Building the foundations of who you are and who will become as an individual before your teens years is precious. It’s precious because it’s your own. It’s carefree. Naive and innocent, the world and the society you live in do not judge you, and if they do you don’t notice, because your 7 years old. It’s that simple. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but that’s the impression I got from Anjum Mouj when she continued her account of growing up.
“. . . But then I turned 14, a British, Asian, Muslim, a Woman and a Lesbian. There’s a problem”
It’s very tempting to delve into how the simple-mindedness of a child can be much more constructive than adults’ with complex opinions lost within a confused judgemental society but I’ll keep to the topic Islam and Homosexuality.
That was the name of the talk hosted by City University’s LGBT Society tonight. There were two homosexual Muslim speakers, Azeem Ahmad and Anjum Mouj, followed by a round of questions/comments.
It was attended by many, but it soon became clear that some attended only with the intention to express their own opinion. It was a room of division. On one side were those who believed it is wrong to combine Islam and Homosexuality. The other side were adamant that being Muslim and homosexual can be a way of life.
Then there were people like me, a straight non-Muslim. I was observer. I could understand both sides of the argument, but I couldn’t help but feel that being an outsider, knowing nothing about being homosexual or Muslim, helped my mindset. Both sides were extremely passionate: the speakers spoke of their experiences, whilst others spoke of their beliefs, but argument is weakened with emotion. This certainly came across on both sides tonight.
One member of the audience questioned the first speaker by saying “Allah doesn’t make biological mistakes” inferring that Azeem was a mistake. “I’m not a mistake”. Azeem replies.
Another person later commented: “You’re saying that being gay is right because that’s how you feel, but what one day I wake up and feel like killing someone. Is that right?” Anjum expresses how disrespectful she found that comment: “to be put in the same category as murderers”. I can understand where she is coming from, the comment was made in a tit-for-tat manner and there was undoubtedly disrespectful comments made throughout the night. I will however say, if the person sees homosexuality as a sin, a defiance of what is expected of them then surely it is not completely unjustifiable to ask that question. A sin is a sin. I find it particularly difficult to comprehend why some sins are more accepted than other sins, for example drinking alcohol or eating non-halal meat. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are different extremities of sin. But ultimately… a sin is a sin.
Repeated was the argument “God has created both men and women as part of the circle of life”. The implication being that homosexuality is unnatural and civilisation would end therefore it must be wrong.
If that’s the case, then why did the God that created us, enable us to produce technology that can take a sperm from a man, an egg from a woman and create new life? Some may argue that IVF is man-made but surely any child that created man-made (sex). The second point I’d like to make is why are people so fearful? It’s not as though everyone in the world is going to turn homosexual and we’ll have to populate the world using IVF.
A member of City’s Islamic Society said “In Islam you will not be held accountable for having lusts, it is only when you act upon these lusts that it becomes sin”. He then compares the lust for homosexuality to a straight man resisting to delve into pornography/promiscuous lifestyles. This is a valid point, and from what I know, some Muslims see homosexuality as a test of Jihad, an inner struggle that must be resisted. Azeem himself said that he thought his sexuality was his Jihad, but the more he tried to combat and resist, the more it became a lie. It was as though he was disrespecting his life by making it a lie. Another point, straight Muslim men have the option to release their sexual desires if they marry. But what becomes of homosexuals? A man in the audience who works for the NHS provided an answer. He told of the many Muslims admitted to hospital after suicide attempts. Suicide is a sin yes in Islam. So why end your life, a guarantee to not enter heaven by committing the sin of suicide? Why not ‘sin’ and live as a homosexual?
The answer is obvious. It’s not about sin. It’s about the hostility people face within the society. It’s about not being free to be yourself. I accept that some people have their views on homosexuality, and I accept that some people think it is wrong, but pressurizing and imposing these views on others is not right. Azeem added that if he was to suppress who he was for longer than he did, he too would be one of those who commit suicide.
Another comment made directed at Azeem: “It’s not right fair that you are stealing our scriptures and our religion to justify being gay”. The fact remains that interpretations of scriptures and religion as a whole is personal. It should not matter whether the majority of those who share your religion are straight/homosexual. It should not matter how the world around you interprets that religion. In the same way, being homosexual does not mean your religion should be stolen from you. It cannot be stolen, it is your identity.
Religion is an individual choice. Tonight there were many comments made on scriptures (on both sides): accusations of them being taken out of context, interpreted wrong etc. But like I said, it is an individual choice to follow a religion. How you chose to interpret the religion is your choice. Anjum said “I am thankful to Allah for who I am”. Yes that includes her sexuality. I don’t understand why offence was caused when she said that. If what she said is wrong, Allah will decide. The belief is that you will be judged on your Day of Judgement. Allah will decide whether you will enter heaven. Where is the need to judge others? No-one has the right to judge you.