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Response to ‘‘Trivializing Homosexuality’’
Editor's Mail
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

My Dear Asif

Assalamu alaykum


I thank you for your feedback on this issue and deeply appreciate the concerns you have voiced in your email. 

While totally agreeing with your last two points, I would like to express the following in response to the rest of your email:

1. I do acknowledge that some parts of the article could have sounded offensive to our religious clergy1. Consequently, in the very next issue of the journal (Sep 05), we published a public apology for this. However, we must be fair to the author too: The article is actually a powerful satire, and like all satires it must be understood in line with its own subtle approach. In my personal opinion, there is perhaps only one objectionable insinuation in the whole article, and you yourself have pointed to it: symbolizing our religious clerics by the word ‘‘beards’’. Since this can and has hurt feelings, we deeply apologize for it. But, would it be just to conclude on the basis of this one instance that the whole article is nothing but an expression of disdain for the religious clergy?  

2. As far as the issue itself and the arguments which it discusses are concerned, they have been published to give an alternative view point on the subject. The column ‘‘Viewpoint’’ of the journal, as you might be knowing, is reserved for this purpose, and of course is open to all our readers to present views which may not necessarily agree with that of the journal.

3. The fact that homosexuality is a deviant sexual behaviour is unquestionable. We have thus published answers to questions on this issue to this effect. (For details, one can look up the Sep/Oct 98, Sep 2000 and Feb 2001 issues of the journal. Let me quote some portions from the answers I myself have given on this issue:

Aberrations, you see, can be of two types: congenital or acquired. If they are congenital and also contagious, their “carriers” should be treated and confined to some rehabilitation centre so that the deviation does not spread. After all, do we not isolate those born with AIDS from the society to protect people from them? Similarly, do we not treat kleptomaniacs and give them allowance? Likewise, do we not treat many new born babies who are born addicts to heroin because their mothers are heroin addicts? The important thing is that an effort be made at the individual and collective level to end such abnormalities. It is definitely not a sin to be born “addicted” to certain ailments, but surely it is no virtue not to try to come out of it when one can.

In other words, whether homosexuality is a genetically compelled phenomenon or not is a discussion which has no bearing on it being a sexual aberration. So if Dr Elvyn Hooker or other scientists have conclusively proven that sometimes homosexuality is genetically compelled, this does not mean that homosexuality is a morally acceptable behaviour. One must keep in mind that the nature on which the Almighty has created human beings tends to get perverted in societies where promiscuity and nudity are rampant. This perversion often manifests itself in human behaviour. So, if some people are genetically compelled to homosexuality, many are “environmentally” compelled to adopt it. In either case, a person’s will and determination and medical treatment may often lead him out.

… and if the problem is congenital as you seem to claim, then even this does not give you the license to go ahead, for it is not a sin to be afflicted with a problem, but it sure is one not to make an effort to get out of it. If there is something truly beyond your capacity, then the only thing it may warrant is that your accountability in this regard will be proportionate to the free will you can exercise. Moreover, you should consider your state as a form of trial and test – the principle on which the Almighty has created this world. He created people in various moulds in various circumstances in order to test them and reward them if they succeed in this test. If He has deprived people from some faculty or some ability, it is to test them. He has created children who are born blind or handicapped in some other way. If God is unfair to you, then perhaps He is even more unfair to such children. I think that the correct way to look at such departures is to understand scheme of the Merciful Creator on which He has created us, for though each one of us has different circumstances, yet each one of us has an equal opportunity to enter the Kingdom of Heaven on the basis of the effort we make.

4. Let us also take a look at the way our religious clergy in general have faired in this issue: Every now and then, we hear of incidents in which a religious teacher has sexually molested a young boy. This is of course a horrendous act, and deserves as much condemnation as possible. Such horrific perpetrations may not be the conduct of the vast majority of our clergy, but does not a vast majority of them often end up ridiculing, censuring and showing great disrespect to people who have a proclivity for homosexuality? Instead of showing concern patience and prudence, do not some of them go as far as far as ex-communicating homosexuals? I do not entirely agree with you on the fact that the author has attacked the traditional scholarship in general and has attempted to disparage it. I think he has grievances against members of our religious clergy who have perhaps mishandled the issue. To me the author has given vent to emotions which have boiled because of the fire we ourselves have so injudiciously ignited. 

As a representative of the religious community, I, in my humble capacity, have in fact tried to make some amends by at least presenting what such people think, feel and have to face even if one may not agree with them. Many of them are sincere Muslims and feel genuinely perturbed at this tendency they find in themselves. They too stand in prayer by night and whole-heartedly spend in the way of God by day. They too love their neighbour the way they love their own selves. They might be nearer to God than many of the righteous we see around us. What right have we to malign and abuse them and regard them among the ‘‘untouchables’’. Is this not vanity and over-inflated self-esteem on our part? Are we not crossing the limits in trying to tell others that they have crossed their limits?

5. I would also like to state that if a certain issue has not been properly handled (which is the case in my humble opinion in this issue), then a difference in opinion which has been expressed in a harsh and derisive tone should be tolerated with magnanimity. If people have been treated harshly, it is but natural for them to retaliate harshly. One must try, in such circumstances, to respond to their arguments in an academic manner and stop feeling offended by the tone. In presenting the message of Islam, should we measure the morality of our addressees with our own yardstick? Is not the example of our beloved Prophet (sws) different in this regard? Do not patience, empathy and affection conquer more than resentment, rage and anger?

Thank you once again for your concerns.


Fond regards,


Shehzad Saleem




1. I would like to clarify that I have not used the word clergy in any derogatory sense or in a sense that is in any way analogous to the Christian conception of the term.

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