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The C4 documentary (II) January 29, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Islam, Media, Responses, Shari'ah.
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I promised you a second part to my analysis of the Channel 4 programme “Gay Muslims”, which was aired a week ago. My Part 1 looked at various characters who were featured, namely “Abdullah”, “Razeem”, “Shakir” and “Farah”. The most controversial aspects of the programme, however, were the parts where it followed Adnan Ali, “Britain’s first gay Muslim activist”: I can see that by checking the web searches that led people to this blog!

So in this post, I’ll respond to those parts of the programme, including his discussion with “Muslim scholar” Scott Kugle, and also interesting comments made by the Chair of Imaan later in the programme. I will not attempt to make this post a comprehensive refutation of Ali and Kugle’s outlandish claims, but at least I hope you will get the idea. Who knows, perhaps some interesting debate will come out of it.

Adnan told his story of how he was persecuted in Pakistan then came to the UK, where he became an activist, eventually establishing Al-Fahisha UK (it’s actually called Al-Fatiha, but we call it “abomination” in honour of Q7:80 and out of respect for Q1). This group became Imaan in 2003, and took a direction Adnan is not entirely happy with. More on that later.

I can imagine most Muslim viewers recoiling in disgust as I did when watching Adnan on that radio show near the start of the documentary. What he said there was pure homosexualist propaganda, but with a distinctly pseudo-Islamic flavour. I can also imagine some listeners to that programme being overjoyed at the idea that there is no struggle needed, except to embrace sexuality - and forget the consequences.

Islam recognises sexuality as being part of the human essence, and makes it a source of blessing in life (and even as a reward for the righteous in the hereafter). However, some of the most serious sins and crimes are those in which the sexual urge is directed towards what is illicit, which includes everything outside the sanctified contract of marriage, which is defined only as between a man and a woman. [And as you may know, a man can have four such contracts at once - always a controversial topic, but hey, we're dealing with quite enough controversy just now...]

The point I’m driving at is that sexuality (of whatever inclination) should never be raised above the greater principles of life and religion, such that we reinterpret the texts for the purpose of fulfiling the sexual drive. I have seen same-sex attracted Muslims sometimes complaining, “Why did Allah make me this way?” as though it was the greatest possible injustice against them. But experiencing sexual pleasure and fulfilment in this life is not the greatest of goals, as we are led to believe by the messages all around us – TV and pop culture especially. What about spiritual fulfilment, and working for the good of others? Is it not part of Muslim belief to be thankful for the gift of faith rather than complain about other things we have been “deprived” of in this temporary abode?

Adnan said:

My homosexuality and my being Muslim – I have reconciled, and I have absolutely no problem with that.

Maybe it was just his accent, but he stressed on “my” both times, indicating that he might be willing to admit that what he has “reconciled” on a personal level, he cannot justify on an intellectual level. Perhaps this reconciliation simply consists of going with the sexual flow and looking sideways at Islam so as to appreciate its beauty but ignore rather troublesome details.

Still, he does engage in outrageous polemic in support of his positions. During the radio talk-show, a caller named Fawad quoted the following verses to demonstrate the Qur’anic position on homosexuality:

(We also sent) Lut: He said to his people: “Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.”

Q7:80-81, trans. Yusuf Ali

Ridiculously, Adnan’s first complaint was that Fawad was reading from a translation. Well, well. I leaned forward to hear what linguistic insights Adnan was about to offer about faahishah or ityaan ar-rijaal, but instead he focused on shahwah (I suspect he too only knows this in translation though):

You have to differentiate between lust and love…The love that I offer to my partner is a form of worship.

A classic game of twisting words to avoid the point. It is very important that we make ourselves fully familiar with the Qur’anic narrative about the Prophet Lut (peace be on him) and the Sodomites, and I shall have to write some detailed posts about that in future. This is something under attack by the homosexualists, so we must equip ourselves with knowledge, which is the requirement for any discussion. For now, let’s summarise.

The eight passages mentioning aspects of the story are as follows: 7.80ff, 11:69ff, 15:57ff, 21:71ff, 26:160ff, 27:54ff, 29:26ff and 54:33ff. Of these, Surahs 7, 26 and 27 mention only the crime of approaching men sexually instead of women. This fact should be proof enough of what Imam at-Tabari stated in his commentary on 7:80:

Their faahishah (abomination) was the same one for which Allah destroyed them: intercourse with males.

Look again at the verses quoted above, in which Lut (peace be on him) censures the men of Sodom for the sole transgression of turning their sexual desire away from the women [in 26:166, these are "what your Lord created for you as your spouses"] and directing this desire towards men. For this, they are described as musrifoon, which means “wasteful”. In the Arabic language, this denotes placing a thing in other than its rightful place (Ibn Kathir).

In light of this and the other clear passages of the Qur’an (before we even turn to the Prophetic Sunnah, i.e. hadith reports), Adnan Ali will have to work hard to prove the distinction between lust and love where homosexual relationships are concerned. If he advocates celibate relationships, I can recognise a distinction between lust and love. However, in light of his spurious claims about the Sodomites, which I will deal with presently, I doubt that that is his point. He is saying that as long as he calls it “love”, it’s OK and not at all like what those Sodomites got up to. This word-game reminds me of Allah’s saying:

Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the Evil one by his touch has driven to madness. That is because they say: “Trade is like usury,” but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. [2:275]

Now, Adnan went on to claim that the lust of the Sodomites was clear in that “they raped angels”. This is either ignorance or deceit, but somehow I get the impression that it is a bit of both. Out of the references I have already given, three passages mention only the sin of going to men sexually rather than women. So this is a sin in itself (for men, of course). The messenger-angels are mentioned in Surahs 11, 15 and 54. It is clear that despite their attempts, the Sodomites did not succeed in attacking the angels. For example:

And they even sought to snatch away his guests from him, but We blinded their eyes. (They heard:) “Now taste ye My Wrath and My Warning.” [54:37]

Aside from his clear error, Adnan is indulging here in the classic line of homosexualist Muslims who try to twist the Qur’anic narrative for their purposes. The most common line is that the story of Lut (peace be on him) is not about homosexuality at all, but about rape, robbery, or even bad hospitality. Mujahid said already, in response to Michael Mumisa:

He refers to an interpretation of the Qur’anic narrative on the People of Lut (peace be on him), namely that they were punished for “molesting someone’s guests”, i.e. the angels who had come to Sodom. What is so preposterous about this claim (apart from the idea that a lack of hospitality warranted the unique triple-destruction dealt to the Sodomites by God) is that the angels had been sent by God for punishment for their sins! See this passage from Surah Hud (11), especially after verse 77. What were the “abominations” (sayyi’aat) [v.78] that Lut’s people had been engaged in before rushing to the handsome angels? Why did the angels say to Abraham (peace be on him) before going to Sodom: “The decree of thy Lord hath gone forth: for them there cometh a penalty that cannot be turned back” [v.76]?

I’ll add to that the angels’ statement: “Yea, we have come to thee to accomplish that of which they doubt.” [15:63]  So Lut (peace be upon him) had already admonished the people about their crime of homosexual acts, in which none at all had preceded them in all creation. He had also warned them of the punishment that awaits those who flout the decree of the Creator. Then the angels were sent to establish the case against them and deliver Lut and his family (except his sinful wife) from the people who were practising khabaa’ith [21:74]. This latter term connotes acts that are disgusting as well as wicked.

Concluding this topic, let me state that my personal research of the Qur’anic text and commentaries have strengthened my resolve that the scholarly and mainstream negative attitude towards homosexuality is entirely scripturally supported; however, I also believe that we need to colour ourselves with the dye of Qur’anic discourse in order to develop exactly the right concepts and avoid being swayed by bias and emotion. Those who claim that the Qur’an only speaks of homosexual rape and is silent on other homosexual relations should present their evidence, as I can confidently assert that such oft-repeated claims are utterly bogus.

Let’s turn now to the discussion much later in the programme with Scott Siraj Al-Haqq Kugle, whose essay on Sexuality, diversity and ethics in the agenda of progressive Muslims has become a holy text for the more intellectual-wannabe homosexualist Muslims, as well as those who just want to point at something to get out of listening to someone quoting them the Qur’an. “See? This very clever man has shown that all those straight male scholars you listen to are just homophobes.” There is much to be said about this “progressive” agenda.

In this programme, it was interesting to hear Kugle identify the disagreements between the homosexualists and the mainstream Muslim community (and scholarship: “straight imams”) as being on the level of concepts, or philosophy. That is something I say often, and it’s why I urge my brethren to acquaint themselves properly with the Islamic concepts, which spring from the Qur’an and Sunnah.

This little dialogue between Adnan and Kugle is remarkably similar to many I’ve had with well-meaning fellow Muslims:

Adnan: The existing construction of the Islamic law is that it’s forbidden, it’s haram.
Kugle: What is “it”, that’s the question.
Adnan: Homosexuality…

And then we pounce and point out that the word “homosexuality” does not have an equivalent in the Qur’an or Sunnah, because it is a modern term corresponding to a modern (dare I say, Western) concept linked to the notion of “orientation” – which, as I keep saying, is not a concept that fits within the Islamic paradigm. Same-sex attractions need not be considered an aspect of identity: they are clearly an aspect of experience.

Islam does not categorise people according to such inner feelings. Islam recognises categories of people according to gender, according to colour, according to nation, according to language, and perhaps more. Allah declares all of these to be equal to one another, and explains that the wisdom behind our diversity is “that you know one another” [49:13]. In the same verse, He establishes the principle that we are only differentiated in His sight by the measure of taqwaa, which is the internal quality of God-consciousness and piety. This cannot be separated totally from our deeds, which will be placed in the scales after we die, leading to our ultimate judgement: and thereafter, Paradise or the Fire.

I take it that Kugle (like many others) would like us to accept that since “homosexuality” is a modern concept, it was not known at the time of the Qur’an’s revelation, therefore the Qur’an is silent on the issue (which is about love…). Even if we were to go along with this, I have already stated my assertion that the Qur’an is clear on the prohibition of homosexual acts. I further assert that the vagueness of terms in the Qur’anic discourse in fact emphasises the generality of prohibition of homosexual relations (i.e. relations between members of the same sex that are characterised by desire; alternatively, relations between members of the same sex that attempt to take the place of the spousal relationship). I am ready to debate any claimant who states otherwise and has the nerve to put his views to the test.

Kugle mentions that the disagreements we have over the Qur’an are “a matter of interpretation”. This is another of those magic-wand terms used to ‘explain’ away clear texts. Yes, everything in the Qur’an or any other source-text must be interpreted: but such interpretation must adhere to sound methodology, or else it is just vanity, and arrogance such as amounts to infidelity. I made some comments on this (as well as Kugle’s claim that the Shari’ah is man-made) in the post on Safra’s preview.

Kugle has a problem with how “cultural assumptions about the nature of men and women, about the nature of sex” affect Qur’anic exegesis, but I wonder how radical a reinterpretation he would consider justifiable once the ‘queer scholars’ get onto the case. There is no problem with females interpreting the Qur’an, although I have not heard of many such tafseers. [There is a recent one by 'A'ishah 'Abdur-Rahman Bint ash-Shati' (in Arabic), which I have not yet had a chance to read.]

But as for saying that people with same-sex attractions should be specially brought to interpret the Qur’an: this is ridiculous. What is needed is qualification in the Qur’anic sciences, and inner feelings are irrelevant except in the finer details of the exegete’s understanding. I’m not really interested in hearing a practising homosexual’s reinterpretation of the Qur’an, as it will be hard not to discredit him entirely, because of his blatant personal motivation. Such motivation is clear from articles such Kugle’s, which similarly display “cultural assumptions”: but some of these are inherently contradictory to Islam.

Adnan and Kugle have a discussion on the concept of marriage: is it defined as a bond between two people, or must it be between a man and a woman? I think this question is easy to answer, just by reading the abundant texts on the issue from the Qur’an, from the Sunnah and all the books of jurisprudence. Yet Kugle quotes Q30:21 and suggests that “gay or lesbian couples can adopt that same philosophy for themselves”. I don’t know whether he would go as far as to say that the term azwaaj in that verse can accommodate these multiple interpretations, but here is how I responded to that suggestion before:

See the following verse: {And Allah has given you spouses (azwaaj) of your own kind, and has given you, from your spouses, sons and grandsons, and has made provision of good things for you. Is it then in vanity that they believe and in the grace of Allah that they disbelieve?} [16:72]

This shows that the spouse/partner/pair (zawj) is, among other things, a means for the continuation of lineage: and same-sex partners are not that. If more proof is needed, see how the Prophet Lut (Lot, peace be on him) addressed his transgressing people, the men of whom were having sex with other men. Note the distinction made here between those males whom they were satisfying themselves with, and the men’s rightful partners, clearly their womenfolk: {”What! Of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the spouses (azwaaj) your Lord created for you? Nay, you are a people exceeding limits.”} [26:165-6]

I think that settles it. As always, I am ready and willing to hear alternative views, as long as they are based on evidence and sound reasoning.
[I'll pause here again, and come back to write about Farzana/Rasheeda of Imaan later, as once again I'm tired of writing!]

 

 

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Comments»

1. thomas kust - February 4, 2006

As an outsider this leaves me scatching my head with confusion.
What is the actual level of same-gender sexual contact in muslim communities?
How does this vary, by nationality, age, sect?
How is this dealt with and how can this be explained more effectively to non-muslims, especially to people who might benefit from this experience?

2. Rasheed Eldin - May 19, 2006

Sorry I didn’t answer the questions posed by Thomas Kust above: too sociological for me, and I don’t have the research to back up whatever assumptions I may make.

Anyway, here’s a comment posted at the Mere Islam blog, and you really should read it for a neat summary of Scott Kugle’s contributions in this dubious field:

http://www.mereislam.info/2005/05/fons-vitae-ibn-ata-allah-al-iskandari.html#c111705516154348396

3. khalid - August 27, 2007

I am totally agree with you. I am the one who accepts that it is sin. But how should i get out of this hell? How should i change my feeling for men. If i want to marry , is it legal??

Help me ! I am very depressed .

4. CandyShopGirl - October 9, 2007

Yo!

What do you think about love? >:)

5. Rasheed Eldin - October 9, 2007

You may have to expand your question a little for me to answer it properly. In short, love is a blessing from Almighty God, and one of the sweetnesses of this temporary life.

However, not everything that is labelled “love” is automatically acceptable. One may love evil, and that is a bad thing (obviously).

Also, our love for God and His commandments should be more powerful than any other love, such that this love prevents us from being led astray by anything that contradicts it.

6. akram - December 8, 2008

im afraid u r not being clear answering the ‘love’ question, plz let me rephrase it, is love between two gay men a sin? and if yes then is it a major sin the kind that makes these men non muslims? or is it a small sin (kaba’er or sagha’er?)…and im talking about love with no sexual activities what so ever. thanks

7. Rasheed Eldin - December 15, 2008

Thanks Akram, but unfortunately the question is still somewhat vague. Love is a human emotion and therefore not something to be analysed purely from a fiqhi (legal) point of view. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t explore this question in the light of Islam.

The difficulty is what this “love” you speak of truly consists of. Yes, two men can love each other for the sake of Allah, and this is the love of brotherhood. This is a praiseworthy love. But you have specified that these are “gay men” – so what kind of love would they have for each other that had NO physical/sexual element?

I can only suggest that you mean they would consider each other as the replacement for what their respective wives would be for them, but without physical sinning. Then it seems to me this is a sinful situation, but a difficult one to ‘pin down’. How sinful it is, Allah knows best. But even if it is major, I don’t see how we could consider it as taking either of them out of Islam, as that would happen only if they rejected the clear ruling on homosexuality, considering it permissible despite the texts and consensus proving otherwise.

8. Khalid - January 11, 2009

I have seen this adan documentary in the channel four it was quite informative about gay Muslims.But a lot Muslim family can’t accept their children should be gay off course it would be hard part to tell the family.

The sex b/w man and woman coming from the million of the years and that is how the world population grow up. So just few part of the world can accept same sex stuff. Rest are doing hidden and continue their sexual activities.

But that is prohibited in the Muslim countries. I believed gay love is just based on sex, lust and cheating as well. That is Ha ram the matter of common sense is have you ever seen donkey over donkey off course not.

We all are Ashra-ful-maklooqat if some one is gay it does not matter he should openly come up on the roads and wear funnky dress and tell i am gay and proud to me.

These activities just led just degrade yourself such as as Abdullah a man in the channel four documentary film who scarifies his children. He knew he is gay why he went and told her wife he is Gay. He was enemy of himself.

Civil partnership in the Briton has been announced from the prior 2005 it takes time until next centuries come when parents understand these marriages are also allowed. I am talking about Muslim family who never intend to their kids should do CP.

It is sort of Azab on LGBTS in this world. Thats it. I would tell you I am muslim gay man and had married with my partner in Canada from last 15 years.

But now we had started our new life and understand what is fact of that life. I am married with my wife i have good life with her and similarly the partner i had it.

We didn’t come up in the roads and told the people what we are we kept secret which does not hurt any one so that would be much better cause society can’t accept that much especially when it come Muslim family.

I have seen a lot married guys got kids, wife and still looking for young boys they should be spend better life with their wives off course love is not a sex it is how two people live together and care sex each other.

9. Bat - December 12, 2010

I believe that at the end of the day it is not up to us to pass judgments on homosexuals or anybody for that matter. The judgments from Allah (swt) are the only ones that can be passed and the only ones that have any validity. So you can sit her and write your jargon condemning other people for what you deem as wrong or you can go and ask Allah for forgiveness for passing judgments. To say what they are doing is wrong or haraam is unacceptable especially coming from another Muslim from the Ummah. Our lives are written out for us. This is what Allah (swt) has chosen for us to live. So by passing such judgments you are in essence saying that the path Allah (swt) has created for these people are wrong. Allah (swt) knows best not you, not the Imam at your Mosque, not that jurist or other human being. InshAllah you and other people like you who pass such judgments not just about homosexuality but anything else are forgiven by Allah on the Day of Judgment.

Rasheed Eldin - December 13, 2010

You really walked a tightrope there, trying to condemn us for condemning, while not revealing the preposterous inconsistency and self-contradiction of that endeavour. It was bound to fail, but nice try.

http://gaymuslims.org/2009/12/19/the-caller-to-allah-is-not-an-oppressor/

10. Rida - May 15, 2011

Oh F off to the person who had a go at “criticially reviewing” the documentary regarding Gay Muslims in UK. Dr. Scot is right in his interpretation and reasons behind the whole gay issue. Islam on the other hand, largely speaks of “justice”- so if you call yourself a really good Muslim you better do justice to the gay Muslims by 1) accepting them as who they are 2) by giving them the right to compile and have a happy healthy family life and 3) by fearing your own damn Allah that he will question you on the day of judgement regarding the discrimination against other human beings based on their sexual orientation/ gender.

Who are you to judge someone’s love and affection towards someone else? We should be encouraging gay people to get married with the person they love- in regards to having a family, they can adopt children, there are plenty of orphaned kids out there who are abandoned by their hetrosexual parents. I am sure, gay people would love to have a family and like one of the guys quoted in the documentary that he was so happy the day he was blessed with children! So shut up, and be encouraging and supportive of gay people having families!

They are NORMAL PEOPLE just like you and me, they too eat, drink, work, have a family… they are to a large extent better than most Muslims who blindly follow Islam without understanding what it means. And if you consider yourself a bloody devouted Muslim, you better do JUSTICE to your fellow Muslims and human beings.

Rasheed Eldin - June 26, 2011

Take your filthy mouth and your curses against God and stop trying to teach us our religion.

Mohammad - December 16, 2011

That’s awesome! You truly ARE Rasheed Eldin!

It’s really annoying when people try to victimize themselves when they know they are wrong. I love it when you have wisdom of knowledge on your side, and you are not afraid to stand against the oppressors of truth.

I commend you Mr. Rasheed for your excellent writing skills, and your wisdom and knowledge of Islam. I look forward to more of your posts. Thanks, and may Allah (swt) shine his blessings upon you.


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