On a recent trip to Japan I was struck just how much the Japanese people adhered to rules. For instance, at the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo more than 2,500 people cross at every signal change. They would wait patiently at the red man and only walk when he turns green. Even after midnight, on the smaller streets and with no cars on the roads they would only cross when the green man shows.
Back in the UK it was so different. People here would cross even on red, they would weigh up the risks, see if any cars were on the roads and cross using their personal judgement. The Japanese way made sense. In a city like Tokyo with more than 30 Million people living there, adhering to rules streamlined movement in the safest way possible.
And it works similarly with religion. Islamically, we can define this by placing people into three categories. Firstly those who don’t believe in Islam. Secondly, those who follow Islam and adhere to its rulings without questioning or thinking and thirdly those who follow Islam by learning why the rules are set the way they are and use their judgement and understanding that comes from that knowledge. So when someone asks me whether you can be both gay and Muslim, the simplest answer is yes because gay Muslims exist.
Those Muslims of type two, whom unfortunately are the majority of Muslims in our Ummah (Global Muslim community) will immediately say that being gay and Muslim is mutually exclusive. That you can’t be both, only one or the other. Trying to converse with this group is always a challenge because they’re not used to thinking about Islam, they have streamlined their lives by just following and never questioning. The third group is the one that can grasp meanings because they already have the mental hooks necessary for conversations such as this, and it is to this third group that I can address a reply to the question, can I be gay and Muslim?
There are two ayahs that are the cornerstone of Islamic law.
“Huwa aladhee khalaqa lakum maa fi’l ard jamee’an”
“It is He who created for you all of that which is on the earth” (Qur’an 2:29)
“wa qad fassala lakum maa harrama alaykum”
“He has explained in detail to you what He has forbidden you” (Qur’an 6:119)
There are more if you look in the Qur’an with the fiqh rule being “al asl fil’l ashyaa al ibaha.” The norm in regards to things is that of permissibility.
Remember it is Allah who provides proof of tahreem. That is simple fiqh. Law does not have to tell you what is legal, but rather what is illegal. IF the Qur’an had to tell us what is allowable, it would be endless and contradict itself since it says, “it is He who has created for you all that is in/on the earth” and then there is the istithnaa of, “and has clearly defined what is forbidden.”
And NOWHERE in the Qur’an does Allah forbid being gay (the men from the people of Lut had wives, a topic I will elaborate on soon) or same-sex relationships, anal sex or any type of sex, or even same-sex marriage.
So why does the Qur’an allow certain things clearly? That is because the concept of allowability was there from the beginning, and when people made erroneous assumptions, they had to be corrected.
Remember the Quran deals with issues that are of importance to the Prophet’s society. Jurists deal with issues that are new… hence ijtihad. But many Muslims know LITTLE or ANYTHING of law. And so, Islam, a religion that by DIVINE EDICT states “Inna Allaha yuridu bikum al yusra”* has become for some, this horrible burden.
(*Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship. Quran 2:185)