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Islamic Ideology ( 1 Jul 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islam and homosexuality: A variety of opinions

By Jennifer Tchinnosian
Hatchet Reporter

27 October 2008

 A variety of opinions on the subject of Islam and homosexuality led to a heated debate at the Marvin Centre Sunday night.

Panelist Amal Amireh, professor of women and gender studies at George Mason University, said there are many homosexual Muslims that practice Islam, adding that it is important to speak for these people.

"Speaking about homosexuality and Islam is risky," Amireh said. "Not speaking about homosexuality and Islam is riskier."

While a majority of the Muslim panellists agreed that homosexuality was permissible under Islam, some said being gay was against their religion. Hisham Mahmoud, a lecturer at Princeton University, said, "No jurist will ever accept homosexuality as a practice," and condoned the punishment of homosexuality.

The lecturer's comment provoked an outburst of emotion from panellist Imam Dayiee Abdullah of the Al-Fatiha Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Religious Roundtable, both of which advocate for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims.

"If you're heterosexual, you get away with a lot of BS. I've had enough of that," Abdullah said, adding, "If you also state Allah is the judge, then let him judge and be quiet!"

His exclamation was met with a burst of applause.

Amireh also touched on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's denial of the existence of homosexuals in Iran.

"Perhaps what he meant is that since there are laws against homosexuality in Iran, and since all Iranians are law-abiding citizens, there are no homosexuals in Iran," she said.

Abdullah said he believes that the Quran talks to homosexuals when it talks to "mankind and believers." He later quoted a passage in the Quran mentioning men who have no desire for women.

Later in the discussion Mahmoud countered this by saying that the Quran passage refers to asexual men like eunuchs. Furthermore, Mahmoud said the Quran dictates that homosexuals should be punished.

"It's very difficult to reinterpret those verses away from God's taking issue with the people of Lot for their choosing men over women," he said referring to 14 verses about the story of Lot.

Imam Johari Abdul Malik said the most important thing for Muslims to do is to know their priorities in obeying the will of Allah.

"If our first discourse in our priority is what kind of sex you have, then we're off the mark," he said.

Mahmoud said that while the homosexual act is condemned, "the feeling of homosexuality is not." He encouraged the audience to "work with" homosexual feelings and try to stay chaste.

"Struggling to suppress that feeling would be rewarded by God," he said.

Abdullah also discussed what he usually encounters when he counsels parents of children who are openly homosexual.

"Many times, the issue is the community in which they socialize, and what will people think of them? What will they think about the family?" he said.

Abdullah makes such parents decide if they love their child or the people around them more.

"You don't have to agree with your child in terms of what they want to do with their life, but listen to what they have to say," he said. "It generally allows them to talk on the level of listening."


 Islam and Homosexuality

by Tariq Ramadan

29 May 2009

 The Islamic position on homosexuality has become one of the most sensitive issues facing Muslims living in the West, particularly in Europe. It is being held up as the key to any eventual “integration” of Muslims into Western culture, as if European culture and values could be reduced to the simple fact of accepting homosexuality. The contours of this de facto European culture is in a state of constant flux, shifting according to the topic of the day. Just as some insist, as do the Pope and certain intellectuals—often dogmatic and exclusivist defenders of the Enlightenment—that Europe’s roots are Greek and Christian (thus excluding Muslims), so several homosexual spokesman and the politicians who support them are now declaring (with an identical rejection of Muslims) that the “integration of Muslims” depends on their acceptance of homosexuality. The contradiction is a serious one: does Christianity, which forms the root structure of European culture, and which purports to embody European values and identity, not condemn homosexuality? A curious marriage. Unless the contradiction is intended to stigmatize Islam and Muslims by presenting them as “the Other”… without fear of self-contradiction.

 We must reiterate, as does Isabelle Levy in “Soins et croyances” [1] that all the worlds’ major religions and spiritual traditions—from the majority view in Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism to Christianity and Islam—condemn and forbid homosexuality. The great majority of rabbis hold the same position, as do the Pope and the Dalaï Lama, who condemns homosexuality. For these traditions, as for Freud (who speaks of “perversion”), homosexuality is considered to be “against nature,” an “expression of disequilibrium” in the growth of a person. The moral condemnation of homosexuality remains the majority opinion of all religions, and Islam is no exception. It would be senseless to wish to deny the facts, to contradict the textual sources and to force believers to perform intellectual contortions so that they can prove they are in tune with the times.

  But the question is not whether one agrees with the religious texts, the beliefs and the convictions espoused by individuals. It is to determine what is appropriate behaviour in the societies in which we live together. For more than twenty years I have been insisting—and drawing sharp criticism from some Muslim groups—that homosexuality is forbidden in Islam, but that we must avoid condemning or rejecting individuals. It is quite possible to disagree with a person’s behaviour (public or private), while respecting that person as an individual. This I have continued to affirm, and gone further still: a person who pronounces the attestation of Islamic faith becomes a Muslim; if that person engages in homosexual practices, no one has the right to drive him or her out of Islam. Behaviour considered reprehensible under the rules of morality cannot justify excommunication. There is no ambiguity, and ample clarity: European Muslims have the right to express their convictions while at the same time respecting the humanity and rights of individuals. If we are to be consistent, we must respect this attitude of faith and openness.

  Today we are witnessing an upsurge of unhealthy, ideology-driven movements. To affirm one’s convictions and respect others is no longer sufficient. Muslims are now being called upon to condemn the Qur’an, and to accept and promote homosexuality to gain entry into the modern world. Not only is such an attitude doomed to fail (the majority trends in both traditional and reformist Islam, as in other religions, will never waver on this question) but it also reveals a new dogmatism—and a whiff of colonialism, not to mention xenophobia—at the heart of so-called modern, progressive thought.

 Certain prominent intellectuals and lobbies have ordained a new form of political correctness; they would like to force everyone to be “open” or “liberal” in the same way. At first glance, this open, liberal thought would seem to warrant respect; but it reveals a troubling tendency to impose its own dogmas, leaving little or no room for the convictions of traditional philosophical, spiritual or religious world-views. Betraying the ultimate goal of modernity, which should help us manage freedom and diversity, we are now told that there is only one way to be free and modern. Both dogmatic and dogmatizing, this trend, in the name of liberal thought, is a dangerous one, and should alarm all women and all men, whether atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians or Muslims. It strikes at the very heart of our freedom of thought, of the most intimate aspects of our lives, of the ways we strive for social and intellectual emancipation.

  Let us not delude ourselves. These developments, along with recent tensions surrounding the return of religion, its accompanying fears, and the social visibility of homosexual “believers” is directly related to the presence and new-found visibility of Muslims in our Western societies. We, as societies, can choose to exacerbate these sensitive issues and to exploit the natural stresses created by the arrival of new immigrants to demonstrate the impossibility of integrating Muslims, and the danger they are said to represent. There are political parties that may win elections by playing on these themes. The long term outcome will be to exacerbate social divisions, and will ultimately prove counterproductive. Social cohesion will become impossible, and daily life will be undermined by mistrust and insecurity. It is time to stop playing this harmful game, and return to a more just and reasonable approach.

 The good news comes from the younger generation: cultures and religions cannot stop them from getting to know one another, from living together, and from sharing both spaces and hopes. They are the future; there can be no doubt that they will leave our past fears far behind.

[1] Isabelle Lévy, Soins et Croyances, Guide pratique des rites, cultures et religions à l’usage des personnels de santé et des acteurs sociaux, Editions Estem, Paris, 2002, p.149

Professor Tariq Ramadan is currently President of the European think tank: European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels