Homosexuality

 [1304002; Holy Quran, sony sugema digital quran 3.0, islamreligion.com]

Description: The Islamic understanding of homosexuality.
By Aisha Stacey (© 2013 IslamReligion.com)
Published on 07 Jan 2013 – Last modified on 07 Jan 2013
Viewed: 29 (daily average: 235) – Rating: none yet – Rated by: 0


Homosexuality is one of the 21st century’s hot topics. The issue of gay marriage is being debated around the world. Strangely however many people do not understand what the word homosexuality means nor do they understand what Islam says about the issue. In this article we will define the term, look at scientific evidences related to homosexuality, discuss the view of other religious groups & finally see just what Islam says about the issue.

Homosexuality is the manifestation of sexual desire toward a member of one’s own sex or the erotic activity with a member of the same sex. (The Greek word homos means the same). A lesbian is a female homosexual. More recently the term “gay” has come into popular use to refer to both sexes who are homosexuals.

The Merriam Webster free online dictionary,   in its concise encyclopaedia defines homosexuality as sexual interest in & attraction to members of one’s own sex. Female homosexuality is frequently referred to as lesbianism; the word gay is often used as an alternative for both “homosexual” & “lesbian,” though it may  (on occasion) refer specifically to male homosexuality.

The role of biological factors in the development of human sexual orientation is a widely debated topic. There is a wide spectrum of opinions about the effect genes, prenatal hormones & brain structure can have on the development of a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual person. It seems unclear even to those who declare homosexuality an innate trait. At a PrideWorks[1]  conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender minors it was stated that “sexuality is fluid” & “may change over time” however, homosexual activists continue to maintain that they are “born gay.”

The latest research by the National Institute for Mathematical & Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) suggests that homosexuality is not written in our DNA sequence, which explains why scientists have failed so far to find “gay genes,” despite intensive investigations. Instead, they say, it is in certain modifications to how & when DNA is activated. These changes can have environmental roots, so are not normally permanent enough to be passed from parent to child.

There is a post script however, because apparently, occasionally they are passed from parent to child. This is a branch of science called epigenetics.[2]

Throughout history particular cultures & societies have treated homosexuality in a number of ways.  Homosexual behaviour has variously been encouraged, approved of, tolerated, punished, & banned. The three so called Abrahamic faiths Judaism, Christianity, & Islam  have generally viewed homosexuality as sinful, although many religious leaders of all three faiths have said or implied that it is the act, & not the inclination that is sinful.

Attitudes toward homosexuality are generally in flux, due in part to increased political activism, however until the early 1970s many medical organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, classified homosexuality as a mental illness. In the past couple of decades many Christian denominations have changed their views quite significantly & we now see homosexual ministers & an acceptance of same sex marriages, this however is not the case with the Catholic Church. In late 2012 the Vatican spoke out against any suggestions that traditional marriage had been defeated, following significant victories for gay marriage activists in the United States & Europe.

In his Peace Day message the pope said, “(There is) a need to acknowledge & promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man & a woman in the face of attempts to make it  equivalent to radically different types of union. Such attempts actually harm & help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature & its indispensable role in society.” Earlier in the year the pontiff declared that same sex marriage threatened human dignity & the future of humankind.

Judaism is also struggling with modern day attitudes to homosexuality. The known history of homosexuality in Judaism begins in Leviticus, where intercourse between male homosexuals is a capital offence. “[A man] shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). Thus Orthodoxy’s foundational beliefs concerning the Divinity of Torah & the authority of halachah (received Jewish law) declare homosexuality (the sexual act) as a prohibited action.

In late 2012 the USA’s largest rabbinic organization, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) formally withdrew its support of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). Judaism’s approach to homosexuality has long been one of rehabilitation, as has the Mormon Church. In America Jews struggling with homosexual inclinations are encouraged to seek therapy to help them overcome unnatural desires.  At this point it is interesting to note that both JONAH & various gay organisations refer to homosexuality, as fluid, a state that can fluctuate. 

Many ex-homosexuals agree that homosexuality is a choice. Greg Quinlan, president of Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), says,

“I, as a former homosexual, along with tens of thousands of others who left homosexuality, [am] proof that it is not immutable; you can change.” & “It is not innate; you are not born that way.”

There are also a number of Islamic ex-gay groups aimed at attempting to guide homosexuals towards heterosexuality; including the Straightway Foundation a UK based ex-gay organization which works with homosexual Muslims seeking to eliminate their same-sex attraction.

In the Quran God explicitly condemns homosexuality.

When their brother Lot said to them, “Will you not fear God? Verily! I am a trustworthy Messenger to you. So fear God & obey me. I ask no reward from you, for my only reward is with the Lord of the Worlds. Must you, unlike [other] people, lust after males & abandon the wives that God has created for you? You are exceeding all bounds” (Quran 26: 161-166)

There is a consensus among Islamic scholars that human beings are naturally heterosexual. Homosexuality is seen as a perverted deviation from the norm & all schools of thought & jurisprudence consider homosexual acts to be unlawful. Islam considers that our relaxed attitude in this day & age is a product of the times in which we live, where morals have been completely liquefied.

Homosexuality is considered the sin of the people of Prophet Lot[3]  & its Arabic word is lutiyya. Liwat is the word for sodomy, under which heading the topic of homosexuality is found in the books of Islamic jurisprudence.  Under Islamic law both the (same-sex) sodomizer & sodomized are condemned to death.

However it must be pointed out that the death penalty is applied only under strict conditions & rules of evidence, & only in places that live under Islamic law.  It is the act itself that is punishable not homosexual desires or tendencies. There is no fixed prescribed punishment for lesbianism since sexual intercourse does not take place, however it is undoubtedly, prohibited & sinful.

In words that are reminiscent of the Catholic pontiff speech in December 2012, the Quran tells us that marriage, a union between the two sexes is a  combination of love, tenderness, & care, so that each finds in the other completeness, tranquillity, & support (Quran 30:21). According to the Quran it is through this spousal connection that men & women find comfort, peace of mind, satisfaction, & fulfilment. These relationships extend beyond the physical sexual contact & to psychological, spiritual relations.

Islam says unequivocally that even if one harbours an urge for homosexual contact the nobility of the human spirit is able to overcome such urges through dedication to pleasing God, & submitting willingly to His commands that are undoubtedly designed for our benefit.


Footnotes:

[1] A USA based conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth & their allies.

[2] For more detailed information
(http://healthland.time.com/2012/12/13/new-insight-into-the-epigenetic-roots-of-homosexuality/)

[3] (http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1872/viewall/)

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