Obsessive Scottish Muslim? July 12, 2009Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Media, Proggies, Responses, Shari'ah.
Agree with this statement or disagree, it is the opinion of a recent PhD graduate at Glasgow University who desperately wishes he could be as celebrated a Muslim progressive as his idols like Reza Aslan. Trouble is, he’s just not as talented.
Amanullah De Sondy certainly hasn’t remained quiet about issues that make him itch, yet his views on homosexuality have been strangely muted. This despite the fact that people who have known him for years say that they expected him to come out with something eventually. Well here it is (or almost).
It is very important to him to insist he’s an “academic“, because that apparently gives him the right to say whatever he wants about Islam and we Westerners are supposed to take it at face value, despite the fact that academia itself is a system of presenting and challenging views based on research. But that doesn’t make everything novel or controversial worthwhile in itself. Some academics are still trotting out the discredited theories of yesteryear, and Islamic Studies is one of the most affected by this problem due to the persistence of classical Orientalist agendas linked to colonialism and modern-day warmongering.
And without meaning offence to everyone at the University of Glasgow, I wouldn’t study Islam there any more than I would boast about a degree in English Literature from Kabul University.
De Sondy seems to fantasise about cloning himself and taking over Scotland, judging by one rather huffy letter penned last year:
I smell worry in the words and actions of the political Islamists, Mosques and our so-called Islamic leaders who want to cage and control the sentiments of the true progressive Scottish Muslims, but this new wave will emerge in full force, and time will then be the judge of who are the best partners in creating a flourishing Scotland.
However, much like his blog which he optimistically titled “Progressive Scottish Muslims”, adding an ‘s’ on the end doesn’t mean that you’re more than one person.
So on to the articles…
Theologian Amanullah De Sondy wants Islam to tolerate homosexuality again, just as it did generations ago
You don’t expect to start an interview with a leading Muslim academic by discussing the state of Rafael Nadal’s knees.
No indeed. But what makes De Sondy so “leading”? There are much more authoritative and fair scholars on Islam all around the UK, including many non-Muslim academics. Even the term “theologian” is a bit self-serving, given that it just means someone who studies Theology but makes him sound terribly grand.
Most controversially, he challenges homophobia in Islam. “Homosexuality is not incompatible with Islam. The two can and have co-existed. The important thing is to link it with living a good life and creating a good society.”
He disagrees with those who claim the Koran condemns homosexual practices. Gay men are regularly put to death in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, so this is explosive stuff.
“If you ask them privately, the vast majority of my generation of Muslims are deeply homophobic,” he says. “I think it is particularly entrenched because so many Muslim societies are rooted in traditional ideas of the family and patriarchy. It’s time to challenge all of that.”
Homophobia, or objections to homosexual activity? In Islam, or among Muslims? Are these objections traditional, or scriptural? And by the way, De Sondy’s discourse is nothing new, as you would know if you’ve visited this blog before.
De Sondy knows his conservative opponents will use one particular story, which appears in both the Koran and the Bible, to justify oppression. This is when God sends angels to destroy the sinful inhabitants of Sodom.
“It is often said to illustrate God’s disapproval of homosexuality. But on closer inspection it is really about his disapproval of the rape of young boys that was happening in the place. There is a big difference.”
Rubbish. What closer inspection, exactly? The sum and total of the “progressive” methodology is to abuse the Arabic language the Qur’an was revealed in (if they are so charitable as to admit that it’s revelation) and make wild claims with no evidence. I have analysed the story of the People of Lut in the following article, so please examine it along with the comments section: Why were the Sodomites destroyed?
Not only is the idea of “rape” absent from the Qur’anic text, we find that the Sodomites were chastised for “going to men sexually instead of women” – ought they to have been raping women? [e.g. 7:80] What about when the Prophet Lut (peace be on him) told them: “These are my daughters, they are purer for you” – was he asking them to rape his ‘daughters’, i.e. the women of the town? [11:78]
In short, it is a baseless and desperate claim.
Let me emphasise one final point too. Even if the story of Lut (peace be on him) had not been mentioned in the Qur’an (eight times, by the way), it would be clear as day that homosexual activity is sinful, as that is implied in the rest of the Islamic rulings on such matters as marriage, fulfilling sexual desires, fornication and adultery.
Intolerance is not necessarily part of Muslim tradition, De Sondy argues. Islamic cultures are diverse and, historically, there are examples of people living openly in same-sex relationships. He blames conservative political Islam, spread by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi Wahhabi sect, for creating a puritanism which limits sexual freedom and demands the subjugation of women.
The Muslim Brotherhood didn’t reveal the Qur’an, and the Wahhabis didn’t come up with the Sunnah. Besides, this claim about the previous “tolerance” is exaggerated. And it should be said, even if it is the case that everyone was fine with homosexuality at one stage in history (which is nonsense), that wouldn’t change the ruling according to Islam.
“In the 16th-century Punjab, there lived a Sufi saint and poet called Shah Hussain who is greatly venerated. He fell in love with a Hindu boy. They lived together and are buried side by side in the same tomb. Pilgrims come to the tomb and shrine in Lahore district even today, but some people want to rewrite history, saying the boy was in fact a girl.”
He also points to the presence of “antinomian Sufis in the Indian subcontinent — men who have pierced ears and dance in women’s clothing”.
Really, so what? These are all isolated cases and their existence doesn’t affect the stance of Islam on such issues. This reminds me of those people who use the existence of Muslim terrorists to claim that Islam supports or at least condones violence against innocents. In the case of terrorists, we refute them using the authentic sources of Islam. We do exactly the same with anyone else who is deluded and ignorant, whether they are a danger to others or only to themselves.
There is a transparent agenda in this contrast between supposedly tolerant Sufism (which is also described in the media as the “peaceful side of Islam” etc.) and intolerant, homophobic Wahhabism and so on. Yet Sufis are equally opposed to homosexuality because this is a matter of core texts. Many in the “progressive” camp use Sufism as some kind of cover to say whatever the hell they want. But just because a follower of desires may call himself “Sufi”, doesn’t make it so.
The second Times article includes the following rejoinders to De Sondy’s claims:
Bashir Maan, a former councillor and a prominent member of the Glasgow Central Mosque, said many Muslims would be upset by De Sondy’s comments. “Where is he getting his knowledge from?” he said. “Islam condemns homosexuality. He is quoting the saint out of context. He loved that boy but it wasn’t for sexual purposes, he just liked that boy as we all have our likes and dislikes.”
Maan also criticised De Sondy for asserting that many Muslims were homophobic. “As one of the leaders in Scotland said some time ago, we don’t hate homosexuals —, we hate homosexuality. So it’s not that Muslims are homophobic, they just do not like lewdness. They do not like homosexuality. These people, homosexuals, they are human beings. They should be, I think, not hated, but we should try to put them off such practices.”
He warned De Sondy that he will find many Islamic leaders and academics who disagree strongly with his views.
A spokesman for the Scottish-Islamic Foundation agreed that homosexuality is incompatible with Islam, adding: “The view of mainstream Muslim scholars and individuals is that it is against Islamic teachings. Like with everything, though, people are free to choose how to live their own lives.”
We should be careful to clarify that it is homosexual activity which is contrary to Islamic teachings, forbidden and sinful. As for homosexual feelings, they are something for the person experiencing them to struggle with, seeking the pleasure of God. However, homosexual identity we find intellectually incoherent and scripturally problematic, so we suggest that a same-sex attracted Muslim should never cave in to pressure and label him/herself “gay” or “lesbian”.
It’s true to say that anti-homosexuality views are completely the mainstream of Islamic opinion, and labelling it “homophobia” is not going to convince anyone but the weak of mind who can be so bullied. But these few (generally) American academics with extremely limited knowledge of Islam want to keep pushing a supposedly “progressive” agenda.
De Sondy wishes to join them now, but perhaps he should be clearer on his own personal interest in homosexuality, which neither he nor his interviewer felt brave enough to address.