Merriam-Webster defines homophobia as an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. Though I agree, a much accurate version is given by Urban-Dictionary which states it as a severe condition..leading one to inaccurately use bible quoting for the justification of killing homosexuals. The injustice being served to homosexuals in our time is immense. One can not start to fathom the daily struggles a homosexual has to face. The constant fear of being hated, the need to hide oneself under a garb as the revelation of one’s sexual inclination may be misused to paint his entire identity adversely. I can dedicate an entire blog just talking about the issues faced by homosexuals on a daily basis and it will shock people to their core. These are elementary ethical problems. One would expect that with the progress of our society no community will have to face such problems, but it appears, it’s not the case.
Even though many people come up with various reasons to participate in Homophobia, ranging from “If I don’t hate them people may think I’m Gay” to “They are so weird” majority of them use religion. They hate because God said so. Abrahamic religion is the front runner in this case. Jews, Christians, and Muslims, though may always be ready to get into a theological and political debate and cut open each other throats, when it comes to this subject show a surprise unity in their hatred of homosexuals.
Before going further, let me make very clear my religious view of Homosexuality. I am of the opinion that God has kept it very vague making it very hard to come up with a conclusive understanding whether homosexuality is okay or not, and there is a huge wisdom behind this. This gives everyone an opportunity to create their own view based on their temperament and more importantly, it lets them be tolerant enough of other views. My reason for coming up with such an understanding can be divided into three parts
1- It’s generally understood that people of Lot were faced by the wrath of God because they were homosexuals. This is simply incorrect. They faced punishment because of the same reason which people of Noah, Moses, Shuaib, Thamud and Prophet Muhammad faced punishment. For rejecting their Prophet. To think that they were punished because of being Gay would be an incoherent observation.
2- In Chapter 29, verse 29, Qur’an narrates three sins of the people of the Lot. Remember, based on above it’s not for these sins that they faced punishment.
“Do you approach men and obstruct the road and commit evil in your gatherings. And the answer of his people was not but they said, “Bring us the punishment of God , if you should be of the truthful.” (29:29)
It’s not elaborated as to what God means by approaching men, blocking roads and committing evils in the gathering. One understanding would be that they would block roads, kidnap traveling men, take them to their gatherings and rape them. I don’t think anyone will have a problem calling such an act wrong.
In Chapter 7, verse 40 another generic term is used, stating that they were committing immorality. As to what this immorality is and how it was being done, it’s not elaborated.
“And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds?” (7:40)
3- Now imagine this for a second, we have a community–the people of Lot–who were sinful. They are about to face God’s wrath. Now, in this scenario look at the approach of Prophet Abraham, the founding father of all the three religions. He boldly comes to their defense and starts arguing/pleading with the angels–sent by God to destroy–for the safety of the people of Lot. We see this in chapter 11, verse 74
Then when the fear had gone away from (the mind of) Abraham, and the glad tidings had reached him, he began to plead with Us (Our Messengers) for the people of Lot.
What is more interesting, is the next verse, God comments on this behavior. A man speaking for the protection of “homosexual people”, guess what God says, he doesn’t rebuke him nor admonish him nor calls him immoral for trying to speak for immoral people, but God praises Abraham for his conduct
Abraham was certainly a forbearing, compassionate, and tender-hearted person
It’s because of the above three points that I feel that far from speaking against homosexuality one should support them right now because of the persecution they are facing, one can have a theological disagreement at the same time speak for their rights. This is a quality of someone who has a clear and clean morality.
But, unfortunately, if we see the behavior of religious people, all around the world, and especially in the West, it’s not the case. Forget about coming forward and supporting them, they have been the front runner in persecuting and subjugating them, and unfortunately, all this is done in the name of God.
For example, Muslims in Indonesia recently asked people to boycott Starbucks for its stand on Gay rights. Just before that, we had a group of Muslims parents from Berlin campaigning that a gay teacher is removed from Nursery. Muslims have called people to protest against the gay marriage bill passed in France early this year, and their call was answered in thousands. A similar thing was done a couple of years back when David Cameron planned for passing gay marriage bill which saw 500 Imaams coming together to protest against it. In 2012, a Muslim group in Malaysia protested Elton John concert over the same gay marriage issue calling it an anti-Islamic thing and something which will corrupt the minds of young people in Malaysia.
So, the question is even though the position of Abraham is so clear and the actual verdict on homosexuality is so unclear why do we have Muslims and other religious groups getting so charged up about this. Why do we not see a similar outburst against other things, especially where the ruling of Qur’an is clearer?
In my opinion, this has nothing to do with religion. This is simply an outburst of emotions because of insecurity. The insecurity that their religion needs a defense and if they fail to protect it, the religion will be wiped out from the face of this earth. The other will take over. As I have demonstrated above, Qur’an itself doesn’t promote such thinking so one can’t and shouldn’t put it on religion. The other thing, which I came across just recently, and I thought was very interesting is that this homophobic nature,
The other thing, which I came across just recently, and I thought was very interesting is that this homophobic nature, especially among Muslims, is a recent development. When we look at the Muslim History–as explained by Mufti Abu Layth–we see that not only they were very accepting of homosexuals and bisexuals but also gave them important status in their world. A Judge (Qazi) can be a homosexual but no one will question his judgment. Let me narrate few examples here.
1- Al Walid Ibn Abd Al Malik or Al Walid I who was amongst the first Caliphs of the Ummayad Caliphate was a known homosexual. The key word here is known. Al Dhahabi writes it clearly in his popular work of Tarikh Al Islam Al Kabir ( Major History of Islam ) where he says Al Walid was a known homosexual. To such an extent that when he was succeeded by his brother Sulayman Ibn Abd Al Malik he says that Al Walid “tried it” on him. Try to imagine this, will Muslims be ready to accept a Caliph who will rule the so called “Global Caliphate” to be homosexual? I bet they won’t, but the Muslim ancestors–who many Muslims look up to, didn’t really have major problems
2- Going forward we move to the Abbasid Caliphate. And it’s known that homosexuality and pederasty was a wide spread phenomenon. Al Amin the son of the popular Caliph Harun Ar Rashid, and later a Caliph himself, was a known homosexual. So much that he didn’t show much interest in his slave girls either. His brother Al Mamun, the other son of Harun was a known bisexual.
3- That were the Caliphs. But it was not just limited there. We have one of the teachers of Bukhari, a famous scholar himself Qadi Yahya bin Aksam who justified homosexuality stating that Qur’an supported it. He quoted Chapter 3 Verse 14 as his justification.
Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons (boys)..
Obviously not many agree with this view, but you get an idea. He was an appointed Judge and was known for his homosexuality. One interesting thing to note here was that Al Mamun (Homosexual himself) sacked Qazi Yahya and that was not because of his homosexuality. It was because they had a theological difference between whether Qur’an was created or it was eternal. Al Mamun belief it was former and Qazi Yahya believed it was latter.
4- When Qazi Yahya got sacked he was replaced by Muhammad bin Dawud, who was not just homosexual but also wrote a book called Kitab Al-Zahra where he states in the foreword that it is dedicated to his male lover. Kitab Al Zahra is still rated as one of the best books written on love in Arab.
Yes, of course, these people were criticized for their views and their conduct, but there was no homophobia around them. They were duly appreciated for their work which had nothing to do with their sexual orientation.
5- One of the classical Arabic poet, Abu Nuwas, a contemporary of Qazi Yahya was a known homosexual. Most of his poetry is about homosexuality. He was not just a poet but also an Islamic Scholar. There is a popular story about him which goes that when he was praised and someone said that may he be rewarded with the Hours in Jannah, he countered saying, “No, I would rather have the boys like pearls, mentioned in Qur’an”. This guy is rated as one of the best Islamic Poets.
The above is just a small example of the presence of homosexuals in our history. The question we need to ask ourselves is how did we come from there to a position where we have developed such phobia where we are keen to call homosexuals as Kafirs, as someone who is out of Islam. This is wrong on so many different levels, firstly, we can’t just call anyone kafir just like that, secondly, how about some empathy? If you don’t like homosexuality, then don’t be homosexual, why is it worrying you what someone else is doing.
What is interesting is that this attitude is only in the western countries. If you look at the Muslim Countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, acts of homosexuality are rampant.
Dr. Jonathan Brown explains in his article explains that it was never homosexuality in itself but particular acts which were deemed as sinful in Shari’a.
In the end, I’ll like to reiterate the point which I’m trying to make with all these examples and explanations. Just because you think that your religion speaks against homosexuality doesn’t mean that you get to suppress them, in fact, I’ve quoted enough examples on why one should, in fact, support them as they are a community getting suppressed right now. This is the way of Islam shown by many scholars from our past and also shown by our founding father, Abraham.