Note: This post is an excerpt from the full Reviewing Yaqeen Institute report.
At the end of 2017, Yaqeen published an essay by Professor Jonathan Brown titled “LGBTQ and Islam Revisited.” We have critiqued this essay in another article, but we reiterate and expand on those points below.
First of all, the entire premise of the article is problematic. Why would Muslims need to “revisit” Islam and LGBT?
Everything that Muslims need to know about LGBT, they can learn from explicit ayat in the Quran and the clear teaching of scholars for 1400 years. As for the Quran, the example of Lut and his interaction with the belligerent musrifin of his village are perfectly relevant for our times. Lut was not looking to “support the rights” of his people to continue practicing their fahisha, nor did he “ally” with them despite the fact that he and his family were in acute mortal danger. Rather, he denounced their behavior and urged them to change. And, it should be noted and underlined, his people in the Quran were described as being kuffar.
As mentioned above, Yaqeen framed the article as a “debate” between Jonathan Brown, an Islamic Studies academic at a secular university and Dr. Shadee Elmasry, a religious scholar. But the notion that this is a “debate” is a farce.
First let’s take a look at what exactly Brown argues. In reality, most Muslims around the world are smart enough to know how ridiculous and contrary to Islam Brown’s position is, but for the sake of due diligence, let’s take a closer look. Brown says:
“Muslims in the U.S. should affirm and advocate for many (but not necessarily all) LGBTQ rights, not because of a quid pro quo they-stood-by-us-so-we-have-to-stand-by-them logic, but rather because Muslims in the U.S. and LGBTQ groups seek protection for the same rights and, ironically, arguably have a common vision for the country’s future.”
This is Brown’s central claim. It is important to understand what Brown is saying here. He is not saying that Islam accepts LGBT. He is explicit that these behaviors and lifestyles are prohibited in Islam.
But, while acknowledging that prohibition, Brown thinks Muslims should affirm and advocate for many LGBT rights.
If you are utterly bewildered by what it means to acknowledge that something is fahisha but also promote the “right” of others to commit this fahisha, you are not alone. How can Muslims simultaneously hold that homosexual behavior is something so immoral, so terrible, so grievous, that Allah literally annihilated Qawm Lut for engaging in it, but also affirm and advocate people’s “right” to engage in that behavior?
And let’s not forget the B and T of LGBT. Which “rights” of bisexuals and transgenders should we affirm and advocate, according to Brown?
None of this makes sense. Brown’s interlocutor says as much in his rebuttal:
“This position will cause cognitive dissonance in those who adopt it. Beliefs and political stances must be aligned and should not contradict the Sacred Law or else one will internalize this contradiction and never be able to escape the agitation that dissonance causes. Separating what you believe religiously from what you support politically is the very eye of secularism.”
What other group in the US has this huge divide between its moral commitments and its political advocacy? Do anti-war pacifists privately believe war is immoral but publicly affirm and advocate war? Do pro-life Christians privately believe abortion is murder but publicly affirm and advocate a women’s right to murder? Do gun rights advocates privately believe gun ownership is one of the most important human rights we have but publicly affirm and advocate banning guns and thus violating what they think is the most important human right?
Of course not. So why should Muslims be any different on the issue of rainbow rights, especially given how LGBT rights directly harm Muslim interests in the US and the world?
The tired response that we hear to this is: “But brother, Muslims believe that shirk is the worst crime, but we actively support people’s right to worship whatever gods!”
We do? Are Muslims liberal secularists? If tomorrow, there is someway, somehow a public debate in the US on whether to make Islam the official religion of the nation and establish Sharia, Muslims are going to be supporting that initiative with everything they can muster. Meanwhile, the few confused Muslims will be arguing against Islam and Sharia for all because, “We have to respect people’s religious rights!”
Sadly, Brown himself expressed sympathy for this line of reasoning. He came under fire recently for this shocking statement he made in a Question and Answer session:
“I fully support the right of people to insult the Prophet in the United States because that’s the best regime for human happiness.”
When he was pressed to explain himself, Brown doubled down in a Facebook post, saying he would change his wording but stands by the principle of religious freedom.
Circumstances as they are, establishing Islam as the official religion of the USA is not on the ballot. What has been on the ballot, however, for the past 10 years is gay rights. And Muslims have had many opportunities to join the majority of Americans who are seriously opposed to it and lead the way. We have had the opportunity to easily translate our moral commitments to political advocacy, if for nothing else, then at least for the protection of our community’s interests and the future iman of our youth. We have had a golden opportunity to stand for the truth, enjoin good and forbid evil, and protect ourselves and our children from the potential destruction and punishment of Allah for those who disregard His commands. All lands belong to the Creator, Allah, and no one has a right to disobey Him and wage war on Him with fahisha.
But confused people like Brown and others have campaigned to push LGBT rights acceptance in the Muslim community for the past many years. And now, we find ourselves in the embattled, dire position of Celebrate the Rainbow… Or Else.
The other tired response we hear: “But brother, we can’t impose our values on non-Muslims!”
How would we be imposing our values? On opposing LGBT, clearly it is more than just Muslims who have that position. In fact, the majority of Americans in the past 10 years have been anti-LGBT rights. Obama and Hillary Clinton only accepted gay marriage within the past 7 years. So, it’s not only “our values.”
Secondly, recall that the Prophet Lut `alayhi-salam was commanding his people to stop committing their indecency. As cited above, Allah explicitly says that his people were not Muslim. Was there something wrong, then, with Lut imposing “his” moral position on kuffar?
Brown’s pro-LGBT argument takes a turn for the worst when he says:
“Does the Muslim in the lifeboat refuse to row with the devil worshipper because s/he disagrees with the devil worshipper’s beliefs and lifestyle? This is an absurd hypothetical, but its point is clear. Restrictions on Muslims’ rights, constant pressure from the security state, and the long-running and increasingly severe Islamophobia in American society (now ensconced in the White House) seem to me to have resulted in a situation more analogous to being stuck in a lifeboat than anything else.”
Quite an imagination there. Envision two people lost at sea, stranded with nothing but miles of ocean as far as the horizon in every direction. Death is all but inevitable unless one literally makes a deal with the devil.
This is such an ugly fear tactic that has been fed to the Muslim community for years now. Are we really in a life or death situation of: Affirm and advocate gay man love or we will die?
How could anyone take this seriously?
More practically, how would the government crack down on Muslims if they refuse to join the pride parades, so to speak? Is there something practical and definitive instead of wild speculation? Would Islamophobic Republicans/Conservatives lobby to get all Muslim marriage licenses revoked? Why would they when they are conservative anti-LGBT rights themselves? Or is it the Democrats/Liberals that are going to throw us into Muslim concentration camps and make us pay the ultimate price for not towing the homoerotic line? But aren’t the tolerant, loving, amazing Dems/Liberals our greatest allies, who imams like Omar Suleiman and co. are constantly telling us to support?
So, this doesn’t add up.
“In Islamic civilization and under shariah rule, Muslim scholars allowed non-Muslim subjects to engage in marital practices that they considered grossly reprehensible when Muslims could easily have put an end to them. Muslim scholars allowed this because these practices were part of the religious practices of those non-Muslim communities. I concede that LGBTQ lifestyles are not part of any religion that I know of and thus not entitled to some dhimmi protection under Islamic law.”
Brown conveniently fails to mention that, not only were those engaging in gay fahisha not entitled to dhimmi protection, but historically Islamic governments actively prohibited dhimmis and everyone else in Islamic lands from engaging in same sex behaviors. Ibn al-Qayyim clearly states this in his Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimma, a text that Brown cites earlier in the essay. This is a critical fact that, in addition to everything else, eviscerates Brown’s entire argument, but he opts to ignore it, even though it is right there in the same book he is citing for something else. Should we consider this academic dishonesty?
In the end, the Rainbow March of Progress and Freedom is methodically kicking down all the doors, taking no prisoners, with their sights firmly set on the last bastion of resistance: believing Muslims. And here we have Yaqeen setting up a “debate” about whether to support the pro-LGBT onslaught or sit quietly and hope nothing bad will happen.
Rather than debate something that is categorically haram, Yaqeen and others should be discussing the best way to defend ourselves and the human race. We should be discussing the Sunnah of Lut `alayhi salam and how he was under no delusions about what the musrifun banging on his door were really about. Was Lut discussing the pros and cons of allying with Qawm Lut and forming coalitions? Was Lut reflecting on the “shared values” and “shared vision” he had with Qawm Lut?