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Islam's Love-Hate Relationship with Homosexuality By: Serge Trifkovic
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 24, 2003


 

One in a series of excerpts adapted by Robert Locke from Dr. Serge Trifkovic’s new book

The Sword of the Prophet: A Politically-Incorrect Guide to Islam

“This sin, the impact of which makes one’s skin crawl, which words cannot describe, is evidence of perverted instincts, total collapse of shame and honor, and extreme filthiness of character and soul… The heavens, the Earth and the mountains tremble from the impact of this sin. The angels shudder as they anticipate the punishment of Allah to descend upon the people who commit this indescribable sin.” (1)

There are many sins in Islam that may fit this description, from idolatry, atheism, and apostasy, to drunkenness, adultery, and questioning the divine origin of the Koran. In this particular instance it refers to homosexuality, for which a death sentence remains on the statute books and is enforced in several Islamic countries.

In Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2001, five homosexuals were sentenced to 2,600 lashes and 6 years in prison, and four others to 2,400 lashes and 5 years’ imprisonment for “deviant sexual behavior.” Amnesty International subsequently reported that six men were executed on charges of deviant sexual behavior, some of which were related to their sexual orientation, but it was uncertain whether the six men who were executed were among the nine who were sentenced to flogging and imprisonment in April (2).

It is difficult to establish precisely the number of homosexuals that have been executed in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979, since not all sentences are widely publicized, but estimates range from several hundred to 4,000 (3).  According to Amnesty International, at least three homosexual men and two lesbians were publicly beheaded in January 1990. The Islamic Penal Law Against Homosexuals, approved in July 1991 and ratified in November of that year, is simple. Article 110: “Punishment for sodomy is killing; the Sharia judge decides on how to carry out the killing.” Article 129: “Punishment for lesbianism is one hundred (100) lashes for each party.” Article 131: “If the act of lesbianism is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will be issued the fourth time.”

While the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, it regularly executed homosexuals. Islamic jurists in Kabul and Kandahar only differed on the method of killing. One group of scholars believed the condemned should be taken to the top of the highest building in the city and hurled to their deaths, while others advocated placing them in a pit next to a wall which was to be toppled on them, so that they are buried alive. Both methods were solidly grounded in authoritative tradition, and both were applied. At least five men convicted of sodomy by Afghanistan’s sharia courts had been “placed next to walls by Taliban officials and then buried under the rubble as the walls were toppled upon them.” In one such incident, three homosexuals were punished thus while Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar watched along with thousands of spectators. After the 30-minute waiting period, the three men were still alive, but two died the next day. What became of the third is unknown (4).  The punishment by stoning is derived from the Koranic account of Sodom’s destruction by a “rain of stones,” which was itself the product of Mohammed’s misunderstanding of the Hebrew story of “fire and brimstone,” i.e. sulfur:

“We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: “Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” And his people gave no answer but this: they said, “drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!” But We saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!” (5)

The Koranic claim that homosexuality was unknown before it first appeared in Sodom is a uniquely Islamic concept; so is the notion that its destruction was exclusively due to the homosexual practices of its inhabitants, a departure from the Hebrew Scriptures. In addition to the Koran many hadiths or authoritative traditional sayings mention liwat, (homosexual intercourse) e.g. “When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes,” and “Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to (6).”  Mohammed’s first successor Abu Bakr reportedly had a homosexual burned at the stake. The fourth caliph, Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali, ordered a sodomite thrown from the minaret of a mosque. Others he ordered to be stoned. One of the earliest and most authoritative commentators on the Koran, Ibn ‘Abbas (died 687) blended both approaches into a two-step execution in which “the sodomite should be thrown from the highest building in the town and then stoned.” Later it was decided that if no building were tall enough, the he could be shoved off a cliff. Regardless of the exact method,

“Moslem Jurists agree that, if proven of guilt, both of them should be killed. However, jurists differ on the methodology of capital punishment (7).” 

There are seven countries in the world that carry the death penalty for homosexual acts, and all of them justify this punishment with sharia.

In Moslem nations, the suppression of liaison between men and women outside prearranged wedlock has produced frustrated sexual tension that has sought and found release in homosexual intercourse through the centuries. Those denied access to licit sexuality have sought and obtained outlets that have produced chronic contradiction between normative morality and social realities. Male and female prostitution and same-sex practices — including abuse of young boys by their older male relatives — have been rampant in Islamic societies from the medieval to the modern period. It should be emphasized that those societies stress a distinction between the sexual act itself, which was deemed acceptable, and emotional attachment, which was unpardonable:

“Sexual relations in Middle Eastern societies have historically articulated social hierarchies, that is, dominant and subordinate social positions: adult men on top; women, boys and slaves below (8).” 

A Moslem who is the active partner in sexual relations with other men is not considered a “homosexual” (the word has no pre-modern Arabic equivalent); quite the contrary, his sexual domination of another man may even confer a status of hyper-masculinity. He may use other men as substitutes for women, and at the same time have great contempt for them.  This depraved view of sex, common in mainstream Moslem societies, is commonly found in the West only in prisons. In all cases it is the presence of love, affection, or equality among sexual partners that is intolerable. Equality in sexual relations is unimaginable in Islam, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Sex in Islamic societies has never been about mutuality between partners, but about the adult male’s achievement of pleasure through domination.

Historically, this state of affairs was not concealed from Western observers who were fascinated, shocked, and often attracted by the outward appearances of rampant, barely concealed pederasty. By 1800, a European traveler to Egypt wrote:

“The inconceivable inclination which has dishonored the Greeks and Persians of antiquity constitutes the delight, or, more properly speaking the infamy of the Egyptians ... the contagion has seized the poor as well as the rich.”

The “contagion” in question was spelled out more bluntly by an earlier writer, Thomas Sherley, describing the Turks:

“For their Sodommerye they use it soe publiquely and impudentlye as an honest Christian woulde shame to companye his wyffe as they do with their buggeringe boys (9).” 

A 17th century French visitor to the Middle East went so far as to claim that Moslems were bisexual by nature, and many male authors gave descriptions of “licentiousness” (lesbianism) among women in harems and bath houses. Homosexuality became known to the English as the “Persian” or “Turkish” vice.

This peculiar aspect of the Middle East has never entirely disappeared. The sight of men, even soldiers in uniform, strolling along a street hand in hand, strikes first-time visitors as extraordinary even today. The Moslem world enjoyed a reputation as a haven for sex with boys and men well into the twentieth century. The proclivities of many Western authors like Gustave Flaubert, Oscar Wilde, or Andre Gide, reflected the pederast and homosexual attractions of the Islamic world; the fascination continues in the “gay culture” of our own time:

But the bottom line - and it’s coming from a devout bottom - is that there’s still something extremely sensual and potent about the image of the Islamic male. You only have to compare the stiff, asexual frigidity of Bush and his bookmarmish wife with the moist-eyed, sensitive and soft-spoken quality of the bearded Bin Laden, feminine yet virile, with his multiple wives and vast progeny, to grasp the difference (10). 

The author of this passage, a self-confessed promiscuous homosexual, has intuited something important, and dangerous. Excessively doting, downtrodden mothers fixated on their offspring, and aloof, mostly distant and domineering fathers, create preconditions for what is known in clinical psychology as the “lost object homosexuality,” as opposed to the pre-Oedipal polyformous homosexuality, which is “love for men.” The cry for the missing father, that emanates across the Moslem world into the endless void from a hundred thousand minarets five times each day, can never be answered. The hatred that motivates Bin Laden and his “feminine yet virile” followers is not the normal aggressiveness of the child for the father at the Oedipal stage, which can be mediated and managed, but hard-core psychotic homosexuality of the son abandoned by his father, a near-incurable condition that can lead to homicidal, delusional paranoia.

This condition is well known to the practitioners of clinical psychology and psychoanalysis in Great Britain, where thousands of sons of upper and upper-middle-class families end up in neo-Islamic establishments known as Public Schools. It is not too far-fetched to conclude that British Islamophilia under Disraeli and after was not merely due to the usual game of balancing the powers:

“I sometimes wonder if there is not some horrifying attraction, especially for English boys brought up in a public school, to the brutal manliness that regards sodomitic rape as an expression of virility. In any event, a series of Anglo-Saxon males who have gone in search of their manhood found it in Islamic culture: Sir Richard Burton, T.E. Lawrence, and Pasha Club are at the head of a large pack, whose rear is brought up by the academic camp-followers and foundation executives who find, in their defense of Islam, the excuse for their hatred of Jews (11).”

Men and women have been created different, and the recognition of those differences is essential in any society that does not want to follow the path of post-modern depravity. The denial of that difference is essential in the Faustian experiment to which the West is subjecting itself, and those who do not wish to partake in the proceedings may find Islam’s frank admission of difference between sexes alluring; but that is the lure of dementia as the cure for cancer.  Islam has found the opposite extreme of the modern West’s bed-hopping unisex feminism, and has found it equally a source of opposite, though equally poisonous, pathologies.  The traditional Western view, a balance between sexual equality and sexual difference, between freedom and restraint, is the best answer.  Islam’s problem of homosexuality, a reflection of the deeper psychosis endemic to the Islamic world view, illustrates a problem that cannot be solved short of Islam’s thorough and comprehensive reform and revision.

Footnotes:

1. Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Fawzan, The Evil Sin of Homosexuality http://www.islamweb.net/english/family/sociaffair/socaff-84.html

2. Associated Press, April 16, 2001.

3. http://www.iranian.com/Letters/1999/September/gay.html

4. Amnesty International report, May 1998

5. 7:80-84

6. Further examples are listed at http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_isla.htm

7. http://www.jamaat.org/qa/homo.html

8. Bruce Dunne, “Power and Sexuality in the Middle East,” Middle East Report, Spring 1998.

9. Brian Whitaker in The Guardian, November 19, 2001 http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4302213,00.html

10. http://www.brucelabruce.com/Moslem/right.html

11. Th. Fleming, Chronicles (1999), op. cit.


Serge Trifkovic received his PhD from the University of Southampton in England and pursued postdoctoral research at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. His past journalistic outlets have included the BBC World Service, the Voice of America, CNN International, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Times of London, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is foreign affairs editor of Chronicles.


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