Is There A Place for Gay Muslims?

Progressive…  Traditional…  Liberal…  Radical…  Fundamentalist…  Modern…  Tolerant…  Moderate…  Extremist…
Which one is the real Islam?  And what is Islam’s real stance on homosexuality?  From Iranian Supreme Leader Khomeini’s fatwa allowing sex-change operations to recent homo-phobic ’emo’-hunts in Iraq, there are a lot of claims to that title.
Here follows a discussion between “Brave Power”- a Buddhist male, “Hari”- a Muslim male, “Safety”- a Muslim female, and myself.  It starts with an article about Islam, sexuality and Islam’s relevancy in the modern age.  As usual there’s something to shock and intrigue everyone, but no voice is ever silenced.
Qahirii, every angle, every side…

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SAFETY:  the threat within……………. may ALLAH rectify them and guide them back.

Progressive Muslims Launch Gay-Friendly, Women-Led Mosques In Attempt To Reform American Islam

At first, the devout Muslims who gathered in a Washington, D.C., conference center seemed like they could have come from any mosque…
HARI:   I would be interested to hear their arguments. Imam Malik said women could serve as judge – in any type of court. Abu Hanifa said they could too – but in civil, not criminal courts. The way we are told things have to be and not always the only way they could be.
SAFETY:  Agreed on the last part of the statement, however in terms of what they are doing, women leading men/ women shoulder to foot with men/ and favorable reception of homosexuality as a norm doesn’t fit into the first part of the statement. truth is relative in some situations- Not these though. whatever their argument may be, it wont jive along side of sunni tradition/ sharia law. at best it’s a way liberal exceedance
BRAVE POWER:   I am grateful for my gay friends, their partners, and their husbands and wives. They are good, ethical, generous people (though I am sure that there are others who are not.) They are solid members of out community who are as worthy of love, acceptance, and celebration as anyone. If a holy book instructs us to judge and revile a huge group of people who we have never met – it is time to question its validity and holiness. If tradition causes one to harm those who are harming no one, it is a tradition to be abandoned or replaces with a tradition of kindness. If a tradition cannot be questioned, it is just another form of oppression.
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SAFETY:  

Dr. Sherman Jackson responds to an audience question regarding Gay Muslims and homosexuality in Islam.

SAFETY:  Brave Power, you wrongly assume that religious instruction as to the way’s certain aspect’s of life are carried out (by some ppl) instructs other ppl to leave off love and compassion. Not the case @ all…. also homosexuality isnt THE necessary aim of address here, in this particular article it’s homosexuality, mixed ranks, and a woman leading a mixed prayer. this article aside though, islam aims to address all of the behavioral short comings of mankind. the persuit of real success would have mankind bend himself to fit religion. and ask ones self candidly how much good there can be in a religion that bends to fit the whims of it’s followers? islam does address human need, but it can’t be confused with new wave norm/ everything goes ideology.that established, the point you’re arguing seems to be whether homosexuality is a behavioral short coming or not. for that matter the same questioning can be applied regarding strange men and women praying side by side and or being led by a female imam in mixed company, to which i’d say there will always be limit pushers, but that (i.e. limit pushing) doesn’t create a new standard. religion put’s an acountability on human behavior and condition in all aspects of life. public and personal. inner AND outer the same. the blueprint is no more in need of being laid. a working on the self is more in need so that the human being is malleable enough to adjust his/her actions according to what’s divinely expected of him/her. and again this standard addresses all aspects of the inner/ outer being. Not just homosexuality. lying, stealing, envy jealousy, greed, ect ect ect…. are also encompassed in this struggle to fix up the self.
BRAVE POWER:  Safety,  I am not certain that I understand all of your post. I seems that you take the position that one can simultaneously persecute, love, and have compassion for someone. Some fundamentalist Christians claim to love and have compassion for “confused” Muslims at the same time that they are willing to bomb them to get oil. I suspect that you do not believe their claims of love. Why is this different?You also seem to present the tired old false dichotomy that one must rigidly follow ancient religious texts OR act on whim (without wisdom) and accept that “anything goes”. How can intelligent people see this as the only choice? This is insulting to humankind, for it gives people no credit for ability to make wise choices without looking it up in a book. I also aspire to follow a blueprint found in texts that are millennia old. As with all such paths, it requires effort, discipline and wise behavior. This tradition has also been male-oriented because, like Islam, it arose at a time and in a culture that were that way. However, the founder of this tradition said that only when one personally knows that a certain teaching is skillful, blameless, praiseworthy, and conducive to happiness, and that it is praised by the wise, should one then accept it as true and practice it. This is neither new age or implies that “anything goes”. It does allow me to see anti-homosexual prejudice for what it is – not “conducive to happiness”, “blameless”, or “praiseworthy”. Persecution of anyone – gays, blacks, Muslims, atheists (the list is huge) is not praised by the wise, but by the indoctrinated. And abandoning such behavior does not open the door for lying, stealing, jealousy and greed.
HARI:  Safety,  I am not disagreeing with you – but you know I was on an masjid executive committee years ago and quickly learned one thing- you have to be extremely cautious and defensive when speaking to the media, because they may print sonething totally against the spirit of what you meant, by choosing select comments without context – so I wonder if they are being represented accurately. And I am also curious how they came to the positions they have.
 
HARI:  OK, I just read the article. This quote kinda says it all: “I think Shariah [law] is totally made up,” shot back Zonneveld. ” She either does not know our history or is just not that smart.
QAHIRII:  We can argue back and forth about the acceptability of homosexuality, so let’s test both of these hypotheses:
A.  From Newsweek:  A New Gay Disease?
Before you read further, make sure you’ve actually read the above links. At least browse them. It’s not what I want to believe, it’s what anyone can find online, from a variety of websites. This is science, well-sourced, well-researched biology, plain and simple.Whether we like it or not, homosexual SEX (not the identity or inclination), like other behaviors forbidden in Islam (adultery, fornication, promiscuity), exposes the individual, and the unsuspecting society, to physical harm. In fact, as the above cases indicate, such activities are the SOURCE of this harm. This is in keeping with the 1400-year-old prophecy that when promiscuity increased, we would see appearance of new diseases that never existed before. Modern science confirms this prophecy.So, if it is a question of tolerance, Islam does not judge a person for homosexual feelings, any more that it judges a person for the desire to steal, kill, commit fornication or commit adultery. A person cannot control what is in their heart, but they can control their actions. There is substantial material in the Qur-aan and ahaadeeth (prophetic narrations) dealing with the purification of the self and softening of the heart.In the case of forbidden sexual relations, whose effects are claiming millions of lives, orphaning children, infecting unsuspecting jilted spouses, victimizing innocent newborns and possibly being used as biological warfare, even still Islaam tolerates it. It is only the act which is so brazen, so shameless that four reliable people are witness to it, to the very act of penetration, that Islam does not tolerate. This is beyond the limit, a limit which must be upheld for corruption not to spread until it becomes a norm. This word, limits, in Arabic is “hudood”, often wrongly translated is punishment. There is indeed a punishment, a severe one, but no more severe, and in fact much less than the damaging effects of the activities it discourages.So homosexuality will never be a part of Islam. It is not a part of a guided way of life, nor of a peaceful way of life. But societies have taken such a turn that pleasure has become a way of life, and whole masses consider themselves enlightened, blind to the fact that they are grovelling slaves to gratification, a humiliating slavery that numbs the intellect, deadens the heart, and leave the soul susceptible to manipulation by whoever can control the means to pleasure. This lifestyle below even the instincts of animals, yet we consider it better because of the cave man’s logic that “newer is better”.“…But when there come unto you from Me a guidance, then whoso followeth My guidance, he will not go astray nor come to grief.
But whosoever turns away from My Reminder, verily for him is a life narrowed down…”
– Qur-aan 20.124-5
BRAVE POWER:  Sexual promiscuity (as well as breast milk) is what transmits HIV. It (sexual promiscuity, not breast milk) is not wise in any group and is rejected by gays much as it is rejected by heterosexuals (check CDC data about promiscuity). You fail to mention that a huge proportion of all HIV-tainted relationships are heterosexual – many transmitted in heterosexual male-dominated cultures which vilify prostitutes and give the men who visit them a free ride. According to the World Health Organization, of the 34 million people with AIDS in 2010, over 20 million were women and children. Surely you’re not suggesting they got it from lesbians.One can only see HIV/AIDS as a “gay disease” by cherry-picking the statistics. It is just as wrong as saying that AIDS is a “black man’s disease”. The CDC data show that African Americans are more susceptible to HIV than other groups, and most of the world’s HIV transmission is by heterosexual men in Africa (UN data). How would you respond to having AIDS labeled a “black man’s disease”?What you say about the downsides of being “slaves to gratification” certainly has truth to it. But it is no different for gays than for anyone else. Why pick on gays when they in no way define the much larger problem? Does Islam reject wealthy people, too? If not, why not? Does Islam categorically reject people who play addicting video games, live in big houses, use air conditioning, and go shopping at the mall a bit too often? What about people who are addicted to their own self-concept of holiness – who are influential in their mosques (or other place of worship) but do not get the point?You are correct that there are many spiritual benefits of renunciation. However, renunciation is what a person chooses for himself/herself not what is chosen by someone else for him.
QAHIRII:  Well I’ll never bite the hand that fed me knowledge.
BRAVE POWER:   ‎: ) You’re a good man, Qahirii. It’s OK when we do not agree.
QAHIRII:  So please allow me to respectfully submit that I have mentioned promiscuity as one of the activities that is also banned in Islam. If the Islamic edicts regarding sex and intoxicants were upheld, then HIV/AIDS would not be infecting breastfeeding mothers, blood donors/recipients or any ethnic community. Further, going back to our original topic, there is significant research, of which I have presented only a sample, specifically linking certain diseases- and/or heightened risks to these diseases- to homosexual sexual activity.
As such, and as usual, the sharee’ah bans that which has a greater harm than benefit to individuals and communities. In the example of falling from a plane without a parachute, there will inevitably be someone who survives it. However, most people will die or be hurt, and there is little if any benefit to it. The same goes with smoking and alcohol. Similarly, while there are benefits we can debate, and exceptions that we can establish, fornication, adultery, homosexual sex, as well as other activities (including, as you wisely point out, inner states of being) are of a greater harm than benefit, to individuals and communities. So they are forbidden, but we, as commanded by Allaah, are not to go spying on or unduly suspecting each other. And while we continually strive to purify and uplift our selves and communities, we are free to enjoy the wide array of permissible alternatives, which are more numerous and plentiful than what is restricted to us.
HARI:   I would be interested in any argument for accepting homosexuality as a legal practice from a sharia’ perspective – if any have heard of one, I would appreciate you posting a reference. I have never heard of one, but there is a chapter on the topic in a book I have – Ill take a look when I can.
All comments welcomed…

Sociology of Deviance: not shaking Hands with Women

My final college class was a summer school course at the University of Texas-Austin.  It was a Sociology class about deviance.  One of our assignments was to observe deviant behavior and write a report.  I chose to focus on the fact that I do not shake hands with women and record their reactions to it, and analyze the meaning of it all.  I’ve edited this from the draft I turned in for typographical errors as well as to say things which the maximum word count did not let me explain.

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Daniel Nehemiah Oliver

Sociology 366- Deviance

Professor Mark Stafford

I don’t shake hands with women.  It’s awkward to refuse an outstretched arm and open hand, but I’m a Muslim, so I say “I’m a Muslim.  I can’t shake hands with you but I have respect.”  I openly admit that this is my interpretation of Islam, but I also insist that it is backed by evidence.  To refuse to shake hands is deviant behavior.  Everybody does it.  To openly discriminate against women and act like it’s alright goes beyond deviance:  it offends the basic notions of our modern society.

To get observations of reactions to deviant behavior (and to test my own personal resolve),  I made arrangements to be hired by one of Austin’s IRS offices.  Throughout the hiring process, orientation and work, I declined to shake hands with any woman I encountered, with the same line.  I recorded my observations surreptitiously, mostly by memorizing them until I could transcribe them after the end of the workday.  Here is my summary of their reactions:

  1.  Indifference- 50%

Example:  After arriving for an interview at the IRS, I met the liaison who was paging me.  She reached out to shake hands, I delivered my line and she said “Fine that’s OK”.

  1.  Annoyed acceptance- 20%

Example:  I soon met the senior supervisor.  When she reached out to shake hands and I explained, she drew her face, looking visibly upset, then withdrew her hand.

  1. Active Rejection- 10%

Example:  A co-worker smiled in approval of my explanation, but then proceeded to step forward, reach out and grab my hand.  I let her do it because I did not want the experiment to proceed into physical aggression.

  1. Passive Rejection- 10%

Example:  I explained myself as above and the woman asked if we could do it “just once”.  It was as if the norm could not be broken in her mind;  no way a man can refuse to touch a woman, just because she’s a woman.   I used a lot of smiles but didn’t make any moves forward, so the subject was more or less dropped.

  1. Debate- 10%

Example:  One co-worker opened up a discussion with questions like:

“If you or I had gloves on, then could we shake hands?”

“What about hugs?”

“What if a woman is your relative?  You can’t shake hands with your own mother?”

The last reaction type, “Debate”, was the most revealing to me.  I already knew what not shaking hands with females meant to me, and that it was a deviant behavior.  But it was important to know what it meant to them.  Why was it deviant?  How did they feel that deviant behavior should be dealt with.

From the debates I learned that the main issue was equality.  To borrow from Goffman, equality is an identity norm, i.e.

Sociology figure Erving Goffman

everybody thinks everyone has to be equal.  But does everybody define equality equally?  Deep down, and not very deep, everyone knows that we are not equal*.  The problem is all the connotations that inequality has:  powerful/powerless, superiority/inferiority, deserving/undeserving, etc.  Shaking hands is something that everybody does with everybody else.  Regardless of age, health status, gender, sexuality, income level or any other factor, we all shake hands.  It doesn’t really mean that we are equal, it is more like our agreement to refuse to acknowledge our inequalities.  By shaking hands with you, I am ignoring all the things I notice about you, and you are ignoring all the things you notice about me.  That’s what makes it a norm.  We are not being equal, we are equalizing ourselves.

When someone breaks from that, when someone makes explicit the unspeakable, by acknowledging that there are differences, this is a deviance.  This is a violation of a socio-psycho-emotional atmosphere that we’ve all been trained to maintain at all costs.  It is an offense, a mockery, a crime.  To deviate, knowing what deviance is, is a further outrage, because it is not a mistake.  It is a calculated refutation of reality, a presentation of evidence that some realities are only thought to be real.  Some truths are only relative.  It says that everybody does not know that, you only think you do.  True deviance, as opposed to crime or vulgarity, is a check and balance on pre-conceived notions.  It regulates the level of institutionalization in a society, by making people think again about things that have been taken for granted for so long by so many that they haven’t been pondered over.  That, I finally understand, is why we bother to study deviance.  It is the reminder, however unwelcome, that there can be change, the insistence that there should be, and the example of how there could be.

After I’d collected enough observations, I quit.

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Equals? Can they be? NEED they be?

*And is this really so wrong, to know and say that we are unequal?  Take the benign example of green and red.  Who will say that they are equal?  Green is not red.  Red is not green.  They are both colors, but they are not equal.  They are not identical, but does that stop them from being identified with each other?  If we said that they were equal, that would only mean that we are not identifying them properly.  Can the same not go with people?

Green is as different from red as red is different from green.  They are equal in their inequality, or difference, to each other.  They are equal, it seems to be implied, in their right to be different from each other.  Green is somehow a defiance, a refutation, of red.  It does not have to be red.  Red does not need to be green.

But this does not mean some sort of superiority or privilege for one of the colors.  Nor do differences and inequalities have to for people.  These associations are unnecessary, arbitrary, slanderous politicizations with no inherent presence.  Green can be better than red, if you’re painting a picture with grass.  Red can be better than green, if you know that it will make a car stop when you need it to.  And people are much the same.  We are different.  We are not equal.  This makes us useful to each other and to the world we share.  I don’t want who I am to be ignored.  I don’t want to be thought of as you, even though I love you.  Needs and circumstances make certain people better than others.  They become more useful, more effective, more necessary.  It is not treating all people the same that gives them their rights.  A person more completely receives her or his right when his or her strengths are encouraged and weaknesses are covered.