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Muslims Struggling With Their Sexuality Should Not Judge LGBT Muslims

Some Muslims who struggle between their sexuality and faith internalize the opinions of conservative Muslim scholars. The only way they can address such cognitive dissonance is by accepting their struggle as a test from God.

Some Muslims who struggle between their sexuality and faith internalize the opinions of conservative Muslim scholars. The only way they can address such cognitive dissonance is by accepting their struggle as a test from God.

However, becoming a "martyr for faith" means owning up the minority stress of struggling with oneself instead of judging others who have found happiness on a different path.

Yet, some are touting a Muslim celebrity speaker, who superimposes the story of Lot's people onto Muslim gays and lesbians. He references the following verses to assert his case.

Indeed, you approach males in lust instead of females ... (7:81; variant in 27:55)

Do you approach males from the worlds and leave the mates created for you ... (26:165-166)

He claims that Muslim LGBT scholars who assert that such verses are about rape do not understand Arabic. Caricaturing their position, he asserts that the rape thesis would lead to the absurd translation, "you rape males instead of females." However, the claim of Muslim LGBT scholars does not rest on such silly antics.

As a Muslim scholar, it does not bode well for him to lie about or carelessly misrepresent Muslim LGBT scholars.

Amongst others, Daayiee Abdullah and Mushin Hendricks are both Imams trained in classical Islamic Sciences. Dr. Ludovic Zahed is a native speaker of Arabic who has memorized large portions of the Qur'an. Dr. Scott Kugle and thinker Mark Brustman have sufficient grasp of classical Arabic to attempt their own translations of Qur'anic verses.

Their position is quite simple. In contrast to women, men in general are not receptive to the advances of other men, a point substantiated by a linguistic analysis of the texts.

The verse simply reads, "you approach men instead of women" to connote the admonition of men for pursuing males, who in general are not receptive to such advances, instead of women partial to such overtures.

The context provided by the Qur'an elaborates on the conduct of Lot's people. Based on verse 29:29, the celebrity speaker himself concedes that Lot's people pounced upon travelers, stole from them, held them captives and engaged in evil in full view of everyone.

None of the verses on Lot's people even remotely suggest that they were engaged in same-sex unions or raising children as same-sex couples. In contrast, they surrounded Lot's home and demanded that he yield the guests.

Thus, making these verses about gays and lesbians and about the anachronistic issue of same-sex unions seems like an irrelevant exercise in hermeneutical gymnastics.

Indeed, reading these verses to specifically refer to gay men leads to an unjustified and unreasonable conclusion. That would mean that the Qur'an is admonishing men, who have an exclusive constitutional orientation towards the same gender, for not pursuing females.

These verses are referring to the general category of males that allows exceptions for trans persons, inter sex individuals and gay men. Like for many other verses, context is warranted.

The 14th century jurist Ibn Qayyim asserted that the danger of pederasty was absent during the Prophet's time. Given the norms of muruwwa (manliness) in 7th century Arabia, the purpose of these verses is not the irrelevant and anachronistic prohibition of same-sex unions.

Verses on Lot's people draw parallels between Lot and the Prophet, as both did not have male offspring. Like, Lot's daughters, the Prophet's daughters were married to disbelievers. Moreover, as Lot's people prohibited him from entertaining outsiders, the Meccans prohibited the Prophet against strangers lest he should form alliances with them.

Exegetical literature indicates that the main theme of these verses is to comfort the Prophet by suggesting that the oppressors would suffer the same fate as that of Lot's people.

However, conservative Muslim scholars have reduced the import of these verses to the prohibition of same-sex unions, an issue relevant only for a minority. Indeed, it is convenient to scapegoat a vulnerable minority based on personal disdain.

The celebrity speaker states that only Lot and his two daughters were believers, a point contested in the exegetical literature that indicates that a group of believers supported Lot by their intense protest.

Expressing his disdain, he asserts that even dogs and pigs do not engage in such a practice. However, putting aside the 1500 animal species that do, several Muslims ridiculously claim that as the pig mounts any orifice and since "you become what you eat", consuming swine leads to "homosexuality."

Like the celebrity speaker, others make a similar argument in the context of Lot's offer of his daughters. They argue that the issue at hand is consensual conduct with "handsome boys", for a Prophet cannot offer his daughters for rape.

Lot's offer should not be surprising, as Abraham was willing to slit his son's throat. Yet, this offer challenged Muslim scholars, who proposed several possibilities to understand his offer:

1) As father of his nation, he was telling the men to go back to their wives

2) He was not offering his daughters, but merely pricking their conscience

3) His daughters were already married, so he offered them as hostages

4) He offered his daughters for marriage

None of these possibilities state that the crowd surrounding Lot's house had come to marry the guests. Furthermore, the assertion of angels disguised as "handsome boys" comes from sources extraneous to the Qur'an, which also mention that Lot's people acted "without sexual need."

While the above analysis indicates the problem with applying verses on Lot's people to Muslim gays and lesbians, at the end, all exegesis is a human endeavour. One hopes that in extracting meaning, Muslims are guided by concern for human dignity and justice rather than the fanciful whims of "scholars", who have made faith into a supremacist cult by bullying those on a different path with excommunication.


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