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Homosexuality in Islam

What does Islam say about homosexuality?

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Islam is clear in its prohibition of homosexual acts. Islamic scholars cite these reasons for condemning homosexuality, based on teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah:

  • It clashes with the "natural" order in which God created human beings
  • It brings destruction of the family and the institutions of marriage
  • It leads people to ignore God's guidance in other areas of life
In Islamic terminology, homosexuality is alternatively called al-fahsha' (an obscene act), shudhudh (abnormality), or 'amal qawm Lut (behavior of the People of Lut). Islam teaches that believers should neither participate in nor support homosexuality.

From the Qur'an

The Qur'an shares stories which are meant to teach people valuable lessons. The Qur'an tells the story of the people of Lut (Lot), which is similar to the story as shared in the Old Testament of the Bible. We learn of an entire nation which was destroyed by God due to their obscene behavior, which included rampant homosexuality.

As a prophet of God, Lut preached to his people. We also sent Lut. He said to his people: 'Will you commit lewdness such as no people in creation ever committed before you? For you come in lust to men in preference to women. No, you are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds' (Qur'an 7:80-81). In another verse, Lut advised them: 'Of all the creatures in the world, will you approach males, and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? No, you are a people transgressing (all limits)!' (Qur'an 26:165-166). The people rejected Lut and threw him out of the city. In response, God destroyed them as punishment for their transgressions and disobedience.

Muslim scholars cite these verses to support a prohibition against homosexual behavior.

Marriage in Islam

The Qur'an describes that everything has been created in pairs which complement one another. Pairing of male and female is thus part of human nature and the natural order. Marriage and family is the accepted way in Islam for a person's emotional, psychological, and physical needs to be met. The Qur'an describes the husband/wife relationship as one of love, tenderness, and support. Procreation is another way of fulfilling human needs, for those whom God blesses with children. The institution of marriage is considered the foundation of Islamic society, the natural state in which all people have been created to live.

Punishment for Homosexual Behavior

Muslims generally believe that homosexuality stems from conditioning or exposure, and that a person who feels homosexual urges should strive to change. It is a challenge and struggle to overcome, just as others face in their lives in different ways. In Islam, there is no legal judgment against people who feel homosexual impulses but do not act upon them.

In many Muslim countries, acting upon homosexual feelings -- the behavior itself -- is condemned and subject to legal punishment. The specific punishment varies among jurists, ranging from jail time or flogging, to the death penalty. In Islam, capital punishment is only reserved for the most grievous crimes which hurt society as a whole. Some jurists view homosexuality in that light, particularly in countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Arrest and punishment for homosexual crimes, however, are not frequently carried out. Islam also places a strong emphasis on an individual's right to privacy. If a "crime" is not carried out in the public sphere, it is largely overlooked as being a matter between the individual and God.

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