This is part I of a 2-episode series with Sh. Mustafa Umar addressing contemporary issues and Shar'i perspectives related to same-sex attractions and gender identity issues.
How can parents, family members and friends support and embrace individuals with same-sex attractions and/or gender dysphoria without compromising their values and Deen? How do we deal with men or women in our families/circle of friends who have "come out" as part of the LGBT community and are living the lifestyle? From an Islamic legal perspective, what are the punishments of same-sex sexual behaviors and some of the common misconceptions surrounding that? Do same-sex sexual acts, the declaration of such acts as halal, or being in a same-sex marriage put one out of the fold of Islam? These and other relevant questions are explored in this episode.
Talks given by Sh. Mustafa Umar:
- Islam and Homosexuality: Drawing the Lines
- What Does Islam Really Say About Homosexuality?
- Teaching Transgender Ideology In California Schools: What Muslims Need to Know
Assalamu alaikom warahmatullahi ta’ala wabarakatuh, and welcome back to “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, this podcast series dedicated to Muslims experiencing same-sex attractions who want to live a life true to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Islam. I'm your host, Waheed Jensen, and thank you so much for joining me in today's episode. Today's episode is part I of a 2-episode series where we discuss the Shar’i and fiqhi perspectives on a lot of the contemporary issues that we face nowadays when it comes to the topics of same-sex attractions, gender dysphoria, and the LGBT community.
And joining me in these two episodes is Sh. Mustafa Umar all the way from Orange County, California. And a brief introduction of my guest today: Sh. Mustafa Umar has a Bachelor’s of Science in Information and Computer Science from UC Irvine, a Bachelor's degree in theology and Islamic law from the European Institute of Islamic sciences in France, as well as a Master's degree in Islamic studies from the University of Gloucestershire in the UK. He also studied Islamic sciences for a year at Nadwat al ‘Ulama in Lucknow, India, and spent another year studying in Cairo, Egypt. Sh. Mustafa later completed the traditional ift’a program at Darul Ift’a in Birmingham, United Kingdom, granting him the traditional title of Mufti, or specialist in Islamic law. He has authored several books and served the Muslim community of southern California as an Imam and activist for two decades, and he is currently the president of California Islamic University, the Director of Education and Outreach at the Islamic Institute of Orange County, and he is an executive member of the Fiqh Council of North America.
In today's episode, inshaAllah, we will be covering a lot of questions related to the fiqhi and the Shar’i perspective surrounding family and parents - a lot of the common questions that parents ask when it comes to helping their children who struggle with same-sex attractions and/or gender dysphoria, and they also apply to family members and relatives and siblings as well. And we will also be covering the topic of punishments and sin and the Islamic perspective related to that. And in the next episode, inshaAllah, we will be continuing this discussion with other contemporary issues surrounding same-sex marriage, where we as Muslims stand in terms of the rights of minorities and LGBT communities, as well as other contemporary topics like workplace issues, Pride Month, and setting boundaries within a proper Islamic framework. So let's get started. inshaAllah.
Assalamu alaikom, Sh. Mustafa!
Sh. Mustafa 03:21
Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah.
How are you doing today?
Sh. Mustafa 03:25
I'm doing excellent! Alhamdulillah, how are you?
Alhamdulillah, I'm very well. Jazakom Allah khairan for being here, I'm absolutely honored and grateful to have you on “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”.
Sh. Mustafa 03:35
Alhamdulillah, it's a pleasure to be here.
Alhamdulillah. So we have a lot of things to talk about that are relevant to parents and family members of individuals dealing with same sex-attractions and/or gender dysphoria, as well as some relevant issues when it comes to punishments and the Islamic perspectives on that, as well as contemporary issues that are of relevance in this time and age. But before we begin all of that, I would like to ask you, Sh. Mustafa, about your own personal experience as an Imam and community leader. You are outspoken in your community and in California, in particular, a very liberal state, and you are in touch with a lot of individuals who are dealing with this day in and day out. You have YouTube videos where you talk about the transgender issue and same-sex attractions or homosexuality from an Islamic perspective. And I will add all of these links, inshaAllah, in the episode description for the audience to check them out.
Given all of this experience throughout these years, how has it been for you as an Imam and a leader with regards to individuals who are Muslims but who also deal with same-sex attractions and/or gender dysphoria? What can you tell us about your own experiences as well as the challenges that you have faced in this regard?
Sh. Mustafa 04:48
Sure. So I've had, you know, several.. I take appointments every week, you know, and have people coming to me for consultations from all sorts of issues, from personal life matters to fiqh questions, Islamic law questions to ‘Aqidah/belief questions. And, you know, naturally, people are going to come with all sorts of questions about whatever they're going through in their life. And among them is homosexuality. Among them is whether it’s gender dysphoria or something along those lines. And, you know, over about 20 years now, I've had several people come to me telling me about their same-sex attraction, telling me oftentimes that they've already identified as someone who is gay or lesbian, and they've already accepted/adopted the LGBT community, and whether that's compatible with Islam or not compatible. And I'd say the number one, like probably the most prominent category I get is parents or friends that come to me and say, “Hey, my friend/my son/my daughter, you know, they have these feelings, or they're already doing this, or this is how they're identified, we're having problems, we don't know how to deal with it” or “we already dealt with it, and it blew up in our face, you know, they ran away from home, they don't want to talk to us anymore!”
So now it's like, usually people come to me with issues where it's already gotten really bad, right? And rather than it's like, it's not the first step in the process. So, definitely, you know, I've dealt with this quite a bit over 20 years, the majority would be same-sex attraction. For gender dysphoria, probably three or four times, maybe four or five times, where we had a student in our California Islamic University come, we had another person come to our mosque, you know, biological male dressed in hijab and all of that. So now it became an issue, how are we supposed to deal with that? I mean, definitely there's been a lot of experience dealing with these issues, I would not say I'm an expert in any way, shape, or form, but at the same time, we're in California, and this is something that has existed for a long time, I think California is ahead of the game, it has been ahead of the game compared to many other states. So that's kind of, you know, my background in dealing with these issues.
And, you know, given this background and your extensive experience as well dealing with that, how would you characterize the current situation? So, basically, as Muslims living in the West and in the Muslim community, what do you feel that is lacking for Imams and community leaders to be able to navigate these tricky territories?
Sh. Mustafa 07:45
Right. So I think there's definitely a lack of resources for, you know, how Muslims are even supposed to deal with this issue. At least, let's say, until about four years ago, in fact, there's not even been a recognition that these are issues within the Muslim community. I'll give you an example. So, you know, we had this brother accept Islam, identified as a sister, and he was convert, he came and spoke with us, all of these things. And it just so happened, a few months later, we had a program called the AMJA conference (the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America), where Imams and scholars come from around the country, and they meet together. And I think, that year, there was like 150 of them at the conference, we were discussing different issues. So I brought up, during the Q&A session, that next session, in next year's program, we should actually consider transgenderism, we should actually consider gender dysphoria or just the idea of gender, we should bring that up, because it's an important topic. And I was basically dismissed, like I was dismissed by almost the entire room. Everyone was everyone's like, “That's a completely irrelevant issue, what are you talking about?!”
Sh. Mustafa 09:07
Yeah, so I’m like, “I'm telling you, you know, this is something we're dealing with over here. And it's something that's going to be really big, just wait!” and they said, “This is a California problem. You guys are in California, we don't know what you're doing over there!” And I'm like, “You know what? If it's a California problem right now, I guarantee you, within 10 years, it's going to be in your state!” And there was one sheikh there, Sh. Waleed Basyuni who said to me, “Don't worry what anyone says. Get up on the microphone during Q&A!” And he's one of the official members, “Just get up on the mic and just say what needs to be said, don't worry about the reaction, they’re going to realize in a few years that you knew what you were talking about.” Alhamdulillah, I did it, and people were like, “We felt really uncomfortable that you even brought it up.”
And what was really interesting is, after I made that comment, during my comment I actually said “I think the majority of imams in this room don't even understand the phenomenon”, and this is before other ideas like multiple, 32 genders, and all that, this was before any of that stuff was even really well known. So I was just mentioning it as transgenderism. And I said, “I don't think you guys really even understand what transgenderism is.” So I just threw in one little comment into my question and I said, “I want to clarify, it has nothing to do with sexuality or sexual attraction.” And what happened was, at least three or four imams in the audience, they basically started responding during response time, and they're like, “You know, we already know how to deal with homosexuality. If people are attracted to this and attracted to that,” and I just said, “I mentioned it clearly in my question that it has nothing to do with sexual attraction!” I even said it. I said that's a misunderstanding that people have, and it just got repeated again and again, it's like, it almost fell on deaf ears.
So I think one of the huge challenges that we face is: 1. A lot of people, a lot of Imams and community leaders don't even understand what we're dealing with at all. 2. If we don't understand what we're dealing with, and we don't grasp the significance or the severity of it, or that Muslims need to also deal with it, not only externally, but they need to deal with it internally, because, obviously, Muslims are going to be affected by any conditions, any mindsets, that our society is prone to. That's a huge problem, accepting that as a problem. We can't come up with any solutions until we're actually willing to openly speak about it and not be afraid of that.
Absolutely. I wish you could see the smile on my face right now, because having a sheikh speak like this on this podcast is, subhan Allah, very heartwarming! Because this is what we've been talking about throughout the seasons of this podcast, that Imams are out of touch with reality, they don't know what is happening on the ground, they assume that the Muslim community is immune to all of these problems, when we are actually drenched with these issues, and we are afraid of talking about them, so jazakom Allah khairan for actually opening the door and speaking about these things, we really, really appreciate that.
So you said, until the past four years, particularly Imams and community leaders did not have the proper resources, so just an FYI, Br. Mobeen Vaid has been on the podcast and he will join us again, inshaAllah, and we know that he has published a lot of great material that talk about “progressive” arguments and Qur’anic revisionism, as well as recently the paper on transgenderism and intersex and gender dysphoria. Other than these resources, what are resources that are available for Imams and community leaders to help them navigate this territory, if any?
Sh. Mustafa 12:47
Haha! So I was only referring to Br. Mobeen’s papers, there's pretty much nothing else, that's pretty much all there is!
There you go. Unfortunately.
Sh. Mustafa 12:56
Yeah, and I spoke with Mobeen, you know, and I even told him this, he knows he's writing for a specific audience. And all his papers are like 40 pages long, right? So the thing is, busy Imams and community leaders, they're not reading them, they don't have time. So I speak with people and they say, “Yeah, mashaAllah! Mobeen handled the topic!” but like did you read the paper? “It’s like 40 pages, I don’t have time to read that, I’m reading on all these other topics!” The thing is, this is not a priority topic for them. So they're like, “You know, if we had like a four-page summary or something”, and I said, “Okay, I'll put it on my to-do list and I'm going to work on it.” So it's good that the reference is there, the paper is there and a lot of papers he's produced, Alhamdulillah. But other than that, I mean, 1. they're not even that accessible to people who are not willing to read that many pages, and 2. that's the only stuff we have available, we really don't have much else.
Yeah. Jazak Allah khairan for actually spreading the word about Straight Struggle as a group. We've had a lot of therapists, a lot of parents and some scholars actually reach out to us to learn more about this, and also, alhamdulillah, through this podcast as well. So I would say the momentum is picking up, inshaAllah, in our communities. The last question before we move on into the meat of this episode, what do you personally hope as an Imam, or as a community leader, that can be done about these issues in our communities?
Sh. Mustafa 14:15
I really hope that we can come up with - I wouldn't use the word narrative, but just kind of like, we come up with a framework, an Islamic framework on how we're supposed to approach these issues. Because what we fall into is one of two extremes, and this is just the Muslim community in general: it's either complete acceptance of the LGBTQ+ worldview, or we fall into the opposite where we there is no differentiation between homosexuality and same-sex attraction, or there is no differentiation between gender dysphoria and cross dressing because somebody just felt like it today and just wanted to be different. So I think we need to develop these nuanced, Islamically-grounded positions where we're able to really just understand the issue as a whole which deals with non-Muslims, but also how Muslims are supposed to tackle on an internal level.
Absolutely. Jazakom Allah khairan. And we hope, inshaAllah, to be able to get to that point, slowly but surely, inshaAllah.
Sh. Mustafa 15:30
InshaAllah. One of the things that's unique, I think, for a person in the Imam position is that, you know, people come to you, because they trust you as a scholar, and they trust Islam as their religion. And what's going to happen is, a lot of people, if they go to a therapist, or if they go to somebody else, they also have this feeling that something may not be in line with their Islamic values, or they may not feel comfortable, you know, opening up for whatever reason. So that's, I think, something very unique about the position of being an Imam, or a Sheikh, or whatever, you know, you use whatever term you use, because people have that intrinsic trust, they're looking for solutions, and they're looking for understanding within the framework of Islam, because they believe in Allah and His Messenger (PBUH). So that idea is that they really open up, and when I ask people, you know, they're willing to be more open with me if the setting is correct and they have a little level of trust.
So when I ask people about their past, I say, “Well, can you tell me, you know, what really happened in your past? Just be upfront with me. Do you watch pornography? Or do you do this? Or do you do that?” And they're like, “Yeah, to be honest, yeah, I do this, and I started at this age,” and what type of pornography they're watching, whatever the topic is, whatever issue they're dealing with, they do eventually open up. And the reason why they're opening up is because they trust the Imam and they trust that Islam will have some type of solution for them. And I think that's very unique. Some people may open up more to the therapist, but there are other people who will open up more to an Imam. And that experience is extremely valuable in documenting it, publishing it, and actually trying to study and understand what Muslims are going through. So that has really shaped my perspective on the issue myself, and it’s not like I read a book somewhere, it's not like in our seminary we are trained to tackle this issue or deal with this issue. We don't. We have almost no resources. But over time, when I keep speaking with people, they keep confiding in me, and I'm just listening with an open mind and say, “I'm just trying to understand where you're coming from.” And when you hear that person say, “You know what, look, I struggle, I pray five times a day, I pray tahajjud”, “I do fasting every other day, I'm doing the fast of the prophet Dawud,” So I'm just like, “Whoa! Hold on now, this is not like the people of Lut who are evil people.” So it just really shapes you, the more you deal with the issue, and the more you experience people, I think it really just shapes your perspective, and you say, “Well, wait a minute. So I need to understand this on a deeper level too. While this person is trying to understand it, I'm also trying to understand it as an Imam.” So I think the more experiences like that, the more beneficial and the more helpful it is.
Of course! Jazakom Allah khairan for actually saying this, because this is a point of critique that I've been personally mentioning to a lot of scholars, whereby I always compare them to people who are in their own “ivory towers”, and they project their own understanding on people's realities. And I always tell them, “Well take a moment and step down from these towers, and come and sit with us and learn from us and listen to our pains and problems, and maybe you will understand things better, as opposed to saying things about us or issuing fatwas, or whatever, having conferences about us without even involving us, and learning from us, because most of us don't want to live that lifestyle. We really want to live a life that is true to Allah and Islam. But we are struggling with these things and trying to navigate this very tricky territory.” So the fact that you mentioned this, I mean, jazak Allah khairan, and, once again, this makes me very, very happy, I'm very optimistic that, alhamdulillah, there are Imams and scholars who are trying to understand and maybe change their perceptions or their preconceived notions, not that they're going to change their معتقدات or their beliefs, but rather to be more in line with reality and understanding people's issues at a more profound level.
And what you also mentioned is very important, as it just shows you the responsibility of an Imam; people go to an Imam or a scholarly figure, because they want answers and because they trust Islam and therefore they trust the Imam by extension, and so this is more of a responsibility on the shoulders of a lot of the scholars nowadays. So it just shows you the depth of the issue in different ways.
We're going to have a series in our podcast that is relevant to parents and family members, but, as a scholar, as an Imam dealing with parents, as you said, they're the majority of people who come to you asking you for help when it comes to SSA or gender dysphoria. How do you as an Imam answer the question of parents or family members who come to you and say, “Well, we want to support our kid who is struggling with same-sex attractions and/or gender identity issues? How do we deal with that?” From fiqhi or Shar’i perspective, how do we deal with that?
Sh. Mustafa 20:44
So, I mean, the first thing I usually ask whenever someone comes is, “How's your relationship with your children? How has your relationship been with your son or daughter? Has it been a good upbringing? Like, are you both very close? You confide in each other? Do they trust you or they don't trust you? How is that family dynamic first of all?” So that's going to play a huge role in how you deal with these issues. So if someone's already rebellious, there's a lot of conflict within the family, parents are always fighting, you know, children don't get along, they're doing so many other things, that's going to be very different than someone who has a very good, loving, caring relationship with their parents. So yeah, let's just assume the second one, i.e. they have a very good relationship and they're very concerned, and they're like, “How are we supposed to support them?” There's very, very few resources that I can actually guide them to, you know, like you mentioned, one of the biggest resources that I tell them is, I say, “Go to Straight Struggle and sign up”, and have them sign up.
I don't know if this is allowed, but sometimes when they come and talk to me, and they say, “We can't even speak to our son or daughter”, I tell them to sign up to Straight Struggle themselves and just read through some of the things to get an understanding of what's going on. I just simply don't have any other resource to give them. And I try to explain to them, I say “You have to understand that there are two categories: There's a category of someone who is struggling with same-sex attraction, and they acknowledge what Islam says about it (i.e. Islam says do not engage in this type of relationships and behavior), but at the same time, it's something that they're going to struggle with. That is one category. The second category is someone saying, “This is who I am, Allah created me this way. And you know, I don't care, you know, what, whatever, I don't believe in all the other stuff, whatever Islam says about homosexuality, or about gender dysphoria about cross dressing, or whatever it may be.” That's a totally different category.”
So the first thing I do is try to explain to them that, hey, there's two categories here, and what will usually happen is, first of all, they don't know about these two categories, right? And once you define them, they'll oftentimes automatically assume that they're in the second category, in the rebellious category, that they straight up have accepted the whole LGBT community as a movement, all of that. But I warn them and I say, “You know what, don't make that assumption; it may seem like that, because they're looking for support, and they don't know where else to go. They're already feeling alienated from their family, you don't know how to speak with them, you have a very black-and-white mentality of how to deal with this issue.” Maybe no one has actually presented this to them, so I try to get them to understand that, you know, and then I try to reach out and say, “Let me speak with your son/daughter privately.” One of the biggest things that I've learned over the years is, there's a world of difference when you're speaking with someone in front of their mom or dad, and when mom and dad have been asked to leave the room. And oftentimes, mom and dad don't want to leave the room! And I tell them “Look, sorry, you need to go outside. I'm going to call you back in, okay? But you need to go outside, and you can't listen to this.”
And the kids are really afraid, they're like, “You can't tell some of these things to mom.” And I'm like, “It's okay, I'm not. You can trust me; I'm not going to tell them. And I'm not going to tell them, because I know what's likely to happen if I do tell them. So not only is it a promise to you, but also even if I said, “Oh, well you know, you're suicidal, I have to tell somebody to get intervention”, I know that mom and dad may not be the best person to give this information to, so don't worry, like, you know, you're safe.” And then, you can actually have a discussion with them about that.
So one of the best ways, I think, to support a family who's trying to help their own children, for example, is to be able to speak with the child directly, separate out the parents, have them in a different room, and try to get them to understand. And then I ask the other person to leave, I bring in the parents, and then I speak to them on a personal level, so that their son or daughter is not present. So that's really important for them to get them to understand and say, “These are some of the things that he/she was telling me that they're not able to say in front of you. And the fact that they're not able to tell you means that you need to adjust the way in which you're dealing with it, you're not listening to them, or you're not trying to understand the order, they think that you're not trying to understand.” So that's usually some of the approaches that I take.
Right. And you mentioned the example of a very turbulent family, Mom and Dad fighting all the time, and the children are not coping well. With regards to that, how would you deal with that?
Sh. Mustafa 26:00
Yeah, so when it comes to that, and also it depends on how practicing the son or daughter is as well. So, it's kind of in a similar category, I say to them that there’s something called the “Fiqh of Priorities” (فقه الأولويات); let the person first focus a little bit more on prayer, let them focus a little bit more on getting out of some of the other things that they're doing that they shouldn't be doing as a Muslim, right? So these kind of are a priority; this [i.e. SSA/GD/homosexuality] only feels like a priority to you, because it's not as common. So it's like, “Oh, well, you know, yeah, they drink alcohol, and they do this, and maybe they’re caught stealing and doing all sorts of thing, in a gang” or something like that, “Oh, but we need to deal with this issue! This is like the number one issue!” And I’m like, “Well what about the other issues?”
So, I try to make them understand priorities, 1. focus on priorities, that's really important. And then 2. a turbulent family, the family needs to be a role model. So if the parents are not a role model to the children, then what's going to happen is, any type of support that they try to give, actually, it's going to backfire on them. It's actually going to push them further away, because they think that mom or dad are, to put it lightly, they're hypocritical, right? They're closed-minded, they're never going to understand this, they're not a good role model, their bad behavior is representative of Islam. And that's where it becomes really dangerous, because if they think that their behavior on any issue, let alone on this issue, is representative of the religion of Islam, then the more they talk, the more this wrong understanding of Islam is going to be absorbed by them. And that's very detrimental to their faith, right? So I tell them, I’m like, “You know what? Yes, someone needs to speak with your children, but it should not be you. You're the last person. You need to just not talk about this. What you need to do is just establish dinner time, and just have dinner together and try not to fight, try to be nice.” And they’re like, “But yeah, how are we going to deal with this issue?” and I'm like, “You are dealing with this issue, just by not fighting at the dinner table.” And it takes them a while to understand that, but you know, sometimes people get it.
Right. Yeah, absolutely. And I love how you touched upon this idea that parents are the representation of Islam, particularly in Islamic households. And, unfortunately, speaking as someone who is coming from the SSA community of Muslims, that a lot of people have “God wounds” and “religion wounds”, because of all of these perceptions and the preconceived notions that we have inherited, based on the family dynamics, and the parents, particularly, how they behave, and the fact that all of this has been a reflection of “God” or “Islam” in our eyes. And many people end up leaving religion or rebelling against Islam, because they are fighting subconsciously against their parents. So that is definitely something that Imams should be aware of. So, jazak Allah khairan for talking about this.
But then, as an extension to what you have mentioned, a lot of parents might come and ask you, “How do we differentiate between loving our kids, embracing them and “accepting them for who they are”, and showing them support without compromising our values and our Deen?” Particularly if that child, boy or girl, is adopting the identity paradigm and saying “I am gay, I'm lesbian, I'm trans. This is who I am. You don't love me. If you don't accept me fully, you're rejecting me if you don't embrace me, my tendencies, my behaviors, my identity, etc.” How would you answer these parents? How would you support them in that?
Sh. Mustafa 29:50
Yes, I tell them, I say, “Just imagine if your child was drinking alcohol, or your child had a boyfriend or a girlfriend.” These things are not allowed in Islam as well, but what you tell them is say [to your child] “Look, you're still our child, you're still a Muslim, we're happy that you're praying, we're happy that you still come to the mosque/masjid. But this type of behavior that you're engaging in is something that Allah does not approve of. So we're not going to approve of it. We're not going to sit here and say, “You know what? Well, you know, this is how you are, then we're simply going to accept you like that. No, we accept you as a person. But we don't agree with the practices that you're doing. So if you were drinking alcohol, for example, we don't want you to bring alcohol into the home, like you're drinking outside, and you're like, “Well, I'm drinking outside and that's just what I do.” So, okay, but you should not have the expectation that we should just be okay with it and it doesn't bother us at all. Of course, it's going to bother us, because we think that you're doing something which is harmful to yourself, it's harmful for your ‘Akhira, it's harmful for your Next Life, it's something that's displeasing to Allah. Does that mean that we love you any less? No, not at all! Does it mean that we don't want you having dinner with us? No, not at all! You're still our child, but you're doing something which we think is bad. It's like if you came home with bad grades, like D's and F's. You're still our child, but we wish you would do better in school, and we want to help you. And we would like you to do better in school.” That is simply that.
So when I explain that to them [i.e. parents], they're like, “Yeah, but isn't this different?” I say, “No, it's in the same category, just understand it to be in the same category, and you convey that message to your child. Explain it that way.” And then once they understand, just one and even one analogy suffices. They're like, “Now I get it!” Because just imagine if they were drinking, would you act all weird around them? No, because it doesn't have to be… One of the biggest things that happens is, they say, you know, “Every conversation this keeps coming up.” Either they bring it up, or their child brings it up. And they're like, “We can't even sit at a dinner table or our lunch or breakfast table without feeling uncomfortable.” And I say, “Well, why is it that you're feeling uncomfortable? Why does there have to be this, why is this the only topic that has to be spoken about? If they're bringing it up, just tell them and say, “Look, this is how you're defining yourself, it's a very important part of yourself. But for us, you are much more than that. We’re not reducing you to this, even though this is a really important topic for you. So you don't bring it up with us, and we're not going to bring it up with you. We have a million topics we can speak about that we’re a family.”
So that's what I tell them to do, and just try not to fall for the bait, because what ends up happening is that person really wants their behavior to be accepted. Because there's kind of like, I think oftentimes there's like an internal guilty feeling that “I'm doing something wrong, and if my parents support me, or my brother or my sister supports me, then I’m going to feel much better about it”, all of that stuff. And I tell this especially to siblings and things like that, I'm like, “You have to just make it very clear, you have to draw a line. And that line is that “Look, you are my brother, you're my sister, you're my son, you're my daughter, and I love you, I'm always going to be there for you, regardless of what you do, but do not pressure me and do not try to get me to sit here and say, “You know what, I don't believe in those verses of the Qur’an about homosexuality, or whatever it is, I need to reinterpret them.” I'm not down with your revisionist reinterpretation of what these verses are supposed to mean. And if you keep on bringing that up, this is just going to make us more distant. So let's just table this topic, maybe there's other topics in Islam that we don't agree on, maybe we don't agree on hijab, does every single discussion that we have have to be about hijab, whether it's a fardh (obligation) or not fardh, whatever, it doesn't have to be that way. We move on.”
So I say, just put those lines very clear, right? And there's going to be a lot of pressure to cross those lines. Like, let's say there's a girl and she has a girlfriend, she's lesbian, and it's like, you know, “I'm bringing my girlfriend over to the house!” And this is where it becomes very challenging, and I say “No, no, remember, you have to draw that line. As a parent, you draw that line and say, “You know what, that is not something that's allowed. Whatever you do outside, we're not going to have to argue about it, but no, this is not going to be allowed, they cannot come to the party, or you cannot bring your partner to the party”, or something like that.” So drawing that line and not letting them across that line, and being very clear that you drew a line is actually very beneficial, because when you set that boundary, now the person realizes that, “You know what, I need to stay within and behind that boundary in order for me to have good relationships.” And I think, the more transparent you are, the better results you're going to see.
Absolutely, while at the same time embracing their kids and loving them and telling them “We love you as a person no matter what”, right? So there's kind of a balance between both, as you mentioned.
Sh. Mustafa 35:16
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
And now if we go a little bit further, let's assume that this child or relative, sibling, or even a friend, has “come out” as part of the LGBT community and identifies as lesbian, gay, transgender, etc. That person might be asking you, “So how do I deal with this friend or relative or son or daughter of mine, or my sibling, etc.? What are the limits? What if they have a same-sex partner as well? Should we remain friends? Should we remain connected? Or should we “disown” them?” Because this is quite a common question that we get, like, “I disowned my relative or kicked them out of the house!” Should we exclude them from our family functions? Because especially with extended families, the family might not know about what's going on, so we might feel ashamed about what's happening, right? And if they insist on bringing their partner, let's say, to a birthday celebration, or to Eid or any of that, does it become a de facto recognition of this haram relationship? And what do we do? And when it comes to the mosque, as well, like, how do we deal with that, when they want to go to the mosque and all of that? I know, I've been asking a lot of questions, but you get the general idea!
Sh. Mustafa 36:28
Haha! Yeah, I mean, well, the first thing is really, I think a lot of people are concerned about their reputation in the community, they even have a sibling or they have a son or daughter who is identifying like this. So like the first thing they need to understand is, you know what, don't worry so much about your reputation. It's naturally going to be there; you feel like “What are people going to say? I'm going to feel like I'm disgraced and dishonored in the community”, or all that stuff. And the reality is that, you know, when someone is an adult, in the eyes of Allah, in the vision of Islam, that person is a responsible adult, they are responsible in front of Allah. You are not responsible for their deeds. And if you look at the son of Prophet Nuh, and you look at the wives of Prophets Lut and Nuh as well, are they [i.e. those prophets] supposed to be blamed because someone in their family disbelieved in Allah and started worshipping idols or doing other stuff? They're not to blame. So, the thing is, you shouldn't internalize that blame and be so embarrassed, “I can't believe this is happening!” So that's number one.
And number two, even if it's bothering you and people do start looking at you and say “Oh, I can't believe that's happening in your family, in your household!” What are people talking about man? Like so many people are... This is a widespread issue, right? If you're dealing with it, there's another 100 people who are dealing with it too, so anyone who's going to judge you and like look at you and say “Oh, what a disgrace!” or something like that, you know, fingers might be pointing back at them for some other issue or whatever it may be, so their judgments are not even worthy of being taken into consideration. So that's the first thing I say.
The second one is, you know, in terms of what are the limits, if they're going to show up with their partner to a birthday party or to a wedding or something like that? It really depends on how close you are to the person - are you living together? Are they living under your roof? Are they living separately? Do you see each other regularly or not regularly? So a lot of it has to do with how close you are in your relationship, and to what extent you can actually enforce these lines and draw these lines. So, I try and give people an example and say “Look, let's say you had a birthday party, and you had this uncle who drinks alcohol, and the uncle shows up with his beer bottles to your birthday party where the majority of them are like practicing Muslims, you know they're sitting, what would you do? Would that uncle be allowed in with his beer cans or not?” And if you're saying that, you know what, yeah, you know, we have such a diverse group of people where it's like, we have all sorts of people coming with alcohol, we have non-Muslims, we have people coming with their girlfriends, people coming in with all sorts things, like Mohawks and blue hair and everything like that, then, you know, maybe that's a very different environment than like with everyone's coming in with their thobes on or, you know, suit and tie and it's like a formal event, right?
So you need to understand what is the context of the event that you're at, and you should cater your boundaries and your limits to that context, right? So if that context is, you know, you're going to show up and let's say, you haven't gone through gender reassignment surgery, and the person has gender dysphoria, and they cross dress once in a while. And they're like, “You know what, I'm going to come to that party and I'm going to dress up like a girl!” And you know, it's like, “No, we don't want that to happen. That's going to be uncomfortable for us, because of the context.” This is like uncle showing up with his bottle of whiskey, we wouldn't allow that. We'd be like, “No, you leave that in the car.” And here we’d like, “You know, you go back, you change and come back in here and remove the makeup, and then come to the party.” And whatever you do outside, do it after the party, why do you have to come and mess up the party by doing whatever you want to do just to like, prove a point?
So in that situation, you would draw a line and say, “You know what, no, this is not acceptable. And if you want to do that, we're not going to let you into the party. But you know what, come back for tea in the evening when everyone leaves, and let's discuss it.” So you're not boycotting them, but you're not allowing them to mess up your event either at the same time, because they want to show some level of public protests or whatever it may be.
Right. And when we talk about this form of guilt by association, because a lot of parents might be like, “Am I going to be held accountable in front of Allah by accepting my child if they “come out” as part of the LGBT community?” Or “If I'm a friend with someone who recently “came out” and is living the lifestyle and going on pride parades, am I guilty by association, or should I just sever that relationship?” How would you answer that?
Sh. Mustafa 41:31
Yeah, so the thing is, you mentioned this really good point about, you know, disowning children and stuff like that, this is extremely, extremely common, and it's not just on LGBT issues by the way. There's so many cases where a girl is like, “I have a boyfriend,” and the parents are like, “How can you have a boyfriend! We can't believe this! It’s such an embarrassment! We're going to disown you because you have a boyfriend!” If a boyfriend is of a different race, you know, a race that is looked down upon in that culture, then it's even worse, it's like “You’re an embarrassment to us! We will never allow it! We don't want to be seen with you!” So this idea of disowning, unfortunately, is very common in so many different situations.
And the answer is, no, you cannot disown your children, you cannot disinherit your children - there's another one I get all the time, “We’re just going to disinherit this person!” No, you cannot do that!
It’s not up to you! Exactly.
Sh. Mustafa 41:32
Yeah, it’s not up to you! You know, it's not a choice that you have! So, no. And it's not helpful, it's really not helpful, because just look at our context. So what I explain to them is, sometimes you will find in books of fiqh, you will find discussions about a tribe boycotting an individual member, and that actually being a way to kind of pressure them to give up their bad behavior and then come back into the tribe. Now, in a tribal system, that type of shaming or whatever may actually work, except we don't live in that context. We live in the exact opposite context, where you do that and you kind of alienate the person and say “You know what, I just really don't want you to come around anymore, I’m really not comfortable even spending time with you”, they will go and they will find a bunch of other people who are like “Well, we will welcome you with open arms and we will accept you, you don't need your family, you don't need Mom and Dad, you don't need your brother and your sister. Forget all of them, we will give you all the love that you need, we will replace all of them for you.” And now it's like that person doesn't even have a little bit of a thread to hold on to, no rope, nothing.
And if they want to change, if later on, let's say two years or four years down the line, they're like “You know, I kind of regret this decision, I'm thinking about maybe I should start praying more, maybe I should revisit this issue”, they don't even have anyone to go back to, because the door was not left open for them. And that's what I tell people, I'm like, “The first and most important thing is, if they run away on their own, always leave that door open, and say “Look, we're not going to accept the behavior itself, but we're always ready to accept you. Anytime you want to come back, you're welcome back. Anytime you even have an idea, just a hint in your mind that maybe I want to revisit this issue, the door is always open, we are here for you.”” So I say to leave the door open if they're running away.
And in terms of pushing them away, that's the worst thing you can do, right? Because you're likely the only one who's going to have a good influence or impact on them, then why would you put them into a community where they're going to have nothing but harmful influences. So you're the only last remaining positive influence in their circle of friends, or whatever it may be, why would you give that up? So that's what I encourage people to do.
Absolutely. Beautifully said, jazakom Allah khairan. I'm over the clouds right now! Barak Allah feek. Alhamdulillah. And the last question in this section, as it pertains to people who struggle with gender dysphoria and who are undergoing transitioning or who decided to undergo transitioning, whether that's socially and then chemically and surgically, and they have reached the age of consent, and they are in a place which allows for that to happen. If you have a parent or a relative, or a friend of someone who has decided to do that, and they come and ask you, “How do we deal with this?” What would you tell them?
Sh. Mustafa 45:39
I would tell them almost the same thing when it comes to same-sex attraction and then embracing homosexuality: Yes, this is going to be much more visible if they're deciding to do that. What you should do is you should tell them, “Look, Islamically, you should not be doing this, we want to discourage you, we want to advise you against doing this, as much as we can, please don't do it.” And try to talk them out of it if you can. And if you can't, and they move forward anyways, and there is simply nothing you can do about it, then that's it, you just have to imagine it's as if, from an Islamic perspective, I know we're going have another episode on this, but, you know, from an Islamic perspective, it's like them dressing up in the clothing of the opposite gender. So, what are you going to do? So, if your son decides today, “You know what, I'm going to dress like a female today!” And it's like, what are you going to do? You'd be like, “Well, you know what, I'm not making you breakfast then!” You can't do that, right? Because the kid still needs to eat. He’s an adult, so he can make his own breakfast, but like, okay, should we have breakfast together as a family or not?
So how are you supposed to change? You're supposed to be very clear, set a line and say, “Look, what you're doing is not right, don't do this.” But if they decide “No, I'm gonna do it anyways”, okay, then it's simply, that's it. If they're living with you in the same house, you just have to deal with that reality that they have made these alterations to their body, or to the way in which they're behaving, or to their voice, or to whatever it is, and now you just simply have to live with the reality that they've chosen this, it falls into the same category. So you're still gonna go together to the grocery store and go grocery shopping with them, they’re still your child at the end of the day. Only it becomes a lot more challenging, because this is like someone who has same-sex attraction is embracing homosexuality, but then wears a t-shirt everywhere they go saying, “I am Muslim, I am proud and I am gay!” It's like that's going to be much more challenging for the parents or the siblings. It's like they're wearing this shirt everywhere, right? And it’s like, “I don't care what you guys think, you know, Prophet Lut’s story, you guys misunderstood it.” So it's like kind of in-your-face. So it's like a little bit more socially upsetting and more difficult to deal with on a social level. So they just have to kind of navigate the idea that, hey, this is the reality. You go and you meet with certain friends, and you're like, “Look, this is what happened. We tried to talk them out of it. We tried to explain to them, “No, it's not what you’re supposed to do.” But that's the reality. What are we supposed to do? They’re still our child. And we're hoping and praying that, you know, one day they decide to, you know, make some modifications, and maybe go back.”
Jazak Allah khairan, that is wonderful answer.
The second section is as it pertains to our understandings of punishment and sin, and the Islamic perspectives related to that. A very common question is, is there a punishment for same-sex sexual acts (and here we are talking about acts and not desires, and we have differentiated between that enough)? So, if there is a punishment, yes/no, and if yes, why is there no consensus? Because people actually throw this right and left - Ibn Hazm said 10 lashes, others were like, throw them out of the building, and you have these shubuhat (doubts) right and left and people are just so confused, and they're calling Islam a “homophobic religion”, and it never ends. So how do you answer this question?
Sh. Mustafa 49:30
Right. So, I mean, the way that Muslim scholars looked at this, they looked at certain hadiths. When it comes to the Qur’an, we always go back to the Qur’an, and then we go to the Sunnah, and the Sunnah is composed of hadiths, statements, actions, the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). So when you go to the Qur’an, you look at the story of Prophet Lut, it talks about how this community was destroyed, and one of the things that they were doing is that they were engaging in, you know, homosexuality, but then you also look at prophet Nuh, and they were also destroyed; they were engaging in idol worship, but they weren't necessarily engaging in homosexuality, but they were still destroyed. So some people are like, “You know what, these people need to be destroyed, or they need to be killed or something based on the Qur’an.” And that's just nonsensical, because there's not enough information in the story of Prophet Lut in the Qur’an (or anything else) that gives us some indication of what to do when it comes to a worldly punishment by a political Islamic authority in any society about what's supposed to happen to someone who's engaging in homosexuality.
When we go back to the hadith, we see some hadiths on the topic, and pretty much most of them have been viewed to be weak. So when you have some weakness in a hadith, it's like, well, what level of weakness do we accept, and what level do we reject? That's one of the reasons why you start seeing some difference of opinion, because you don't have clear-cut, highly authentic texts telling you “this is exactly how you deal with the issue.” Then what happens is you start going into analogy, you start to say, “Well, what else do we have to work with?” Well, we have any other illicit relationship to work with. So if any type of zina (adultery/fornication), these terms are used outside of marriage, because a same-sex marriage is not deemed to be valid in Islam. So, technically, this falls into the category of fornication, because the marriage is invalid. So if two people are committing that act, that's fornication, it’s a type of zina. So what's the punishment for that type of zina? So then they go and look into that.
But then what happens is, they say, “Well, wait a minute, but is it really even zina? Is it fornication? Because fornication is between a man and a woman, and this is not the same situation?” And, you know, scholars have discussed this, and I try not to shy away from these things, because there's intellectual benefit and academic benefit to it. The scholars have discussed, if you're fasting, and you break your fasting by having intercourse with an animal, does that break your fasting and does it require a kaffara (paid penitence) or does it not require a kaffara, like a penalty? Because, for them, they're trying to understand, they're trying to develop a conceptual framework. Now does that mean that that's actually something that's happening in society? Probably very, very unlikely to ever happen. But they're trying to look at every single option. So if you are fasting in Ramadan, and you break your fast by a husband engages with his wife, then you say, “Oh, well, you have to do a penalty of 60 makeup fasts, because you did that, there's a hadith on that.” Well, what if you did it with a man instead of a woman, is there a penalty now? What if you did it with someone who's not your wife, is there a penalty now? What if you did it by yourself (i.e. masturbation), is there a penalty?
And according to many scholars, they differentiate and say, “No, there is no penalty of 60 days of make-up fast if you masturbate, but if you actually have intercourse, then you do.” And they're like, “Well, what's the reason for differentiating between them?” Like Imam Abu Hanifa differentiated between the two. So you have to give an explanation, why are you differentiating between the two? And now what happens is they go through all these scenarios, and they come up with rules, and they say, “How do we apply all these rules to different things?” So the reason why I'm mentioning all this is because it all comes back down to the idea that there's different conceptual frameworks on how to deal with the issue of punishment for homosexuality, because the same-sex sexual act is viewed as something within the framework of Islamic law. And because there's no clear-cut text on it, they’re going to view it differently, right? So that's really what it comes back down to. So there's no consensus because there's no clear-cut text on a punishment when it comes to Qur’an or when it comes to ahadith, so it’s analogous to something, or it falls into a separate category, like some kind of discretionary punishment that the ruler can mete out just to keep society in line, like a ticket when you cross a red light or something like that.
Okay. Beautifully said, jazak Allah khair. The punishments vary, but obviously, because we don't really have - particularly those of us who live in the West, and we're not living under the Islamic Shari’a, then these punishments are not enacted anyway, if these punishments were to exist, right?
Sh. Mustafa 54:46
Exactly. Because there's no punishments, no one can enforce a punishment on another person unless there's a valid political authority, you can say Khalifah or whatever governor/representative of a Khalifah or something. So let's say somebody steals something from you, you can't be like, “I'm gonna enact the punishment on you!” It doesn't work that way. So absolutely not. I think there are a lot of Muslims who don't understand that. And I used to be one of those, you know, like, I remember someone stole my mp3 player once and I'm like, “Islam tells us that we need to get together, we need to punish this guy!” Like, I was just really mad. But that's not that's not the case. That's actually completely wrong, there’s some good papers on that that explain that if you did that, if you tried to take the political authority into your own hands with your group of friends, or just by yourself, you actually cause chaos in society, because then anyone can make a claim against anyone for anything and justify it, right? And at the end of the day, this would just create absolute chaos. So, absolutely, I'm glad you pointed that out. That no, that is not the case at all.
Alhamdulillah. And the next question that follows when it comes to same-sex sexual acts, because these acts in particular are different, they vary. Do we differentiate when it comes to this as far as the repercussions? Like let's say, two men or two women, you know, engaged in kissing, and that was it. Or there was nudity involved, or touching, or then even penetration between two men. Or if it was not face-to-face but rather online or webcam. Is there a difference with regards to all of these things? And if so, does Islam elaborate on that when it comes to what to do next in terms of like repentance or even punishments, if that makes sense?
Sh. Mustafa 56:35
Yes. So when it comes to repentance, let's start with that. Obviously, yes, any of these things kind of fall into the category of "لا تقربوا الزنا" – do not come near fornication. So any type of kissing, nudity, touching, intimacy, going out on dates, or stuff like that, or – I forgot what those pictures are called - sending nude pictures, or whatever it is, you know, all of that stuff falls into that category. You should make tawba (repentance), and you should ask Allah for forgiveness. The greater the sin and the closer it is to fornication, the more you should actually ask Allah for forgiveness.
In terms of worldly punishments, this falls into the category of what's called Siyasa (سياسة). Now, Siyasa in modern Arabic means politics, but that's not what it means from an Islamic law perspective. So, in classical books in Islamic law, Siyasa means the rules that any legitimate political leader over a Muslim community can enact for the benefit of that community. So, for example, running a stop sign without stopping, you put a punishment there, that punishment could be a fine, it could be some jail time, it could be a lash or something like that, it could be community service. Now, it's some type of punishment that you put in just to regulate society in terms of what you do not want to be taking place. So it kind of creates a culture towards the type of behavior that should be manifested in that society. So the same thing falls into this category, all of these things, every single one falls into the same category, in the sense that if these are being done publicly - first of all, if any of this is being done privately, Islam says the government has no authority whatsoever, because you're not supposed to go into someone's home, whatever they're doing privately, you're not allowed to spy, the government's not supposed to spy either, you know, just in general, right? So this is not allowed. So there's no punishment whatsoever, if they're just doing it privately.
If they're doing it publicly, now that affects society as a whole. Can you implement some type of punishment? Yes. Is there a specific punishment? No, nothing whatsoever. So it could be anything from, you know, a slap on the wrist, it could be a fine, or it could just simply be nothing, it could just be maybe a public apology, or it could just be like, “You know what, we don't have time to police this stuff! This is not a big deal at all, like this is not a good investment of a legitimate Islamic state's use of funds.” People speed all the time on the freeway, especially in California here, most people who speed a little bit, they’re not going to give them a ticket, because it just doesn't make sense. It's just not worth it. So some of these things could be completely skipped, and some of them actually you could decide on any type of punishment or penalty or whatever it may be, just to help bring society towards a behavior, a public behavior, that is supposed to be in line with Islamic values.
And in case, as you said, they're done in privacy, but the person has felt remorse and he/she has repented, توبة نصوحة (genuine repentance) officially, and they moved past that. Then, as far as that is concerned, are they over that? How would you answer that?
Sh. Mustafa 1:00:03
Yeah, so I mean, once someone has made tawba sincerely, genuinely, they made the intention to not go back to it again, they should consider themselves as if they're past it, and it's gone. And of course, once you've made tawba, it's also good to go back, every once in a while, and then just ask Allah for forgiveness for that again. So, if you go for Hajj, or in Ramadan, you say “Oh Allah forgive all my past sins”, and then you recall some of your sins again, not to get caught up in it, but to remember that, you know what, maybe your tawba wasn't to the level where it should have been. But outside of that little caveat, yes, you're supposed to pretty much say, “Now I'm moving on with my life. I'm not responsible for whatever happened in the past.”
And even if there's consequences, you know, if you committed fornication, for whatever, and you know, there's children now, right? You had like illegitimate children. You're like, “What am I supposed to do about that?” That's something that you can't control anymore. Let's say you have a same-sex sexual act, and you get an STD, or you gave someone else an STD, and you’re like “I can't believe I did that!” You make tawba, you ask Allah for forgiveness. It's a really serious thing that's happened, but what can you do about it now? Allah is going to hold you accountable for what you can do now, He cares about your current state, and that's what's the most important. So you can't beat yourself up and say like, “You know what, this happened in the past and it's not even tawba, I cannot change what happened.” I mean, if you can make tawba for murder, then you can make tawba for anything, right? So people need to understand that, you know, whatever happened in the past, you made some video that's on the internet, and you're like, “A I gonna be responsible for that? Other people are gonna be watching that!” If you can fix it, you fix it, right? If you can take it down, somehow you can get it deleted, somehow get it deleted. But if you can't, then it's not in your control. Allah does not hold you accountable for something that's not in your control or beyond your control.
Jazak Allah khairan for mentioning all of this, particularly the last part, because I had a question for you, basically, about the images and the videos that are out there, people who have repented but their stuff is still out there, and they cannot take it down as much as they had tried. So are they still in a state of “perpetual sinning”? According to your answer, no, as long as one has made the proper tawba in that case, right?
Sh. Mustafa 1:02:32
Exactly, exactly. As long as you made the tawba and you tried, right? You really tried. So you go back on your Facebook profile, and you delete all those pictures that you had from years ago, or whatever it is. And all the other stuff, you're not accountable for that.
Alhamdulillah. Now, in the case of a marriage, so we have an Islamic marriage between a man and a woman, and let's say the man went and had an extramarital affair with another man, a same-sex sexual act. In this particular case, what would be the recommendation? I mean, they want to recommit, and they want to establish proper tawba, and they just want to move past that. We've discussed this previously in the podcast, and we actually talked about the idea that it's very important to have an STD test just to make sure that the man is clear, but from a fiqhi or Shar’i perspective, what needs to be done?
Sh. Mustafa 1:03:23
Okay, yeah, from a purely technical fiqhi perspective, just tawba, that's all that needs to be done. So that’s like the technical answer. Now you need to take you need to take into consideration like you said, STD test and all. Any type of harm that's likely to result needs to be resolved, that needs to be remedied somehow. So you need to inform the person, all of that, whatever it may be. In terms of informing your wife for example…
Right, like coming clean, should we disclose that?
Sh. Mustafa 1:04:01
From a fiqhi perspective, remember, fiqh is kind of like the limits, it's like the border of life where you do not cross. It doesn't mean it's always the ideal of what you need to do, right? So from a fiqhi perspective, you do not need to disclose it. From an advice perspective, from a naseeha perspective, you need to evaluate whether it's better to disclose it or not. And it depends on so many factors. It's really on a case-by-case basis. You should consult with someone who's really an expert in this field and can give you advice, but I'll just give you some general guidelines.
So if there's a high likelihood of this coming out where your wife is likely to find out within a year or something like that, then you think it's better for her to hear it from you or to hear it from somebody else, right? So that's where you need to weigh that risk, versus “Well, you know, there's this 70% chance that she is going to find out from somebody else, but I'll just bank on the 30% chance and just let it go!” Well, what's the intensity of the harm that's going to happen if I don't tell her and somebody else tells her, right? So that's where you have to kind of do like a risk/analysis and say, “You know what, what is the best option for me here?” That really depends on so many variables, but people need to understand that it's not black-or-white. So it's basically like, you don't have to disclose it, but in some cases, you should, and in some cases, you should not. And you need someone with the wisdom to help guide you on what the best route is going to be.
Okay. Alright, understood. Now, a couple of questions that we get from the community: Are we going to go to Hell if we are a part of a homosexual relationship? Or does it put us out of the fold of Islam if we are engaged in a homosexual relationship? We know that this is haram, but are we going to go to Hell, or do the same-sex sexual acts, to whatever degree as we have specified, they’re on a spectrum, do these put us out of the fold of Islam, do they make us kafir? Or even going as far as saying that these acts in and of themselves are halal, which we know is not an Islamic position, but to actually say, “Well, no, actually, these acts are halal”, like istihlal of these particular matters, does this put us out of the fold of Islam?
Sh. Mustafa 1:06:27
The first thing is, when somebody believes in “"لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله, there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger, that brings them into Islam. And there's very few things that could actually take somebody outside the fold of Islam. They either have to stop believing in this, stop believing in something that's a core tenet of Islam, like that the Qur’an is complete, or the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a messenger, or prophet Nuh/Noah was a messenger of Allah, or something like that. They have to disbelieve in a core tenet of Islam, in terms of belief, or they need to reject something that is so well known about Islam, like let's say, for example, prayer, a good example is prayer. So if someone says, “I don't believe that prayer is prescribed in Islam”, according to, I think, probably all scholars, that brings someone out of the fold of Islam. But if they don't pray, if they don't pray at all, but they still believe that prayer is an obligation, but they're just doing it out of laziness, “I don't want to pray, it’s pretty difficult, takes up my time, and all that”, that does not put them outside the fold of Islam.
So if that doesn't put them out of the fold of Islam, then engaging in a same-sex relationship is not going to put them out of the fold of Islam, they’re still a Muslim at the end of the day. And, you know, especially assuming that they're praying, or they're fasting, and they're doing all the other things, they're believing in all the things that they need to believe in, the action itself, if fornication does not put you out of the fold of Islam, drinking alcohol does not put you out of the fold of Islam, then neither does engaging in a same-sex relationship.
What about declaring these acts as halal, when we know that they're not halal, and saying that “No, they're halal!” and boasting about them, does that put us out of the fold of Islam?
Sh. Mustafa 1:08:23
Yeah, now this is where it gets a little bit tricky. So, what you have is the Qur’an being very clear about homosexuality in the story of Prophet Lut, and how it's condemned and it's something that is not acceptable to Allah. So now, when someone says, “Well, you know what, I don't accept that, that is what the story of Prophet Lut is talking about, I accept that this was referring to some type of non-consensual rape relationship that was happening”, and they come up with these alternative theories, like Scott Kugle has about the story of Prophet Lut has to do with something about rape or nonconsensual relationships and all of that, that's when it becomes a little bit complicated. And the reason why it becomes complicated is because the idea of homosexual acts being condemned in the Qur’an is very clear. But at the same time, it's not considered to be like some kind of fundamental aspect of Islam. It's not like praying five times a day and fasting in the month of Ramadan or something like that, or even alcohol or pork.
So I really like to put this in the category of hijab. So hijab for sisters is something which every single scholar agrees, you know, Muslim women have to wear proper hijab, that they cover their head and you know, other parts as well with loose clothing all of that. And I remember my teacher when I was studying in France, he has his PhD in ‘Aqidah from Al-Azhar University, and we were going through this chapter in his book about when does someone go outside of the fold of Islam, and where do you draw that line? And we were having these discussions, well, what if he denies fasting but he never fasts? Or what if he never fasts, but he accepts that fasting and Ramadan is acceptable and all that? We say yes, he's still a Muslim as long as he acknowledges it. So then we say, well, what about hijab? What if someone rejects hijab and they say that verse in the Qur’an doesn't mean that? And his answer was basically, the answer of scholars is, if the person has a ta’weel, which means if they have given some different interpretation to a verse in the Qur’an, even if it's a wrong interpretation that goes against the ijmaa’, or the scholarly consensus, as long as it's not what's called "معلوم من الدين بالضرورة", which means something that everyone knows, by necessity, that this is what Islam represents, then that's not going to be considered to be kufr, it's not going to be disbelief.
So we said, “Well, wait a minute, how do you define, in which context do you define that? Didn't everyone understand in the past that hijab was something that was required or whatever it is?” And then he added one little layer, one additional layer, and he says, “Well the idea of what is necessarily known to be part of the religion does vary with time and place and with context.” So, given that, I think homosexuality would be in the same category, therefore, someone would not be considered to be a disbeliever, even if they took that revisionist line, even though it's wrong, it doesn't mean that there's a valid difference of opinion, but it means that they wouldn't be outside the fold of Islam.
Jazak Allah khairan for explaining that, it's very helpful to know that. And the last question here in terms of putting someone out of the fold of Islam or being haram, if someone is in a same-sex marriage or in a same-sex partnership, does that put the person out of the fold of Islam? And would the Islamic perspective change if that was recognized as a legal marriage by secular authorities? I know you alluded to this earlier in the episode when you said that, Islamically, this is considered fornication, because there's no such thing as same-sex marriage within Islam. But, all in all, would it be considered somehow if it's legal in a particular country where this is allowed? And if not, or if it is, would it put someone out of the fold of Islam? Or does it make the person doomed to go to Hell? How do we answer that?
Sh. Mustafa 1:12:42
So it doesn't put someone outside of the fold of Islam, because it falls in the same category, it’s like fornication. So the marriage between a man and a man, and a woman and a woman, is not considered to be a valid marriage, so the relationship would fall into the category of fornication when they're actually engaged in the act. So, does fornication put someone outside the fold of Islam? No, absolutely not. It does not. Does it make them sinful? Yes, it makes them sinful. Does someone who commits sins, are they going to go to Hell automatically? I know this is like the common question, “Am I going to go to Hell if I do this?” And it's like a setup of a question almost. It's almost like, because sometimes people are asking it genuinely, and sometimes people are asking it just as an excuse to be like, “Oh, well, if I'm not going to go to Hell, then I'm just going to keep on doing it!” It's very, very difficult to just give like a clear cut answer here, that's why you have to give like this dual answer.
So the answer is, what you're doing is sinful, and it's actually a major sin, and you should try to get out of it. But just because you do a major sin, do you go straight to Hell automatically? No. Could you go to Hell because of the sin? Yes. So you should really think about your behavior. So that's why it's kind of like you almost have to gauge the tone of the person who's asking the question, and you kind of have to know their background in terms of what do they mean when they're asking the question, because sometimes they ask the question to justify their action. They're like, “Oh, yes, so I'm not going to Hell. That's great! Thank you! I'm gonna keep doing what I'm doing.” And you don't want to give that off. But then you have the other person who is like, “Am I gonna go to Hell?” and they’re falling into depression, and then what's going to happen is if you're like, “Yes, this action just might put you into Hell!” and they already have this internalized understanding of like, “Well, my parents are representative of Islam, and they're really not good role models for Islam”, and they're going away from the deen and they're also like dealing with so many other issues in their life. And now if you give that answer, you just push them further away from the deen. So it really is challenging to give one answer without knowing who is asking the question and their background.
In terms of if the law changes, if secular law recognizes same-sex unions or same-sex marriages as being a marriage, does that somehow change things? And the answer is no, it doesn't change anything. Because it doesn't matter what the law is, and it doesn't really matter what the culture is, if it's something that's directly contradicting to what Islam says, then it doesn't make a difference. So I'll give you an example. Like today, in California, when you get married, you have to have two witnesses to register your marriage. So we have those witnesses, even in the county, when you're registering with the county within the state, you have to have two witnesses. And that just happens to be the exact same thing with Islamic marriages. So let's say the law changes and they're like, you don't need any witnesses, we're perfectly fine with two people just registering, and we'll accept that as a marriage. Now that the law has changed, and the culture has changed, does that mean that witnesses are not required for the Islamic marriage and it’s valid in the sight of Allah? The answer is no, that law is not going to affect the marriage in any way, shape, or form. So the same thing applies when it comes to same-sex unions being legalized in any particular region.
Absolutely. As a reflection on this, like a last caveat, which is, if there's a partnership going on, it's not registered, they're not married, they consider themselves to be partners, but it's like a “nonsexual co-habitation”, like they sleep in different beds, but they share a flat, there's nothing sexual going on. Is this permissible or advisable? How would you answer that?
Sh. Mustafa 1:16:43
Yeah. When it comes to something like that, no, it wouldn't be allowed in terms of… Because the purpose would be along the lines of, if there's some type of like romantic relationship, even though they're sleeping in separate beds or something like that, it wouldn't be allowed, because the intention is somewhere along the lines of having a romantic relationship. But where would it be categorized? It would be very low on the spectrum, right? So if fornication is on the highest level, and like, you know, making out is like on a little bit lower level, and like just going on dates, is like on a lower level, this would be somewhere on like, a very low level, depending on what's going on, what the intention is, what are the effects, how likely is it to lead to something that is going to get to the point of intimacy and fornication. So, yeah, it wouldn't be allowed, but it would be very low on the spectrum.
Because otherwise if it was a normal “platonic” or brotherly relationship, then they would consider themselves to be flat mates, right? As simple as that.
Sh. Mustafa 1:18:01
Exactly, yeah, exactly.
And with this, we have come to the end of today's episode, which is part one of our discussion with Sh. Mustafa Umar on Shar’i and contemporary issues. And in the next episode, inshaAllah, we will continue with part two of this series. Until then, stay safe and healthy. This has been Waheed Jensen in “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wa barakatuh.