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This question popped up in my head whilst in a book store. I was about to pick up a book by Azeenarh Mohammed, a collection of essays by queer Nigerian women. Although, I didn’t have enough money to buy the book at that time, I couldn’t pretend a question wasn’t on my mind still: should I be reading about queer people as a Muslim?
This question had always bothered me, whether or not I should be homophobic, since I’m a Muslim and Islam and the scholars of Islam unanimously agreed that homosexuality has no place in Islam. Then where does that leave me as a woman who is trying to be open minded? And where does that leave me as a Muslim who strives to see things from the perspective of Islam?
I didn’t use to care about homosexuality; it was one of those things that people talked about that didn’t interest me one bit. I won’t say I was homophobic; rather, I was too unbothered about homosexuality to be homophobic.
One day, my friend and I were having a discussion and it led to talking about homosexuality. I thought I didn’t have an opinion about homosexuality, but apparently I did. Deep down, I was homophobic, but too afraid to accept it. He asked what I thought about homosexuality. I told him I’m a Muslim, and I think what Islam thinks. That homosexuality is abnormal. My friend likes to think of himself as an agnostic and matters like “I think what Islam thinks,” to him, looked like a close minded opinion coming from someone blinded by religion.
“I thought what you thought too,” he said “But that changed, I’ve started reading and learning about homosexuality.” He used to be homophobic until he started seeing things from the perspective of people in the LGBTQ+ community through their stories. He wanted me to do the same; to read their stories, to hear from them, to see how they feel, and decide without the influence of my religion if homosexuality is truly abnormal.
“You think these people are faking it?” He asked.
“They could.” I replied, nonchalantly.
“You think I’d fake being homosexual just to be ostracised, shamed. You think I’d fake being homosexual just to be hated and be thought of as an animal by the rest of the world? No one can fake that shit,” he said.
It almost led to a fight, me going back and forth about my religion and its stand on homosexuality. He, trying to convince me to remove the blindfold my religion has put over my eyes.
Not long after the argument with my friend, a Nigerian musician, Brymo, made a music video where he was wearing something that looked like a G-string. Some people trolled the video saying his dressing was uncalled for as a man, as an African man.
I thought he was creative; the G-string was a reference to the native African man and people missed the point. I posted my opinion online and my friend came back at me. “I thought you only see things from the Islamic perspective? What do you think Islam will say about a man wearing a G-string in a music video?”
I was caught! I realised then that because something has no place in Islam doesn’t mean they should have no place in the world. I condemn the video of Brymo in a G-string as a Muslim, but as a creative, I thought he was very creative.
After my friend came at me about Brymo, I started to have a rethink about homosexuality. Yes Islam condemns homosexuality, like Islam condemns a naked man. Does that mean because they have no place in Islam, they should have no place in the world either?
I started reading about homosexuality. Their stories. I was angry. And mad. And upset. These people don’t deserve this treatment. These people should be left alone. These people are humans, and because they love differently than the majority of the world doesn’t mean they have to shrink themselves, shrink the way they love.
Though homosexuality has no place in Islam, neither does hate.
There are many things that have no place in Islam. Like usury, like fornication. Does that mean I have to campaign against banks that accept interest? No. Christmas has no place in Islam, does that mean I should throw stones at those who celebrate? No. Does that mean I should force my child to stop being friends with her classmate who celebrates Christmas? No.
So why is it so different with homosexuality? There are some things that do not have a place in Islam, but they do have a place in the world. And we as Muslims can’t fight it. It is not our duty to fight.
As a Muslim, I kept going back and forth on whether I should be homophobic or not. I have been accused by a few of my Muslims friends that I am trying to be liberal, trying too hard. Some of them tell me I have a problem with patriarchy.
I was afraid that if I told people I have no problem with homosexuality, they will tell me I’m am trying too hard to be liberal. I am trying to be a Westernized Muslim.
I was afraid that if I told the other set of people that I’m homophobic, I’d be accused of being blinded by religion.
But all along, I wasn’t even asking the right question. The right question isn’t “Should I be homophobic?” The right question is do I think homosexuality has a place in the world? My answer is no. I think the LGBTQ+ community should be allowed to love whomever they want to love. Just like I think idolaters should be allowed to worship whatever they want to worship, so be it stones, trees, whatever.
So as a Muslim, I am opposed to the idea of homosexuality like I’m opposed to the idea of Easter because Jesus didn’t die on the cross in Islam.
And as a Muslim, I am not opposed to homosexuality having a place in the world just as I am not opposed to people celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Allah (SWT) created a world that is diverse, a world that is so vast. So let’s live, and let others live.