What is Islam’s position on the treatment of homosexuals?
Islam goes beyond merely disapproving of homosexuality. Sharia teaches that homosexuality is a vile form of fornication, punishable by death.
Beneath the surface, however, there are implied references to homosexual behavior in paradise, and it has been a historical part of Arab and Muslim culture.
Quran (7:80-84) – “…For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)” – An account that is borrowed from the Biblical story of Sodom. Muslim scholars through the centuries have interpreted the “rain of stones” on the town as meaning that homosexuals should be stoned, since no other reason is given for the people’s destruction. (The story is also repeated in suras 27 and29).
Quran (7:81) – “Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you?” This verse is part of the previous text and it establishes that homosexuality as different from (and much worse than) adultery or other sexual sin. According to the Arabic grammar, homosexuality is called the worst sin, while references elsewhere describe other forms of non-marital sex as being “among great sins.”
Quran (26:165-166) – “Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, “And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing”
Quran (4:16) – “If two men among you are guilty of lewdness, punish them both. If they repent and amend, Leave them alone” This is the Yusuf Ali translation. The original Arabic does not use the word “men” and simply says “two from among you.” Yusuf Ali may have added the word “men” because the verse seems to refer to a different set than referred to in the prior verse (explicitly denoted as “your women”). In other words, since 4:15 refers to “your women”, 4:16 is presumably written to and refers to men.
Interestingly, the same rules don’t seem to apply in paradise, where martyrs for the cause of Allah enjoy an orgy of virgins and “perpetual youth” Quran (56:17) (otherwise known as “boys”Quran (52:24)). Quran (76:19) bluntly states, “And immortal boys will circulate among them, when you see them you will count them as scattered pearls.” Technically, the mere presence of boys doesn’t necessarily mean sex, however it is strongly implied from the particular emphasis on the effeminacy, handsomeness and “freshness” of the boys. The female virgins of paradise are also compared to pearls (56:23).
[Editor’s note: We are not implying a link between homosexuality and pedophilia here anymore than we are implying one between heterosexuality and pedophilia when recounting that Muhammad’s preferred wife was a 9-year-old girl.]
Hadith and Sira
There are several lesser hadith stating, “if a man comes upon a man, then they are both adulterers,” “If a woman comes upon a woman, they are both Adulteresses,” “When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes,” and “Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to.”
Abu Dawud (4462) – The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.”.
Abu Dawud (4448) – “If a man who is not married is seized committing sodomy, he will be stoned to death.” (Note the implicit approval of sodomizing one’s wife).
Bukhari (72:774) – “The Prophet cursed effeminate men (those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, ‘Turn them out of your houses .’ The Prophet turned out such-and-such man, and ‘Umar turned out such-and-such woman.”
al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152 – [Muhammad said] “Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot, kill the doer and the receiver.”
Reliance of the Traveller, p17.2 – “May Allah curse him who does what Lot’s people did.” This is also repeated in three other places.
Homosexuals are beheaded, hung and stoned in modern Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Muhammad’s laws are applied most strictly. Five other Muslim countries also have the death penalty on their books for homosexual behavior. In the past, gays were burned.
As one cleric recently put it, the only point of theological debate is not whether the homosexual should be killed, but how it should be done.
In 2016, an educated imam in Tunisia explained that while it may seem harsh, there is not ambiguity about this in Islam:
God is very straightforward about this — not we Muslims, not subjective, the Sharia is very clear about it, the punishment for homosexuality, bestiality or anything like that is death. We don’t make any excuses about that, it’s not our law — it’s the Quran
There are several places in the Quran where the story of Sodom is repeated, with emphasis placed on the destruction of the town for homosexual lewdness. Also, according to Serge Trifkovic:
Mohammed’s first successor Abu Bakr reportedly had a homosexual burned at the stake. The fourth caliph, Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali, ordered a sodomite thrown from the minaret of a mosque. Others he ordered to be stoned. One of the earliest and most authoritative commentators on the Koran, Ibn ‘Abbas (died 687) blended both approaches into a two-step execution in which “the sodomite should be thrown from the highest building in the town and then stoned. (source)
Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli of Iran said, in April of 2012, that homosexuals are inferior to dogs and pigs, since these animals (presumably) do not engage in such acts. In November of that year, a cleric on British television stated, “What should be done to those who practice homosexuality? Torture them; punish them; beat them and give them mental torture.”
A 2014 fatwa from the mainstream OnIslam.net proclaimed that homosexuality is “abnormal” and abhorrent” and confirmed that gays should be killed: “The punishment for men or women who are unwilling to give up homosexuality and therefore are rejecting the guidance of Allah Most High is in fact death according to Islam.” An imam invited to speak at a Florida mosque in 2016 said that killing gays was an “act of compassion”.
Since the resurrection of the caliphate in 2014 (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) dozens of homosexuals have been thrown from rooftops. Other have been stoned to death. Interestingly, the caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, allegedly issued a fatwa in 2015 permitting Mujahideen to “enjoy” young boys if women were not available.
Although some Muslim political leaders in the West join with social liberals in alliances that sometimes include peripheral support for gay rights and civil unions, this appears to be more a matter of expediency than genuine concern. There has never been any noticeable effort on the part of Muslim leaders in the West to relieve the plight of homosexuals in Islamic countriesoverseas – where their influence would surely carry more weight than that of their secular allies.
(As a side note, in 2012, a cleric issues a fatwa endorsing sodomy as a means of widening the anus in order to pack it with enough explosives to kill bystanders in a suicide bombing. As Sheikh Abu al-Dema al-Qasab put it, “Jihad comes first, for it is the pinnacle of Islam, and if the pinnacle of Islam can only be achieved through sodomy, then there is no wrong in it.”