Monday, 24 September 2012

Religion & Gays: The Awkward Dispute

I'm not gay, and I'm a Muslim, so obviously like all orthodox religions mine forbids homosexuality. But if you ask me what I think about the situation of the universal gay community today, I will tell you that I won't stand against them nor will I stand for anyone bullying or ostracizing gay people. Please remind yourself that this is a personal blog - I am not speaking on behalf of any religion or group, I'm only speaking for myself. I may be wrong according to you, but so what?

This seems like a big contradiction - your religion says gays go to Hell and you support them? - first of all, I don't think it's that simple. I don't believe Islam or any religion in fact, at its core, is so simplistic and reductive to say 'you do A - and you go to Heaven, you do B - and you go to Hell' -- even though a lot of religious people are so fond of being just that simplistic and reductive about their faith. Let's look at the basics. I'm not clear about other religions, but at the very core of Islam is love and peace - the very word 'Assalamalaikum', a greeting on the lips of every Muslim person as commonly used as 'Hello', means 'Peace be upon you'. It also explicitly says in the Qur'aan not to bother people because their faith or lifestyle is different from yours, to leave them be as long as they treat you with the same respect. I am also a strong believer of the notion that genuine religion is not a matter of blindly following rituals and heeding rights-and-wrongs from a rule-book - it is an extremely internal thing, and at the end of the day, your fate is between you and your god -- not between you and the society around you. 

There's a story narrated by the Prophet Muhammed, about the prostitute, who saw a dog dying of thirst and filled her shoe with water for it to save it, and God loved her completely for her goodness. So you can judge all you want about who's doing it right or wrong, but ultimately you don't have the right, because you can't possibly see what's really going on on the inside, where it matters. 

So then we already know the arguments made by homophobes, and the arguments made by gay people, and all that jazz. And we can hypothesize all we want and be proud of our convictions - but what really happens outside our heads, in practise, in the real world? Too often, people who feel they are gay (regardless of whether they are born with the feeling or decide to be gay) are bullied. They are ostracized, they are hated, they are ridiculed and hassled and are forced to struggle between the person they feel they are and the person society wants them to be. I've heard of enough real life stories about gay people who have tried to 'un-gay' themselves - for the sake of their friends, their families, their 'reputations' - only to be forced to live an empty meaningless life, plunged in despair and loneliness, only to seek escape in drugs or crime or even suicide. 

For a while, I thought I could stand on the fence about gay people, because it's confusing - when you meet nice, wholesome, kind gay people, and then your religion says their lifestyle is wrong. I thought I could say 'I won't stand in their way but I won't join them in their rallies either' and I was going to be in that weird neutral grey area, avoiding the responsibility attached to forming a strong opinion. 

But I realized that whatever my uncertainties, I am 100% certain of one thing: that cruelty against a human being is cruelty - there is no justifying it, not by my religion, not by me. Whether you believe that gay people are wrong, or that religion is wrong, or whatever -- it doesn't really matter what you believe. What matters is that you don't use your beliefs to perpetrate criminal acts on other human beings, that you don't use your opinions to cruelly attack people. Look into the essence of any doctrine and tell me truly if any of the prophets or gods or whoever would stand -- for making a young boy contemplate suicide, because the world around him hates him for who he feels he is, for making a person cry and feel alone and depressed, for making all these people feel like criminals for being a certain way that feels natural to them? Even if you feel like the lifestyle of a gay person is wrong by your standards - hating and hurting him or her is not going to make anything better, for anyone. Think of a humane way to convey your thoughts. 

So stop the violence against gay people. If you can't support them in their parades, that's fine - just don't support cruelty against them, because people are more than their sexualities, they are still flesh and blood and mind. Whatever your convictions about homosexuality - ask yourself, will you allow bullying to become justifiable? Are you the type of person to support cruelty against people in the name of beliefs? Would Jesus or Muhammed stand by and smile and nod, as you knock down someone who says he is gay and tell him that he is now somehow sub-human and does not deserve any respect or happiness? 


  1. I posted a comment earlier but it never went through.
    Or maybe it did.
    Either way, just wanted to say you have my respect.

    1. Hey Sach, I didn't get your previous comment. And thanks. :)