Humans are the supreme creation of Allah. They have been endowed with distinct qualities that not only distinguish them from other creatures but also, when activated, enable them to live in this world in a civilized and dignified way. Humans use their superior faculties to understand themselves, the universe, existential realities and conclude how they have to live, meet the requirements for their survival and make their lives meaningful. In these endeavours humans, through their experiences and the historical process, search for appropriate means and devise ways to satisfy their needs and urges. The objectives of such endeavours have been maximum satisfaction, comfort, availability of the materials and, most important of all, the standards of decency, dignity, virtue, modesty and morality as the attributes of humanity.
The ways and the means that individuals select are duly considered in terms of their utility and relevance to societal ideals. They turn into traditions after society puts its stamp of approval on them. In cases when individuals adopt inappropriate ways of satisfying their urges, the society either disapproves them or keeps mum. Such practices have to face decay and destruction. History indicates that the Divinity, in order to save humanity from destruction, provides guidance for it from time to time so that it may comprehend the reality, proceed along the right path and make its operations on earth comfortable, beneficial and meaningful.
Humans have, among others, three basic needs: food, shelter and sex. Society, according to its priorities and preferences, decides how, with what material, by what means and in what ways these needs should be satisfied. It, further, develops certain principles that should be kept in mind and observed when one selects the way to satisfy one’s needs.
As a matter of fact, society, in the case of food, decides what material should go into it, in what form one should take it, how and where it should be consumed and what rules should be observed in eating food. The nature and forms of food, the manners and the rules according to which food is taken are based on a certain set of ideas which society cherishes and manifests in every walk of life. These constitute culture and when they continue in the way of life and thought and feeling, and are maintained for a considerable period of time, they are identified as civilization. The continuities vary and are identified on the basis of their adequacy and appropriateness as well as of the well-being of humanity. This is the reason why we talk of barbaric, savage or primitive civilizations and modern, Western and Islamic civilization. Similar is the case with sex.
Sex is a unique and important urge of human beings. It cannot be satisfied independently but requires a person of opposite sex for its satisfaction. It has, thus, vast repercussions on society because it can harm others and deprive them of their natural right if not satisfied in a proper, dignified and civilized way. This is the reason why every society systematises and institutionalises the satisfaction of sexual urges and develops a mechanism called “marriage”. It allows humans to have sex with a particular person or persons in wedlock and prohibits them to seek sex beyond the marital bonds.
It is a human characteristic that among them sexual relations are restricted to a specified person or persons and promiscuous sexual relations like those of animals are prohibited. Thus marriage is developed to provide stability and durability for sexual relations, establish a family in which to live in peace and harmony, procreate children, educate and train them and make them potential members of society.
Another feature of marriage is that it is solemnised between opposite sexes because the genuine and proper way of satisfying the sexual urge is with the opposite sex. The human is, by nature, a heterosexual and social being. Humans get utmost satisfaction, satisfy their bodily urges completely, get physical strength and enjoy peace of mind when they engage in sex with persons of opposite sex in wedlock. In contrast, sex with the members of the same sex is not only harmful from a physical point of view but also creates depression and anxiety. Moreover, it is immoral and unethical because it the wrong and inappropriate way of satisfying the sexual urge. It throws humanity in a dirty and filthy situation and drives it to vice, degeneracy and decadence. It, in fact, degrades humanity and leads it to fall from grace.
Homosexuality is the sexual relation with a member of the same sex. It is extended to “romantic and / or sexual attraction and / or behaviour among members of the same sex”. It is, further, explained “as an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional or romantic attraction primary to people of the same sex”. It is found in many societies but only as a deviational, unnatural, immoral and criminal act. It is difficult to determine its prevalence among humans. Some studies suggest that a small number, approximately two to 20 per cent of people in a society, exhibit this type of behaviour. Homosexual relations have been broadly condemned by many societies, considered a sin or a disease and prohibited by law.
Homosexuality was also seen as a mental disorder during the late 19th century and mid 20th century but due to the lack of scientific research to support this position it was delisted from the mental disorders. Homosexual relations were decriminalised in Western countries during the second half of the 20th century in the wake of modernisation based on ‘individual freedom’ and ‘liberation of the individual from societal bonds’.
As a result, the grip of society on individuals was loosened and they began to act against the prevalent norms and sanctions of society. Their momentary pleasure and satisfaction of their egos became more important than enduring comfort and pleasure which society was providing by putting certain restraints on their behaviour. Thus, new trends of behaviour, new etiquette and new fashions emerged that pushed modern humans back to a savage state. Males began to keep pony tales, shape the corners of their heads, wear rings not only in their ears and noses but also on other delicate and attractive parts of their bodies. Moreover, marriage lost its sanctity and people began to live as husband and wife without marriage and we witnessed the increased number of unmarried mothers. They also exhibited abnormal and unnatural sexual behaviour and sometimes had sex with animals, sometimes with children and sometimes with the members of the same sex.
All these were the expression of their unrestrained ardour and passion for sex, wild desire and lust. Societies tolerated all this in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’ and yielded to the pressure of the champions of modernity. Later on, from the mid-1950s, efforts were made towards the acceptance of and granting civil rights to homosexual people that included lesbian women and gay men. Further, modern men in the West were not comfortable with the word ‘homosexual’ because, according to them, it connotes stigma of unnatural sexual behaviour and not romantic feelings. So they suggested using the words ‘gay man’ or ‘lesbian’ as alternatives. They created acronym LGBT denoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The term ‘homosexual’ is often used in Western societies particularly in European and American culture and, by and large, refers to ‘sexual orientation’. On the basis of this, the term encompasses a person’s ‘entire social identity’ and people generally talk of gay, lesbian and bisexual identities and communities.
In Eastern culture, particularly in Muslim societies, social identity is not judged by sexual orientation at all. Although homosexuality exists in these societies, it is less widespread and done in secrecy. In Western societies, particularly in the US, homosexuals have gained public acceptance and try to improve their image day by day. As a matter of fact, they call themselves ‘gay’ and constitute a powerful lobby group. They have close links with and access to dominant and powerful persons and groups who always support their cause and agenda of being acceptable as normal. They actively participate in social and political issues and impress upon the ruling elite that they are the victims of gender discrimination.
They insisted that their agenda of same gender marriage as well as a family of two males or two females as an alternative of the traditional MOM and POP family should be accepted and legalised. They gained success when, in 1976, the American Psychiatric Association declared that homosexuality was no longer to be considered an illness but was to be regarded merely as an orientation or a sexual variant.
Thus, the treatment given to homosexuality and its acceptance by societies in the West shows that it is, in fact, a Western construct. David Green has the same view when he said that “homosexuality is a modern Western social construct, and as such cannot be used in the context of non-Western male-male sexuality, nor in the pre-modern West”.
The unfortunate fact is that non-Western societies, in the wake of being developed, followed blindly in the footsteps of the West. The West has given this impression that non-Western and underdeveloped societies can progress and develop only if they follow the Western socio-economic and political systems. The result is that these societies, without understanding what will be beneficial and relevant in their ideological and social milieu, began to adopt Western traits. In this process, they adopted those traits which are not only against their ideological, moral and ethical bases and damage them but are also harmful from the physical and social points of view and distort human personality. The acceptance of homosexuality is one such trait which, beyond any shadow of doubt, is a wicked, iniquitous, nefarious act which must be subject to condemnation and punishment.
DIVINE SYSTEM OF LIFE
The Creator of the universe has always been concerned with the well-being of His creatures. As such, He always looks after and guides them so that they may select the right path, adopt righteousness, practise virtues and make their lives meaningful and comfortable. This is the reason why He sent from time to time His messengers and revealed guidance to direct humans to what is good, righteous, noble, dignified and ethical. He also revealed the way humans have to live in this world, the role which they have to play as His obedient servants, the most essential and virtuous acts which they must perform, and wicked, wrong, and unlawful acts which they must shun and avoid.
These are known as ma’roofat (obligations) which humans must perform to make their stay in this world comfortable and beneficial. They are of three kinds according to their necessity and utility: the mandatory (fard and wajib), the recommendatory (matloob), and the permissible (mubah). Similarly, there are acts which are prohibited because they are atrocious, disgraceful and harmful. They are known as munkarat (prohibitions). They are of two kinds: haram which are absolutely prohibited and makrooh which are disliked and discouraged. Allah instructed humans through His revelation to refrain from all those things and acts which are declared haram.
Islam, a revealed system of life, considers homosexuality an unnatural, inhuman, disgraceful, harmful and unlawful act. It amounts to evil, vice and sin and, thus, is absolutely prohibited (haram). Islam provides a prolific, most healthy and dignified way of satisfying the sexual urge and impresses upon humans to follow that. Sex outside that way (marriage) is forbidden, considered a sin and is subject to severe punishment. The Qur'an expounds on such cases several times. Some of them relate specifically to same-sex behaviour. There are five references in the Qur'an to this effect. Two of them are most pertinent to the issue. The Qur'an explicates:
“We also sent Lut: He said to his people; “Do you commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lust on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond doubt” (7:80-81).
In another place the Qur'an describes:
“Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males? And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, you are a people transgressing (all limits)!” (26: 165-166).
In both these verses it is clearly stated that homosexuality is a transgressing act. It is a sensuous appetite which is wild, unrestrained and sinful and must be refrained from. Allah in several places in the Qur'an recounts the story of the Prophet Lut’s people and their destruction for their wicked practice. Prophet Lut was sent to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to direct them to the right path. They were involved in sin and were practising homosexuality due to their lust. The Prophet warned them time and again to refrain from this heinous act and adopt the right way but they, instead of paying heed to the teaching of the Prophet, tried to harm him. As a matter of fact, they faced the wrath of the Lord Who rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone and destroyed the cities and the people.
There are many hadiths that categorically tell us that lawatal (sexual intercourse between men) is forbidden and punishable. Some are mentioned below:
The Prophet (may Allah bless and greet him) said, “Kill the one who sodomises and the one who lets it be done to him” (Tirmidhi).
“May Allah curse him who does that Lut’s people did” (Ibn Hibban).
“When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes.”
The above description teaches a couple of lessons. One, same-sex behaviour is both undesirable and sinful, and cannot be justified. Two, if a people commit such acts and do not repent and rectify their acts, they will sooner or later be destroyed and will meet Divine chastisement.
There are various reasons why homosexuality is condemned, forbidden and subject to severe punishment in Islam.
1. It is harmful and dangerous to one’s health and leads to various hazardous diseases. Several studies have been conducted and reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry (October 1999, Vol. 56). It is observed that there is a significantly higher level of mental health problems in the gay population than the heterosexual population. Bailey’s comment on these studies is important to know the impact of this act.
“These studies contain arguably the best published data on the association between homosexuality and psychopathology, and both converge on the same unhappy conclusion: homosexual people are at substantially higher risk for some forms of emotional problems, including suicidality, major depression and anxiety disorder…’’
2. It is an unnatural act and not the proper way to satisfy one’s sexual urge. The question is why one should commit this type of act when a proper, pleasant and healthy way already exists. This is the theme of the Quranic verses from 11: 80-84 where the Prophet Lut told his people when daughters are there that are purer for them why they are looking for a disgraceful act. This is nothing but wickedness, degeneracy and lust which should be curbed and punished.
3. It is a disgraceful act and below the dignity of human beings. Humans are supposed to satisfy their urges in a sophisticated and dignified way. If they fail to do so, they will be characterised as uncultured. Moreover, there will be no difference between animals and human beings. However, it degrades humans from the high pedestal on which they are placed and involves them in immoral and wicked behaviour.
4. It destroys and damages the manly and womanly qualities. God created human beings in two opposite sexes and bestowed upon them different qualities and abilities. Both of them have to manifest these qualities in order to develop their personalities, get utmost satisfaction and enjoy peace of mind. If a man is deprived of his manhood and a woman of her womanhood, they will develop various distortions and abnormalities.
5. It destroys the fundamental bases of the family. The foremost purpose of a family is procreation which is not possible by means of homosexuality. A man or woman alone cannot procreate because it requires the interaction, cooperation and unity of both of them. God created both sexes and made this provision that only a woman can conceive and she too with the help of a man. The purpose is to develop interdependency so that both of them establish a family, help each other to do their duties and serve the purpose for which they are created. If homosexuality is prevalent in large sections of population, the human race will gradually become extinct. This will amount to collective suicide of humanity.