MPO

The Islamic position on homosexuality has become one of the most sensitive issues facing Muslims living in the West, particularly in Europe.

It is being held up as the key to any eventual “integration” of Muslims into Western culture, as if European culture and values could be reduced to the simple fact of accepting homosexuality. The contours of this de facto European culture is in a state of constant flux, shifting according to the topic of the day. Just as some insist, as do the Pope and certain intellectuals—often dogmatic and exclusivist defenders of the Enlightenment—that Europe’s roots are Greek and Christian (thus excluding Muslims), so several homosexual spokesman and the politicians who support them are now declaring (with an identical rejection of Muslims) that the “integration of Muslims” depends on their acceptance of homosexuality.

The contradiction is a serious one: does Christianity, which forms the root structure of European culture, and which purports to embody European values and identity, not condemn homosexuality? A curious marriage. Unless the contradiction is intended to stigmatize Islam and Muslims by presenting them as “the Other”… without fear of self-contradiction.

We must reiterate, as does Isabelle Levy in “Soins et croyances” [1] that all the worlds’ major religions and spiritual traditions—from the majority view in Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism to Christianity and Islam—condemn and forbid homosexuality.

The great majority of rabbis hold the same position, as do the Pope and the Dalaï Lama, who condemns homosexuality. For these traditions, as for Freud (who speaks of “perversion”), homosexuality is considered to be “against nature,” an “expression of disequilibrium” in the growth of a person.

The moral condemnation of homosexuality remains the majority opinion of all religions, and Islam is no exception. It would be senseless to wish to deny the facts, to contradict the textual sources and to force believers to perform intellectual contortions so that they can prove they are in tune with the times.

But the question is not whether one agrees with the religious texts, the beliefs and the convictions espoused by individuals. It is to determe what is appropriate behavior in the societies in which we live together.

For more than twenty years I have been insisting—and drawing sharp criticism from some Muslim groups—that homosexuality is forbidden in Islam, but that we must avoid condemning or rejecting individuals. It is quite possible to disagree with a person’s behavior (public or private), while respecting that person as an individual. This I have continued to affirm, and gone further still: a person who pronounces the attestation of Islamic faith becomes a Muslim; if that person engages in homosexual practices, no one has the right to drive him or her out of Islam. Behavior considered reprehensible under the rules of morality cannot justify excommunication. There is no ambiguity, and ample clarity:

European Muslims have the right to express their convictions while at the same time respecting the humanity and rights of individuals. If we are to be consistent, we must respect this attitude of faith and openness.

Today we are witnessing an upsurge of unhealthy, ideology-driven movements. To affirm one’s convictions and respect others is no longer sufficient. Muslims are now being called upon to condemn the Qur’an, and to accept and promote homosexuality to gain entry into the modern world. Not only is such an attitude doomed to fail (the majority trends in both traditional and reformist Islam, as in other religions, will never waver on this question) but it also reveals a new dogmatism—and a whiff of colonialism, not to mention xenophobia—at the heart of so-called modern, progressive thought.

Certain prominent intellectuals and lobbies have ordained a new form of political correctness; they would like to force everyone to be “open” or “liberal” in the same way. At first glance, this open, liberal thought would seem to warrant respect; but it reveals a troubling tendency to impose its own dogmas, leaving little or no room for the convictions of traditional philosophical, spiritual or religious world-views.

Betraying the ultimate goal of modernity, which should help us manage freedom and diversity, we are now told that there is only one way to be free and modern. Both dogmatic and dogmatizing, this trend, in the name of liberal thought, is a dangerous one, and should alarm all women and all men, whether atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians or Muslims. It strikes at the very heart of our freedom of thought, of the most intimate aspects of our lives, of the ways we strive for social and intellectual emancipation.

Let us not delude ourselves. These developments, along with recent tensions surrounding the return of religion, its accompanying fears, and the social visibility of homosexual “believers” is directly related to the presence and new-found visibility of Muslims in our Western societies. We, as societies, can choose to exacerbate these sensitive issues and to exploit the natural stresses created by the arrival of new immigrants to demonstrate the impossibility of integrating Muslims, and the danger they are said to represent.

There are political parties that may win elections by playing on these themes. The long term outcome will be to exacerbate social divisions, and will ultimately prove counterproductive. Social cohesion will become impossible, and daily life will be undermined by mistrust and insecurity. It is time to stop playing this harmful game, and return to a more just and reasonable approach.

The good news comes from the younger generation: cultures and religions cannot stop them from getting to know one another, from living together, and from sharing both spaces and hopes. They are the future; there can be no doubt that they will leave our past fears far behind.

[1] Isabelle Lévy, Soins et Croyances, Guide pratique des rites, cultures et religions à l’usage des personnels de santé et des acteurs sociaux, Editions Estem, Paris, 2002, p.149

Comments

7 Responses to “May 30-”Islam and Homosexuality” by Tariq Ramadan”

  1. Russell Bates on May 30th, 2009 8:26 am

    Well said.Living in the San Francisco Bay Area(Berkeley,California)where a larger percentage of people are gay,a viewpoint of tolerance and acceptance is expected(to self AND others).Since genetics have been found to play a large part in determining one’s sexual identity and preference,it is not the gay person’s “fault” they are that way.therefore,it would follow that it is as natural to a few as heterosexual is to the many.question is do we persecute a minority for being themselves or do we accept them as brothers and sisters?my vote would be to accept them(and i do!).

  2. Jason Ellis on August 13th, 2009 5:42 am

    “Does Christianity … not condemn homosexuality?”

    Which Christianity? Catholic? Quaker? Anglican? Unitarian?

    “All the worlds’ major religions and spiritual traditions—from the majority view in Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism to Christianity and Islam—condemn and forbid homosexuality.”

    This is an oversimplification of the egregious kind. Majority rules? Reform Judaism is the largest Jewish denomination in the world: Reform Judaism ordains lesbian and gay rabbis, and encourages all its rabbis to perform marriages for gay and lesbian Jews. The Pew Forum reports that [1] acceptance of homosexuals among Jews stands at 79% and [2] most Jews, Christians and secular people accept homosexuality.

    “t would be senseless to wish to deny the facts, to contradict the textual sources and to force believers to perform intellectual contortions so that they can prove they are in tune with the times.”

    Is this what Tariq Ramadan believes scholars like Muhsin Hendricks and Siraj Al-Haqq Kugle are engaged in?

    The above article contains so many errors that it is hard to know where to begin or where to end. I will close with this:

    “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

    Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies

    We have no obligation to tolerate the intolerant. None whatsoever.

  3. Nuriye Tufa on January 21st, 2010 9:10 pm

    To Jason Ellis,
    I found your response to intolerate those who are not tolorent towards homosexuality very intriguing! I was asking myself, what is the difference between you and the people you condemn? You are both intolerant!
    You think your right, they think they’re right so who is to say who is in the right; its just one person against another.

    If our creator says that homosexuality is forbidden, i think i would listen to the Creator and not the created. No offence to you Jason, but have you ever considered that if homosexuality is natural and therefore practiced widely, the human race, we would become extinct.

    Please don’t mention IVF as a solution to that problem, cuase 80% of the world population don’t even have access to decent food let alone expensive IVF treatments. Secondly if you are going to rely on testubes for having babies – How natural and sustainable is that?

    In the holy book of the Muslims, the Quran, God says that He has placed restrictions on things that can cause harm to us and the society we live in.

    In your remaks you mantion that:
    “Reform Judaism ordains lesbian and gay rabbis, and encourages all its rabbis to perform marriages for gay and lesbian Jews. The Pew Forum reports that [1] acceptance of homosexuals among Jews stands at 79% and [2] most Jews, Christians and secular people accept homosexuality.”
    You are referring to the practices of the people and not to the teachings of that Religion. Adherents of a religion do not always follow the teachings of their faith. If one changes the teachings of their faith, as reformists do, to keep with the times, then that suggests these people don’t have faith in what was revealed to them by God. Instead they put their trust in man made laws. I would personally prefer to obey the commands of the Creator Himself, rather than the created.
    Please forgive me if I have offended you in anyway. My intention is not offend you or anybody but to engage in dialogue that will hopefully lead to fruitful discussions.

    Regards
    Nuriye

  4. Martyn Hughes on April 13th, 2010 7:11 pm

    Nuriye, Thank you for you non offensive response on homosexuality. It is refreshing to hear a Muslim air thier views on this topic without resorting to vulgar and violent reponses – which is often the case.

    However, as a homosexual lad myself, I do feel you have missed a couple of points.

    Homosexuality is natural and yet not all the human race is homosexual. The human race will not die out, neither will the 1,400 species of animal that has also been shown to engage in homosexual activity and partnership.

    Refer to wikipedia – ‘homosexuality in the animal kingdom’ – or type it into a search bar for more information on this.

    I anticipate that you will say that human beings are not animals and by engaging in homosexual partnerships that we are reducing ourselves to mere animals ourselves.

    You’ll be wrong. We are for all intent and purposes, animals ourselves. Offensive to the religious who believe the Adam and Eve origins of humankind, but it’s truth. Scientific fact.

    I’m also concerned with you putting your trust in Gods law, as you state.

    Doesn’t the Qur’an state that Christians and Jews are pigs?

    I believe it does.

    Is this also how you feel about them because your God said so in his book for humankind?

    If so, this is also disturbing. And this, my friend, is ultimately why so many people in the West are resisting Islam and starting to become hostile to Muslims.

    Regards

    M

  5. Julia on April 16th, 2010 4:43 am

    Martin Hughes-
    I’ve been reading your conversations and arguments and you seem to make a lot of very interesting points; however it’s clear that you come from a western society and (while you may consider yourself open minded) you seem to still be limited by your culture. As an expat who’s lived my entire life in between the middle east and america I know a bit about both cultures.
    What I’m saying is, your arguments are only strong if you’re certain of what your saying, and you clearly don’t know what your saying when it comes to the Quran. Try researching it more, talking to scholars or Muslims who practice it, or reading it yourself rather than relying on your western buddies who’ve never opened the Quran in their life. I’ve heard people say a lot of shit about what th Quran says and (if you’ve read it you’d get why I say this) it’s all distorted interpretations in order to suit a purpose….

    While I definitely am pro-gay marriage and disagree with relegious condemnation of such a natural and non-problematic issue- I do believe that Islam is (otherwise) extremely open minded as far as acceptance…more so than other religions. And in the end, it’s between you and God- not you and humanity. So no matter what I say or anyone else- God doesn’t reject anyone who wants to believe.

    Consider what I say, please.
    Food for thought.

    -J

  6. onetow on April 9th, 2011 5:49 am

    Sodomy is wrong by all means…Any arguments is against it no matter how otherwise those who are involved in it might think or want to beleive. It is a behavior and rather a filthy one. Why would anyone think going against the current is a natural behavior. Islam is not only against it, it strongly denounces it. the problem is not homosexuality it’s the fact that has been tolerated. Once it is not tolerated it will vanish. it is sexual perversion stemming from sexual identity disorder and maladaptation at an early age, that give rise to misconduct. the problem is tolernce, and we must not allow the tolerance to go further. protect you children.

  7. female... on April 22nd, 2011 10:05 am

    To Martin Hughes,

    “Doesn’t the Qur’an state that Christians and Jews are pigs?”
    really??
    I have never came accross such a thing when reading the Coran.
    it very easy to expose some more propaganda. The narrator of this propanganda first makes it seem as if this Qur’anic verse is saying that all Jews and Christians are monkeys and pigs, which is false. The verse was actually talking about a specific group of disobedient Jews who were punished by being turned into monkeys in the past. It is not addressing Jews in an absolute sense, and it certainly doesn’t say anything about Christians.
    Muslims believe in apostles of Jesus (peace be upon him) (they’re mentioned in the Qur’an along with the story of the table, in the chapter that was named after the incident of the descended table).

    It seems to me that your call for tolerance toward homosexuality is as one sided as the one you denigrate and reject when talking about muslims … Your vision of the world and life at large seem to be quite dichotomous.
    you add;
    “Is this also how you feel about them because your God said so in his book for humankind?

    If so, this is also disturbing. And this, my friend, is ultimately why so many people in the West are resisting Islam and starting to become hostile to Muslims.”

    right… over 1 billion humans that is …the hostility toward Muslims has nothing to do with some resistance toward intolerance but mostly a need to dominate by demonizing Islam and Muslims in order to better steal their oil, land and other natural resources (without forgetting about Latin America and Africa which are not all muslims)that is how the West has set its supremacy … Finally, I think Juli provided you with an answer good enough to me.
    Enjoy!

Leave a Reply




We thank the following people