Why Islamists Hate Homosexuals
On June 12, the free world woke up to the shocking news that no fewer than 50 people were killed and more than 50 people were injured at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The attack is the worst mass shooting in American history, and the deadliest terror attack that has occurred since 9/11.
The perpetrator was a 29-year-old Islamist named Omar Mateen, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent who was residing in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Mateen is reported to have pledged allegiance to ISIS, and was previously monitored by the FBI for his extremist proclivities. It is now quite clear that the mass shooting was yet anotherIslamist terror attack. There can be no doubt: Mateen was motivated to attack a gay nightclub because he believed this was a righteous Islamic cause of jihad fi-sabeel al-lah(in the path of God).
It is noteworthy that this attack comes on the heels of the “That They Live by Proof” Arabic audio recording released by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani on May 21. In it, Al-Adnani called for attacks against the United States and Europe during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (it has now been a week since Ramadan began). He reminded the “fighters and supporters of the Caliphate in Europe and America” that Ramadan is “the month of conquest and jihad.” Al-Adnani exhorted those who would heed his incitements to “Get prepared, be ready…to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers.”
Al-Adnani had a track record of being taken very seriously by Islamists. Only 18 days after he called for attacks against Russia in 2015, ISIS militants brought down the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268. Three weeks after Al-Adnani’s call to jihad during Ramadan, Mateen may have seen it fit to heed it.
It’s Not Crazy To Point to Islam
In light of this macabre attack, apologists for Islam will no doubt take to the microphones to boldly proclaim that all the world must be wary of Islamophobia and of unduly blaming all Muslims for the “senseless and nihilistic” crimes of a few. This, however, is an egregious straw man of the position of those who have legitimate grievances with Islam. Hardly any rational person believes that all Muslims are responsible for the actions of the relatively few people who perpetrate attacks like this.
Indeed, judging a religious population of more than 1.3 billion by the actions of some Islamists is unfair and absurd—but hardly any rational person, no matter how anti-Islam, believes that. Rather, many rational and well-intentioned people, now both on the Right and the Left (although still mostly on the Right), are concerned about the inherent tendencies towards violence and intolerance that are latent in the mainstream Islamic religion itself.
Although supporters of extremist Islamist groups make up a relatively small percentage of the total Muslim population, this leads to underestimating the scope of the Islamist problem. In absolute numbers, more than 60 million Muslims the world over, a population roughly equal to that of the United Kingdom, holds a favorable view towards ISIS. Millions more are unsure about whether they hold a favorable or unfavorable view towards ISIS, according to Pew research.
So when events like this occur, people who raise religious concerns do not blame all Muslims, but blame the religious ideology that motivates such hatred, a religious ideology that ultimately has roots in the Islamic source texts themselves. Fair-minded commentators, therefore, do not dismiss such murderous actions as nihilistic crimes against humanity. Rather, they understand the murderers are motivated not by a nihilistic urge for violence, but by cold and calculated reasoning that runs deep in the Islamic source texts and traditions. These source texts and traditions provide the fertile breeding ground for people like Mateen.
Yes, This Does Have to Do With Islam
Nevertheless, in the coming days we will certainly be told again and again by Islam’s apologists that “this crime has nothing to do with Islam.” Indeed, this propaganda battle has already begun. It has been reported that Mateen’s father, Mir Siddique, said that his son’s horrific slaughter “had nothing do with religion.” Siddique claims mere homophobic bigotry led his son to perpetrate such a heinous crime. He explains that one time his son became angry when two homosexual men kissed in front of him.
The topic of what motivates Islamic extremism is very important to our national security; therefore, it is paramount that one be able to set aside one’s emotion in investigating this. As we have seen this week, many lives are literally on the line. One must be able to fearlessly look into the well of history and accept it for what it is, not for what one wishes it to be. As the saying goes, one cannot change the past, but must learn from it.
On May 9, 2016, ISIS thugs blindfolded an unidentified man and threw him off a five-story building in Manbij, a city in the Aleppo province of Syria. A mob of hundreds of people, including children, gathered below the building to witness this execution. Repugnantly, the mob stoned the victim’s body after it hit the ground, probably to make sure he was dead, if not to symbolically partake in the execution.
This was not the first time ISIS committed such an act, for it executed a number of homosexuals in Mosul and in Raqqa this way. Sunday we witnessed an Islamist who had declared his allegiance to ISIS gun down many people at a gay nightclub in Florida.
There is a pattern in the way ISIS and its supporters execute those it alleges are homosexual: ISIS usually, although not always, has them thrown off of tall buildings. As inhumane as these executions may be, murdering homosexuals in this way does not come from a nihilistic urge for carnage. No, these are cold and calculated steps taken by murderers who believe they serve God through such acts.
Theological Reasons for Islamists’ Hostility to Homosexuals
Indeed, it can be argued that executing homosexuals by such means as throwing them off high buildings is motivated by a fairly prevalent Islamic tradition. To understand why ISIS takes part in such vile acts, it is necessary to understand the reasons ISIS itself, as a self-declared Islamic caliphate, invokes in performing such acts. What follows is a brief analysis of the theological reasons for ISIS and Islamists’ animosity towards homosexuals.
First, there is relatively good evidence that Islam prohibits homosexual acts. This can be gleaned from reading the Qur’an (Q 15:73; 7:80-82; 26:165-175; 27:55-58; 29:28-29), which talks about the punishment that God visited upon the “people of Lot,” which the Qur’an takes to be a lecherous people who participated in homosexual acts, echoing the Biblical story of Lot’s visit to Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament (see Genesis 19).
Indeed, in Muhammad Malik’s English translation of the Qur’an, the comment on Q 15:73, which talks about two angels’ visitation to the people of Lot, reads as follows: “The same angels came to Prophet [Lot] and executed Allah’s decree of stoning to death the nation of homosexuals.” So strong is the association with the people of Lot and homosexuality that it has become common among Arabs to call a homosexual male by the pejorative term “Loti” (لوطي), after the prophet Lot’s namesake. (The non-pejorative term is “مثلي”.)
Furthermore, that Islam prohibits homosexual acts is also relatively uncontroversial among Islamic scholars. Only in recent memory do you have the emergence of a handful of openly homosexual imams, and even then this novelty is an exclusively Western phenomenon. So ISIS has good grounds for taking homosexual actions to be sinful.
Second, there is a hadith in “Sahih Al-Bukhari,” the most trusted collection of Sunni ahadeeth, where Muhammad curses “effeminate men.” It reads as follows: “The Prophet cursed effeminate men [those men who are in the similitude or assume the manners of women] and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, ‘Expel them out of your houses.’ The Prophet expelled out such-and-such a man, and `Umar expelled such-and-such a woman.”
This hadith does not go so far as to recommend that homosexuals be killed, but it does provide fodder for Islamists who want to persecute homosexuals. It is not implausible for Muslims to interpret the above hadith to mean they should treat homosexuals with contempt. Indeed, Mateen’s contempt for the homosexual men who kissed in front of him, as reported by his father, seems to be perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the above hadith.
ISIS’s Favorite Homosexual Hadiths
Third, a prominent hadith (saying) attributed to Muhammad mandates the death penalty for partakers of homosexual acts. However, to my knowledge only one such hadith is considered reliable by Muslim scholars, and it is not found in the two Sahih collections (“Sahih Muslim” and “Sahih Al-Bukhari”), the two most trusted collections of ahadeeth. The only textual evidence in the (relied-upon) ahadeeth that talks about the punishment for homosexuality
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