Muslims reject the Western enlightenment and any other enlightenment others try to persuade them to take up. They know where it leads, and will reject it.
QUEERING THE QUR’AN
POPPING THE MARKS
Not a week of my life goes by without me receiving a message from either a gay Muslim seeking reconciliation between faith, heart, and body, or a gay non-Muslim who is considering converting to Islam, but wonders whether Islam can ever allow a place for him or her. There are a few approaches that one could take to answer these questions, and I’m not really qualified to employ any of them, but here we go.
First, a basic historical argument: Islam is what Muslims do. If we look at Islam as a human tradition with its history and contexts anchored to this planet, rather than something that floats above humanity as an untouched, unchanging essence, then the answer is yes: Islam can have a place for queer Muslims, because queer Muslims have always existed. We have significant traditions of poetry and mysticism in which homoerotic desire is fused with Islamic spirituality. These traditions might not satisfy anyone who cares about Islamic legal tradition, but a historical approach also undermines assumptions about the absoluteness of Islamic law, showing the law to be an ongoing process of human interpretation. Anyway, founding fathers of Islamic law as we have it today acknowledged that same-sex desire was natural, while maintaining that the associated actions were illegal. Abu Hanifa, eponym of the Hanafi school, would deliberately have a handsome male student sit in such a way that he could not look at the student directly, lest his eyes betray him.
We could name-drop Sufi saints and poets from various times and places who violated norms of gender and sexuality on one level or another, and this might do some good towards a useable queer-positive Islamic history, but proving a diversity of beliefs and practices isn’t going to answer the Muslims who need God’s words to settle all disputes with clear verdicts. If you want the Qur’an to really say something, I don’t know what to tell you; I can’t pick apart verses of the Qur’an to reveal the hidden intentions of a transcendent Author. People on both sides of the issue try to do that, but they often see what they want to see.
But check out the comment to the article which lays to rest the silly notion of ”reform” and “Islam is what you want to make it.” Read it under the fold.
Nima W Azal:
Take a poll throughout the Islamic world – not in the US or Western Europe but outside of it where Muslims actually predominate and where Muslim societies have existed for the past 12-13 hundred years – and find out exactly what percentage of global Muslims worldwide find this very quintessentially American (neo-)liberal perspective on homosexuality you are trying to push in this article here acceptable. You are lucky if you find even 1%.
That said, I find the assumptions you are making in your argument here completely hollow and culture bound and part of the universalizing tendency (nay, mission) of white American (neo-)liberals to impose their own secular “European Enlightenment” value system upon the world in order to recreate it in that image – even by the force of arms when and where necessary. In other words, you are enga
Homosexuality is scripturally not an acceptable choice or lifestyle according to any but a completely warped interpretation of the Qur’an. It is outright defined as a sin in the commentaries, Sunni and Shi’a, foremost because it is considered a serious moral failing because it indulges in the permissive traps set by dunya. Its prevalence or lack thereof in early Islamic societies does not detract one iota from the scriptural perspective that deems it unacceptable and an abomination before the Creator of the Universe. In fact, homosexuality in the commentary tradition is held as one of the marks of the jahiliyah.
Furthemore, other than those questionable Sufis (such as Awhaduddin Kirmani) who engaged in the vile, despicable act of sacred pederasty (shahed bazi) – which you know a fair bit about through Peter Lamborn Wilson as evidenced in your latest book – I know of no “Sufi saints” who gave countenance to homosexuality or attempted to explain it way. Feel free to name names and cite original works, though. Rumi (the real one and not the imagined one of New Age North Americans) outright condemned it and you find many poems in his Divan where the trope of the “mukhannas” (trans. a girly-man, faggot, poofter) is held as an outright term of derision.
Face it, attempts to “reform Islam” into an American (neo-)liberal mold on the homosexuality question – even from a so-called “counter-culture” perspective – is a non-starter because, frankly, this issue is nothing but a tactic and gimmick in the West’s culture wars against Islam – and by extension other traditional societies who refuse to buy into this contemporary neo-colonialist talking point and claptrap because all of these societies recognize this issue for the political trojan horse that it is.