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Religious Law: Islam And Homosexuality

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Question:

Discuss about the Religious Law for Islam and Homosexuality.

 

Answer:

It is a well-known fact that homosexuality as well as any act of same-sex marriage is strictly prohibited by the Islam religion. Although Islam does condemn homosexuality, its condemnation of the same is highly ubiquitous. In other words, homosexuality is not distinctly mentioned in any of the religious scriptures of the Islam religion, and rather it is referred to as the actions of the people of Lot”, that refers to Prophet Muhammad’s quote about condemning the people of Lot for the act of sodomy. Same sex marriage is highly condemnable as per the Islam Law because it is accused of causing moral decay (Jaspal, 2016). The Islam scriptures show three prominent reasons behind the non-acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relations. First of all, same- sex marriage opposes and contradicts the divine law of creation and pro-creation. Secondly, it vandalizes social institutions such as marriage, and last of all, it also compels people to ignore God’s guidance in life. The present essay intends to discuss and critically analyse the way Islamic people view the concept of homosexuality, and evaluate the reason behind the same as well.

The Islamic scriptures strongly advice its followers that they should neither support nor should participate in any form of homosexual relation. In fact, it is important to note that the Islamic derogatory approach towards the issues of homosexuality and same sex marriage is clearly evident in the terms it uses to describe this act, which includes al-fahsha (meaning an obscene act), and shudhudh (meaning abnormality). First of all, it is important to state that the though process or approach to life of any person or community is influenced by the religious texts, one’s religion asks him to subscribe to. Accordingly, since Quran is the central religious text of the Muslim people, it might be interesting to note what the Quran teaches the Islamic people about homosexuality. The holy book of the Muslims narrates the tale of Lut, whom God had punished for disobedience and transgression of the natural law of the universe. The Quran clearly states that whatever has been created in the universe, has been created in pairs. Thus, the pair of a male and a female indicates the fact that one is always expected to complement the other. The social institution of marriage is considered to be a holy institution in the Islamic religion, because it enables procreation, and it endorses the natural state in which everyone is supposed to live. The Quran clearly states that any person indulging in homosexual urges should be punished, though it does not strictly state what punishment is to be imposed on that person (Rahman, 2014). The nature of punishment ranges from imprisonment, flogging to death sentence, depending on the discretion of the jurists, and punishments are very common in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, at the same time, it is important to mention here that the Islam religion also acknowledges an individual’s right to privacy and hence a person is often spared punishment, and is left to repent alone, if he has not perpetrated the act of homosexuality in public (Mahomed, 2013).  The Quran contains many quotes that strongly condemn the acts of homosexuality, as evident in the story of a city which was completely ravaged because of the rain of fire once its residents were found to have committed homosexual acts with the messengers sent by God to the Prophet Lot.

While trying to understand the Islam religion’s view of homosexuality, it is important to understand the Shariah Law and its take on marriage. As it is a well-known fact that the Shariah Law is an integral part of the religious law of Islam. The Shariah law is essentially a law, that primarily concerns itself with actions, rather than emotions. Consequently, it does not view marriage as anything more than a social institution, unlike most of the other religions. It does not attach the need of love and companionship to marriage, and rather deems it to be nothing more than a mere contract agreed upon by both the parties. While the male party is expected to offer financial security to his female partner, the latter is expected to offer the former exclusive sexual access, ultimately facilitating procreation. This form of agreement entered upon by the husband and the wife is considered to be holy and divine, and hence the violation of this agreement deserves condemnation, as per the Shariah Law. The Shariah Law also has another significant aspect, as it also upholds that marriage has no room for desire or inclination to indulge in, and thus if two people are engaged in relation or getting married out of sexual desire, as is the case of same sex marriage, they should deserve punishment (Rehman, 2015).

 

There is no point denying the fact that the Quran as well as the Hadith have been vocal in condemning any form of homosexual act, and believes that it does lead to the moral ruin of the public. It is worthwhile to note here that here are innumerable passages in Hadith, that call for harsh punishments for any sort of homosexual activity. However, at the same time, it is important to note how each of these texts has condemned and disapproved any instance of anal sex amongst men, and has not stated much about the romantic relation that might have existed amongst the people of same sex (McGee, 2016). Although most of the religious scriptures have recommended strong punishment to the people accused of homosexual acts, how far these punishments have been applied in real life scenario in today’s world is still questionable. However, countries such as Turkey, or Jordan may not punish the guilty in a rigorous way, legal persecution is common in most parts of Saudi Arabia.

While trying to understand same-sex marriage from the perspective of the Islam religion, it is important to understand that marriage is not anything romantic or emotional for the Islam followers. Rather, the Islamic scriptures view marriage as a kind of exchange occurring between two parties, solely for the purpose of financial protection and security, as well as exclusive sexual and reproductive rights. Hence, the desire to connect with another person, or to love him, is violation of the marriage agreement of the Islamic tradition, and consequently same-sex marriage that violates this divine agreement is not approved here. Love and a feeling of companionship can develop in the process, but it should not be the reason why two people should tie the knot. Although equal marriage is already legalized in many nations, including UK and Scotland, the same-sex marriage Muslim couples are not allowed access to the basic public facilities, such as education and healthcare centres, social service agencies, nursing homes, orphanages, and others.

Just like Judaism, it should be noted, the Islam religion also endorses a religious view that is being conceived more in terms of the idiom of law, rather than determining the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ from a humanitarian viewpoint. Any sexual act that does not involve the act of vaginal penetration is considered illicit. There is no point re-stating that since same sex marriage does not involve penetration, t is prohibited by the Islam Law, and is seen as a sexual contact outside marriage. With the passing of time, people have become more independent while considering about important decisions of life such as relationship and marriage, and many of them have also voiced strong protest against the condemnation of homosexuality. The Islamic take on love and desire is quite different which clearly explains its rigid stand against homosexuality. Feelings such as love are not of much importance in the Islamic religion, and action is more important here. If the feeling as love here can be translated into action, it is good, or else if it is disapproved by God, the feeling should be abandoned at that very moment. If any feeling compels a person to violate the religious norms, then that feeling is believed to be highly condemnable in Islam tradition (Prothero, 2016). Hence, same-sex marriage or even the act of professing love to the person of same sex is seen as a violation of religious laws. Also, it should be noted that procreation is one of the very important issues as per the Islamic Law, and hence same sex marriage that prevents the possibility of reproduction and procreation is considered to be an act that has no future at all. Marriage is a bond that is rewarded with the child, and marriage without procreation has no value at all, as suggested in Shahih Muslim: "O Messenger of Allah! When one of us fulfils his sexual desire, will he be given a reward for that?" And he said, "Do you not think that were he to act upon it unlawfully, he would be sinning? Likewise, if he acts upon it lawfully he will be rewarded." (Schnabel & Sevell, 2017).

To conclude, it should be remembered that most of the countries have legalized homosexuality and same-sex marriage, placing the call for humanity on top. However, the Islamic countries still prohibit the same and strictly punish the offenders. For example, in Saudi Arabia, , homosexual men are arrested and sentenced to prison on charges linked to "debauchery" - and faced flogging or even the death penalty in Iran and Saudi Arabia. In Egypt, gays are persecuted legally for "violating public morality." 

 

Reference List:

Jaspal, R. (2016). Islam and Homosexuality. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Mahomed, N. (2013). Islam and Homosexuality, Samar Habib (Ed.): book review. Journal for Islamic Studies, 33(1), 235-239.

McGee, R. W. (2016). Do Liberals have Different Views on Homosexuality than Conservatives? An Empirical Study of Opinion in the United States.

Prothero, S. (2016). Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections): A History of the Religious Battles That Define America from Jefferson's Heresies to Gay Marriage Today. Harper Collins.

Rahman, M. (2014). Islam versus Homosexuality as Modernity. In Homosexualities, Muslim Cultures and Modernity (pp. 27-48). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Rehman, J. (2015). Sexual Rights in the Religious State. J. Islamic St. Prac. Int'l L., 11, 49.

Schnabel, L., & Sevell, E. (2017). Should Mary and Jane Be Legal? Americans’ Attitudes toward Marijuana and Same-Sex Marriage Legalization, 1988–2014. Public Opinion Quarterly, 81(1), 157-172.

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