Islam and homosexuality
Qur'an & Hadith and homosexuality.
Comparing the Qur'an and Bible.
The Qur'an and Homosexuality:
There are many references in the Qur'an which have been cited as referring to gay and
lesbian behavior. Some obviously deal with effeminate men and "masculine women."
The five references that may refer to specifically same-sex behavior are:
Sura 4:20-21: "Against those of your women who commit adultery,
call witnesses four in number from among yourselves; and if these bear
witness, then keep the women in houses until death release them, or God
shall make for them a way. And if two (men) of you commit it, then hurt them
both; but if they turn again and amend, leave them alone, verily, God is
easily turned, compassionate." 1
Some translations of the Qur'an call for the long-term or permanent house arrest of
women guilty of adultery -- they are to be confined to "houses of death." An
accurate translation is that their husband (or their parent or guardian) is to
keep them -- not abandon them. Also, if they repent of their sin, God will
accept their repentance. 2 It
is worth noting that a woman can only be found guilty if four witnesses testify
against her. Verse
21 seems to call for physical punishment for men who engage in same-sex
activity, followed by their release if they abandon the practice. Verse 24:2
calls for a man or woman guilty of adultery or fornication to be flogged 100
Sura 7:80-84: "And Lot, when he said to his people, 'Do ye
approach an abomination which no one in all the world ever anticipated you
in? Verily, ye approach men with lust rather than women- nay, ye are a
people who exceed.' But his people's answer only was to say, 'Turn them out
of your village, verily, they are a people who pretend to purity.' But
we saved him and his people, except his wife, who was of those who lingered;
and we rained down upon them a rain; -- see then how was the end of the
This describes the destruction of Sodom. Lot accuses the men of Sodom of engaging in
homosexual behavior, only to have his message rejected. God saved Lot and
his family and killed the other inhabitants of Sodom, presumably for their
Sura 11:78-81: "And his people came to him, rushing at him, for
before that they used to work evil. He 'Said, 'O my people! here are my
daughters, they are purer for you; then, fear God, and do not disgrace me
through my guests;- is there not among you one right-thinking man?' They
said, 'Thou knowest that we have no claim on thy daughters; verily, thou
knowest what we want!' He said, 'Had I but power over you; or could I but
resort to some strong column....!' [The angels] said, 'O Lot! verily, we are
the messengers of thy Lord, they shall certainly not reach thee; then travel
with thy people in the darkness of the night, and let none of you look round
except thy wife: verily, there shall befall her what befalls them. Verily,
their appointment is for the morning! and is not the morning nigh'?"
This describes another incident associated with the destruction of Sodom when Lot
offered his two virgin daughters, instead of the angels, to the
men of Sodom. The angels told Lot to escape from the city before dawn
because the city would be destroyed in the morning, presumably because of
their homosexual activity.
Sura 26: 162-168: "[Lot said] 'Verily, I am to you a faithful
apostle; then fear God and obey me. I do not ask you for it any hire; my
hire is only with the Lord of the worlds. Do ye approach males of all the
world and leave what God your Lord has created for you of your wives? nay,
but ye are people who transgress!' They said, 'Surely, if thou dost not
desist, O Lot! thou shalt be of those who are expelled!' Said he, 'Verily, I
am of those who hate your deed."
Here, Lot criticizes the men of Sodom for abandoning their wives and
engaging in sex with other males. The men respond with a threat to expel Lot
from the city.
Sura 27: 55-57 and Sura 29: 28-31: "And (remember) Lot when he
said to his people, 'Verily, ye approach an abomination which no one in all
the world ever anticipated you in! What! do ye approach men? and stop folks on the highway? And approach in
your assembly sin?' but the answer of his people was only to say, 'Bring us
God's torment, if thou art of those who speak the truth!' Said he, 'My Lord!
help me against a people who do evil!' And when our messengers came to
Abraham with the glad tidings, they said, 'We are about to destroy the
people of this city. Verily, the people thereof are wrong-doers'."
Again, Lot criticizes the men of Sodom for their same-sex behavior. The men
challenge God to bring on the destruction.
These verses relate to male same-sex activities. As in the Hebrew Scriptures, lesbian practices are not
mentioned in the Qur'an.
Comparison of the Qur'an and Hebrew Scriptures concerning Sodom:
Four of the above five quotations from the Qur'an are linked to the
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah which is also discussed
in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) at Genesis 19. Lot is referred to as "Lut" in the
The Qur'an links the sin of Sodom (the reason for its destruction) to
the general bisexual activities of the men of Sodom. That is, they freely
engaged in both same-sex behavior with each other, and opposite-sex behavior
with their wives.
The Hebrew Scriptures appear to differ. They link the destruction to
The attempts by the men of Sodom to rape the angels. Rape
is condemned in Genesis 19 as it is in some other biblical passages. A reference
in Jude also seems to imply that the event was evil because of the bestiality
involved: the angels were of a non-human species.
The insensitivity of the people of Sodom:
As described in other verses in the
Hebrew Scriptures, the people of Sodom were uncaring towards widows,
orphaned children, visitors, and the poor.
Genesis 19 does not suggest that the men of Sodom were bisexual and
frequently engaged in homosexual activities. It is perhaps ironic that the
conservative Christian interpretation more closely resembles the content of the
Qur'an than the Bible.
The Hadith and homosexuality:
The Hadith are collections of sayings attributed to Muhammad.
IslamOnline.net records a fatwa (religious ruling) concerning an
Iranian man who had been convicted of raping and then killing his 16-year-old nephew.
The fatwa does not appear to differentiate between consensual homosexuality and
homosexual rape; both are linked to adultery. Their ruling stated:
"Homosexuality, moreover, is an abomination and a grave sin. In Hadith,
the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, clarifies the gravity of this
abomination by saying: "Allah curses the one who does the actions
(homosexual practices) of the people of Lut." repeating it three times;
and he said in another Hadith: "If a man comes upon a man then they are
both adulterers." Here, he considered homosexuality tantamount to
adultery in relation to the Shari'ah punishments because it is an
abomination on the one hand and the definition of adultery applies to it on
the other hand.....As for lesbians, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon
him, said about them: 'If a woman comes upon a woman, they are both
Other Hadiths also discuss liwat (gay sexual activity) and Sihaq (lesbian
"When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes."
||"Kill the one that is doing it and also kill the one that it is being done to."
||"Sihaq (lesbian sexual activity) of women is zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) among them."
Traditionalist orthodox Muslims generally claim that the Hadith
literature contains the authentic sayings of Muhammad. Many liberal
Muslims doubt the authenticity of at least some of them. The latter suggest that during
the times of the first Caliphs, Muslims did not know what to do with
individuals guilty of "liwat/lutiyya". No sahabi
(companion) of Muhammad could quote a saying or decision of Muhammad
relating to this question.
References used in the above essay:
- From the Qu'ran edition at Virginia Tech's Etext collection.
Osama Abdullah, "My respond [sic] to the so called 'Houses of Death' to
women in Islam," Answering-Christianity, at:
"Death fall as punishment for homosexuality," IslamOnline,
Copyright © 1997 to 2011, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2011-JAN-23
Author: B.A. Robinson