What are the decrees of the religion of Islam regarding homosexuality? Is the interest in the same gender, that is, homosexuality, something natural/inborn? Is it a sin to think and feel like that? Can it be treated?

Details of the Question

What are the decrees of the religion of Islam regarding homosexuality? Is the interest in the same gender, that is, homosexuality, something natural/inborn? Is it a sin to think and feel like that? Can it be treated?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Homosexuality is a major sin that caused the destruction of the nation of Lot. If such people do not commit anything wrong, they will not be held responsible because of feeling like that. The religion of Islam gives decrees based on deeds, not feelings. That is, if a person has a feeling in his heart, he will not be held responsible for it; when he does a deed in accordance with that feeling, he will be held responsible.  

It is a reality that some men have feelings close to those of women and vice versa. They will not be held responsible unless they realize those feelings and act contrarily to the religion. 

This world is a place of testing. Everybody has a test. Allah does not place a burden on a person greater than he can bear. Some people may be tested through sexuality, gambling, alcohol, etc. It is not appropriate to surrender without struggling.

Having a weakness does not necessitate surrendering. Man will not be held responsible due to the feelings of sexuality. However, he will be held responsible if he fulfils them. Man, who is to show patience in this short worldly life, needs to show patience related to his weaknesses and try to attain an untroubled life in the hereafter.

What are the precautions that can be taken in terms of homosexuality (a man desiring another man)? What is the religious decree related to homosexuality?

Is it a sin to have these feelings involuntarily and is there a way of getting rid of it?

Everybody and every man can have the conditions you have in terms of nature and creation.It is a kind of testing for man. That is, both intercourse with someone from the other sex without marriage and intercourse with a person from the same sex are prohibited. The Shariah (Islamic Law) advises people to do the following to correct those attitudes. They are as follows:

1- to fast,
2- to read the Quran and to mention Allah’s names (dhikr) a lot,
3- to read the interpretations of the Quran or Islamic books,
4- to remember Allah a lot
5- not to forget death.

What is interesting here is that although most of us consider talking about homosexuality a taboo, there are many clear expressions about it in the Quran. Since the Quran mentions it when giving the example of the people of Lot, it means this problem is ‘as old as the people of Lot, too important to overlook, uglier than fornication yet discussable like any other human fault.’

Then, how does something like that happen? How and why do people undergo such a sexual deviation?

Let us start with biological and genetic factors:

As  a matter of fact, all of us have the hormones of the opposite sex in our bodies though very little. If we did not have any, then all men would be too harsh and macho, all women would be too delicate, and it would be impossible for the opposite sexes to understand each other. However, those minimal tendencies that are normally present may reach to high levels in some people due to genetic or hormonal deterioration. Consequently, there happen to be some individuals who are inclined to homosexuality by birth.

If you say, “then, what?”, listen to the following talk:

A friend of mine who is a psychiatrist called me a few days ago. After a short introduction, he said, "You know, the last researches show that homosexuality is almost unpreventable in some cases. It has been determined that there is also a genetic aspect of the issue by birth; you may have read it. That is, at least some of those people who become homosexual do so because of an inclination in their nature; it is clear now. However, we read that it is an unacceptable inclination and that it is even necessary to punish those people in terms of Islam. How would you settle that dilemma?"

I said to him, "It may be a strange example but you know that for instance polygamy is also a genetic and natural inclination for men." "Yes?" he said. "Are you a polygamist?" I asked. "Certainly not," he said. "Why not?" I insisted. "Do you not have an inclination like that in you? Speak frankly please." "I do, as a matter of fact." He said. "However, my wife will not let me; there are social rules, laws, etc.; there are so many drawbacks, you know. In addition, I do not want to commit sins. Therefore, I would not even think of it.”

"Thus, you answered your own question,"I said. "As a matter of fact, there may be some homosexual inclinations in some people based on their genetics, but those people should be able to and they can control those abnormal inclinations."

"I did not think about it that way", he said.

After thinking for a few moments, he said, “But you know that some disorders in the brain, for instance, diseases like temporal epilepsy may lead to almost uncontrollable aggressiveness. If such a person killed someone unconsciously due to that disorder, would he be punished? He would not. According to the articles 46 and 47 of the Turkish Penal Code, his sentence would be mitigated or forgiven. What would you say to this example?”

"All right," I said, "Would that person be released after his sentence was forgiven so that he would kill another person? Or, would he be put under clinical observation until he was cured and then followed for a long time?"

My friend said, "You are right again."

During puberty, some young people may have partly tried homosexuality out of curiosity. Almost like playing a game of being doctors.

People may say "a childish mistake." However, what is important is what follows. After such an incidence, sometimes years later, a person may ask himself, ”Oh my God! What had I done?” During that period, by not sharing the problem with anyone else and accusing himself and asking himself the question “Am I a gay?” may sometimes lead a young person to unwanted situations. He may say, “Since I am a gay, I may just as well act like a gay.” A young man who is not actually a homosexual may really become a homosexual just because he thinks that he may be a homosexual!

I will give you a tragicomic example:

I had a homosexual patient. He had an intestinal parasite problem when he was an elementary school student. Some people may know about it. It makes a person itch in the anus. You may not believe it but that itching led that boy to the suspicion,” Am I a…….?”. The outcome was unfortunately terrible! Besides, it is not the only example. There are many incidences in medical literature leading people to homosexuality just because of intestinal parasites. Young people feel embarrassed and they do not tell anybody about it because of their pride; they do not ask for help; they fret and eat their hearts out. Something so little makes their lives miserable. So many people are destroyed spiritually.

As for the part of the issue that interests us:

1. One should neither ignore those delicate issues nor try to stir it up. What is necessary is a shrewd quietness and a balanced interference.

2. Beginning from the very young ages, parents should direct their children to form their gender identity and emphasize their gender in choosing things like clothes, toys, etc. For instance, parents should buy them clothes and toys in accordance with their gender.

3. A child is curious about gender during his normal development, especially in some periods; it is necessary to inform him correctly. You should not tell him/her about homosexuality, of course. To meet his natural and humanly curiosity will form a sound base for him in the future. Do not feel embarrassed about those issues. You may feel embarrassed about telling them the truth but some people do not even feel embarrassed about telling them the wrong things. And do not forget this: “Children never ask about things that they are not ready to learn." If a child asks about something, you must answer him in an appropriate way.

4. Especially during puberty, adolescents should spend more time and share things with their parents of the same gender. I want to underline it so that the fathers who go to work from home and home from work, who put on their pajamas and slippers and watch television and who say to their wives, “Darling! Please take care of the boy. I am very tired” will hear me and act accordingly.

5. The somewhat dominant and respected role of the father in the family should be maintained. Otherwise, if the mother is obviously dominant and if the father is passive at home – unfortunately, in most homes, it is a reality; a sign of the end of time -  the position of the mother may be something desired by the son.

6. When you face a problem like that, if you react excessively and impose unexplained bans, it will make the child more curious. Even if you do not talk and do not let the child talk about it, the questions in the child’s mind will increase gradually.

7. If you cannot find a solution, ask for the help of a psychiatrist.

Note: Homosexuality is not a condition peculiar to males only. The problem exists among women too. However, it takes place more indistinctly among women and it is not resistant and continuous. A normal sexual life and a happy marriage will generally settle the problem. Nevertheless, it is necessary to be careful in places where women stay together in groups.

Unfortunately, as a community, while we give great importance to man-woman seclusion, we sometimes overlook man-man and woman-woman seclusion. This is one of the reasons of the problem for both genders. What about doing some reading and finding out about the criteria of the privacy and tasattur (covering the body) of men towards men and women towards women?

DR. YUSUF KARAÇAY

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