ruling on it. Deliberately twisting the interpretation or ignoring clear verses on the matter. Rejecting the Shariah and justifying or propagating is kufr. There can be no room or compromise for such a stance, nor a difference of opinion permitted or showing support for such calls.

We can therefore categorise this into 3 possibilities and outcomes:

  • Someone who has these feelings: Not sinful
  • Someone who acts on these feelings, knowing it is haram: Sinful, but we treat them as any other sinner
  • Someone who commits the act, propagates it and justifies it, therefore rejecting the shariah ruling: This is Kufr

Wherever someone is on this scale, we should advise them with wisdom and bring them back to what Islam teaches and propagates. Cutting someone off completely should not be the first reaction, it may do more harm than good especially when the person may be willing to listen or is struggling with their sin. They may also trying to return to Allah and asking for His help. We do not want to be the reason they move further away from the Deen by our actions and reaction towards them. A softer approach is sometimes necessary. While Muslims, Christians and Jews should be free to adhere to their religious viewpoint on Homosexuality without being labelled as bigots or Homophobic, we should also be careful not to oppress such individuals or encourage any violence or harm towards them. Speaking out against violence, discrimination or oppression against them is not the same as validating or justifying their sin.


This piece is an extract from the personal blog of one of our contributors, AzTheBaz. The full original piece can be found here: https://azthebaz.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/the-curious-case-of-omar-mateen/

Image Source: AP

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