Does Islam deny equality by prohibiting same-sex sexual behavior but allowing opposite-sex sexual behavior?

Well, it depends on how you conceptualize that elusive, ambiguous concept known as equality.

Think of it like this. Islam certainly does not prohibit sexual release. Everyone has a possible sexual outlet (with the opposite sex) because, ultimately, sexual pleasure is something “mechanical” to a greater or lesser extent. Now, hear me out. If the right body parts are engaged in the right ways, that more often than not leads to the desired result, regardless of the gender of one’s partner. So, everyone is equally able to marry the opposite sex and experience that. Equality at its finest. No discrimination in sight.

Now, the obvious objection to this is: No, Daniel. Gays and lesbians simply cannot experience sexual fulfillment with the opposite sex. They can only experience it with the same sex.

Well, maybe. But certainly not in principle.

What if a man said he can only experience sexual fulfillment with supermodels? Or a lady said she can only experience sexual fulfillment with millionaires?

Would we think that that man or that woman were being somehow fundamentally deprived sexually if they lived their whole lives without finding their supermodel(s) or millionaire(s) respectively? If not, why not? Is it because we don’t take their claims for what they need for sexual fulfillment seriously? Well, if we don’t, why should we take the claims of self-labeled gays and lesbians seriously?

Now, you might say that my examples are preposterous. But why? Is it because about 3% of the population considers itself to be gay/lesbian but, relatively, there just aren’t many people who claim they can only get sexual fulfillment through supermodels and millionaires?

Well, that’s not a relevant difference, I think. I think conditioning and social influence has a major effect on what people believe they need for sexual fulfillment. What is “sexual fulfillment” really? Seems like a made-up concept. Who can really know what he needs to be “sexually fulfilled”? Is it something you can anticipate beforehand? What if what you need to be “sexually fulfilled” is a very specific Australian office worker exactly 5 years your senior who has a predilection for hamburgers and long walks on the beach? What if this and only this is what you need and your whole life, you never knew it. Sorry! Guess you won’t ever experience sexual fulfillment! You might mistakenly assume that you are sexually fulfilled, you poor naive fellow. But nope! You are missing out!

The idea of sexual fulfillment seems to be a wholly modern concept coming from 20th century psychology. It is as if one’s entire sense of self and well-being somehow depends on whether the stars align and one reaches this elusory point of fulfillment. In pop psychology, notions of love also come into the mix. In reality, this is all a hodge podge of contemporary metaphysical goop created to justify popular cultural notions of acceptable sexual behavior, which only very recently has come to include same-sex behavior between adults.

Conditioning through these cultural structures is quite powerful. It sets up people’s expectations for what they need to be happy. With enough media control, you could condition a good portion of the population to think that they really do need supermodels to be sexually satisfied and fulfilled. In fact, this is something that has already occurred to some extent due to pornography. Studies show that young men are less satisfied with “conventional” sex because pornography has completely distorted their expectations for what sexual fulfillment consists of. Their brains have been rewired due to the influence of the online stimulus.

But women are not off the hook. Women’s expectations of an ideal husband have also been distorted by things like Disney movies with prince charming, magazines, romance novels, the tendency of social media to selectively highlight happy couples doing happy things, etc. This all has an influence. Studies show how increases in marital dissatisfaction on the part of women. The average man has a hard time living up to unrealistic, over-inflated standards of a romantic fantasy some women have built up in their imaginations. Women, as a result, are left unfulfilled.

So, in reality, sexual fulfillment is elusive for an increasingly large percentage of the population (far greater than the percentage of those who believe that only the same sex can provide them sexual satisfaction).

But do we think people are truly being deprived? Do we believe that all these people are victims of oppression or systematic inequality that allows some people to experience sexual fulfillment but not others? Is there really discrimination run amok?

Of course not. People’s expectations just need to be adjusted.

This is how the Islamic prohibition of same-sex behavior does not discriminate. In the Islamic conception, it is understood that people can experience all kinds of desires (shahawat). But in most cases, these desires cannot or should not be pursued or fulfilled. This includes desire for the same sex. In context of such a panoply of diverse desires, it would be strange to fixate on one particular desire or set of desires and claim that one can only be “sexually fulfilled” if that particular desire is met. Who says?

Whether that desire is for supermodels or millionaires, the expectation is that one must control that desire. If it can be fulfilled and it is a permissible desire to fulfill, then fine. If otherwise, then one must simply exercise self-control. This requirement for self-control is only “oppressive” and “discriminatory” if one has decided a priori that fulfilling said desire is a “fundamental necessity” for “sexual fulfillment,” etc., etc. Who gets to decide that? As we have seen, such a claim is tenuous at best, for numerous reasons.

Can those with same-sex desires adjust their expectations and mindset?

What I mean by this is, can those with same-sex desires get rid of the expectation that they can only experience “sexual fulfillment” by being intimate with someone of the same sex? It might be difficult, but shouldn’t be impossible. The same-sex attractions might not always be something that can be eliminated — but that’s not my point. My point is, it is probably more healthy in terms of one’s iman not to think that God has created a world where a segment of the population is categorically barred from attaining this special, life-enriching, life-changing, euphoric state of “sexual fulfillment.” If you do think in those terms, then it becomes very difficult not to see God as unjust or Islam as not discriminatory. It all goes back to how sexual fulfillment is defined and delineated.

Ultimately, a lifetime of conditioning is a difficult thing to counteract. But there are resources to help. At the end of the day, however, Islam is not systematically oppressing people by prohibiting certain sexual behaviors. LGBT normalization is oppressing people by making them believe and feel that they need to engage in self-destructive same-sex behaviors in order to be fulfilled.

By the way, it is a real shame that the Supreme Court did not pursue this line of reasoning in their ruling on same-sex marriage in 2016. Even the dissenters in the Obergefell case did not seriously question the other side’s charge that prohibiting same-sex marriage would be discrimination and, hence, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Technically it is discrimination, but so are laws that allow 16 year olds to drive but not 15 year olds. The question is, is this the kind of discrimination that causes unnecessary harm and disadvantages people in debilitating ways while not serving an overall greater interest for the individual and society overall? The answer to that obviously depends on how we are conceiving harms and benefits. But, in light of religious understandings of sexuality, it is fairly easy to understand these things in a way that makes the answer to the question a resounding, “No.”

Daniel Haqiqatjou

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8 comments

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  • Muhammad had 12 wives and 4 sex-slaves, but you’re triggered if a same-sex couple find solace in each other (whether through marriage and/or sex).

    • The Quran and the Old testament clearly prohibits same sex marriage.
      However polygyny is allowed by the quran as well as the bible.
      Polygyny has been practised throughout human history.

      Through certain circumstances polygyny is justified. But homosexuality is irrational and contradicts natural selection.

    • “a same-sex couple find solace in each other…”

      Each other?
      I think you meant to say “hundreds of partners”. Studies prove that gays are extremely promiscuous and sleep around with hundreds of men, even complete strangers.

      • Your prophet had over a dozen wives and several sex slaves. You are one to lecture anyone over promiscuity.

  • It’s interesting you talk about sexual fulfillment since all his life I don’t think your prophet got any despite his endless attempts at satisfying them. Just look at your prophet’s sexual escapades, which ranged from 9 year old girls to Jewish captives and Christian slaves. So heterosexuals are allowed to experiment with any heterosexual fantasy that he conjures up, even marrying his adopted son’s ex-wife, because God conveniently said so, but if two men or women want to be faithful to each other in matrimony, that is a baseless and trivial preference such as wanting to have sex with a millionaire. Riiight. No erasure of homosexuality there, and no bigotry whatsoever…

    • Sexual desire is natural to humankind and hence Quran gives guidance for its regulation and encourages marriage to help protect society and thus gives the wisdom of nikkah its sanctity and commitment.

      On the contrary; adultery is contributing to the destruction of families and is a major health threat for the public by transmitting sexual diseases.

      Quran 17:32 “You shall not commit adultery; it is a gross sin, and an evil behavior.”

      The Quran encouraged men and women to be loyal to their marriage contract. Though polygamy is permitted to take care of fatherless children and their widowed mothers, monogamy was encouraged.

      “If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers—you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.” [Quran 4:3]

      Homosexuality is one of the pervesions of lust and goes against human nature and one of the objectives of shariah (protecting one’s lineage.)

      Based upon protecting one’s lineage the Quran corrects the concept of adoption and thats why zaid ibn harith was not referred to as the prophet’s son and hence he was named after his father as shown in seerah literature.

  • I’m a Muslim (against homosexuality) who studies both Ethics, Philosophy, Christian development and Islam. I’ve read this about 3 times and it has become clear for many reasons that this is a very weak argument.

    The simplest way to explain my criticism, (however you may not completely understand it briefly) is that it relies off of the subjective assumption that heterosexuality is an indisputable norm which is indisputably moral and you use heterosexuality as a measuring stick for homosexuality.

    You cannot use one subjective standard to measure another one. In order for your entire argument to work you must first prove that heterosexuality is moral. Otherwise I can use this same argument to justify homosexuality, as if it was an indisputable norm.

    You must believe in the story of Soddom and Gommorah? They could have used this argument to justify homosexuality and deny that heterosexuals are being discriminated against and remove it from society.

    However I admire your attempt towards a rational (rather then a political and sociological) approach this topic. Maybe you could use my criticism to improve your argument?

    • Quran commands us to Use reason and historical precedents to understand and carry out God’s commands. (7:179; 8:22; 10:100; 12:111; 3:137)

      heterosexuality is an indisputable norm based upon human history and Quran.

      Based upon the Quranic history of Lut’s people; homosexuality is considered a perverted sexual behavior:

      “When We sent Lut, he said to his people, “What! do you commit the indecency which none in all the nations had committed before you? Look at you! You approach the men lustfully instead of approaching your women! No, you are a people who have exceeded the limits.” [Quran 7:80]

      Belief in God and following His Revelation explains best what is right and wrong (morality), hence heterosexuality is moral but homosexuality is sin. Human history and current facts prove that heterosexuality is the norm.

      The homosexuals are considered as the high risk group for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This shows that nature has not accepted it as a normal sexual behavior among mankind.

      The homosexuals are told that in order to avoid many sexual related disease, they must use condoms. If homosexuality without condoms is not safe sex, then how can it be natural? If sexual reproduction is one of the aspects of natural life, then how can homosexuality amongst humankind or even mammals be natural?

      Hence its clear based upon Revelation, Reason, history and nature; that homosexuality in NOT the norm.