Salam dear Sheikh,
There is a Muslim revisionist movement which claims that homosexuality as referred to in the Qur’an is not inherently similar to the contemporary understanding of homosexuality based on love and mutual consent.
They claim that the act of Lot’s people in the Qur’an is different from the current understanding of homosexuality. The term Fahisha (lewdness) in reference to sodomy mentioned in the Qur’an was condemned as an act of sexual violence purely based on Shahwa (lust) to show domination by anally penetrating other men.
Can you please clarify the above?
The above is a blatant accusation and distortion of the meaning of the Qur’an for the following reasons:
1) The act of Lot’s people as referred to in the Qur’an and numerous narrations means any type of homosexual relationship with or without penetration. As an example, Shaikh al-Tusi known as the most senior Sheikh of the Shia Community who died in 1067AD, says: “Liwat means homosexual lewdness which is of two types:
a) Committing an anal penetration as a stick goes into a khol container.
b) Committing any action less than that.” (Al-Nehaya, p. 703)
Sheikh al-Kulayni (died in 941AD) narrated from Allah’s Messenger (P): “Whoever kisses a boy lustfully Allah will bridle him on the Day of Resurrection with a bridle of fire.”
(al-Kāfi vol. 5 p. 548)
As you can see in the above examples, prohibition of homosexuality in Islam is not limited to anally penetrating other men by violence.
2) If prohibition of homosexuality would have been lifted based on love and mutual consent, the same would have applied to incest, paedophilia, adultery etc. No Muslim with a sound mind would interpret Islam this way!
3) Condemnation of Sexual violence, be it rape or sexual assault between the same sex or between different sexes, is not limited to Muslims and people of Faith. Any human, past or present, would condemn sexual violence. Therefore, if the homosexual relationships of the people of Lot were limited to sexual violence, the family of victims would have taken revenge in as much as if anyone would have raped their women. So, the fact that homosexuality was widely practiced by the people of Lot indicates that homosexuality had become a cultural norm based on so-called love and mutual consent. Yet, the Almighty God punished and destroyed them.
4) Paying attention to the wording of the Qur’an can help us understand the nature of the act of Lot’s people. In Surah 7, Ayah 81 the Almighty God quoting Prophet Lot says: “Verily, you indeed come to men for your lust instead of women (i.e., your wives)?! Nay, you are a people transgressing the bounds (set by Allah).”
The term Shahwa (lust) as used with reference to the men of Lot refers to any sexual or romantic relationship. The phrase ‘for your lust instead of women’ indicates that there are two types of lust:
a) Halal (Permissible) lust – referring to lust between a man and a woman for marriage.
b) Haram (impermissible) Lust and that is homosexual lust whether by choice or by force.
The Almighty Allah condemns the men of Lot, for their lust was deviated to men instead of their wives. That means lust in Islam is only condemned if deviated and transgresses the bounds set by Allah.
5) The phrase ‘for your lust instead of women’ also indicates that the men of Lot had abandoned their sexual relations with their wives, which subsequently led the women of Lot into same-sex relationships. And it goes without saying that in Islam both gay and lesbian relationships are equally condemned, though the chance of sexual violence in lesbian relationships is far less than in male gay relationships.
6) Another context is the way they replied to Prophet Lot (7:82). They mockingly and sarcastically said: “They (i.e., Lot and his family) are indeed folk who want to be clean!” Referring to Prophet Lot and his family as ‘clean’ implies that they were ‘unclean’ in reference to their sexual choice.
If the issue were only sexual violence, the division would be between fair and unfair relationships, not clean and uncleanliness. Furthermore, if the issue was only sexual violence, then Prophet Lot would have advised them to seek consent instead of condemning the whole action, in the same way that a sexual relationship between a man and a woman is only condemned if it is out of wedlock.
7) In the books of Prophetic Narrations there is a chapter about the punishment of a man who sells himself as a male prostitute. (e.g., al-Kāfi vol. 5 p. 549)
Male prostitution is a sexual service by mutual consent. Yet, it is one of the most horrible sins in Islam. This clearly indicates that homosexuality is condemned, even when based on so-called love and mutual consent.
8) According to the narrations which explain how homosexuality emerged among the people of Lot, Satan appeared to their men in the form of a beautiful young man who acted provocatively like a woman and asked some of the young men to sleep with him. (al-Kāfi vol. 5 p. 544, al-Durrul-Manthour, vol. 3 p.100). These narrations clearly indicate that the homosexuality of the people of Lot was with mutual consent and initiated with those who sold themselves as male prostitutes.
9) It is unanimously narrated from the Holy Prophet (P) that he has cursed and promised punishment for men who act like women and women who act like men. (al-Kāfi vol. 5 p. 550, al-Bukhari vol. 9 p. 187)
There are Jurisprudential discussions about the various applications of the above narration. However, there is a consensus amongst jurists that the most definite application of the narration is with reference to homosexuality. Acting like an opposite sex is a voluntary action, and yet they are cursed by the Prophet (P).
10) Based on confirmed prophetic traditions, all Muslim Jurists unanimously agree that if a homosexual relationship between two men or two women is proven in the court of law both parties are liable for punishment – despite their disagreement on the type of punishment. By the same token, there is absolutely no punishment for a victim. Therefore, the above rule indicates that both parties will be punished if their relationship was based on so-called love and mutual consent.
In conclusion, there is no room for the permissibility of homosexuality in Islam whether committed by choice or by force.
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei