Islam and Homosexuality

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Practicing homosexuality is considered a sin in Islam and is punishable under Islamic law, which is derived from the Quran and Hadith (accounts of Muhammad's life).

In Islamic law

The four Sunni schools of jurisprudence all agree that practicing homosexuality is an egregious crime that earns an especially harsh punishment, although the schools vary regarding what exactly this punishment should be. In the Hanafi school, the practicing homosexual is to be beat harshly and then executed if they persist. In the Shafi'i school, the practicing homosexual is punished in the same manner as one who engages in illegal intercourse (zina) - that is, they are lashed 100 times if unmarried and stoned to death if married. Some scholars, referencing the practices of the four Rightly-Guided (Rashidun) Caliphs, hold that the practicing homosexual should be thrown off of a tall building.[1] Others, referencing the Quran, maintain that the homosexual should be imprisoned until they die. Still others, also referencing the Quran, maintain that practicing homosexuals should in all cases be stoned to death.[2] Yet another view is that while the passive party in the male homosexual act should be killed in all cases, the active party escapes execution if unmarried and is to be lashed 100 times.[3] Some scholars also suggest that homosexual, when executed, should be beheaded rather than stoned.

In the Muslim world

Some modern academics have argued that the blame for the Islamic hostility towards homosexuality is due to "the adoption of European Victorian attitudes by the new Westernized elite."[4] For more than a thousand years, however, the Islamic tradition has drawn its views on homosexuality from the accounts of Muhammad's perspective found in the hadith, for Muhammad is described in the Quran (the word of Allah) as 'the perfect example' (uswa hasana) for all of humankind. Muhammad instructed, "If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.[5] He also condemned the mere “appearance” of homosexuality, when he cursed effeminate men and masculine women and ordered his followers to "Turn them out of your houses."[6] This ruling on homosexuals was naturally adopted by his later successors. The father of Aisha and Muhammad’s first successor, Abu Bakr, had a homosexual burned at the stake. The fourth Rightly-Guided Caliph, Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali, ordered homosexuals to be stoned, and even had one thrown from the minaret of a mosque.[7] These events pre-date any sort of Western influence on Islamic thought and have since shaped the Islamic perspective on homosexuals in religious contexts. This said, the individual and even societal perspectives of Muslims, irrespective of the views and practices of the Islamic establishment, have, of course, varied through time.

According to Saudi scholar Shaykh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid: "The spread of homosexuality has caused man diseases which neither the east nor the west can deny exist because of them. Even if the only result of this perversion was AIDS – which attacks the immune system in humans – that would be enough."[8] Even among the 3% of the world's Muslims living in "more-developed regions",[9] homosexuality is generally held to be unacceptable, though there is a trend towards more socially liberal views. A Gallup survey carried out in early 2009, for instance, found that British Muslims have zero tolerance for homosexuality - not a single British Muslim interviewed believed that homosexual acts were morally acceptable.[10][11] A more liberal trend is apparent in an Ipsos-MORI review of poll data conducted in 2016. According to their analysis, while 52% of British Muslims polled thought homosexuality should be illegal in Britain, 28% of younger British Muslim respondants aged 18-24 said instead that homosexuality should be legal compared to 18% of British Muslim respondants overall.[12]

Similarly, according to a Zogby International poll of American Muslims taken in November and December of 2001, 71% opposed "allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally."[13] However, a survey by Pew Research Centre in 2017 found that 52% of American Muslims believe society should be accepting of homosexuality, up from 39% in 2011 and 27% in 2007.[14]

In Indonesia, due to growing pressure from the conservative Islamic population, some local authorities were given permission to use Islamic laws, criminalizing homosexuality.[15] Attempts to legalize homosexuality in India were stifled for some time by Islamic clerics who maintain that "Homosexuality is an offence under Sharia Law and haram (prohibited) in Islam," and that "Legalization of homosexuality is an attack on Indian religious and moral values."[16] In September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court legalised homosexual intercourse, overturning a 2013 judgement which had upheld a colonial era law.[17]

Treatment of homosexuals

The following are excerpts on homosexuality, taken from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies:

"Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes.... It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins.... The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage.... Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place."

Whereas the admission of LGBT rights is now mainstream in western societies, religious and governmental authorities in much of the Muslim world maintain that LGBT persons should either be executed to subjected to harsh punishment.

Exact figures are hard to determine, due to the political turmoil in many Muslim-majority states, but as of 2009 homosexual relationships, acts or behavior are forbidden in approximately thirty-six Islamic countries including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen, with punishments including anything from a fine up to life imprisonment.[18][19] Ten of those countries out of the thirty-six impose the death penalty for homosexuals, these are: Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi-Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and some states in Malaysia.[20]

According to the Iranian gay and lesbian rights group Homan, the Iranian government has put to death an estimated 4,000 homosexuals since the Islamic revolution of 1979.[19] Where Muslim majority nations have legalized homosexuality, members of the LGBT community often fall victim to vigilantes who take Islamic law into their own hand. Iraq, for instance, despite not having any official laws discriminating against same-sex relationships, is at the same time host to death squads which operate throughout the country killing gays and lesbians (as well as effeminate men and masculine women suspected of homosexuality) on sight, killing, in one case, sixty-eight gay and trans-gendered men in the space of four months. These vigilante executions have often been carried out in torturous and humiliating ways, such as by having the victims' anuses glued shut, followed by induced and ultimately fatal diarrhea.[21][22]

In Turkey, there is widespread persecution and violence against homosexuals and non-Muslim minorities, with eleven gays being killed in the first half of 2009 .[23] A survey released in November of 2009 found that 67% of Turks "would continue acting in accordance with their religious beliefs if the Parliament passed a law that contradicted religious laws" where as a minority, 26%, "would obey the country’s law in this case".[24]


The following are summaries of other pages discussing Islam, in relation to Homosexuality:

Islamic Writing and Homosexuality

The Qur'an, Hadith collections and scholars have all commented extensively on homosexuality.

[وَاللَّذَانَ يَأْتِيَـنِهَا مِنكُمْ فَـَاذُوهُمَا]

(And the two persons among you who commit illegal sexual intercourse, punish them both.) Ibn `Abbas and Sa`id bin Jubayr said that this punishment includes cursing, shaming them and beating them with sandals. This was the ruling until Allah abrogated it with flogging or stoning, as we stated. Mujahid said, "It was revealed about the case of two men who do it. As if he was referring to the actions of the people of Lut, and Allah knows best. The collectors of Sunan recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah said,

«مَنْ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ يَعْمَلُ عَمَلَ قَوْمِ لُوطٍ، فَاقْتُلُوا الْفَاعِلَ وَالْمَفْعُولَ بِه»

(Whoever you catch committing the act of the people of Lut (homosexuality), then kill both parties to the act.)

The People of Lot

The story of Lot (لوط, Lūṭ) from the Hebrew Bible, is also to be found in the Qur'an, albeit with a few differences. Amongst other things, the Qur'anic rendition links the destruction of Sodom specifically to the homosexual activities of its inhabitants. The Qur'an also states that the People of Lot were the first to experience homosexuality. Archeological research, by contrast, has revealed that homosexuality was practiced in ancient cultures well before the time of Lot and Abraham (1948–2123 BC). The ancient Egyptians, for instance, who existed in 6000 BC, as well as the Chinese and Indian cultures which existed 7000 years BC practiced homosexuality. The story of Seth and Horus is one of many examples stories appearing before the time of Lot and Abraham which describe homosexual relationships.

External Links


  1. Fatwa Bank: Death Fall as Punishment for Homosexuality - Islam Online, July 22, 2002
  2. "So when Our punishment came upon the people of Lut, We turned the city upside down and showered them with stones of baked clay, one after another." - Quran 11:82
  3. See the chapter on "hudud" in Sharaya and Sharh Lum'a also al-Khu'i, Takmilah, p. 42-44.
  4. El-Rouayheb, 2005, p. 156
  5. "Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done." - Sunan Abu Dawud 38:4447
  6. "Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: 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." - Sahih Bukhari 7:72:774
  7. Serge Trifkovic - Islam's Love-Hate Relationship with Homosexuality - FrontPageMag, January 24, 2003
  8. Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid - Why does Islam forbid lesbianism and homosexuality? - Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 10050
  9. "As of 2010, about three-quarters of the world’s Muslims (74.1%) live in the 49 countries in which Muslims make up a majority of the population. More than a fifth of all Muslims (23.3%) live in non-Muslim-majority countries in the developing world. About 3% of the world’s Muslims live in more-developed regions, such as Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan." - The Future of the Global Muslim Population, The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, January 27, 2011
  10. Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality, says poll - The Guardian, May 7, 2009
  11. The Gallup Coexist Index 2009: A Global Study of Interfaith Relations - Section 2: Public Perceptions Toward Integration, p. 31
  12. A review of survey results on Muslims in Britain - Ipsos-MORI - February 2018
  13. Islamohomophobia - WorldNetDaily, October 2, 2002
  14. Like Americans overall, Muslims now more accepting of homosexuality - Pew Research Centre, 25 July 2017
  15. Muslim Communities Thwart Indonesian Protections For Gays -, October 4, 2006
  16. After Deoband, other Muslim leaders condemn homosexuality - Times of India, July 1, 2009
  17. India court legalises gay sex in landmark ruling - BBC news, 6 September 2018
  18. Homosexuality laws in Muslim countries - Wikipedia, accessed July 29, 2009
  19. 19.0 19.1 H. Tavakoli - The New Dark Ages - The Iranian,September 20, 1999
  20. Sean Yoong - Malaysian State Legislature Passes Bill on Strict Islamic Criminal Code - Associated Press, July 8, 2002
  21. Ben Lando - Iraqi gay community a target - Iraq Oil Report, July 9, 2009
  22. Iraq: Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of LGBT People - International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, April 20, 2009
  23. Homosexuals in Turkey: Istanbul week for gay rights - ANSAmed, June 24, 2009
  24. 'Religion loves tolerance, but is not tolerant' - Hürriyet Daily News, November 17, 2009