Muslim Oppression

Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, established in the 7th century by the Prophet Muhammad. Followers of Islam, Muslims, believe that God is the sole creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world. Rules calling for complete surrender to the will of Allah, Arabic for God, and how to follow His teachings are outlined in the Qur'an's sacred scriptures.

The distinguishing belief of Islam seeks to guide the individual's relationship with Allah and their fellow man through consciousness and social actions. This Islamic law, or Sharia, outlines the system of duties for all Muslims to lead a virtuous path in this world and the world to come.

"There are five key practices that all Muslims are obligated to fulfill throughout their lifetime" (Five Pillars of Islam, 2022): Faith (Shahada), Prayer (Salah), Almsgiving (Zakat), Fasting (Sawm), and Pilgrimage (Hajj). Not following these rules is considered haram or forbidden and will block a person from entering paradise upon death.

What can we find in the Qur’an on homosexuality? That part is a lot less clear.

Modern Views Toward Homosexuality

In the early centuries, the Muslim countries that Europeans colonized copied many of the colonial rules of the times. The European Christian religions, not the Muslim religion, posed the question: Were homosexuals created by nature and/or God? Before then, asking such questions was considered either blasphemous or a sin.

Unfortunately, many major religions perpetrated harmful actions against LGBTQ members through acts such as murder and discrimination due to these antiquated beliefs. The oft-quoted story of Sodom and Gomorrah is the primary reference for these beliefs. Still, later explanations dive further into the story's context to shed light on the various abominable acts such as rape.

Modern views toward homosexuality pose the more appropriate question of culture versus religion. According to the Human Rights Campaign," Depending on nationality, generation, family upbringing, and cultural influences, Islamic individuals and institutions fall along a wide spectrum…" which allows space for more modernly appropriate interpretations of Muhammad's teachings. Homosexuality in practice is not abusive nor a violation of the Five Pillars. It is not mutually exclusive to be gay or religious, as Allah allows people to lead a good life as "people should not judge each other, only Allah is allowed" (Sura 49:11)     

 Islam and Homosexuality in History

Historically, homosexuality has been viewed as sinful in the Islamic religion. In a 2020 report on religion in LGBTQ adults, 106,000 respondents identify as Muslim in the US, while 67 countries (ILGA, December 2020) still condemn and ostracize queer Muslims. Some believe it is a Western custom introduced during colonization, while others believe it is a choice.

These cultural biases are not unique to Islam, nor are the religious practices interpreting the context as a powerful tool for oppression. Traditionally, interpretations of the Qur'an on homosexuality have led to condemnation of same-sex relationships or marriages.

Previous traditional interpretations of homosexuality in Islam would leave one to believe that condemnation and disowning anyone with same-sex inclinations is the only way. But reinterpreting the Qur'an in a modern context through the lens of inclusivity allows Prophet Muhammad's sayings, or hadiths, to shed clearer insight.

What does the Quran say about homosexuality? There is no specific outline of punishment dictated by Muhammad; the ideology is largely borrowed from 19th-century Christianity. Without twisting the facts or standing on weaker, more outdated rulings on homosexuality in Islam, it is vital to look closely at the difference between sexual acts and sexual identities.

Islam and Women's Rights

Islam is clear about men and women regarding their relationship to Allah. Both equally receive their just reward or punishment for their behavior. However, many Muslim societies practice cultural customs that are largely patriarchal in nature with political and societal implications. This throws into question issues of gender equality such as the right to marriage, finances, and property. Dating is still widely rejected by older Muslims due to fear of pressure for premarital sex.

However, rules around sex may not be equal.  Many refugees of the war with ISIS spoke of sodomized young boys in Middle Eastern nations treated that way as a punishment. On the other hand, Muslim girls who participate in premarital sex are punished and possibly stoned to death. The consequence of such behavior, such as those found in prisons and other male-dominated environments, is a belief that the raper is reasonably heterosexual. At the same time, the victim is despised in almost all societies.

Unfortunately, there is a higher prevalence of homosexual rape in the Muslim world. Worse, to debase the victim, they often attempt to kill them. History has recorded the trials and tribulations of the great Lawrence of Arabia. T.E. Lawrence was sodomized more than once and had homosexual relations with numerous government officials and the sultan.

Islam has thrived for centuries, and as the second largest religion in the world, there is much to admire. However, like any other widely practiced religion, there are bound to be misinterpretations and loss of meaning over the years.

For example, a frequently misinterpreted line regarding the afterlife cites a reward of 72 virgins for those who die as martyrs (or better yet, ‘young boys scattered like pearls’). But, the mistranslation of houri could be interpreted as virgins or raisins, considering the era. That means there could be other misinterpretations, such as the ability to marry whomever one may choose. Universal Church believes we are all children of the same universe and welcomes you with open arms.