When will it be ok to be gay and Muslim?

25Purple_Jihad

 

There’s nothing I love better after six hours of travelling and two nights of non-sleep than watching an episode of BBC 3’s Free Speech on iPlayer but sometimes one is forced by circumstance to go above and beyond the call of duty.

The segment that interested me had originally been scheduled to air in the previous episode a couple of weeks prior but had been pulled due to objections from the committee of Birmingham central mosque where it was being hosted. Anyhow, as the presenter, Rick Edwards so ably pointed out, better late than never.

This week’s motley panel included Maajid Nawaz (needs no introduction), Luisa Zissman (failed contestant in a contest of failures with the sole redeeming feature that she’s kind of hot), Amy Lame (American-born lesbian Labour candidate who once featured on a reality show about fat people) and some bloke with an absurd hairstyle who’s apparently a historian. Strategically positioned in the audience was Muslim commentator and activist, Abdullah Andalusi who had clearly been chosen to represent the voice of mainstream Islamic orthodoxy.

The segment opened with a short clip narrated by a homosexual drag queen by the name of Asif Quraishi, in which he explained in brief the difficulty he had experienced in admitting to his family that he was gay and his ongoing quest for acceptance by the wider Muslim community. It concluded with him addressing the community asking them when it would be ok to be simultaneously gay and Muslim.
I’ll try not to bore you with a verbatim, by the second seriatim account of the night’s proceedings but will attempt to focus instead on where I think Abdullah Andalusi got it (a bit) wrong, where two young Muslim ladies got it right and why Maajid Nawaz is a disingenuous opportunist.

Just for the record I’d like to state that I hold Abdullah Andalusi in great esteem and have the utmost respect for the superlative work that he does in propagating the call of Islam and in countering the specious arguments of the Islam haters and their scurrilous attacks on the Muslim community and its Prophet (saw) so what follows should be considered in light of that.

To state that Islam doesn’t discriminate between people based upon sexual orientation but regards them all as merely human is misleading (albeit I’m sure that was not the intent) and obviously ignores the very real distinction that Islamic texts do draw between Muslim humans and non-Muslim humans. Additionally making such a statement in the context of a debate upon the acceptability (or otherwise) of openly and actively gay individuals to the Muslim community is highly confusing given that it is widely known that classical Islamic law mandates the strictest punishment for those who engage in homosexual intercourse – without doubt a form of discrimination! Needless to say that this left many, including the presenter, looking rather pulled and although, when pressed, Abdullah did clarify that such acts are sinful he was noticeably ambivalent as to his thoughts on the particular case of Mr Quraishi. Such confusion was to be exploited later on by Maajid Nawaz in order to impute a position to Abdullah Andalusi that he clearly was not comfortable with and which seemingly set him at odds with the orthodox Islamic stance elucidated later on by a young Muslim lady. I must also mention that the repeated off-topic full throttled broadsides against Maajid did Abdullah no favours with the audience and presented Maajid the opportunity to play the picked-on victim card again – which of course he duly did.

Unfortunately I do not know the name of the young Muslim ladies in question (one is present on Twitter using the handle @Arabesque_x) but their confrontation of Messrs Nawaz and Quraishi was the highlight of the evening. Ms Arabesque – for lack of an alternative moniker – began by excoriating gay drag queen, Asif over his stubborn insistence on retaining his Muslim identity while choosing to lead a lifestyle clearly at odds with Qur’anic teachings. The logic of her impassioned submission – backed up by her citing of the relevant surah (along with an offer to provide the precise verse) – that Islam forbade homosexual relationships and as a consequence thereof the concept of gay Muslims was oxymoronic, struck a chord with many in the audience and I noted that several (apparently) non-Muslim participants applauded also. Her subsequent forceful, curt dismissal of Ms Zissman’s incipient objection raised a few laughs whilst simultaneously alerting many to the fact that the topic was an emotive one for many Muslims as it impinged upon the question of Qur’anic authority. At first Asif attempted to dismiss her appeal to the Qur’anic text out of hand, intoning that he wasn’t there to discuss the Qur’an but to talk about love. However, the astute lady reminded him that as he had posed the question when will Muslims (and by implication Islam) accept gays consequently the teachings of the Qur’an lay central to answering that. The best Asif could muster by way of riposte was that his sexuality was not a choice. At this point the second of the two young Muslim ladies was invited to comment by the presenter and proceeded in a somewhat more sedate manner to similarly make the point that while Asif was free to be gay, Islam quite clearly prohibited homosexual behaviour and the answer to his original question therefore, was an emphatic “never”. The resultant hand-wringing jeremiad by Asif decried both the supposed rising suicide rate amongst homosexual youths and a growing tide of homophobic crime, laying the blame squarely at the feet of the attitudes that had been expressed by these two Muslim ladies.

Maajid Nawaz’s contribution – if you can call it that – was to reassert once again his staunch opposition to “literalism” and to repeat his trite mantra that as there was no singular authoritative interpretation of Islam therefore everyone should be free to fashion and adhere to their own. Of course by adopting such an axiom one is confronted with the awkward problem of how to declare the “extremists” interpretation invalid and an aberration – a point raised by both Ms Arabesque and again later on, in a rather perfervid manner, by Abdullah. Realising that he’d been called out on this point Maajid then switched tact and attempted to draw a parallel between the abolition of slavery in Muslim lands despite its apparent Qur’anic sanction and the need to revaluate the interpretation and attitudes towards scriptures that justify discrimination towards gays. For added measure and to buttress his point on differing interpretations he thought it a good idea to get personal with Ms Arabesque by contending that many “literalists” would be apt to excommunicate her for not sharing their position on the niqab, jilbab (one piece outer garment) and, bizarrely, for having the temerity to speak in front of men (notwithstanding the fact that she was speaking in defense of Islam). At one point, sensing an opportunity to utilise the earlier confused message put out regarding non-discrimination towards homosexuals, he railed that Ms Arabesque’s rejection of Asif’s gay muslim identity clearly put her at odds with the stance of Abdullah – a statement which visibly made him flinch! Again I should point out that I felt it rather unfortunate that in seeking to come across as reasonable and measured – which of course is no bad thing – Abdullah gifted Maajid with an opportunity to present to non-Muslims a picture of a divided community.

At the end two non-Muslim gentlemen articulated the view that one cannot force religious people to adopt liberal views and that every religion has certain strictures that it imposes upon its followers which must be adhered to if one is to be accepted as part of that particular faith community.

So there you have it – leaving aside Ms Arabesque’s stellar performance a complete waste of 20 minutes of my life but hey at least it gave me an excuse to not go to the gym tonight.

My Comments

The Qur’an recognised the reality of slavery but neither mandated it nor outlawed it. The claim that Muslims no longer engage in the slave trade today because Muslims have rethought their interpretation of Islamic texts is erroneous. The laws relating to slavery in Islam confined who could be seized into slavery to prisoners of war and those seized in raids on nations which had no treaty of peace with the Islamic state. Furthermore the Imam (leader) was entitled to free all the captives of war if he so chose and also to prevent Muslims from conducting further raids to seize more. Seizing Muslims, citizens of treaty states or dhimmis (non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state) has always been forbidden. The context in which people can be enslaved according to Islamic law no longer exist today and seeing as there are no slaves existent anywhere in the world (in theory anyway) then this unfortunate blemish in the history of human civilisation should no longer arise again. Islamic law has not altered on this issue in any way, shape or form.

As to the question of homosexuality and Islam then while it is possible in theory to be an active homosexual and still be Muslim (albeit a highly sinful one) if the individual rejects the position that homosexual acts are sinful according to the law of Allah (swt) then they have committed apostasy and are no longer regarded as part of the millah (nation) of Muhammad (saw). Viewed from the perspective of dogmatic belief rather than actions the question itself is inane and akin to asking “when will it be ok to reject Jesus and be Christian?”

In a secular liberal society one is entitled to live their life as they see fit free from the constraints of religious dogma but equally so those who do conform to it have the right to reject you as members of their community based upon your non-adherence. So my message to Mr Quraishi is that you can go around shouting that you are gay and proud as much as you like, just not in our mosques and certainly not in my home.

May the peace and blessing of Allah (swt) be upon our master, Muhammad. Ameen.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Mark says:

    How different people see things…….
    Andalusi was indeed confusing with his “we’re all human” nonsense. I cannot imagine him using that line in a room full of Muslims where he had been invited to speak about homosexuality in Islam. So his contribution was worthless. But anyway, we know what was on his mind. Maybe he was distracted by his prepared script of having a dig at Nawaz.
    They should have had Mo Ansar on, what with his “15 years of work in the LGBT community”. Then again, maybe not.
    The young lady certainly gave the recognised view of homosexuality in Islam – one which the likes of Mr Ansar try hard to deny.
    But what she was doing was talking for all Muslims (as far as she was concerned) – something which clashed with the previous nights’ Newsnight ‘Who Speaks for Muslims?’ “debate”. This was exactly the reason Nawaz pointed out to her, that there would certainly be other Muslims who may not consider her a proper Muslim for not fully covering, and for sitting amongst men. Simple interpretations – that word which is so ubitquitous whenever religion is being discussed. She brushed it off, showing she has no concept that others may consider that she is not properly following the rules (they can), and that her interpretation was the right one. Therefore, she failed as well.
    Andalusi’s comment that pushing the line of “interpretation” was giving credence to Bin Laden’s “interpretation” of the Koran was silly. As far as I’m concerned, Bin Laden probably thought he was purely Koranic in what he did, based on that word interpretation. That word won’t go away, until all holy books are written more clearly. It’s not going to happen though is it?
    As an example, there was the “Paper reviews” on Sky a few weeks back, which is generally, a fluffy affair. One subject was how Ugandan laws against gays have been funded by American Christian Evangelists (those who consider themselves to be real Christians). Vicky Beeching, a Christian Theologian (who considers herself to be a real Christian), was covering the story, and bemoaned the fact people think God is against homosexuality because of what’s written in Leviticus. “Christians like me don’t think like that.” She pointed out the silly things in Leviticus, such as mixed fibres and eating shellfish, which are no longer seen as forbidden. She also said, there are many places in the Bible where God loves gays. At this point, someone asked, “Where in the Bible can you point to that God actually loves gays?” She obviously can’t, but said, “There are many, and I’m researching it at the moment,” then went into the tried and trusted, God is love, therefore how can God not love gays, theory. It’s the old Abrahamic religion paradox in modern day society. Some try to fit it with current thinking, and some don’t. Some try to reform their religion and move on, and some find that sacriligious. Meanwhile, us non-religious types scratch our heads, sigh heavily, and watch as they battle it out amongst themselves, but with a wary eye on how it could affect the rest of us.

    1. Mohammed says:

      “Andalusi’s comment that pushing the line of “interpretation” was giving credence to Bin Laden’s “interpretation” of the Koran was silly. As far as I’m concerned, Bin Laden probably thought he was purely Koranic in what he did, based on that word interpretation. That word won’t go away, until all holy books are written more clearly. It’s not going to happen though is it?”

      You are wrong… Here is why:

      “They [the Muslim scholars] say that the killing of innocents is wrong and invalid, and for proof, they say that the Prophet forbade the killing of children and women, and that is true. It is valid and has been laid down by the Prophet in an authentic tradition…but this forbidding of killing children and innocents is not set in stone…if the disbelievers were to kill our children and women, then we should not feel ashamed to do the same to them, mainly to deter them from trying to kill our children and women again“

      Osama Bin Laden – October 21, 2001, al-Jazeera interview quoted in ‘Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden’ by Bruce Lawrence

      So quite clearly Abdullah knows what he is talking about. Osama deliberately ignored the quran and the scholars beacause “the rules are not set in stone”. Which is funny considering muslims are known to take religion too literate. We are told that terrorists cite the quran to justify their actions but the truth is far from it.

      1. Mark says:

        I’m not sure I understand your point. Are you agreeing that holy books can be interpreted any way anyone likes?
        If so, I agree. If you are saying otherwise, I’m a bit lost.

        Take 5.32 for instance.
        This is often quoted as “If you kill one, you kill the whole of humanity.”
        A bit like “Thou shall not kill” in the bible.
        Both do not make sense, because people do kill, and neither will make any of us actually feel better about religious people who decide to kill.
        But, the main thing is, 5.32 is never quoted in full. It has an “unless” and an “or” in it, pertaining to trangession in your land etc. So the full verse actually does give the warrant to kill others, because they are not innocent if they’ve transgressed. It’s right there for anyone to interpret as such.
        And I reckon people choose their “scholars” with the best that fits their motives as is so easily done.

      2. Mohammed says:

        ” It’s a bit like a Christian commiting a murder, based on Christianity (as he broadcast it), and a church leader holding up “Thou shalt not kill” in order to show us that real Christians don’t kill. But we know they do. Does that verse make me feel better? No.”

        Everything needs to be set into context. You cant just take one verse and base your life and actions on that. So killing is a part of christian doctrine? Is that what you are trying to say? The verse is meant to show that killing is against christian doctrine..If someone ignores it then its up for them. Sure they can try to justify their actions through religion that does not make it right according to that particular faith. We have a thing called mainstream and im pretty sure Westboro baptish Church isnt mainstream (Even though its a bit harder to talk about mainstream when it comes to christianity).

        “The point being, I suppose, that if you go by the Quran to the letter, there’s an injunction not to kill. Why does it not make sense at this point? Because people do kill every day, so there must be a reason for that.”

        Yes there is a reason for that. Your point being? So if the quran says dont kill and someone kills…Then its the quran that does not make sense? What? So if a law in a country says dont kill and then someone kills anyways…Then the law makes no sense (Apparently according to that logic). The reason could be all kinds of stuff. And usually killers do not use religion as a justification for their actions. Even if they do there crystal clear evidence for the contrary which the mainstream muslim community supports.

        “What about the punishment for apostacy in Islam? Apparently, scholars are still in disagreement after all these years, with some saying it means death now, and others saying the punishment is purely in the afterlife.
        Interpretation is all, has been for hundreds of years and one thing is correct for some and incorrect for others, no matter who shouts the loudest, or has ultimate authority. ”

        As I said before islamic scholarship is not as simple as in christianity where people can essentielly pick and choose. Are scholars still in disagreement? Maybe, but again looking at the evidence it strongly suggests that apostasy is not punishable by death but treason is. Again some people will probably suggest that apostasy deserves death. Even the ottomans declared that there is no clear evidence to suggest the killing of apostates. Religious scholarship is based on evidence from scripture. You can see the evidence yourself and judge the matter. As for interpretation again…There are methods, tools and conditions set in place by the early muslims on how to interpret scripture. Yes there are still disagreements on stuff but as I demonstrated from the hadith earlier sometimes both sides are correct and no one is wrong. Even I disagree with my local Sheikh on certain subjects.

        “Nobody can account for people, no matter how perfect they think their holy book is.”

        What is your point exactly? Nobody can account for anyone?

    2. Mohammed says:

      I dont know why but I cant reply to your comment below.

      “I’m not sure I understand your point. Are you agreeing that holy books can be interpreted any way anyone likes?
      If so, I agree. If you are saying otherwise, I’m a bit lost.”

      Let me clarify: Osama bin Laden knows that the quran says not to kill innocent human beings but then just ignores it because it does not fit his current situation/worldview (I.e. Modernist). He deliberately ignores religious scripture so this is not a question about interpretation. Also please note that in islam there are methods and scholarly tools to interpret the quran and hadith. Its not for everyone to just interpret scripture as they please. Of course there can still be room for debate as to which is more correct.

      It reminds me of a hadith where a group of people was called to the prophet (Pbuh) but it was late and they would miss the prayer if they went to him immediately. So they split into two groups. One group argued that we should pray first and then go while the other group argued that we should go asap. And so they each did what they thought was right and they later told the Prophet (Pbuh) about it to figure out who was right and who was wrong. The prophet then told them that both of them had acted correctly.

      What im trying to get at is that sometimes there is no ONE correct interpretation when it comes to certain issues and diffrences regarding some things are not viewed in a hostile manner. Most of the time one needs to look at the given circumstances and follow what they think is right (Within the context of islam). The problem is when someone ignores clear evidence for some things and starts to make their own religion.

      “Take 5.32 for instance.
      This is often quoted as “If you kill one, you kill the whole of humanity.”
      A bit like “Thou shall not kill” in the bible.
      Both do not make sense, because people do kill, and neither will make any of us actually feel better about religious people who decide to kill.
      But, the main thing is, 5.32 is never quoted in full. It has an “unless” and an “or” in it, pertaining to trangession in your land etc. So the full verse actually does give the warrant to kill others, because they are not innocent if they’ve transgressed. It’s right there for anyone to interpret as such.”

      Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors (5;32)

      I dont get your point really? First you say the verse makes no sense and then you tell me its never quoted in full? Its pretty clear that something doesnt make sense if you dont quote it in full….

      This verse is pretty clear even in english. If you kill someone who has not spread corruption in the land (I.e murder, rape and looting) then you have killed all of humanity. It doesnt even need an interpretation… The meaning is crystal clear.

      “And I reckon people choose their “scholars” with the best that fits their motives as is so easily done.”

      A common misconception is that scholars are not holy people like they were in christianity. Our scholars are just fallible human beings like the rest of us with their own deficiencies and shortcomings.They just have more knowledge and authority to speak about certain subjects. The early muslims warned about relying too much on humans. Allah didnt make it impossible to figure out things yourself… One just needs to get the right qualifications

      The intelligent man follows `Ali (may God be pleased with him) when he said,
      `Do not know the truth by the men,
      but know the truth,
      and then you will know who are truthful’.”

      “It is customary with weaker intellects thus
      to take the men as criterion of the truth
      and not the truth as criterion of the men.

      1. Mark says:

        Sticking with that pesky 5.32.

        The “If you kill one, you kill the whole of mankind” snippet was used by Mehdi Hasan in an article after the Woolwich murder. The purpose of quoting that bit was to assure everyone that the killing has nothing to do with religion, but was all about foreign policy. The point being, I suppose, that if you go by the Quran to the letter, there’s an injunction not to kill. Why does it not make sense at this point? Because people do kill every day, so there must be a reason for that. It’s a bit like a Christian commiting a murder, based on Christianity (as he broadcast it), and a church leader holding up “Thou shalt not kill” in order to show us that real Christians don’t kill. But we know they do. Does that verse make me feel better? No. As for 5.32, the Woolwich murderers are either ignoring that “verse” snippet or there is more to it.
        As you know, there *is* more to it, which wasn’t published in that article. The rest of the verse with the “unless” and “transgression” fitted perfectly with what the killers thought the soldier had done, ie “transgressed” in “their” land.
        This is plainly obvious to me, that anyone can use that in the way they did. To expect everyone to be perfect, and figure out that perhaps the soldier was actually innocent, so should not have been killed in the UK, is probably expecting too much of simple humans.
        How about those lovely folks at the Westboro Baptist Church? Their “God hates fags” is all based around the black and white in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Are they correct? It’s there for all to see, after all. But no, other Christians will say that the coming of Jesus negated those ‘old’ instructions (but not others), and God’s love embraces all, therefore embraces homosexuals. So they end up having this disagreement.
        What about the punishment for apostacy in Islam? Apparently, scholars are still in disagreement after all these years, with some saying it means death now, and others saying the punishment is purely in the afterlife.
        Interpretation is all, has been for hundreds of years and one thing is correct for some and incorrect for others, no matter who shouts the loudest, or has ultimate authority. Nobody can account for people, no matter how perfect they think their holy book is.

      2. Mark says:

        In answer to “Nobody can account for anyone.”

        There’s an ancient holy book, which, as I maintain, is open to interpretation, no matter what.
        If you have a group who follow a certain “leader” or authority, they *might* go with what he says, but then again, they might not. The leader and the authority proclaim that they are not following the religion properly, when they claim that they are, based on how they see it.

        Unless a religion is followed by absolute, programmable robots, that is always going to happen, and it’s out of the hands of those who claim they know best. In fact, those “who know best” can be over-thrown, and then the religion becomes what the new leaders think it is. It can’t be said that this has never happened.

    3. Mohammed says:

      “In answer to Nobody can account for anyone.

      There’s an ancient holy book, which, as I maintain, is open to interpretation, no matter what.
      If you have a group who follow a certain “leader” or authority, they *might* go with what he says, but then again, they might not. The leader and the authority proclaim that they are not following the religion properly, when they claim that they are, based on how they see it.

      Unless a religion is followed by absolute, programmable robots, that is always going to happen, and it’s out of the hands of those who claim they know best. In fact, those “who know best” can be over-thrown, and then the religion becomes what the new leaders think it is. It can’t be said that this has never happened.”

      Im amazed you still dont get it. Dont know how many times I have to repeat the same point. Here read it again.

      Religious scholarship is based on evidence from scripture. You can see the evidence yourself and judge the matter. As for interpretation again…There are methods, tools and conditions set in place by the early muslims on how to interpret scripture. Yes there are still disagreements on stuff but as I demonstrated from the hadith earlier sometimes both sides are correct and no one is wrong. Even I disagree with my local Sheikh on certain subjects.

      The intelligent man follows `Ali (may God be pleased with him) when he said,
      `Do not know the truth by the men,
      but know the truth,
      and then you will know who are truthful’.”

      And let me add this: There is a diffrence between simple ideology and religion. Simple ideology is usually explained through the actions of the followers while religion relies on evidence from scripture. If we take a look at feminism we will see that there are a wide variety of diffrent branches but even then there is one thing that all feminists agree upon and that is their goal which is indivudalism with a focus on women. Now some feminists say that an organization such as FEMEN does not represent “true” feminism. Here is a quote from Abdullah al Andalusis debate review:

      The fallacy behind this argument is simple – bring us the holy book of Feminism, and its ‘Sunnah’ (recorded tradition of an infallible example of Feminism), and show us how other Feminists are not being true to it?

      So even though some people might take the words of an “authority” as more credible than the source itself is not a problem with the religion but a problem with people. Every cause or ideology can be hijacked…That does not mean that the ideology itself is wrong.

  2. Steve Sayers says:

    “if the individual rejects the position that homosexual acts are sinful according to the law of Allah (swt) then they have committed apostasy” So when the homosexual commits apostasy in the Caliphate/Islamic State you would most admire, would you approve of his killing?

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