Thursday, August 05, 2010

LGBT (LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDERED) MUSLIMS: DO THEY HAVE A PLACE AT THE TABLE IN OUR COMMUNITIES?

                                                         (Image by Antonio Martins here)


As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu and Greetings of Peace:

Insha Allah this finds you all and your families well, and preparing for the start of Ramadan next week, Insha Allaah.

We are very busy at the prison, getting it together for about 175 Muslim women to participate in the month's activities: fasting, iftar, community dinner, Eid prayer, and finally Eid feast! 

In the meantime, I am fascinated at how the world seems to be going crazy, especially here in the USA.  The illegal immigration battle heats up, and as well, the ongoing opinions of everyone in the media about the New York City mosque controversy near Ground Zero. 

Then yesterday, Proposition 8 in California, which restricts marriage to one man and one woman, was overturned by a US District Court Judge who ruled that the voter-approved law violates federal equal protections and due process laws.

Regardless how anyone personally feels about homosexuality and gay marriage, and religion aside, it makes sense that in a country like America any law prohibiting one group of people to do something that everyone else in America is allowed to do, based on race, gender, religion, etc., is indeed unjust.  And illegal.

Still, the homophobes continue their fight, and are appealing the judge's decision.

I say "religion aside," because I am talking about marriage that is sanctioned by the government.  In America, one can marry in a church, synagogue, masjid, or wherever, but for the marriage to be "legally" recognized by the secular government and the IRS, a secular marriage license is needed. 

To clarify, I do not agree that gays should be allowed to have a nikah in the masjid.  Nor do I think that the religion of Islaam needs to be "updated," to permit gay marriage.  I'm just saying that there's a difference between religious and secular marriage in America, and we must advocate for every one's rights in America, least they come after us next. 

Back to the New York City mosque controversy, I was pleased to see that the rabbis were out demonstrating today in support of the mosque project.  In my opinion, all religious groups should be out there doing the same.

I was also pleased to see a link on my JTA mobile news service describing how a group of Orthodox rabbis, educators, and mental health professionals signed a statement supporting gays in the Jewish community. 

WHAT?!  Rabbis supporting gays?!

"For the last six months, a number of Orthodox rabbis and educators have been preparing a statement of principles on the place of our brothers and sister in our community who have a homosexual orientation," the statement explains. 

Yes!  From the mobile link, "All human beings ... deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot) ... Embarrassing, harassing, or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism."

The statement of principles views the treatment of gay Jews with dignity and respect as an obligation. 

It affirms that "halakhah sees heterosexual marriage as the ideal model and sole legitimate outlet for human sexual expression.  The sensitivity and understanding we properly express for human beings with other sexual orientations does not diminish our commitment to that principle."

Halakhic Judaism still views all same-sex sexual interactions as prohibited.  It does not prohibit orientation or feelings of same-sex attraction as impermissible, just the sexual acts.  Nothing in Torah devalues the human beings who struggle with the feelings. 

The group also affirms "the religious right of those with a homosexual orientation to reject therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous." 

Jews struggling to live their lives in accordance with halakhic values need and deserve the support of the Jewish community, and should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community, the statement says.

When will the Muslim community officially develop such a statement of principles?

Is there a middle road?  When will our communities become all-inclusive?  (Disabled Muslims have been asking this question for a long time.)

Muslims are people, and all of the "problems" and issues of general society are present in our communities.  As much as we like to think these problems don't exist, issues such as homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, HIV, and substance abuse are rampant among us.  May Allaah t'ala protect us from them/Ameen.  Only recently, have the problems associated with domestic violence in the Muslim community received the needed attention they desperately require and deserve.

While some among us spend our time worrying about whether or not our sister wears a hijab or plucks her eyebrows, or why our brother refuses to grow a beard, we run the risk of neglecting some other very serious issues.

Muslim families will live in shame and secrecy if a family member is gay or has HIV. 

This shouldn't be.

In my work as a Muslim chaplain, I routinely interact with Muslim inmates who insist they are a lesbian or bisexual. 

Are they really lesbian or bisexual?  As women, are they merely lonely?  Are they afraid and seeking protection?  Are they trying to fit in?  Are they being a predator and taking advantage of each other (getting money, commissary items, etc.)?  Have they always been curious and feel safe to "experiment" while incarcerated?

If so, how can I help?  And with what attitude do I approach this area of pastoral counseling within an Islaamic framework?

And if they are truly a lesbian or bisexual.  AND a Muslim?  Then what?  Do I shun them?  Shame them?  Enjoin the good and forbid the evil?  Be a warner and then leave it between them and Allaah t'ala?  After all, they know Islaam's position and have probably thought about it more than I have.

In his book, "Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims," Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle bravely puts the gay card on the Muslim table.  You can read the first 42 pages here.  Kugle maintains that Islaam is not so clear about homosexuality as most of us Muslims may think.  "Many Islamic authorities claim that homosexuality is categorically forbidden, but the reality is much less clear-cut.  There are no verses in the Qur'an that unambiguously condemn homosexuals, and there are even some that suggest they can be tolerated in Muslim communities.  In addition, reports from Hadith that denounce homosexual and transgender persons are of dubious authenticity," reads the back cover of the book.

Subhan'Allah!

Notice that the author does not talk about the sexual acts between same-sex Muslim persons as being acceptable to the religion of Islaam, he merely challenges Muslims to think about how we perceive our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) brothers and sisters among us - much like the rabbis have done in their Statement of Principles.

What do you think?  Do you know any gay Muslims?  How are they treated within your communities?  Does Islaam differentiate between the "sin" and the "sinner"?

10 comments:

mezba said...

It's a big problem - the fact that Hadith can be fabricated and then used as a source of Islamic Law. I recently read Reza Aslan "No god but God" and the story of the development of Islamic law is fascinating to say the least.

I don't think there is as strict a punishment on homosexuality in Islam as it is made out to be - some of which is derived from ancient Jewish/Mosaic laws. What we can all agree to start with is that no person should be discriminated or dealt with harshly just due to his or her religious beliefs or sexual nature, and then go from there.

I still believe Islam says heterosexual relations are the ones to have, and does not need any updating vis-a-vis the United Church.

AlabasterMuslim said...

I'm completely against homosexuality.
It indeed is a grave sin, and anyone who PRACTICES homosexuality should definitely repent. If homosexuality was allowed in Islam then Allah swt would not have punished the city of Lot (a.s.), or forbidden anal sex (which is so bad that if a husband/wife suggests it that alone is grounds for divorce). I guess thats why I think its crazy when people try to change religion and make homosexuality permissible.

Rukhpar Mor said...

First off, this is a difficult topic for me since I really don't know where I truly stand. I do not know any gay Muslims but I do know of (but not personally) transgender men living in Pakistan. The treatment they get over there is unacceptable.

I have heard of Muslims quoting the Quran and hadith, saying that homosexuality is forbidden and that the punishment is severe.

However, I do agree that in the American society, it would be hypocritical to deny rights of a minority group, especially since we would not want the same to happen to us.

On a side discussion (not related to LGBT): As for the mosque debate, do you think the Muslims are taking it too far? Do you think that they could find a separate area to build the mosque? I am not sure about this whole controversy either.

Wassalam..

Annie said...

As Salamu Alaikum wa Rehmatulahi Wa Barakatuhu

As far as I know, and from what I have understood by reading the Holy Quran, homosexuality is not allowed in Islam and as AlabasterMuslim said about what is mentioned in Quran about Qaum-e-Loot, the bad habits they were into and the torment and punishment of Allah SWT for them, its clearly mentioned in Quran that these were the reasons they were punished, I wonder why would anybody think that this is allowed.

The reason in Islam for marriage is to have children and to bring them up into good Muslims, which raises this animal instinct (of relationship just to enjoy) into superiority and comes with a responsibility as well. There is no harm in having friends, like girls are friends with girls and boys are friends with boys but no feelings beyond friendship are allowed.

If a new Muslim has had a chapter like this in their life, then we as Muslims should not look down upon them, but should treat them kindly and that he/she should also try to change and pray to Allah SWT to cure this disease of theirs and to help them, as He SWT is the One who guided them to Islam, the True Religion and we all Muslims should also pray for our brothers and sisters in such problems.

Allah SWT is the source of knowledge and He knows best.

The Dynamic Hamza 21 said...

There is so much wrong this post it going to take me day to process it and return with coherent comment.

For now all I can say you clearly do not understand Islam's position on Homosexulphilia. If you did you would know the within history of Islam the position on homosexualphilia HAS BEEN and STILL IS the position you quoted from the JTA.



Also Kugle is not Islamic scholar. He has not studied with any shuyukh. He has Phd in Religion and anthropology so his opinion is just that it's opinion. It is not based upon firm transmitted knowledge but his own cultural perspective.


" we must advocate for every one's rights in America, least they come after us next. "

This is the definition a fallacy!!

Safiyyah said...

Thank you everyone for your feedback, and I look forward to the "coherent comment" of Brother Hamza.

My whole point is the treatment of LGBT people in some of our Muslim communities. To treat people badly is not from Islaam - or any other religion for that matter.

One of the biggest selling points for me to become a Muslim is the belief that a Believer's relationship between him/her and God is between them - and NOT me.

Allaah does not need or want my help. He has no assistants or partners. He is the Judge - not me.

Casual Blogger said...

Part 1

Ever wondered...

1)Why its easy for a straight woman to kiss another woman or for a lesbian to kiss a man ?

but

2)Hard for a guy to kiss another guy than give head to a woman or for a gay to kiss a woman than give head to a man ?

They say female sexuality is fluid and male sexuality is stringent, but a fact that science will never tell you is that only men have an orientation while females who are with other females have preferred a choice of lifestyle. Gay sex is a kabbal trait that's occult in nature, a defiance to God commandments, thus forth used to invoke Jinn's.

Casual Blogger said...

Part 3

If you say there are lot of Christians, Atheists, Chinese, Filipino people eating pork and drinking alcohol then why did they not become gay already ?Because they don't know its forbidden and Allah(SWT) only punishes people who sin against him intentionally......understanding the ways of Allah (SWT) requires a lot of deep thinking with good hikmah and guidance.

They are going to use the lie of "female bisexuality" to make males be accepting and leaning towards other side of their orientation, and after a certain point it will spread faster than AIDS and be irreversible...only a matter of time which is very soon just 2 to 3 years more.

Safiyyah said...

@ Casual Blogger:

My inbox shows about 6 comments you left. But, 2 seems to have made it here. Did you edit some of the comments? At any rate, you wrote (which did not make it here):

"If you're truly a Muslim and this blog is not a Zionist swindle, than you will not have a problem in believing that Allah(SWT) thus punishes those who breaks his commandments"

Okay, Casual Blogger. Apparently, you did not read the post thoroughly. Because the purpose of it is not to support LGBT "behaviors" but to support the PEOPLE the MUSLIMS. The point was that many Muslims sin, but do we cast aside the sinner as a pariah in our Muslim communities? How about the Muslim prostitutes, drug addicts, criminals, etc. Are these people not welcome in our Muslim communities because of their behaviors/sins? That is the point.

As to me "truly being a Muslim," we will leave that one alone. The hallmark of Islaam is Tawheed and a slave's relation with Allaah t'ala. I don't have to prove or convince YOU or anyone else of my Muslimness. Only Allaah t'ala!

Zionist swindle, lol? Read my site thoroughly dear commenter and you will see that I am AGAINST Zionism.

Thanks for visiting and do return.

Casual Blogger said...

I've only posted 3 comments and they were a bit to formal and i apologize to you if they were sounding rude.

As for the drug addicts, prostitutes and lgbt people you are talking about, we can guide them to a certain extent and after that leave it to them but not change the rules given by God for their comfort.