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Homosexuality in Islam

By Yossarian | Published: July 12, 2009

One of the bizarre hypocrisies of modern Britain is that criticising people who claim religious sanction for homophobia can be labeled bigotry but, at all other times, homophobia is the unacceptable bigotry.

I have always attempted to square this circle by drawing a line between those who say we are all sinners and homosexuality is a sin like any other judged by their god on judgment day (generally speaking, the Anglican answer) and those who say that it is a sin worse than all others (Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps, for example) and homosexuals deserve punishment in this world.

There is another way – and it is significantly more intellectually satisfying: to argue that religions can accept homosexuality. Dr Amanullah De Sondy does so today in the Sunday Times.

One of Scotland’s leading Muslim academics is challenging his religion’s orthodox opinion on homosexuality by suggesting Islam is compatible with a gay lifestyle.

Dr Amanullah De Sondy says there is evidence in Islamic history to support his claim but said conservative Muslims refuse to acknowledge it as they are “deeply homophobic”.

Rather than spend our time working out exactly what kinds of homophobia can be tolerated in modern British society, we should join De Sondy in making the positive case for accepting homosexuality.

The 29-year-old said his opponents often cite the story, which appears in both the Koran and the Bible, of God sending angels to destroy the sinful inhabitants of the valley of Sodom.

“It is often said to illustrate God’s disapproval of homosexuality. But on closer inspection it is about his disapproval of the rape of young boys. There is a big difference,” he said.

Intolerance is not necessarily part of Muslim tradition, De Sondy argues, pointing to examples of people living openly in same-sex relationships.

“In the 16th-century Punjab, there lived a Sufi [uslim mystic] saint and poet called Shah Hussain. He fell in love with a Hindu boy. They lived together and are buried in the same tomb. But some people want to rewrite history, saying the boy was in fact a girl.”

Then, inevitably, the Sunday Times goes to a couple of self-appointed Muslim “community leaders” for The Traditional View™.


Bashir Maan, a former councillor and a prominent member of the Glasgow Central Mosque, said many Muslims would be upset by De Sondy’s comments.

“Where is he getting his knowledge from?” he said. “Islam condemns homosexuality. He is quoting the saint out of context. He loved that boy but it wasn’t for sexual purposes, he just liked that boy as we all have our likes and dislikes.”

Maan also criticised De Sondy for asserting that many Muslims were homophobic.

“As one of the leaders in Scotland said some time ago, we don’t hate homosexuals —, we hate homosexuality.

“So it’s not that Muslims are homophobic, they just do not like lewdness. They do not like homosexuality. These people, homosexuals, they are human beings. They should be, I think, not hated, but we should try to put them off such practices.”

Apart from the fact that I consider homophobic the direct equation of homosexuality and lewdness, I am particularly troubled by the pathetic attempt to delegitimise De Sondy’s views by saying they would cause “upset”. Contradict if you will, but complaining about hurt feelings is a coward’s defence and one that is used far too much by self-appointed Muslim “community leaders” to suppress reformist and progressive Muslim voices.

The Sunday Times moves on to the views of the Scottish Islamic Foundation.

A spokesman for the Scottish-Islamic Foundation agreed that homosexuality is incompatible with Islam, adding: “The view of mainstream Muslim scholars and individuals is that it is against Islamic teachings.

“Like with everything, though, people are free to choose how to live their own lives.”

It is sad to see the Scottish Islamic Foundation backing away from its previous uncompromising defence of liberal values – as reported here. Both Maan and the Scottish Islamic Foundation’s spokesman are defending a deeply conservative position without bothering to formulate coherent arguments; they simply state it has always been that way in Islam.

Quite apart from the fact that De Sondy has shown this not to be the case, this is not as good an argument as they clearly believe. For many centuries, Islamic scholarship tolerated slavery; certainly it is (as it is in the Bible) accepted in the Qur’an. People who make the argument that homosexuality always has been and always will be completely unacceptable in Islam should also make their case for why slavery is a different matter – which went from being accepted to illegal.

De Sondy makes an important argument for the acceptability of homosexuality in Islam and the “community leaders” also interviewed by the Sunday Times can only answer with intellectual dishonesty and unthinking conservatism. Sad but unsurprising.

This entry was posted in Hermeneutics, Homophobia and tagged Dr Amanullah De Sondy, Scottish Islamic Foundation. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

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Posted July 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

Great piece.

Homosexuality is becoming increasingly difficult to defend on the lines of doctrinal sanction in the face of intelligent reformist voices like De Sondy’s. Instead it is becoming a point of departure for modernist Islamists, especially of the Ikhwani mindset, to hold up as yet another aspect of anti-Westernism to legitimise Islamism. It’s more political than strictly spiritual.

Western liberal attitudes to homosexuality, like the concept of human rights, is held up as a direct challenge to the supremacy of Islamic doctrine and by extension, to political Islamist ideology.

I was in a conversation with an takfiri Islamist “scholar” once who put it to me that there will come a time when muslims will be judged to be “true believers” based on whether they believed in the Khilafah and whether homosexuality to be illegal or not!

This is exactly the type of person who gets “upset” with questions relating to sex and sexuality in Islam. I wonder how long before these reactionary types resort to banning and, worse, violence to silence voices like De Sondy’s.

Abu Wanabe Arab

Posted July 12, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.

julia bashir

Posted July 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Permalink


The new Google Trends feature shows statistics for aggregated search information. Type in a search phrase, and you can see how popular it is, how the popularity has changed over time, and where it’s popular.

It also breaks down the searches by language, and it turns out that the top language for “gay sex” is Arabic.

Now it’s time for some analysis. Let’s compare the Kingdom’s obsession with gay sex to other popular search phrases:

Gay sex vs. Britney — Gay sex wins.

Gay sex vs. ipod — Gay sex wins.

Gay sex vs. freedom — Gay sex wins.

Gay sex vs. football — Gay sex wins.

Gay sex vs. jobs — Jobs win.

This last one is quite interesting — gay sex vs. Islam. Among English-speaking Saudis, Islam runs away with it. But when Arabic-speaking Saudis get on Google, they want to see — you guessed it — gay sex.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Abu Wanabe Wahabi

Posted July 13, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink

I suppose not being able to see women at all pushes them towards gay sex acts, sad.

Shams al-Tabriz

Posted July 13, 2009 at 11:38 am | Permalink

Perhaps Allah (swt) knew that most gayers are Arabian which is why He, in His infinite wisdom, revealed Islam there.

Me        Posted July 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


“One of the bizarre hypocrisies of modern Britain is that criticising people who claim religious sanction for homophobia can be labeled bigotry but, at all other times, homophobia is the unacceptable bigotry.”

Actually the hypocrisy is that homosexuals can criticise religious peoples lifestyles (fair enough) but religious people cant criticise homosexual’s lifestyles


Posted July 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

Actually the hypocrisy is that homosexuals can criticise religious peoples lifestyles (fair enough) but religious people cant criticise homosexual’s lifestyles

That doesn’t make any sense. How many gay people have you heard going around saying that Christians should not get married. How many people have used Christianity to justify stopping gay people getting married? I’m guessing “zero” and “lots” respectively.


Posted July 13, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

It’s great when you’re muslim ‘n straight. yeah!


Posted July 13, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink


where exactly are homosexuals criticising religious lifestyles?

we just want you to f*ck off and leave us alone – not too much to ask is it?


Posted July 13, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

me is “munir”/”blah”, PP’s resident Islamist nutter, by the way


Posted July 13, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink


“where exactly are homosexuals criticising religious lifestyles?”


are you serious? there are a number of homosexuals calling for curtailing of Muslims religious rights- Terry Sanderson, Douglas Murray etc

Ever heard of Pim Fortuyn? Bruce Bewer?

And dont gays criticise polygamy for example? or Muslim women wearing hijab and niqab?


Posted July 13, 2009 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

Perfectly valid where religion is used by law as a means of persecution of homosexuals or women or Ahmadiyya etc.


Posted July 13, 2009 at 8:59 pm | Permalink


“Perfectly valid where religion is used by law as a means of persecution of homosexuals or women or Ahmadiyya etc.”

what a hypocrite! what do polygamy and wearing hijab or niqab have to do with these?

And since you support consensual homoseuxality why dont you support consensual polygamy?


Posted July 13, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

And since you support consensual homoseuxality why dont you support consensual polygamy?

Who said I don’t support consensual polygamy?

But since you’ve called me a ‘hypocrite’, let’s turn this up a notch.

Since you support consensual polygamy why don’t you support the keeping of slaves? Or keeping concubines and have sex with your slaves outside of your marriage?

Since these are all sanctioned by the primary texts, and this seems to trump social norms, surely you must support them and/or defend anyone else who does.

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