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Conservative Muslims Harm Themselves Through Heterosexist Outbursts

06/30/2015 07:56 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 05:59 EDT
AP Images for Human Rights Campaign
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN - Marriage equality supporters rally on the steps of the Supreme Court as they wait for a decision Friday, June 26, 2015, in Washington. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)

Online responses from Muslims to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on allowing same-sex marriage reflect a wide array of opinions. Contrary to caricatures that Muslims support the death penalty for "homosexuality," Muslims for Progressive Values fully supported the momentous ruling.

Some, especially those living in Muslim countries, celebrated the ruling emphasizing the pressing need for acceptance in an increasingly intolerant world. Others, specifically queer Muslims in North America, opined that celebrating a patriarchal institution should not come at the expense of pressing issues that include LGBT youth homelessness, racist violence against the Black community and immense discrimination against trans gender persons.

However, a deeply entrenched religiously inspired heterosexism still informs the opinions of many conservative Muslims. Such Muslims believe that they represent the majority and hasten to elucidate the position of "normative Islam."

They misappropriate the opinions of queer activists on marriage as a patriarchal institution to downplay the Supreme Court ruling, just as they usurp Foucault's words to deny the very existence of LGBT persons.

Such "live and let live" positions are based on a begrudging tolerance, which confirms that legal change is not necessarily concomitant with social change.

Queer activists are guided by a deep love for other communities, including those that shun them, to uphold justice. In contrast, fundamentalist theists seem motivated by a fear of losing their "threatened values" to deny the human expression of love to LGBT persons.

Some conservative Muslims have resuscitated conspiracy theories of how the American Psychiatric Association bowed to "gay pressure" in declassifying homosexuality as a disease.

Never mind the fact that even the early fathers of reparative therapy conceded that declassification of homosexuality as a disorder was driven by the objective of ending social discrimination and based on the recognition that there has never been a guarantee on the treatment of homosexuality.

Some conservative Muslims feel that "liberal extremists" are pushing their "agenda" through "gay marriage." They like to perpetuate the polygamy, incest, bestiality (PIB) slippery slope arguments that have long been deconstructed by Dr. John Corvino.

Such commenters need only read exegetical and juristic texts to note examples that include Abraham's marriage to his half sister, Solomon's 1000 wives and concubines, juristic permissibility of marriage with adopted daughters, and khawarij marriage to grandparents and uncles.

It is also interesting to note that while tafkidh (intercrural intercourse) between men is subjected to the death penalty, such a magnified response is not witnessed in Islam QnA websites on forced anal sex with wives. Indeed, some fears are deeply entrenched.

Other conservative Muslims feel that the Supreme Court verdict somehow obliges them to celebrate the ruling. Some are fearful that the state would now decide against religious teachings on same-sex marriage as bigoted.

They seem concerned about the state infringing on the freedom to be a bigot while being concerned about being labeled as one. In contrast, the Westboro Baptist Church does not seem to be concerned with labels and fully exploits the first amendment to channel homophobia.

It seems some of this guilt stems from cognitive dissonance that arises due to having compassionate gay friends alongside frozen interpretations of religious texts perpetuated by online Islam QnA websites.

Some conservative Muslims clearly mention the Ihsaan (excellent conduct) they have experienced from gay friends and neighbours. However, they are unable to reciprocate the affirmation of another's humanity and instead reduce their lives to a whole array of sinful conduct that includes associating partners with Allah, imbibing alcohol, eating pork and charging interest.

They feel that adopting a non-judgmental and non-discriminating attitude would be a better way of leading gay people, who are being "tested and tried," to Islam. However, such a paternalistic attitude is more reflective of a cult membership wherein human diversity must be bulldozed for the eventual purpose of an unquestioning subservience.

Apart from conservative Muslims are "progressive" Muslim leaders who assert that they are not aware of the Muslim case for same-sex unions. Perhaps, such "progressive" thinkers are waiting for the traditional madrassa institutions to offer an affirming ruling on Muslim LGBT, for my book chapter and Kugle's book from 2010 and Menyawi's article from 2012 have been conveniently sidelined.

The Supreme Court ruling has instigated heterosexist outbursts from conservative Muslims, who are free to uphold such opinions through the first amendment. They can sideline the concerns of Muslim LGBT youth and continue to perpetuate false marriages, prescriptions of permanent celibacy and judge those unable to meet super human standards as "depraved souls" given to "major sin."

They may harm vulnerable LGBT Muslim youth due to a fearful outlook on salvation, and may drive them from Muslim spaces. However, at the end, they only harm themselves by reducing a faith that emphasizes unity in human diversity to a mind-numbing cult.

Resilient LGBT Muslims have sought refuge at affirming United Churches or in spaces they have created for themselves, which include the El Tawhid Juma Circle, its affiliated mosques and the Muslims for Progressive Values Unity Mosques.

While some do not wish to reclaim a patriarchal institution, others have forged committed relationships through marriage. Regardless, they continue to uphold that "Allah loves us all."

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