By Junaid Jahangir,
New Age Islam
There is no
dearth of online YouTube videos and discussions where gay Muslims are
counselled to control their urges and desires, as a test from Allah. Often the
tone of the discussants is either scathing or softly paternal. They engage in
rationalization by copy pasting from the Qur’an that Allah does not impose a
burden on a people more than they can bear. Implicit is the assumption that gay
Muslims are capable of handling this challenge meted out to them.
with this narrative is that the same discussants go at length to showcase how
Islam means peace, offered human rights centuries before the West, stands
against oppression and calls out for social justice. Yet, when it comes to
LGBTQ concerns, they downplay the concerns of gay Muslims and expect them to
remain chaste for the rest of their lives. They can show pity but not respect
the right for the basic human need for sexual expression and fulfilment.
to recognize that in the narratives on tests, it is generally assumed that
greater burdens are placed on Muslims with greater faith and lighter burdens on
those with lighter faith. This leads to the question that when did gay Muslims,
who are often scathingly reviled, become to be treated as those with superior
in sunglasses, says LGBT Muslims face pressures of both homophobia and
And in all
this, gay Muslims are being asked to bear an Asr (undue hardship) that was not even asked of the Prophets. If
anything, the lives of the Prophets indicate how they had multiple avenues of
sexual expression, with Solomon at 700 wives and 300 concubines. Indeed, to
showcase the Prophet as the greatest of them all, Muslim polemicists sought to
embellish the virility of the Prophet.
the case they wanted to make, they exaggerated the age of Khadija to 40 (when
she would have been in her late twenties) and minimized the age of Aisha to 9
(when she would have been in her late teens to early twenties).
of the Companions and the following jurists were no different. Muslim scholar
Kecia Ali quotes the 17th-century Ḥanafī jurist Ḥaṣkafī, who opined that if a man, who
had four wives and a thousand concubines, was reproached for taking another
concubine, it was as if the critic had committed disbelief by reproaching a
is the Prophet David, who is accused of a grave sin in the Qur’anic passage
38:21-25. Khaleel Mohammed’s book “David in the Muslim Tradition –
The Bathsheba Affair,” extensively
documents how the Muslim position shifted from the Biblical account of David
being accused of adultery to him being sinless, based on the later doctrine of
inerrancy of Prophets.
tradition showcases how David was accused of placing Uriah the Hittite at the
frontline of the battle that got him killed, which allowed David to make his
advance towards his wife Bathsheba.
Muslims believe that the Bible has been corrupted. Yet, Abdullah Saeed
showcases in his article “The
Charge of Distortion of Jewish and Christian Scriptures” that many exegetes like Tabari,
Razi, Qurtubi, amongst others believed that the distortion was not on the text
but on the interpretations and that the scriptures today remain largely the
same as those that existed at the time of the Prophet.
mind that the doctrine of the inerrancy of Prophets was a later invention and
that the corruption of the Jewish and Christian texts does not have the backing
of the Qur’an or the major exegetes, allows us to radically question the ethical
lessons Muslims derive from the story of the people of Lot.
Muslims and for that matter conservative Christians and orthodox Jews emphasize
the sin of homosexual expression, the same story, when seen in its entirety
including the Biblical passages, raises a lot more questions than it answers.
This is especially so when the focus in the story is shifted from the people to
the Prophet Lot himself.
protagonist of the entire story is shown as having a rift with Abraham over
land, yielding his daughters to a frenzied mob and having an incestuous affair
with his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
when one looks at the Biblical accounts of David and Lot, the multiples wives
of Solomon and absence of any restrictions on the number of concubines taken up
by the generation of Muslim elders deemed righteous, all of this necessitates
the question on the undue hardship being imposed on gay Muslims through the
cooked up narrative of a test.
The idea is
not to resuscitate the debate on the inerrancy of Prophets but simply to
showcase that any narrative on the basis of a story that raises far more
questions than it answers should be created reasonably and responsibly,
especially when it comes to inflicting harm on fellow human beings.
nutshell, we cannot expect gay Muslims to abide by an unreasonable standard,
one that was not even imposed on Prophets to bear.
Junaid Jahangir is an Assistant Professor of Economics at MacEwan University. He is the co-author of Islamic Law and Muslim Same-Sex Unions. With Dr. Hussein Abdullatif, a paediatric endocrinologist in Alabama, he has co-authored several academic papers on the issue of same-sex unions in Islam. He contributed this article to NewAgeIslam.com.
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