Islam, Homosexuality and the West’s Collective Guilt

By Abdar Rahman Koya
HarakahDaily.net
5 November, 2011

There has been no shortage of comments about the recent controversy sparked by the Seksualiti Merdeka programme.

As a Muslim, and a straight one at that, I have never been passionate about any discussion on the issue of homosexuality. Nevertheless, I have been reading with interest several articles, not the least by Muslims, defending the programme on the basis on human rights and appealing to Muslims to tolerate homosexuals.

I have no problem agreeing with some of the points raised by the Muslim writers defending the programme, even those who always display a penchant of quoting Western philosophers to the point that their profound observations have ended up as annoying cliches.

However, a common perception underlying some of these articles is that Muslims are intolerant of the so-called “LGBT”, a term, which like “gay” and “queer”, is the current media parlance for what used to be known homosexuals and sodomites. Such a perception could be attributed to ignorance about the historical backdrop of the “gay rights” movement in the West.

A study of history would reveal that Muslim societies and civilisations have had no problem coping with homosexuals in their midst, although sodomy is condemned as a heinous sin in the Quran, something which no Muslim scholar worth his/her salt would dispute.

West’s self-punishment
The current movement championing the human rights of the homosexuals is actually the result of a feeling of guilt of the modern Western civilisation — represented by the current Western intelligentsia, think-tanks and policymakers — towards the treatment meted out by its past civilisation, represented by the clergy, against this group. This is especially true prior to the French Revolution which has arguably transformed the whole worldview of the West.

It is important to note here that the French Revolution is a time mark in the history of the evolution (or rather devolution) of Western religious and moral values. Religion as a backbone to moral laws is no longer advocated, at least not openly, though religion has continued to be exploited by those priding themselves as secularists. In their obsession to weed out religious values (and not religious fervour) there emerged a radical process of correction and self-punishment, admitting the mistakes committed by men of religion and, in the course of it, strengthening the justification for the French Revolution.

The aversion to religion, namely Christianity, in Europe, which partly engineered the French Revolution, is actually a direct result of the confusion wrought by the notion that the monarchs were to be looked upon as defenders of faith. When these monarchs became objects of hatred due to their own wrongdoings, inevitably Christianity too became a target, and this helped its speedy demise from the public realm. (The scenario in Malaysia is not much different, and this could be something the Muslim ulama should take lessons from.)

Non-issue
The issue of human rights for homosexuals, or “gay rights”, is a non-issue in the Muslim world, mainly because the homosexuals had never been visible in public, at least not until the “gay rights” activists emerged.

There are now efforts to recognise them as a “community”, taking the cue from their counterparts in the West. There, coming out in support of homosexual rights is compulsory for one to be recognised as a human rights activist.

Interestingly, a majority of those behind this movement are not themselves homosexuals. One can see a striking similarity with those who are too fond of accusing the enemies of Israel and critics of Zionism as anti-Semites and anti-Jew. The truth is, most of them are Gentiles. Why is this so?

Due to their past persecution of the homosexuals, Western civilisation has been enveloped by a collective sense of guilt and appears to be the sole defenders of the homosexuals’ human rights.

Such is not the case with Muslim civilisation, which does not have a history of systematically and specifically persecuting homosexuals. This is despite the fact that the Muslim world is not exempt from homosexual habits in their midst.

It is also a fact that there is no small number of homosexuals in the Arab Muslim world. And this is where the shariah has offered a civilised response, by not pushing such groups to the mainstream and only concerned with their sexual acts if they are committed in public. Islam has always tolerated and recognised the human rights of homosexuals. After all, it also demands its followers to recognise the rights of the idol worshippers, even though the act is considered “shirk” (the deification of other than the One God), a sin more serious than homosexuality.

Christian West’s violent response
In the history of the Christian West, however, vigilante groups have inflicted violence on groups of people they don’t want to be a part of society. In most instances, these hate groups are backed and endorsed by the church and Christian fundamentalists. (Not until recently, following the rise of Islam as a threat to the West after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, and the anti-Muslim feelings generated by the 9/11 attacks, when the Muslims appeared to have replaced the Jews and homosexuals as a target.)

In his book The Construction of Homosexuality, sociologist David Greenberg said the height of homosexual persecution came during the Middle Ages, as an indirect consequence of the requirement of celibacy for the priesthood of the Catholic Church. By denying this heterosexual nature, homosexual expression was bound to develop. As such, Greenberg contends that the Church reacted to homosexuality in both the priesthood and the laity by imposing stricter and stricter penalties. Eventually, homosexuality was a crime punishable by the death penalty.

Today, the West’s relationship with homosexuals has come full circle. The well-greased and systematic “gay rights” movement has become so influential, successfully exploiting the collective guilt in the Western psyche. Nowhere is the movement seen to be more successful than in the fact that same-sex marriages are recognised by many Western countries.

The commercial benefits of giving such a status to the hitherto closet group are of course reaped by Hollywood, which have incorporated homosexuality and the accompanying sexual acts in its products.

Here is a newly-invented market, thanks to the so-called “LGBT” rights movement and the legal recognition granted to homosexuals to redefine marriage and other human habits.

Similarities with Zionist lobby
It is this same collective sense of guilt which forms the flesh and bone of the West’s attitude on Palestine. This is the same West which gave the world anti-Semitism, that saw a peak during Hitler’s era when he undertook the Jewish people’s extermination from European soil. Several years later, the West subjected itself to self-punishment, supporting, indeed forcing upon, the Jewish-Zionist state on Palestinian lands.

Some — like France, one of the places where the Jews were severely persecuted — have even enacted laws to punish any who criticise Israel or the Jews, or even question the official version of the Holocaust. Nowhere than in the United States has this collective sense of guilt for their past persecution of the Jewish people assumed such a power, with Zionist lobbies masquerading as Jewish religious groups, almost solely deciding the superpower’s policies.

Striking is the similarity between the powerful “gay rights” movement and the powerful Israeli lobby. Both have the West’s past atrocities written all over them. This is a layer of history which has gone unnoticed in our present domestic debate sparked by Seksualiti Merdeka.

Being a Muslim, I feel we need not state the obvious, and that is Islam strongly prohibits homosexuality in all its forms. The Qur’an has already made that very clear.

Who exposed homosexuals to danger?
Instead, the question we should ask to those who now so loudly condemn Muslim “intolerance” of homosexuals is this: where in history is the Muslim civilisation’s atrocities against homosexuals which would warrant Muslims to support a movement dedicated to championing their rights to live such a lifestyle in public?

Is it also not true that these same people, who are mainly non-homosexuals by the way, with their loud and public advocation of gay rights, have only caused the homosexuals to be placed in greater personal danger and discrimination?

Having said all that, in debating issues such as this, Muslim scholars should apply ijtihad (making innovative solutions to new problems based on the spirit of the Quran and Sunnah), and maqasid (taking into account the higher objectives of Islamic laws).

Islam is, after all, meant for all times and for all peoples, and surely its enormous corpus of literature and laws which evolved over its centuries-old dealing with all sorts of civilisations, can present an Islamically-correct solution to the present debate, without trying to be fanatically moderate to please others.

*The writer, in his thirties, is editor at Islamic Book Trust, Kuala Lumpur.

Related link:
Islam and Homosexuality

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