I have been asked the following question. I would appreciate your response to it.
I know the act of homosexuality is haraam in Islam, but the person is not punished for their desires so long as they refrain (is this correct?) – but I wondered in the case of a homosexual muslim is it better for him or her to remain unmarried and celibate or to marry the opposite gender and risk violating the prohibition on treating spouses unfairly? I’ve heard of hadith in which Muhammad (pbuh) prohibited celibacy but I’m not sure if these are authentic and what the context of these is.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
At the outset, it is a common misconception that a person can be born with such inclinations. However, this is not true. Consider the following Hadith:
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
حَدَّثَنَا الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ، حَدَّثَنَا حَجَّاجُ بْنُ الْمِنْهَالِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ حَمَّادَ بْنَ سَلَمَةَ، يُفَسِّرُ حَدِيثَ ” كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ ”
“Every child is born on a natural disposition”
The natural disposition that Allah has created within humans is that males are attracted to females and vice versa.
A person becomes inclined to such activity due to the company he keeps, the material he reads or views or other external influences. It is not a natural inclination.
An innate inclination towards homosexuality does not render it natural and ultimately acceptable. If a person is inclined to the same gender, he is required to curb his desires just as in the case where a person is inclined to a woman who is Haram for him. He is required to control his desires and abstain.
Islam has recognised the needs of a person and has paved a path for him to fulfil these desires through Halal methods. Nikah (marriage) has been ordained so that people may fulfil their desires in a Halal way.
Nikah is a Sunnah of all the Prophets and in particular a Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ “ النِّكَاحُ مِنْ سُنَّتِي فَمَنْ لَمْ يَعْمَلْ بِسُنَّتِي فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَتَزَوَّجُوا فَإِنِّي مُكَاثِرٌ بِكُمُ الأُمَمَ وَمَنْ كَانَ ذَا طَوْلٍ فَلْيَنْكِحْ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصِّيَامِ فَإِنَّ الصَّوْمَ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ ” (سنن ابن ماجه-1846)
It was narrated from Aishah that: The Messenger of Allah said: “Marriage is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me. Get married, for I will boast of your great numbers before the nations. Whoever has the means, let him get married, and whoever does not, then he should fast for it will diminish his desire.” (Ibn Majah-1846)
From the above narration, we understand that we are encouraged to practise on this Sunnah of Nikah.
The remedy of marriage is also found in the story of Lut (Alayhis Salaam) when he called on his people to marry, because that is an effective remedy in which the one who is affected by this illness can direct his desires in the permissible manner of Nikah.
In the aforementioned Hadith, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) also gave a remedy to the people who are not able to get married (due to some financial reason etc.). They are required to diminish their desires through fasting.
Therefore, it is essential that one who has these inclinations curbs his desires, sincerely repents to Allah and strives to do acts of obedience and when he feels that he has started going in the right direction, he may marry someone who will keep him chaste.
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.