Fighting for Sin

I met a young woman today who asked me about my research project and after I explained to her at length what I was researching she smiled and very calmly said, “so you are siding with sin?”! Her response amused me endlessly because as soon as people hear “Muslim” and “Feminism” together they automatically imagine that the discussion will move towards siding with sin and sinners. It baffles me!

Anyway, here is the smart and fluent Zuhura asking you “Is Homosexuality a Sin?” It is a brilliant post that breaks down Quranic interpretation as well as presents the Biblical account of Lot and his “sinners.” After Mezba’s comment here and Zuhura’s new post, there should be some interesting mental exercises we must all go through.

I should add that I believe that sodomy (if not loving homosexuality) is a sin according to the Quran (something Zuhura also mentions), hadith and sunnah, but like Zuhura so well mentioned in another post, what is sin if it is not cultural and time specific?! She points out that things we consider crime and sin today like concubinage were normal for early Muslim Arabs in the form of sex with female slaves. There is also the example of raids that were not considered stealing at all (Reza Aslan) but would be seen as daylight robbery today.

I tried to leave a comment on the post several times but failed every time and after trying for over thirty minutes gave up. I am pasting my comment to Zuhura as a comment here for her.

Please go over if you haven’t already and read her post.

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19 thoughts on “Fighting for Sin

  1. Metis says:

    Very, very interesting post, Zuhura! I really enjoyed reading it and have also publicised it on my blog. Thank you for sharing your analysis with your readers.

    I think Asad calls it an abomination because of the verses 80-81 of chapter 7. There is a lot in the Quran that is not presented quite clearly and a reader has to infer rather than find it written there plainly but personally I have always seen those verses to be very clearly against (at least) male homosexuality.

    Verse 80 reads as:
    ولوطا اذ قال لقومه اتاتون الفاحشة ما سبقكم بها من احد من العالمين

    A transliteration (mine) reads as:

    And Lut when said to his nation you commit obscenity what creation by it of anyone of the world

    Meaning: And Lut said to his people “You commit such obscenity that no one from the creation ever committed.”

    الفاحشة (Al Fahasha) is a very common word used in Arabic even today to refer to anything promiscuous or obscene. It is from the root word Fa/Ha/Sha that has many meanings like immoderate, beyond measure, evil, indecent, lewd, obscene, adultery/fornication and also * abominable.*

    Why I think it refers to homosexuality as opposed to heterosexual fornication is because in the very next verse it is said:

    انكم لتاتون الرجال شهوة من دون النساء بل انتم قوم مسرفون

    Again transliteration reads as: You take men in preference from besides/outside women but you are my nation ignorant

    Meaning: And you take men in preference to women, so you are a nation that has transgressed/is ignorant

    Again in chapter 11 the verses that you quoted contain the word /Al Sayiati/ from root Sin/Waw/Alif which has a very common meaning “genitals” (the external sexual parts of both genders) so that verse (11:78) also reads quite clearly as:

    And his people came rushing towards him, and they had been long in the habit of practising sins (from the word Al Sayiati). He said: “O my people! Here are my daughters: they are purer (choice) for you! Now fear Allah, and do not shame me in front of my guests! Is there no one among you who is of sound mind?”

    I always thought that the reason most Muslims think homosexuality is a mental disease is because of this verse where Lot calls these men insane.

    I am aware that the Bible is not so clear about the sins of the people of Lot and much that is derived about their homosexual nature is from Jewish tradition rather than the Bible itself. This gives many writers the support to argue that their sin was other than homosexuality and from a Biblical POV I completely agree with that assessment. But I am not sure that the Quranic story of Lot is compatible with the Biblical story of Lot. There are numerous other differences like the fate of Lot’s wife and Lot’s daughters intoxicating him and then sleeping with him etc. The now major difference is that Bible doesn’t call Lot’s nation homosexual while the Quran quite clearly and categorically states that those men were gay and were annihilated for their sin of homosexuality. Your analysis of the Biblical POV is spot on, but I think, despite the fact that Asad added certain words in parenthesis, his assessment was not coloured by the Bible since it is the other way round where the Quran clearly calls those men gay and hence insane and sinners.

    I hope I have made some sense and was useful. I apologise in advance if I misunderstood something in your post. I also want to add that while I accept and recognise the Quranic stance on homosexuals, I also think it is more of a historical narration than an eternal judgment against homosexuals. Or so I wish!

  2. Thanks for the link! I’ll have to read that post on homosexuality ASAP.

    Also re: siding with sin, at least she didn’t call you an apostate 🙂

  3. Zuhura says:

    Thanks for your comment, Metis. Sorry the comments weren’t working for you on mine; I’m not sure what’s up with that.

    I’m not arguing that people in Lot were not participating in homosexual acts. But it’s not clear that those acts per se were the crime for which they were destroyed. I think it was rape that happened to be directed at men rather than women. (We know that early Muslims took female slaves from other groups in war, so clearly rape of women was something “allowed” back then.) Just as I argue about “homosexuality,” the concept of “gay” didn’t exist back then, either. There are different categories of people who participate in same sex corporeal intimacies in different cultures, and “gay” is a very modern, Western concept.

    • Metis says:

      You are welcome. I really enjoyed the post. Tried leaving comments on several posts but couldn’t and this was the longest comment so I put it here!

      Oh yes, I completely agree with you. I was trying to recall why Asad called it an abomination and when I was reading Asad’s translation I agreed with his choice of words.

      IMHO there are three things that the followers of Lot do that were wrong according to the Quran:

      1. They refused women even when offered to them.
      2. Their lust was so strong that they wanted Lot’s guests to be turned out of his house only because they wanted to remain chaste.
      3. They were disobedient and troubled/embarrassed the prophet.

      Common gay men and women are hardly like that, as you have pointed out so well in your post.

    • luckyfatima says:

      I agree with Zuhura on her assessment of the Quranic verses. I don’t believe the Quran is fundamentally anti-gay.

  4. susanne430 says:

    How cute that you are fighting for sin! 😀 How did you keep a straight face in front of that woman?

  5. Sumera says:

    Regarding homosexuality, I dont see why anyone wants to “like” or “dislike” it – as with anything else, a person is entitled to hold an opinion on the subject. What IS problematic however is hating the person because of the lifestyle choice or how “they are” – hate the sin, not the sinner!

    And the homosexual acts of the people in Lot’ time were a different breed altogether, it’s hardly the same reasons these days (and if the reasons are the same, then as in previous topics discussed on my blog and elsewhere in blogland the same sex attraction is purely a means of exploration, to relieve boredom and misunderstanding of their emotions e.g. girls who sleep with other girls in the Gulf, men with men in Saudi in some countries where opposite sex interaction is limited)

  6. mariam says:

    your last post about homosexuality was blocked in Iran ,because of word” lesbian” in title of that page!! I couldnot post a comment for that post,using anti block software is frustrating!
    I think this debate about homosexuality is a judo-christian phenomena which has affected muslims too. for a muslim who believes in ijtihad and different interpretation of Quran this fight make no sens.he has own interpretation and other muslims have their own.he has no right to judg interpretation of other muslims and vise versa.it is not bussiness of any muslim to say to other people what to do ( or not do) in their bed.
    I think it is better to fight for ijtihad.
    mariam-Iran

  7. wafa' says:

    thanks a lot for the links.
    Zuhura has an amazing blog with great posts. I am sure i will learn a lot from her .

    So you are a sinner , huh ? and you dragged us all here to be like you hmmm <<j/k

    🙂

    • Metis says:

      Well, she said I was ‘siding’ with sin, not that I was a sinner. She considered Muslim Feminism to be sin and feminists to be sinners so techically she was calling you a sinner 😀 Haha! Enjoyed your comment. LOL

  8. Lat says:

    ‘Siding with sin’ comment is baffling me too! 🙂 Add one more stereotype to the never-ending long list.

    The post by Zuhura is interesting and her comment to someone about natural tendencies towards homosexuality is true.Chimpanzees do it all the time 🙂 And we share 99.9% of our genese with them 🙂 So do we have to guess why humans engage in it.yeah talk about biology!

  9. Metis says:

    And bats. There is an entire species of bats in which all females are homosexual – very happy (gay) bats!

  10. Sara says:

    Is it weird that seeing the words “Reza Aslan” in your post made me giddy?
    Ah. I love him.

  11. Sara says:

    Oh and yes – I believe sins are time-specific, although there appear to be universals…like killing is bad.

  12. sana says:

    “Sin” and “crime” change and are mostly different for people in different nations , cultures and obviously time and age. I cannot remember a quote I read somewhere that goes like- “how much crime is in a sin and how much sin is in a crime” something like that ,sorry!
    and yes like sara said above killing is bad, always a sin and a crime. But that too is different when people are killed by stoning or hanged till death by the law.

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