“And Lot! (Remember) when he said unto his folk: Will ye commit abomination such as no creature ever did before you?
Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk.” (Quran: 7:80-81)
It's hard enough trying to explain topics like menstruation and sexual intercourse from the Islamic perspective to kids.But this is not where sex education can end.
Homosexuality has gained greater acceptance as an “alternative lifestyle” in the last 10 to 20 years in North America. Not only has this mentality affected adults-it is now affecting kids' way of looking at the gay lifestyle as well.
Public school sex education, under the rubric of “Family Life Education” generally teaches an acceptance of homosexuality, a respect and/or tolerance for it. As is the case with sex education in general, there is little to no moral guidance on the topic. Just a neutral presentation.
Homosexuality, like others matters pertaining to sexuality, is openly discussed in the Quran and Sunnah. We have no excuse as Muslim parents, teachers, community leaders and individuals not to clearly discuss this issue with our kids.
In view of this, Sound Vision has asked Muslim counselor Shahina Siddiqui, Islamic activist and author Ahmad Sakr, and former Islamic school principal Abdalla Idris Ali how Muslims can discuss the issue of homosexuality from the Islamic perspective. Below are some of their suggestions.
Tip #1: Clearly outline what is homosexual behavior
This can be uncomfortable, but a young Muslim, even one who attends Islamic school, most probably has heard about homosexuality from television, newspapers, radio, and/or non-Muslim friends.
This is also important because in many Muslim cultures, it is not uncommon to find people of the same sex kissing on the cheeks, hugging, or holding hands. None of these actions are deemed sexual in any way. So this is why a child must not confuse real Halal affection between his brothers or her sisters, versus deviant sexual behavior.
In this regard, it may help to read up on the topic a bit before venturing to explain what it is.
Tip #2: Tell them what Islam says about homosexuality, with wisdom
To just say it is Haram, will not usually satisfy Muslim children, especially those who are used to questioning, discussion, and debate.
One point that has to be emphasized is that since Allah is the Creator of human beings, Who created us out of nothing, He knows best what our true needs and desires are. He also knows what is good and bad for us. He sees everything, knows everything and is the wisest and most Merciful. Therefore, the fact that He is telling us that homosexuality is wrong , just as He tells us consuming alcohol is wrong, for example, means that we must heed His warning.
This can be explained in another way. For instance, if 13-year-old Hassan dreams of having his own car, particularly a cherry red Corvette, one day Insha Allah, you can use his interest in cars to explain homosexuality like this: who knows what makes the Corvette tick, what causes its engine problems or how often it needs to get a tune up? Obviously the people who manufacture the Corvette, and who have provided its instruction manual to guarantee it runs as smoothly as possible, with little to no problems. The manufacturers of the Corvette also know what kinds of things a driver or owner of the car should not do to cause the car damage or destruction.
Similarly, Allah has created us, He is our Maker. He knows what makes us tick. He knows what can improve our bodies and minds and those things that can destroy them. He has provided not just an instruction manual (the Quran), but also a model to follow (The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him). If we trust the people who have manufactured the Corvette, then why can't we trust Allah?
What can also be done is to explain the harms associated with homosexuality. Some of these, says Siddiqui, include diseases like AIDS, the fact that this kind of sexual relationship does nothing to advance human civilization even in terms of population (in other words, homosexuals do not even procreate).
This point is important because one of the main aims of sex is to produce children in order to continue human life. Homosexuality does not yield any children. It is a relationship purely for the sake of pleasure, which is not only unnatural, but leads to disease and death.
As well, provide references from the Quran in your discussion on the Islamic position. Ahmad Sakr gives the following:
Tip #3: Get them to write a paper or do an assignment about it
If Aminah or Saeed are in their teens, get them to research the topic and write a paper on homosexuality, suggests Idris Ali. Provide books that give the Islamic perspective. This is a good way for them to grasp the concept, and who knows, maybe in the course of their research they will find another good reason homosexuality should not be practiced.
Tip #4: Make it clear people are not born that way
“We're born that way, so deal with it,” is the mantra of a number of gays. This is not true.
”They are putting the blame on God,” says Sakr. “If it is true, why in the world does God have to send an earthquake to the people of Lot in [the northern] part of Palestine, because they were the first group of people who started committing homosexuality.”
If people were born to commit homosexual acts, Allah who is most Merciful, would not have destroyed Prophet Lut's community. These people had an opportunity to change. They did not, and Allah destroyed them. This is a test Shaytan puts in our way.
Tip #5: Make the distinction between desires and actions
It should be noted that some people may have the desire to engage in homosexual sex, but that does not mean they have acted on that. In Islam the punishment is for the act, not the feelings.
Allah does not hold us responsible for our bad thoughts as long as we don't act on them.
A Muslim who develops homosexual desires, but does not act on them must fast and seek the sincere help and guidance of Allah to turn away from this lifestyle. S/he must also not dwell on these kinds of thoughts. Which leads to the next point.
Tip #6: Emphasize the importance of Islamic practice in keeping these desires away
The only way we can truly protect ourselves from homosexuality, whether it is in the development of feelings, or in the actual sexual practice of it is to always remember Allah.
This means following the basics: prayers, fasting, Dua, etc. Even the basics done sincerely and regularly can, Insha Allah, provide a fortress against Shaytan.
Sakr says fasting in particular, is useful in controlling lust, and recommends doing so on Mondays and Thursdays.
As well, we can point out that if a person is having these desires, it can be a test from Allah, as well as an example of how Shaytan tries to turn us away from Allah.
In addition, we should advise ourselves and our kids to seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan by saying Aoutho billahi minash Shaytan ir Rajeem (I seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan the accursed) as well as reading Surah al Nas, the last Surah of the Quran, which mentions the whispering of Shaytan.
Tip #7: Emphasize the importance of and maintain Islamic rules of modesty, even with the same sex
How many of us watch television shows replete with sexual foreplay, titillation and innuendo? These types of “innocent” displays of sexuality are dangerous, to say the least. They put wrong ideas into the mind and are Haram for us to watch.
This is where lowering the gaze comes in.
As well, maintaining an Islamic dress code even in front of the same sex, is important. In Islam, for example, a man cannot see the body of another man between the naval and knees.
Contrast this with high school gym classes, where boys will often shower together, usually in complete nudity. The same happens in girls' locker rooms. Parents and Muslim communities must be on guard against these types of situations, which are not only dangerous to a young Muslim's Islamic practice, but can also make them the prey of gays and/or lesbians.
Another practice relating to modesty between brothers and sisters is to have separate beds or bedrooms for brothers and sisters, especially after the age of 10. Care should also be given to respecting the privacy of both the same and opposite gender when changing clothes for example, or in the shower. Permission should be sought before entering a room, where someone may be in a state of undress.