Qur’ānic Illumination on the Phenomenon of Sexual Deviance
By Dr. Ja‘far Sheikh Idris
The rally that was held in Washington in defense of sexual deviance raised an argument among people with regards to the nature of this phenomenon and its significance. I have therefore thought it proper to present the Qur’ānic answers to the Muslim reader to some of the questions, uncertainties, and claims which the demonstrators raised regarding this phenomenon.
1. The perpetrators of this shamelessness say that what they are seeking is a new thing that was not known in different societies in the past, because it was disapproved of. They claim that such disapproval is not right for societies (like Western society) that have made great strides in progress toward democratic freedom and the care for human rights. But we know from the book of our Lord that it is not a new thing as they claim; all that they are seeking today was sought for and carried out by the people of Lot, as we shall show. The Qur’ān teaches us that resemblances in personal conditions result in resemblances in words and deeds; nations resemble each other despite the difference in time.
“So said the people before them words of similar import. Their hearts are alike.” (Al-Baqarah: 118)
2. They claim that their deviant inclination is something they were born with in their ‘genetics’ and nature – just as some people were born with an inclination to the other sex, they were born with an inclination to their own. But the Qur’ān denies this when it tells us that the people of Lot were the first to start this shamelessness.
“So you commit lewdness such as no people in creation ever committed before you? For you practice your lusts on men in preference to women: you are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” (Al-Ā‘rāf, 80-81)
Were their statement a ‘natural’ one, some earlier people would have been born with it, some human individuals at least. If it were a natural thing, why would Allāh have condemned the practice of it? And even if the basis of it were a natural inclination, they could not possibly claim that practicing it openly is a natural state of affairs. Because the heterosexual inclination is a natural state. Practicing sexual activity openly, even with one’s spouse, is not a natural affair.
3. Just as these deviants today want to come out of the stage of concealment into the stage of openness, so did the people of Lot:
“Indeed you approach men, and obstruct the road [i.e. commit highway robbery and acts of aggression against travelers]? And practice wickedness [even] in your councils?” (Al-Ankabūt: 29)
What the people of this inclination are seeking is not to be compelled by society to conceal themselves, despite their openly swerving away from the straight way. Likewise, they seek to get what other people in the society have, such as the right of marriage, respect, and employment in all sectors of the state, whether military, political, educational, and diplomatic.
Why, they say, are you intruding into what I do in my bedroom? What is the difference if a person does this with someone of the same type, whether man or woman, or with the other type? It is merely a hereditary affliction.
However, the fact is that they are not simply seeking to do what they do privately, in their bedrooms. For, if they do it privately, a matter needs no permission from contemporary Western societies. It is not counted as a crime when it is consented to by both parties. What they are seeking now is really the right to proclaim openly that they are of this type, and that society does not oppose their public behavior which indicates that they are on this deviation, just as it does not oppose behavior that shows one to be “straight.”
I say “straight” in quotation marks because the publicizing of some sexual acts, even between men and women, even between married people, is not customary for straight people, though it has become customary in Western societies.
The open practice of vices is worse than concealing them, because it offends straight people and tempts the weak ones among them to commit what these deviants are doing openly.
4. But the state of the people of Lot – as our Lord has told the story – shows that even this open publicizing is not the end of the path; it is only the first stage followed by – when no one exists to prevent them – the stage of supremacy.
When the deviants are predominant in the society, the righteous people become constrained because they have to share the dwelling space in the same town.
“And his people gave no answer but this: ‘Drive them out of this city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!’” (Al-Ā‘rāf, 82)
5. Yet they go further than this: they will help each other to force righteous people to commit these vices with them, if they are able. Thus, Allāh’s Messenger Lot (peace be upon him) was worried, when the angels in the form of handsome-faced men came to him. He knew what would happen to them with those people, who thought the guests were really men. So there came about what he had dreaded, the people came rushing and panting. Lot proposed marrying his daughters to them (whether that means daughters of his own flesh and blood or just the daughters of his people). But they did not restrain themselves and they humiliated him with his guests:
“When our Messengers came to Lot, he was grieved on account and felt himself powerless to protect them. He said: ‘This is a distressful day.’ And his people came rushing toward him, and they had been long in the habit of practicing abominations. He said: ‘O my people! Here are my daughters: they are pure for you if you marry! Now fear Allāh, and do not disgrace me concerning my guests! Is there not among you a single right-minded man?’
But they brazenly answered him: ‘Well do you know we have no need of your daughters: indeed you know quite well what we want!’ He said: ‘Would that I had power to suppress you or that I could betake myself to some powerful support.’” (Hūd, 77-80)
6. The perpetrators of this sexual deviation today want the law to respect relations between two of them with the status of marriage, and grant them all the rights that married people have. However, what we recognize from the case of the people of Lot is that this vice is of an absolutely licentious nature, with no commitment to a single partner, or even a limited number of partners. When this behavior takes control of one of them he cannot recognize any boundary in his actions. When he hears that to which his desires incite him, a sort of madness befalls him, and he throws himself blindly into committing sin with anyone, whether he likes the person or not. Consider the words of Allāh, the Most High, describing their condition as they confront the guests of Lot (peace be upon him).
“And his people came rushing toward him, and they had been long in the habit of practicing abominations.”
In the dictionary “Tahdīb Lisān al-‘Arab” the exact definition of the original Arabic word: al-harā’ and al-ihrā’ does not mean only rushing. It shows also the intensity of drive and rapidity of running that goes over the limit. It means that the men hurried and trembled with haste and anxiety or anger or excitement...al-muhrā’ (the person who rushes) means ‘mad, insane.’ It is a vice that by its nature is excessive and goes over the limit:
“For you practice your lusts on men in preference to women: you are indeed a people transgressing beyond all bounds.”
7. And it is a vice linked – contrary to what most people think – with violence and aggression against others, an aggression which goes beyond sexual aggression. The people of Lot who practiced this vice in their councils were also highwaymen (robbers):
“Do you indeed approach men, and obstruct the road? And practice wickedness even in your councils?”
8. Another thing the straight person finds odd is the confederation and cooperation between the male and female deviants. Obviously one would expect that one would dislike the other, as long as there is the difference between them with each side inclining to their own kind, and wanting nothing to do with the other. However, the story of the people of Lot reminds us that some of the women were impressed by this deviation among the men, and they liked it. One such was Lot’s wife, the sinner whom Allāh destroyed with her people while he saved Lot and other members of his family.