in category Family, Gender and Sexuality

How as a Muslim do I deal with homosexual urges?

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The American Muslim scholar Yasir Qadhi was asked this question in Toronto. He argued it was possible some people have urges considered abnormal by others. Sometimes, from a religious perspective these urges would be classified as abnormal. But simply having such urges does not justify acting upon them.

He argued sexual orientation has raised a huge controversy in Western circles. People are still debating whether sexual orientation is decreed by what they call 'Nature', or by 'nurture'. And the reason for this debate is there is a tendency to justify homosexual urges because, it is claimed, they are beyond one's control.

Such discussion is happening in the backdrop of what has been termed the "sexual revolution", which began in full force in the 60's and, some would argue, is still continuing to this day. People are more open about topics of sexuality, morality levels have radically changed and it has become acceptable to espouse what has been termed 'alternative life styles'. To give you just one example of how dramatic this revolution has been, Western culture viewed homosexuality with a very different lens. Up until 1973, homosexuality was actually classified as a mental disease in America.

In Islam the discussion of whether these urges are because of 'Nature' or 'nurture' is irrelevant. And by this I do not mean we don't have an answer to this question. As Muslims, we believe the fitrah Allah created us upon is, in terms of sexuality at least, opposites attract. But it is possible some people have corrupted this fitrah themselves, or it has been corrupted by external methods. And it cannot even be ruled out that for some, the change in this fitrah is beyond their control.

But the point is - and that is why I say the question is irrelevant to the Shar'i ruling - even if somebody has such urges, it does not justify them acting upon it. Rather, what we can say to those who feel attracted to the same gender is that having such urges and conquering them is a part of the test Allah has given them. Each one of us is tried in different ways and merely wanting to do an act is not justification enough to carry it out. Imagine if we were to open this door and legitimize acting upon an urge merely because it existed!

His theory and it may be wrong, is that the primary reason why we are seeing a rise in such unnatural inclinations is because of the proliferation of sexual images and the increasement of public sexuality around us. What this proliferation has done is to desensitize us to that which we should not be desensitized to. We are constantly bombarded with images of the most beautiful women and the most handsome men and such images are a temptation to those of the opposite gender. Wherever we look, whether its TV, advertisements, magazines, the internet, or even simply strolling down a public road, we constantly see the most sexually charged images possible. Sexuality is always flaunted in our faces. And the proliferation of such overt sexuality desensitizes our normal sexuality. It is amazing that looking at a scantily clad gorgeous model in an advert hardly elicits any sexual arousal amongst people of our generation, whereas just a few decades ago that very image might have been banned in some Western countries, or at least never displayed in public.

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