Challenges

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A couple of years ago, one of my teenage, weekend school students suggested that I watch a documentary about homosexual Muslims so that we could discuss it. 

Apart from my student's invitation, I have no direct use for making sense of the perspectives, challenges, ideas, and ways of this segment of the community. None of my acquaintances have ever mentioned it. Nonetheless, I ask myself, should one of my friends or loved ones identify with this challenge, how would I respond?

My response is what follows.

~~~
Its challenge, at least initially, is that the person wonders why he has such inclinations when in fact acting on them is forbidden in Islam and all monotheistic traditions.

The journey for said person progresses so that he contacts Islamic scholars and asks them about the legal ruling regarding homosexuality. He is told that it is haram (forbidden). Not surprised, he either accepts and continues the struggle with or without guilty feelings or he continues to search for some "loophole" in the texts to accommodate these inclinations that he would rather not have himself as it complicates his life tremendously. 

One person, a graduate of a reputed Islamic studies course, ventures to argue that the scholars are misinterpreting the verses that are primarily used to reach the legal ruling of haram. Others may follow his lead, but I would advise strict caution in this area. Why? Because textual interpretations and legal rulings in Islam are a deeply scholarly endeavour. It is not the work of the layman, and thus the scholars bear the responsibility for it. The layman need only ask qualified scholars. Each person has a place in society and we need to know and respect them.

For those who consider themselves among the scholars, scholarly discussions should be pursued but with the prominent and skilled Islamic jurists of the day, knowing well that there is a process for reaching Islamic rulings and when reached, they need to be acknowledged. It's a dangerous tactic trying to say "But I think Allah meant this and not that" when we speak of the words of God. Better err on the side of caution I would advise. 

My friend wisely accepts the advice of trusted scholars, but is still not reconciled between his feelings and shari'ah boundaries. It is a time when he has to decide on what will he do, much like a married man who wants to commit adultery or an unmarried couple who is inclined to having illicit relations. All are haram. All are based on feelings. All may not intend harm for any party (however unavoidable it is with adultery).

Islam is guidance and not a game. For the one who says she will tell God on the Day of Judgment that all she did was love someone, I say she is playing a game. Love is not the issue, but even still love does not need physical interactions. For the one who said he married but could not make his marriage work because he is "different," he missed the point.

I hate to be crude about it, but the whole issue is about sexual tendencies and we do not require them to survive nor do we need to indulge them because we have them. There are boundaries. 

The issue is not that people have atypical sexual/emotional/psychological inclinations fancying intimate and closer interactions with people of the same gender, but the issue is three-fold:
1) Denying its Islamic legal ruling and scholarly consensus,
2) Acting on one's inclinations, and
3) Publicizing 1 and 2

For those who are practicing Muslims and are faced with this difficulty, if you find yourself weak, then do yourself a favour by hiding your sin and repenting for it, as with any other sin, and pursue the greater part of our existence which is far beyond basal desires.

For those who have "outed" themselves, don't expect the general community to understand you nor to support you in your effort to normalize your tendencies. Many have done it with premarital and extramarital relations, but they are all morally wrong. Instead, ask your loved ones for their prayers and keep your actions pure even though you must struggle with yourself. Marry or remain married if you can fulfill your spousal responsibilities even if he/she is not your idea of an ideal partner and companion. With high intentions, your marriage may be a light for you on a very dark day. May Allah protect us all, ameen.

For those who erroneously comfort themselves by looking at the aspect of Islam that is loving, know that there is no principle in any Islamic teachings - not even among the Sufis - that tolerates deliberate transgressions and a blatant disregard for divine boundaries. At least none of which I'm aware.

Allah will forgive all our sins, except for shirk, but we need to sincerely repent. Repentance has three primary conditions:
1) Leaving the sin,
2) Being remorseful for the sin, and
3) Resolving never to return to the sin

Should any believer find himself weak and returning to the sin after his repentance, the door of sincere repentance is still open and remains open until death approaches. How gracious is our Lord. Allahumma laka kullu al hamd. O Allah, all praises are due to You alone.

So, why do people have such inclinations, a natural phenomenon for them, if acting on them is forbidden Islamically? I imagine it is because this world, inherently, is a test and everyone is tested in different ways. It's a test of obedience and servitude to Allah. There is no doubt that if He has tried us with anything, it is not more than we can handle. The conditions set us up for success if we are brave, patient, strong, perseverant, sincere, humble, and grateful.

It’s fashionable to say “we live only once” and therefore we should do as we please. I agree that we do live once in this world, but our soulful existence is eternal. And because we live only once in this relatively short testing period, we need to remind ourselves (and seek those who help in reminding us) that our pain in this world for Allah’s sake is not in vain. Surely short term pains will reap long term gains when done with high intentions and as acts of servitude before our Creator.

We all have every reason to have a good opinion of our Lord and to know that He never closes the door of acceptance on us, regardless of how lowly we become. But we must wear our faith in a way that befits it and graciously accept the veils that hide our weaknesses in front of people. We must struggle with ourselves to be better, and we must be honest with ourselves even if is against ourselves. 

The aim is not to outwit divine guidance for that can never be achieved and it will never bear fruits. The goal is to embrace it. It is the key to our very existence. Our existence is purely servitude of our Gracious Creator in whatever He guides us to and demands of us.

And Allah knows best. و الله أعلم

May Allah guide us all to correct the wrongs in our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls, and may He grant us the wisdom, strength, and understanding to choose better and to draw closer to Him leaving our lower selves starved while feeding our spiritual hearts, ameen.

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"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]

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Inspiration

"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]