Questions & Answers

Insights I Learnt About LGBT, Islam And Raising Muslim Children

This article began years ago at a parenting workshop where Ahmad Fakhri and I presented. Someone asked, “What do I do if my son or daughter says he or she is gay?”

At another session, a parent asked, “Can my child be born gay?”

“We have a daughter in her early twenties. She’s self-harming (cutting herself) and she has a girlfriend. She wants to change her religion and marry her girlfriend. What do we do?” asked a distraught mother as her equally distraught husband stood by.

A seven-year-old Muslim girl asked her parents to send her to her best friend’s birthday party. Upon arrival, the parents discovered their daughter’s best friend had two dads.

All the above questions / issues came from parents in Muslim minority communities, where pressure exerted by the LGBT lobby has kept growing over the years. Today, concern about the LGBT lobby has never been greater, and Muslim families and schools are under tremendous strain to conform and become what is known as “LGBT-affirming”.

What does “LGBT-affirming” mean?

“LGBT-affirming” (or loosely known as “gay-affirming”) refers to an attitude, belief, or approach that accepts and supports the lifestyle of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. The LGBT lobby/advocacy/movement says that if you don’t act upon your desires, you’ll be miserable, unhappy, unfulfilled. If you experience SSA (Same Sex Attraction), you deserve and should act out your desires to be happy. If the country they reside in is LGBT-affirming, Muslim minority communities are under pressure to do the same – encourage, validate, celebrate and defend LGBT causes.

What does the LGBT lobby want you to believe?

The LGBT lobby wants you to believe that accepting same-sex relations is a moral and honourable thing to do. The LGBT lobby wants you to believe that sexual desires is your identity; therefore, if you experience SSA (Same Sex Attraction), this is your true identity and you should act upon it. With LGBT-affirming, a human being is reduced to sexual desires, as though this is the only thing that matters in life. If you don’t act upon it, you’re not being genuine and untrue to yourself. You have all the right to act upon it because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the path to true happiness and satisfaction.

On the contrary, in Islam, sex is an expression of love, for a man or woman you are committed to spend the rest of your life with in a sacred relationship (marriage by nikah). The phrase “It’s just sex.” where two or more unmarried persons engage in a sexual relationship to derive pleasure is morally unacceptable.

What is the LGBT lobby?

The term “LGBT lobby” typically refers to advocacy organizations and activists who work to advance the rights and interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. These groups and individuals advocate for various issues, pushing for increased representation and visibility of LGBT individuals and characters in media, politics, and other areas such as entertainment. The long-term goal is to desensitize the public, normalize LGBT relationships, thereby creating social acceptance towards the LGBT lifestyle.

Climate of schools in LGBT-affirming countries

The general climate/environment at school/in society of LGBT-affirming countries portrays a picture of “It’s a crime when you do not allow a person to express his sexual desire, or you deny a person to love another just because they are of the same gender.” The rights of parents and educators to teach their children/students otherwise is currently being challenged.

Anything said or expressed against acts of LGBT is seen as a crime and an oppression against the LGBT community.

The younger generation especially Muslim children and youths, who are unclear about Islam’s position and completeness (worldview) of Islam as a way of life can easily get confused about the LGBT issue, thinking that Islam is unjust and cruel not to allow same-sex relationships, and this may push them away from Islam.

Dealing with a child who experiences Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) can be a challenging and emotional journey for Muslim parents.

What parents can do

Here are some considerations for parents:

Begin with the end in mind. What is it that we want our children to think, feel and do? We want to raise children who choose to be righteous, Muslims by choice. This takes time, patience and commitment. Create a positive, loving, stable atmosphere at home so that the kids feel safe, loved, welcome and have a sense of belonging.

To this end, plant and nurture the idea that Allah is merciful, loving and kind. Equally important, teach them that Islam is an all-encompassing worldview and that identity is a combination of multiple elements (culture, language, nationality and such), with sexual desire one of them.

The LGBT movement paints a picture that if you experience SSA, and you do not act it out, you’re bound to be unhappy. As though acting on your sexual desire is the only thing that defines you and controls your level of happiness, stability and well-being. Whereas in Islam, happiness and satisfaction is when you strive to please Allah The Most Forgiving and Most Merciful alone, for the sake of rewards in Akhirah (The Hereafter).

For parents with children in schools pushing for LGBT agenda, fight for your rights. The keyword is “positive engagement“ with the school staff. Explain the worldview of Islam, within which sits the concept of dunya (life on earth) and akhirah (afterlife/life after death). Dr Carl Sharif El-Tobgui treats LGBT related issues in Islam as a case study in his in-depth class at Sapience Institute, titled “Islam and LGBT: Gender, Sex, and Morality in The Modern Age”, a recommended initiative.

What if my child is born with SSA?

There is no clear evidence for this. The podcast A Way Beyond The Rainbow  through its interviews with adults with SSA has documented how these men and women have experienced negative and/or painful experiences growing up, either with the same gender or opposite gender, that seemed related to their experiencing SSA. There is anecdotal evidence that they have had troubled childhoods/painful histories e.g. sexually abused as a child. In short, they lack the love, validation, and sense of belonging during childhood. Meaning, SSA is a manifestation of deeper emotional and psychological issues experienced during the formative years.

There are also cases where some people did not experience SSA growing up, who began watching pornography, and then got started on SSA.

Muslim youths with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)

Recognize that among children and youths grappling with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA), feelings of shame and fear often prevail. The challenge lies in guiding them to manage these emotions constructively, resisting the urge to act on their desires and instead choosing a path of God-fearing virtue.

Avoid being harsh. Empathize. Reassure. It’s crucial to convey that having SSA does not necessitate acting upon it. Emotional support is paramount, as these youths may already feel trapped, burdened by guilt, and susceptible to depression. As stated in A Way Beyond The Rainbow, it is essential for Muslims who do not experience same-sex attraction to “. . . understand that these feelings are complex, often rooted in emotional wounds, and present significant challenges for those dealing with them.”

Be aware of the push and pull factors. In countries where the LGBT lobby is strong, the environment is like a raging river with strong currents, kids without internal strength and clarity on Islam will be swept away. Children and youths need to experience a loving, caring Islamic family environment so they choose Islam as a way of life.

Initiate early teachings about the Islamic worldview and framework, emphasizing Allah’s mercy. Rather than shunning children and youths with SSA, offer understanding, as they likely already grapple with intense feelings of guilt due to their unwanted SSA. Show them love, validation, and a nurture a profound sense of belonging.

“If Allah is kind and merciful, and I did not ask for these emotions/feelings, why am I experiencing these emotions?”

It’s a test from Allah, everyone has their own test. Encourage them to channel their energies into positive things and stay away from the wrong crowd. Example: A man with exclusive SSA said, “The only thing that kept me going was what my mother told me: ‘Forget about everything other people told you. Allah will never ever hurt you just because you have these feelings.’” (3)

Is it enough to tell your son or daughter that Islam prohibits gay relations, when in fact you know that he or she already knows that?

The response, “It’s haram (not permissible), you’ll go to hell …” is not helpful if a youth comes to you for support and he or she already knows that LGBT relations is not allowed in Islam. While it is true that Islam prohibits gay relations, simply telling them that “It is haram” is a form of oversimplification, given the tremendous pressure faced by children, youths and families to be LGBT-affirming, especially in Muslim minority countries. Children and youths who experience unwanted SSA need love, support and compassion, the understanding that it is not them wanting to experience it, but rather, an emotion that is just there, which they need support to deal with (2), (3), (5).

Seek support groups such as Straight Struggle. Or read A Statement From Straight Struggle Muslims. 

Prophet Muhammad SAW’s Approach

The long-term goal is to help your son or daughter stay true to Islam. Listen and reason instead of outright rejection. The Prophet S.A.W. is our reference, the best example how to raise our children and youths.

Allah says in the Qur’an: “And indeed you (Muhammad SAW) is of exalted character.” (Al-Qalam:68:4)

The Prophet SAW spent time to build rapport to develop trust with children and youths.

Example: It was narrated by Ibn Asaker that the Messenger of Allah SAW said: “And whoever has a child should act like a child with him or her.” (Al-Jame’ Al-Sagheer)  (9)

Example: Jabir RAA narrated that he saw the Prophet SAW crawling on his hands and knees while his grandsons, Hasan and Hussein were riding on his back, and he used to say, “The best riders are you and the best camel is yours.” (9)

Remember the story of how the Prophet dealt with the young man who wanted to commit zina (fornication/sex outside of marriage)? The Prophet responded with empathy, du’a (prayer) and seeking Allah’s forgiveness. Thus:

It was reported that when a young man came to the Prophet SAW asking for permission to fornicate, the Prophet SAW asked him, “Would you like it for your mother?” The man said, “No.” The Prophet SAW asked him, “Would you like it for your sister?” The man said, “No.”  The Prophet SAW asked him, “Would you like it for your aunt?” The man said, “No.”  The Prophet SAW asked him, “Would you like it for your cousin?” The man said, “No.” Then, the Prophet SAW told him, “Likewise, other people would also not like it for their female relatives.” And he put his hand on the young man’s chest and prayed that Allah grant him chastity. (Ahmad) (9)

From here we learn how important it is to listen, and listen well. Instead of rebuking and rejecting the man outright, the Prophet SAW acknowledged him, reasoned with him and even made du’a (prayer) for him. The very fact that the man asked permission from the Prophet SAW showed that he already knew that zina is a sinful act.

If you have crossed the line, remember that Allah’s mercy is vast. Taubah (repentance) is the way to go. Seek protection from Allah. Know that you are not alone.

Touch Their Soul And Awaken Their Conscience

Should you be concerned if you live in a Muslim majority country where the LGBT lobby is not prominent? You should. Your children and grandchildren are potentially global citizens. You never know where they’ll settle down. Be proactive. Arm them with the right knowledge and attitude, so they’ll thrive wherever they choose to live.

Navigating LGBT issues within an Islamic framework requires understanding, empathy, and a commitment to fostering a supportive environment. As a community, Muslims must make their voice heard loud and clear so that the Islamic worldview is better understood and represented. Example: In 2022, a university in Canada put up a poster showing two hijabis kissing. Following protests from Muslims, especially young Muslim students, it was removed (8).

Parents and educators play a crucial role in guiding their children through contemporary challenges, emphasizing the comprehensive worldview of Islam and the importance of choosing a righteous path. It is crucial that we raise our children and youths with a clear understanding what identity means, that they desire Allah’s pleasure more than anything else in this world and the next.

 

REFERENCES

1. A Conversation on Homosexuality With Br Mobeen Vaid. Noor Kids.

https://blog.noorkids.com/a-conversation-on-homosexuality-with-br-mobeen-vaid/

 

2. A Statement From Straight Struggle Muslims. Muslim Matters.

https://muslimmatters.org/2023/06/15/a-statement-from-straight-struggle-muslims/

 

3. A Way Beyond the Rainbow. Waheed Jensen, MD, PhD.

A podcast series discussing the everyday struggles of Muslims with same-sex attractions (SSA) who want to live a life true to Allah and Islam.

https://awaybeyondtherainbow.buzzsprout.com/746186

 

4. Clarifying Sexual And Gender Ethics In Islam. Navigating Differences.

https://navigatingdifferences.com/clarifying-sexual-and-gender-ethics-in-islam/

 

5. From A Same Sex Attracted Muslim: Between Denial Of Reality And Distortion Of Religion. org

https://muslimmatters.org/2016/08/22/from-a-same-sex-attracted-muslim-between-denial-of-reality-and-distortion-of-religion/

 

6. Iqbal Nasim: My Discussion On LGBTQ And Leadership With Yusuf Patel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz15rlsNMdA&ab_channel=IqbalNasim

 

7. Islam And The LGBT Question: Reframing The Narrative. Yaqeen Institute.

https://yaqeeninstitute.org.my/read/paper/islam-and-the-lgbt-question-reframing-the-narrative

 

8. Islam And LGBT: Gender, Sex, And Morality In The Modern Age. Sapience Institute.

https://learn.sapienceinstitute.org/

 

9. Parenting Skills Based on The Qur’an And Sunnah. Dr Ekram & Dr Mohamed Rida Beshir. (2004). Amana Publications, USA.

 

10. Straight Struggle (A support group for people experiencing SSA).
(https://discord.com/invite/7FZMfWb)

 

11. Yusuf Patel | Sex Education, LGBTQ Lobby & Our Children’s Eman | BB #76

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=QpV5gOqeDoM&ab_channel=5Pillars

 

Featured image by eberhard grossgasteiger

 

About Jamilah Samian

Jamilah has written 538 articles.

Jamilah Samian is an author and speaker.

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