In the name of Allah, the beneficient, the merciful.
Imagine a troop of elephants, they are all the same, except two who are different, their difference is that they are a gay couple. Other elephants decide that they need to be killed and so they kill them and leave them dead behind. Humans watched the happening and concluded that animals have ruthless instincts.
Happily, this is not the case in real life. In real life other animals don’t kill other animals for their sexual orientation. The only animal that does that is the human and we do it in the name of God, an entity considered all loving and compassionate.
Four days ago Julhas Mannan, the editor of Rupban, the only LGBT magazine of Bangladesh, was hacked to death by humans who believed they were acting in the name of Allah. How did this happen? Where did they get this belief? Well, it goes back to the bible, to Moses to be exact:
"If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a
woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to
be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Sigh. My first thought is: well, where are the arguments? What is the reason behind this, but something tells me I need to read further in this Leviticus.
Just some other examples:
“A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.”
“Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.”
Seems that this monotheistic God is somewhat of a harsh fellow. Come on, putting mediums and kids who curse their parents to 'death'? The difficult thing is that the punishments were sent to an audience that lived thousands of years ago. I've followed courses at the department of Middle Eastern studies at the university of Leiden and remember one peculiar course in which a professor of prehistoric Arabia explained a text with laws that seemed very harsh for the modern reader, but were at that time perfectly normal and most of the time a paper tiger. The punishments were meant to scare off, not to be positively applied.
Now back to Islam. The Quran contains a lot of positive law; sometimes it goes into details, like with inheritance law, where women inherit half of what the men get. What I imagine is that the positive laws in the Quran were applied in actuality during Muhammad’s (pbuh) time in Medina. But on the issue of the biblical ‘sodomy’ the Quran refrains from giving any positive laws. This implies that the first Muslims never punished gays in their community, if they had, then the punishment would have been detailed in the Quran.
The only time that the Quran mentioned gay sexuality is with the story of Lot. But Lot’s story is one of many Biblical stories that the Quran mentions and must be understood in it’s context. Lot is part of a group of prophets that the Quran mentions as examples of other prophets who, like Muhammad, were faced with and evil society to whom they were sent. Lot like, Nuh, Hud, Salh and Shuayb were used as predecessors of Muhammad (pbuh). Lot was sent to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, like Muhammad was sent to Mekka and Medina. Sodom and Gomorrah were dangerous cities with where robberies, rapes and crime were rampant. Lot came to them with the message of God, but like Muhammad, he was ridiculed. Then God sent two handsome angels as his visitors, but people from his city came and took them away from him so they could rape them. By doing this, they turned Gods wreath against them and God decided to destroy the two cities. The story does not talk about two gay men loving each other. It’s about criminality, rape of two young men, presumably pedophilia that was punished by God.
Unlike the Bible that was very clear about the punishment of gay sexuality, the Quran remains silent. Allah turned its wreath on violence and rape, not on gay sexuality.
Then where did the murderers of Julhas Mannan get their inspiration?
The answer is Hadith, which is the Arab word for gossip:
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.
It seems that the one doing the narrating has no clue about the Quranic message of the story of Lot, namely that it was about rape. How on earth would God punish the Angels to whom the rape would have been done? It is clear that these are indeed gossips. They offer no explanation, nor any other information on why gays should be punished. Muslim clerics knew this, so they used another stick to hang their punishment on; adultery:
“The woman or man found guilty of sexual intercourse – lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment”.
Compared to the Bible, which at the time of the Prophet Muhammad was a big authority on religious matters, the Quran seems mild:
"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death".
The Quran was more compassionate then the Bible, but fact remains that the Quran addresses itself to an audience that lived almost two thousand years ago. Adultery is no fun, but a 100 lashes? For real? Back to my professor, presumably the threats in the Quran were paper tigers, meant to scare off people, not meant to be actually realized. But why should learned Islamic scholars take a backdoor to create a death sentence? Because giving 100 lashes doesn’t kill someone. Especially not if you use a lash made of silk or feathers. Clearly the Quran gave this surah to humanize the Bible. The Islamic message that Muhammad (pbuh) brought was one of compassion. On and on this is hammered upon. Where the Judeo-Christian Bible killed gays, the Quran remained silent about any punishment. Where the Judeo-Christian bible killed those who cheated, the Quran ‘only’ lashed them. Where the Judeo-Christian Bible killed those who cursed their parents, the Quran only tells us to respect them:
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him.
And that you be dutiful to your parents.
If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect,
nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor.”
Then how could the followers of this compassionate God hack an LGBQT activist into pieces?
It seems like a paradox, but there is more. Although the Quran is the most compassionate of the three monotheistic religions, still its followers are not. Especially not: it’s religious leaders. Although
Christianity and Judaism have evolved throughout the centuries, because of the Enlightenment and
overall modernization of its scriptures, the Quran has not. The Quranic scholars did not only not
develop intellectually, they actually went backwards, mainly thanks to the influence of Gulf-backed
Wahabism and the Muslim Brotherhood. Our alarm bells should have rinkled when
Yusuf-al Qaradawi talked on al Jazeera and was presented as the biggest authority of Islam, the same man who said on national television that gays should be thrown off buildings and ‘disobedient’ women should be beaten (see video below).
To be honest, I don’t blame Al Qaradawi. He can only use the brains he has gotten and think with the education he has gotten. He cannot exceed his limits. I don’t blame Al Jazeera for inviting him to the studio and putting him on the world stage as the authority of Islam. I don’t blame the Wahhabis either, I don’t blame the Gulf who pump their oil money into Wahhabi madrassa’s all over the world. I don’t blame the killers of Julhas. They think that they are acting in the name of God, because some imam (who has been brainwashed by Gulf-money) told them so. Then who should I blame?
I blame myself. I blame myself for not speaking up louder. I blame myself for not speaking in the microphone against Tariq Ramadan’s homophobia when I had the chance to (I attended his lecture). I blame myself for not sending Al Qaradawi a letter of disapproval. I blame myself for not acting on the message Allah has sent me to give, because unlike Julhas Mannan, I am a coward.
In peace and health,
The Healthy Muslimah