I was reading on a private blog once about homosexuality and Islam. The writer quoted from an Islamic question and answer website a ‘fatwa’ (religious declaration/judgment) against homosexuality. This prompted me to explore what http://www.islamqa.com/ had to say on the topic. I found a lot of interesting answers to questions related to homosexuality posted by readers.
Is homosexuality a sin?
Undoubtedly the sin of homosexuality is one of the worst sins; indeed, it is one of the major sins (kabaa’ir) that Allaah has forbidden. Allaah destroyed the people of Loot (peace be upon him) with the most terrifying kinds of punishment because they persisted in their sin and made this evil action commonplace and acceptable among themselves.
Several verses are quoted after this answer and a few ahadith are cited as well that basically denounce homosexuality and order swift execution of homosexuals. However not one of the quoted hadith is from either Bukahri or Muslim – the two most authentic books on ahadith. The verses also do not refer to ‘sodomy’ explicitly.
Is homosexuality a sin for men and women?
There is no doubt among the fuqahaa’ that lesbianism is haraam and is a major sin, as stated by al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him). (Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 24, p. 251).
Apparently, Quran is explicit about sodomy as a sin and according to scholars refers to such sinners as “people of Lot” which is interpreted as homosexuals. However, there is no mention of lesbians in the Quran and no authentic hadith against lesbianism. It is only the scholars who claim that lesbianism is a major sin.
What is the punishment for homosexuality under Islam?
With regard to the specific type of punishment mentioned in the question – stoning to death – this kind of punishment is for the adulterer who is married. The shar’i punishment for the crime of homosexuality is execution – by the sword, according to the most correct view – as was narrated in the discussion above about the differences among the scholars as to how this execution should be carried out. As far as lesbianism is concerned, there is no hadd for it, but it is subject to ta’zeer [unspecified punishment to be determined at the discretion of the qaadi]. (al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 24, p. 253).
The scholars of Islam, such as Maalik, al-Shaafi’i, Ahmad and Ishaaq said that (the person guilty of this crime) should be stoned, whether he is married or unmarried…Al-Tirmidhi (1456), Abu Dawood (4462) and Ibn Maajah (2561) narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi…The Sahaabah were unanimously agreed on the executing of homosexuals, but they diffired as to how they were to be executed …Some of them, such as Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq and ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with them) thought that they should be burned to death. Some of them, such as Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) thought that they should be thrown from a tall building followed by stoning. Some of them thought that they should be stoned to death, which was narrated from both ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them).
Any type of punishment and especially stoning to death and execution by sword is a punishment set by scholars and sahaba. Specific execution style is not even mentioned in ahadith quoted by Tirmidi. Tirmidi is considered not as authentic as Bukhari or Muslim. Also, interestingly all punishments are reserved for gay men; the scholars did not come up with any punishment for lesbians.
Does homosexuality make a Muslim a kafir?
Homosexuality is a major sin which deserves the most severe of punishments in this world and in the Hereafter. But the person who does that cannot be described as a kaafir because of that, unless he thinks that it is permissible and claims that it is halaal – in which he is to be denounced as a kaafir. But simply doing it whilst admitting that it is haraam does not put a Muslim beyond the pale of Islam. He is still a Muslim, but he is exposed to the wrath of Allaah and is committing a major sin.
Can a gay man get married?
If he truly repents to Allaah, Allaah will accept his repentance, and he does not need to confess his sin to anyone so that the hadd punishment would be carried out on him. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa, part 34, p. 180)… If he repents sincerely towards Allaah, there is no reason why he should not get married, and indeed it may be obligatory in his case, as a protection for him and in accordance with what Allaah has permitted. And Allaah knows best. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.
How do we know if a gay has repented sincerely and is ready to get married because “it may be obligatory in his case, as a protection for him”? Does it mean a man can hide the fact that he was gay from his prospective wife?
What if a good Muslim wife finds out her husband is gay?
A married man committing sodomy! … Your husband has committed a great sin, from which he must repent before death comes to him and he is subject to the wrath and vengeance of Allaah and loss in this world and in the Hereafter… You have to advise him, after being certain that he has indeed done this, and remind him that Allaah is always watching him and that the Shaytaan is keen to mislead him, so that perhaps he may stop committing this sin… But if he does not stop this sin and give up this evil action, then warn him that you will demand a divorce, and that may make him stop. Note that living with this man – if he does not stop what he is doing – will result you and your children also being exposed to punishment, and you may also contract a disease that he has gotten as a result of his perverse actions.
Few questions arise here. First, a woman will be quite sure that her husband is gay before she writes to a sheikh; shouldn’t the sheikh know this rather than say be “certain that he has indeed done this”? Second, I thought the punishment for a married gay was stoning to death! What happened to the stoning part? He’s married, the wife is reporting the crime, what are we waiting for?!
All quotes are from http://www.islamqa.com/
I couldn’t find anything directly discussing lesbianism in the Quran or Sunnah/Hadith. If anyone has anything, please do share. Almost all verses that can be interpreted to discuss homosexuality refer to sodomy as practiced by the people of Lot. There is no hadith in either Bukhari or Muslim on lesbianism per se. The closest hadith I could find in Sahih Muslim is:
‘Abd al-Rahman, the son of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, reported from his father: The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: A man should not see the private parts of another man, and a woman should not see the private parts of another woman, and a man should not lie with another man under one covering, and a woman should not lie with another woman under one covering.
The closest declaration on punishment for lesbianism I could find is:
As for the punishment of lesbianism, there is no specific punishment given in the Qur’an for lesbianism; however, Muslim jurists state that it is a punishable offence and that the punishment is a form of discipline. The punishment is to be set by the Muslim ruler according to the circumstances of the crime and the one who commits it. The lesbian’s testimony is unacceptable because she is an evildoer. (See Al-Mawsu`ah Al-Fiqhiyyah, 24/253)
Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) states: “If two women masturbate one another, then they are cursed fornicators”. (See Al-Mughni, 10/162)
Some scholars, like Al-`Izz Ibn `Abd As-Salam, say that a lesbian is not permitted to look at a Muslim woman, and that a Muslim woman is not permitted to uncover (take off her Hijab) in front of a lesbian, because she is an evildoer who cannot be trusted not to describe her attitude towards others… “Muslim Jurists agree that a witness should be morally sound. A pervert cannot be taken as a witness. Since lesbianism is an act of perversion, a lesbian cannot be a witness. Even with the jurists not declaring this openly, it can still be understood from their words and conditions.” (Source: http://www.islamonline.net/)
- Why do you think Muslim men are somewhat silent and clueless about lesbianism? Is it because female homosexuality is seen as a lesser sin than sodomy or is it that Muslim men do not believe that lesbianism is a reality? Or do they not consider lesbianism a worthy threat since it is not “a crime against the rights of females“?
- Why did the scholars and Companions not decide on a specific punishment for lesbians? Why are lesbians left at the mercy of individual Muslim judges who have no clear guidelines to follow?
- Why can’t a lesbian not be a witness whereas no such condition is placed for a gay man?
- Is it possible that female homosexuality is seen as benign preoccupation and not as adultery (like male homosexuality) since “precious male seed” is not being wasted? What is the Islamic definition of adultery and why does lesbianism not fall into it?
- Finally what implications does it have for Muslim feminists?
Edited to add: Please go over and read Zuhura’s analytical post on Is Homosexuality a Sin?