We broach upon an issue so queer simply
because many fail to grasp its import in the present time, and because only a
small percentage of the population must deal with it. Quite frankly, in places
where there is not enough education and medicine, psychological counselling
amounts to fine luxury.
The clergy, who seldom have a
comprehension of the pain their client undergoes, usually deals with the taboo,
that is: same gender attraction. Despite their claims to science and modernity,
they conduct themselves like self-righteous souls who claim to have a solution
to every matter at hand. It’s quite simple, read the Qur’an, say your prayers,
stay away from evil influences, join a gym, and associate with other pious
beards. This ‘cure-all’ approach is
supposed to heal the person, who is made to feel as one filled with disease and
While the mention of the Qur’an and
prayers sounds promising, it is neither the cure and nor is it even sufficient
in absence of a strong motivation on part of the client. To strengthen the
argument that people well versed in scriptures indulge in some of the most
heinous of crimes, the following is brought to lime light, which usually is
considered ‘hush hush’ in repressed societies as ours.
Mawlvis Pressurizing Family to withdraw Molestation Case
Lahore: Religious groups are pressing the family of a
six-year-old boy, who was allegedly sexually abused by his Qur’an teacher, not
to pursue a case against him.
If the above the case is to be dismissed as an exception,
a thorough study on religious seminaries does merit our serious consideration.
Participants said that students, as young as 7-8 years
were lured into sexual activities by senior students and teachers… The
offenders, teachers and senior students, are normally 17 years or above. … The
forms of abuse range from molestation to sodomy and often, senior students are
suspended on charges of abuse but are usually re-instated on someone’s
recommendation or through a donation to the institution.
This then is one uncomfortable contradiction in that the
perfect sculpture is found fraught with imperfections, whereas unexpectedly one
finds the lotus to bloom in a mud pool. The only explanation one can posit is
that when it comes to faith, even the otherwise well-educated clerics have
confined themselves to a mental strait jacket in a parrot fashion.
Long gone are the yearnings of the grand luminaries who
would approach the holy text through their experiences in life and through the
various arts and sciences. It is when this creativity is blunted that mediocrity
partakes of all that even the most educated of clerics have to offer and hence
despite their best intentions, they end up bringing nothing more than nuisances
for the modern mind.
It is with the above criticism in mind, with the
acknowledgement that clerics have not much to offer especially in a subject as
imminent and convoluted as same gender attraction, that an alternative approach
to the issue is formulated. It is not expected that this article will deliver
‘the word’ on this subject; it will nonetheless attempt to critique the follies
in the existing approach. Our approach will assume the format of addressing a
series of the most pressing of questions.
Question I: Is same gender attraction a choice, or
alternatively, is it a natural phenomenon?
Beards: Such a perversion is a by-product of a lewd
society. He who is afflicted with this disease is the one to be blamed. In some
cases abuse at an early age could be the misleading factor but even then we
blame the child for his complicity. End of discussion!
Alternative: There is an ongoing and raging controversy on
the nature versus nurture debate as it pertains to same gender attraction.
However, given the fact that the Almighty has created wondrous varieties – of
various colours and hues, of different temperaments and propensities, and given
the fact that through recorded history a certain percentage of the population
has always been of such an orientation, even in the most conservative of
societies and also in the stark absence of early abuse, I am quite willing to
accept and support the nature part of the debate.
On a more human level, one may read the accounts of those
who live with such an orientation, each day of their life. For how can one pass
judgements without even knowing what it means to experience same gender
attraction. The following might very well be representative of the words of
thousands of hidden souls, walking in the shadows.
A Pained Soul: When I was 13, I experienced same gender
attraction. I was horrified, depressed and confused. I know that homosexual acts
are strictly forbidden in Islam but was it my choice? I have been burning in the
agony of depression since then. Same sex attraction is too difficult for me to
control and hide.
A Shadow: I assure you I am only presenting the story
because I truly need advice. I think many Muslims will find the frankness of
this letter offensive, so if you do not wish to post it on your site, please
feel free. I am a gay Muslim. I have been gay since at least the age of seven,
and this was no choice of my own.
The gentle readers may also want to consider a case of two
brothers, both below the tender age of ten. Being nurtured in the same
environment, one conducts his affairs like a normal boy of his age, whereas the
other ends up playing with dolls, female clothing and the like. Connecting this
case with the finding that 75 of effeminate boys grow up to become homosexuals,
some level of clarity can be reached. Nonetheless, the readers are encouraged to
make up their own minds.
Question II: Regardless of the nature versus nurture
debate, can such a condition be cured?
Beards: Obviously! First and foremost consider such a
phenomenon as a disease and a perversion. Read the Qur’an, say your prayers,
mingle with beards, steer clear from evil influences, join a gym, and get
married. Ah! Condition yourself by thinking of sex with a beautiful woman. And
if that does not work we will bring in electrocution. So there you go.
Alternative: The latter remedies sound too colourful to be
coming from holy and innocent souls. Unfortunately, for all their piety,
scientific work has denounced both forms of outrageous and medieval practices.
While, the promising suggestions merit consideration, yet, a qualification has
already been presented in the aforementioned passages of this article.
One must try to understand that many people, who
experience such an attraction, can possibly stand on a higher moral plane than
thousands of otherwise normal people. As an instance, consider whether the
following words emanate from sexual beasts or from people genuinely struggling
in the path of Light?
A Pained Soul: Unfortunately, I am still living, I am at
the cross roads, and for the past ten years I have been burning in a fire of my
miseries, my identity. I am constantly in a conflict. I die daily.
A Shadow: I believe strongly in God and that there is no
higher calling than to serve Him, I have chosen to refrain from acting on my
homosexual desires since such acts are against the likings of our Lord.
Despite our innate guidance, which might provoke
abhorrence toward the act of sodomy, how can one make those experiencing same
gender attraction feel as if they were diseased or perverted. How can one have
the heart or conscience to award them the same rank as those who revel in their
base deportment? Nay! Categorizing an otherwise intelligent and well-meaning
person as diseased and perverted can be quite demeaning and demoralizing. It
is disillusioning simply because, even if the environs or conditions like child
abuse were to be blamed, the brutal truth is that some things cannot be helped
or changed. One may want to contemplate on the following:
How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you
go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There
are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep...that have
Perhaps through sheer perseverance and dedication one may
reach any goal, but the costs can be quite overwhelming. It might be relatively
easy to deal with external stimuli through steering clear of certain environs,
but how does one tame an unadulterated feeling that arises from within? The
phenomena of ex-ex gays and the fact that some even after years of marriage have
been unable to recover must mean something.
To spend all of one’s reserves suffocating and
flagellating the self at all times for something beyond one’s control; to
incessantly work so that one might live a normal life in a proper family unit –
Perhaps it is possible, but at what cost? Is every moment of life to be spent in
the rare chance that one may correct oneself for marriage? Was man sent down for
the goal of marriage or for the higher purpose of conducting with patience and
gratitude in the worship of the One True God?
To reinforce the futility of the beard approach, one must
understand that despite stereotypical notions, many homosexuals attend the gym
regularly and several follow the rituals religiously. The following might be
that representation. Once again, the readers are encouraged to make up their own
mind, bereft of any prejudices fuelled by passionate clerics.
A Shadow: Through establishing a close relationship with
God, I have been able to suppress these desires to a great extent. They have not
vanished, but they have definitely diminished in intensity over the years, by
the grace of God. However, I still have problems. I hope to stay clear of evil
thoughts as far as possible and for as long as I am alive.
Question III: What might be the alternative approach?
Alternative: Graciously, we must listen and allow the
clients to chart their own paths. The solution must come from within for
superimposed solutions do not work, are easily shrugged off, or perhaps owing to
conflict, worsen the situation even to the point of suicide. Let us then
revisit and extract solutions from the very words of the two souls that called
A Shadow: The topic I am about to discuss is taboo in
Muslim circles. My parents are not terribly devout Muslims, but they are
conservative enough to condemn anything related to homosexuality. If they found
out I was gay, they would probably go insane and disown me or at the very least
posit that I consciously opted to be the way I am, which is not at all true, and
would probably proceed to get me to somehow become straight.
Another issue is my sexual future. I have suppressed my
homosexual urges, but they are not absent and I am by no means straight. I am
therefore considering a life of celibacy, but this, again, is something of which
my parents would not approve. Or should I demand a heavy request from God, that
He turn me into a straight man before I get married, if I live that long?
A Pained Soul: I had a
relationship with another boy. I still feel guilty about that. What is the
solution, death, or acceptance?
The stark truth is that Islam
has severely condemned sodomy. The various Qur’anic verses, the teachings of the
Prophet (sws) and the opinions of the grand jurists cannot be clearer. The law
cannot be changed for then we would be charged with the same heinous crime as
those nations before us that defied the Divine mandate. However, another area
contains enough scope for change. It is that of social prejudices, of family
pressures, of categorical statements and of nothing but homophobia.
If we keep dealing with the
issue as taboo, as non-existent, as an exclusive Western or 21st century
phenomenon, or make the client feel diseased or perverted, we will only end up
steering many bright and able youth away from the Light. Thus, the alternative
approach has its roots in understanding, in empathy, in tolerance, in acceptance
and nothing but love. Our resident expert has the following to add.
Adnan Zulfiqar: We must
understand that this life is created as a test for us all. We are going to go
through many tribulations, there will even be some suffering, but it is the way
God measures the power of our character and strength of our faith. We are all
going to make mistakes and even going to sin. None of us is immune from this.
This is why the Almighty constantly reminds us of His never-ending mercy.
All we have to do is to work
towards being better Muslims and better people, and that each time we sin, we
turn to Him for forgiveness. Each time we turn to God we reaffirm and renew our
bond with Him, our dependence and our faith in Him. Some of us might experience
more difficulties than others, but we will also find equivalent relief.
The Islamic jurists of the past,
including the great Abu Hanifah and Imam Shafi‘i, have indicated that
experiencing same gender attraction and being a Muslim are not necessarily
mutually exclusive. However, one cannot act upon homosexual desires by
committing sodomy with another man. Sodomy is forbidden to all Muslims, whether
with a man or with a woman.
Sometimes, whether we are
homosexual or heterosexual, the people we surround ourselves with only enhance
our most base, animalistic desires and we need to find ways to escape that. Most
scientists agree that everyone has desires towards their own gender at an early
age, but this is due to factors unrelated to sexuality. However, even if same
gender attraction is no choice of an individual, it is simply something that one
must learn to control and channel in the proper way.
As for guilt about relationships
with men, one must simply seek forgiveness and recognize that God understands
all. If one continues to make mistakes, then one should continue with sincere
repentance. There are different ways to take one’s mind off desires through
other passions in life. One may want to fast more regularly to help curb these
desires. Engaging yourself in other passions – school, work, or hobbies is
another outlet. Finally masturbation, an activity devoid of any value good or
bad despite the clamouring of the clerics, can always calm desires and provide
These are not perfect solutions;
they may not provide the most complete peace of mind, but they can surely assist
in one’s struggles. We are all being tested here, we are all committing
mistakes, but what matters is that we turn to God whenever we do. We must
continue to ask for forgiveness, and realize that one’s presence on this earth,
even as a homosexual is far better than death through suicide. To my brothers in
pain all I would say is that, you are Allah's magnificent creations, and like
the rest of us, you too have flaws. And that does not diminish your value in the
Beards: Nonsense! Human rights organizations might rightly
voice concern over human values and freedom of choice. While, changing the code
of conduct would be against the law, threatening to kill, fuelling bigotry and
inciting violence also stand against Islamic principles. No individual, no
matter how self-righteous, has the right of excommunication in this case.
We urge the clerics, and the affected parents to deal with
such a sensitive issue with great care and concern. Let love and empathy define
your course of actions as opposed to prejudice and hatred. Understand that human
beings are special and beautiful creations of God. Each has his flaws, none is
perfect, and so how can us mere mortals discriminate on the basis of irrational
fear and hatred of what we fail to understand.
As for the many homosexuals who have abandoned their
faith, we can only pray. However, for those who wish to retain their Islamic
faith, we offer words of empathy and counsel to the best of our abilities. We
encourage those in pain, to posit creative solutions toward channelling their
feelings. As an instance, the following quote from the movie ‘Stigmata’ is
Frankie: First of all, I can’t
understand a man who’s never, you know...
Kiernan: Never made love to a
woman? Well this may come as a great surprise to you, but, I wasn’t born a
Frankie: But you didn’t like it?
Kiernan: What’s not to like?
Frankie: But you don’t miss it?
Kiernan: Of course I miss it. I mean I’m human. I struggle
with it. But I’ve made a choice. Basically, what I’ve done is I’ve exchanged one
set of complications for another...Life does not all become sublime with sex.
And as much as the clerics harp on it, the stark truth is that even those who
have indulged in pornography, as these days most do, abandon it for pursuit of
higher goals and achievements. Quite simply, as one matures and the urges
diminish, one begins to feel the temporal nature of such an activity. Perhaps
the more something is blown out of proportion the more it may seem attractive.
Conclusion: Addressed to
Pained Brethren in Faith
Homosexuality might very well be natural. The pain you go
through is real, and so are the tears that trickle in the quiet of the night.
Mistakes you will make, and falter you will, for quite burdensome is such a
trial. Very few words are there for comfort, but you cannot spend your life in
guilt or shame and alternatively, not in lewdness either. Says Gandalf:
You are soldiers of Gondor! No matter what comes through
that gate, you will stand your ground!
We call upon you to abandon the shadows. What are you
trying to hide? People will always talk and make fun, but do you care a hoot? If
you do then you shouldn’t, and if you don’t then good for you and so you might
want to let your closest friends know if you feel they are enlightened enough to
There is so much more to you than same gender attraction.
It is only a small part of who you are, then how can you let it engulf and
define you? Look at your abilities, your creativities, and your relations with
your family and friends, your love of music, movies, sports or anything else for
that matter. Your sensitivities, your dealings, your musings, your words, your
thoughts, et al., certainly would have other things to them than just this. So
let not one facet of yourself engulf you.
It is neither a virtue nor a
vice to experience these feelings. They are simply devoid of any value. There
are greater issues in life; you have so much to do and so much to be. It would
indeed be sad to waste your life struggling with yourself. Learn to be at peace
with yourself. Send this foul guilt of yours into the abyss, but at the same
time stand your moral ground. Arise, and claim your place under the sun. Through
your labours and dedication, through your focus and work, through your sheer
determination you have the potential to achieve greatness, so make your life