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IslamQA: Why is Islam opposed to homosexuality?

In answer to questions asking about the real, material reasons why Islam is opposed to homosexuality.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Please see the updated answer here: The Philosophical Reason why Homosexual Relationships are Wrong

Old answer:

It is possible that a person in a homosexual relationship will have a happy and fulfilling life. But Islam is not only concerned with the happiness of individuals. It wants to create thriving and sustainable civilizations. So Islam’s opposition to homosexual relationships is not because it is opposed to the happiness of homosexuals, it is because homosexual relationships (and other forms of sexual freedom) go against Islam’s long-term goals (there are likely other reasons, but I will focus on this one in this answer). To understand this, you have to be able to think in terms of generations and centuries.

Many people do not care what happens 100 years from now. Islam cares. Islam is a very-long-term survival strategy for God’s believers. It is a strategy that has been followed since the time of God’s earliest Prophets, and that strategy requires avoiding anything that can cause the believers to go extinct. Look around you in the world today and you will not find a single society where there is widespread sexual freedom and where fertility rates are above replacement. Every society that celebrates homosexuality has below-replacement fertility, meaning that it is slowly going extinct. Each generation is going to be slightly smaller than the one before it. You may rightly ask what an individual’s relationship happiness has to do with fertility rates.

A modern society that celebrates homosexuality also invariably celebrates other forms of sexual freedom. There is no way to take things like the prohibition on sex before marriage seriously when homosexuality is celebrated in a society. If you are a straight woman, there is no way you could accept to have your sexual freedom limited if your brother is in a happy homosexual relationship with another man.

Once sexual freedom becomes the norm, casual sexual relationships become the norm in that society and marriage starts to go out of fashion. In 1960, only 8% of American women had never married. In 2012 17% had never married. Never-married men went from 10% to 23%. When marriage goes out of fashion and becomes something of a formality rather than a solemn undertaking, people start to identify more with themselves as individuals rather than identifying with a family that they are dedicated to supporting and protecting.

That, in turn, leads to collapsing fertility rates. Many people lose their interest in having children because children are thought of in economic terms, rather than in spiritual terms. It is too costly and time-consuming to raise children, and raise them for whose sake? They will grow to be adults then leave the home to live as they want.

Islam wants to create the type of society you see in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. Most Muslim societies, of course, fail to live to up to that ideal, but nonetheless the ideal exists. Please see the following essay for a discussion of what I mean by that type of society: The Point of Marriage in Islam (and the Problem with Romantic Relationships Outside of Marriage)

It is impossible for such a society to exist if it celebrates sexual freedom. A person may think that they can create a magical utopia of love, respect and sexual freedom if society allowed them, but every such experiment has been a disaster. Many people will happily destroy the foundations that made their societies and civilizations possible because, in their ignorance, they think they can do better. People who play around with human sexuality, thinking they can do something better than the traditional gender roles, are breaking a tradition that has been maintained for thousands of years because they think they are too modern, enlightened and sophisticated to continue to follow it. And the results are everywhere for us to see in the West where traditional morality has been abandoned for the sake of sexual freedom: depression, loneliness, people hating their families, people selfishly hoarding wealth without caring about the situation of those around them, people refusing to have children because they think of children as economic burdens rather than as humans to be cherished, millions of Americans happily working for defense contractors that are involved in the mass-murder of thousands of innocent people every month because for them having high-paying jobs is what matters even if it involves the killing of innocent people. For every ten Americans who refuse to do an unethical job there are a hundred who will gladly do it.

I should mention that I have no negative feelings for people in homosexual relationships. They are not necessarily responsible for where Western society is today, they are mostly a symptom of the West’s abandonment of Christianity, a process that has been going on for centuries. And if there was a city filled with people in homosexual relationships and if they were threatened, the right attitude would be that of Prophet Ibrahim (Biblical Abraham), who tried to save Lot’s people by arguing with God’s command rather than celebrating their destruction.

If a religiously conservative society suddenly decided to embrace homosexuality, the results would be as I described. But when it comes to today’s homosexuals in Western societies, we cannot point the finger of blame at them, telling them they are responsible for society’s decline, that decline happened without their help and will continue without their help.

I am aware that an irreligious person will likely not be convinced by these arguments. It is similar to the problem of usury. The evil effects of a homosexual or usurious lifestyle are subtle and long-term. Most humans are too short-sighted to give up their present satisfaction, whether it is to do with sexual gratification or easy money, for the sake of some vague long-term purpose. The truth is that without strong religious belief, every human society is practically bound to embrace sexual freedom and usury because of the short-term pleasures and gains these things promise.

Therefore I do not expect to convince anyone through argument to avoid homosexuality or usury. Only religious belief can convince humans to avoid these things, and once religion is taken away from them (as in the West), they fall very easy prey to these things.

And God knows best.
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1 year ago

Very informative, thank you.