As much as I love Islam, even before I reverted, I knew there were certain concepts that I was not going to readily agree with. Being the insistent, inquisitive and obstinate teenager that I am, I usually need an explanation of something before I accept it happily. Of course, when I got into Islam, the issue about Homosexuality (and indeed, other LGBT sexualities) never popped into my mind - I was too busy learning how to pronounce words in Arabic!
It's a bitter topic. And it's one I do not want to talk about, as it seems to be a facet of Islam that non-Muslims do not like. However, it is one that we must discuss, rather than placing a taboo on it.
In Islam, it is indeed true, that homosexuality is a sin.
The reason and the punishments for such a sin raise many questions, however.
Most Muslims would look towards the Qur'an, and refer to God punishing (by killing) the people of Lot (alaihi salaam) for committing the sin of homosexuality.
"And We sent Lut when he said to his people: What! do you commit an indecency which any one in the world has not done before you? Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people... And We rained upon them a rain; consider then what was the end of the guilty." (Surah 7:80-84)
Of the Muslims who refer to this quote, some would say that it means that homosexuality is a sin, therefore homosexuals must be killed just like God killed the people of Lut, pbuh.
Other Muslims may see this Hadith: "Muslim blood can only be spilled for adultery, apostasy and homicide." They may say that this means that homosexuality must not be punishable by death, whereas others will treat homosexual intercourse as adultery, and therefore must be punishable by death.
Muslim scholars differ in opinion too. Some Muslim scholars recommend the death penalty, others recommend whipping, basing their opinions on several hadiths. Other Muslim scholars believe that those hadiths are not genuine, and that only God has the right to punish homosexuals, based on the Qur'an.
But you can see the picture - there is no single, united view. However, I believe that there should be, if we are going to get anywhere; the problem is that there are many schools of Fiqh (religious law), and those schools should get together, and decide on one view - otherwise we'll end up being like Christians with denominations that one can pick and match according to one's views, and, obviously, sexuality.
I don't want that for Islam.
Here is my take on the issue. The first question that popped into my head when I read about the issue is whether it is the state of being homosexual that is the sin, or whether the sin lies in the homosexual intercourse. Yet again, there seems to be no clear-cut definition. Most people seem to conflate one with the other, and it is obvious that there is a difference.
But let's talk about the two possible answers. If, say, the sin lies with the sexual intercourse, then it makes perfect sense. God made humans who could be gay so that they are tested their whole life, and it's an opportunity for their iman, their faith, to grow. Makes sense to me!
However, if the sin lies with being gay, then I have a problem with this reasoning. I read from an article, which does not sound scholarly, that being gay is a choice made by people, and that it is a sin to be gay, because we, as humans, have the free will and ability to choose what we want to think, and who we desire to love.
Well, I can tell you right now - no one ever chooses who they fall in love with. Whether you're gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian or transsexual, no one picks and chooses who they love.
Furthermore, many hundreds of species of animals have been documented to show homosexuality. Animals do not have free will, and so the author of the above argument is clearly wrong. God would not allow someone to be gay, only to say that being gay is a sin - that is similar to the Christian view saying that people are all born with a sin (which is refuted in Islam). There is also plentiful evidence that gay people are born gay, or developed in early childhood, from MRI images, that show a similarity in the brains of gay men, and straight women. Brains don't just change in adulthood, especially something as significant as the brain structure and how it works.
Having friends who are gay, I hate it when I hear Muslims (or somebody who believes that homosexuality is a sin) say that they pity gay people, and that they should be treated with tolerance. I hate it because gay people are just people. People should never be defined for who they love, but rather, their actions.
Pitying gay people shows that those people feel that they stand on a morally higher ground simply because they love the opposite sex. Treating gay people with tolerance shows that those people do not treat people EQUALLY.
When it comes to issues like these where there is a lot of discordance, I believe that we should look to texts that are specifically the word of God, in this case - The Holy Qur'an. I think the Qur'an's references to homosexuality mean that only God should be able to punish gay people, and that we should not punish them, either through death or prison or whipping. I'm sure gay people get enough trouble through prejudice, never mind being dropped off the top of a building and stoned to death.
My view is that we will all be judged individually on Judgement Day, and there should be no need to punish, especially kill, someone who still has a chance to show, through their actions, that they deserve to be in heaven in the afterlife, especially if they are Muslim.
I am not condoning homosexuality - but I do believe that a unity in Islam's belief in the issues should be realised, and that Muslim homosexuals should be equally treated and helped by brothers and sisters in our ummah to be on the straight path (forgive the pun!).
PS: Please let me know what you think - post a comment below!