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Islam and Human Rights ( 7 Jul 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Homosexuality: Islam is better placed to adapt to the ground reality

By Shamshad Elahee Ansari

July 6, 2009


That Islam is complete opposed to homosexuality cannot be doubted if one reads the scripture even casually.


There are only a few Prophets, whose names are mentioned in the Quran, who asked Allah to bring destruction upon their own people in connection with homosexuality, or more particularly to punish people for what was considered a heinous sin and crime.  To name a few, these are Propeht Hud, Prophet Salih and Prophet Lot (Lut).

The story of Prophet Lot can be related to homosexuality in particular. Prophet Lot was a nephew of Prophet Abraham who went to Sodom City (Sadum) which was on the western shore of Dead Sea (Palestine). The inhabitants of the city Sodom were known for their open, widespread homosexuality. The word Sodomy is derived from that place. Prophet Lot strived hard with the people of Sodom and preached them to stop this and advised to have sex with their legitimate wives only. Surah 26:160-171,66:10,29:29,15:51-77,26:172-175 could be referred to for all these details where Prophet Lot is trying hard to deal with this problem and finally, when three angels came to see him, as they were most beautiful human beings (this news was spread by Prophet Lot’s wife in the city) and people of Sodom went to Prophet Lot’s house to see them and wanted to have sex with them. They continued to persuade Prophet Lot to allow them to see these three guests and even broke open the door of Prophet Lot’s house.

Seeing the pandemonium inside the house, these angels intervened and said ‘Do not be anxious or frightened, Lot, for we are angels, and these people will not harm you’. On hearing these words, the mob fled and later the whole city was destroyed by a severe earthquake with the rain of stones. Only Prophet Lot and a few of his family members survived, his wife was also killed since she was a disbeliever. She is the second such woman after Prophet Noah’s wife who perished under the wrath of Allah.

This story from the Quran is the testimony that homosexuality has been a part of human civilization in all ages. From the time of Prophet Lot to the Greek empire as Alexandra the great was said to be a homosexual, to Roman Empire which indeed institutionalized homosexuality, through all of the medieval period to our present time, homosexuality has existed in human societies. 

Religion has been fighting against it, keeping in view the contemporary social norms. Judaism, Christianity has been exhorting people to abandon it but have failed to make any impact.

Saudi Arabia presents a glaring example.  Despite capital punishment for homosexuality in Saudi Arabia, this bastion of pure Islam – as Wahhabis think their Islam is - cannot remove this problem. Gay marriages are taking place in Saudi Arabia. Police raided such a marriage in March 2005 and beheaded the Gay couple in the northern town of Arar.

I personally heard a rather pathetic story from an Egyptian doctor who was serving in Saudi Arabia a few years ago. His son was sodomized by some Saudis. The doctor lodged a policereport, only to invite new kinds of trouble. His house was hounded by visitors in unknown cars; stone pelting started, and soon he was named in a hospital conspiracy and arrested by the police. Incidentally, the Egyptian Doctor was from an influential family of Egypt. His brother was in Foreign Service and he intervened in this matter through diplomatic channels. In such a diplomatic meeting, a Saudi diplomat asked: “why are you making it an issue? Ask the Doctor to withdraw his case of sodomy. Is there anyone sitting here who has not faced such a problem in his childhood?”


The  Saudi diplomat’s statement is a pointer to the state of affairs in the Saudi society. Mind it, these people were diplomats. One can imagine the state of affairs with the common man. Later, the doctor had to leave the country.

In other words, Saudi Arabia, the birth place of Islam, has not been able to solve this problem, despite the strictest injunction in the holy Quran through stories of Prophet Lot, and despite harshest legal punishment (death) awarded by Saudi authorities. Homosexuality is rampant in Saudi society and is increasing day by day.


The same is true of all Middle Eastern societies, including Iran. It is important to write about Homosexuality in Afghanistan. Kandahar, the mainland of Taliban is considered to be a heaven for beautiful boys whom Pashtun calls ‘Ashna’ or ‘Halekon’.  These young boys are between 12 and 16 years of age. We have all heard and read poems praising the beauty of women, but Pashtun poetry glorifies the beauty of boys. The famous poet Syed Abdul Khaliq Agha who died recently, says in his poem "Kandahar has beautiful halekon," the poem goes: "They have black eyes and white cheeks." According to some study, about 18% to 45% of Kandhar’s men are engaged in homosexual sex which is significantly higher than 3% to 7% Americans who identify themselves as homosexuals. During Taliban Regime in Afghanistan, homosexuality was dealt with an iron hand and many were put to the brutal death as accused were put to death under a falling wall. Many Taliban Commanders too were reported to have hidden Halekons. There are other sociological factors which cause the higher rate of homosexuality amongst Afghan society as it’s a closed society where men and women hardly get a chance to meet each other. The same is true of the entire Middle East and more or less the Muslim community wherever they exist (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia etc) compelling people to take the so-called unnatural path. Maulanas are particularly worried about the state of affairs in the madrasas. If homosexuality is legalised, they fear, it may become almost impossible to check this “disease” from spreading further.


Clearly, both secular and religious societies have tried to control the practice of homosexuality but failed. It is time now for them to come to terms with ground reality and accept the demand for legalisation of this widespread practice. Though science is still not very clear about its genetic roots, given its spread across the length and breadth of the world spanning all secular and religious societies, it should be accepted as coming to human beings as a natural “affliction.” If so, both secular and religious societies should try and come to terms with it.

Islam is better placed than all other religions to come to terms with continuing or changing ground realities. It has the institution of ijtihad (rethinking, reform), as a part of its orthodox practice. It’s time Muslims decided to open the closed gates of Ijtihad and discussed and changed the laws regarding homosexuality, among a whole host of other things.


Shamshad Elahee Ansari is an independent writer based in Dubai, U.A.E.



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