Homosexuality: Science, Politics, and Religion

Homosexuality: Science, Politics, and Religion

Is it natural?Scientists have not yet been able to establish which genes, hormones, or neural structures are responsible for homosexuality. Mere theories and statistics would never conclude anything in favor of the hypotheses concerning homosexuality unless studies are performed at the biological scale. Even after so many struggles in the field of science, nothing still proves that homosexuality is genetic. What has been proven, however, is that there exist more chances of sexually transmitted disease among homosexuals as compared against heterosexuals. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided a factsheet stating those men who have sex with men (MSM) among all races continues to be the risk group most severely affected by HIV infection. MSM accounts for nearly half of more than one million people living with HIV in the US (48 percent, or an estimated 532,000 people).

Is it natural?Homosexuality is defined as sexual behavior among people of the same gender. Mostly, male homosexuals are called gays, while female homosexuals are referred to as lesbians. In recent years, homosexuality has been a complicated subject of study in fields of science, politics, and religion. Whereas science continuously tries to prove that homosexuality is not a disease but rather something natural, religion on the other hand remains firm that homosexuality is an immoral act. The politicized science behind the uprising of homosexuality cannot boast of convincing results in favor of this behavior, and scientists working in this field are well aware that the conclusion to this study has still a long way to go. Before we study the Islamic views on homosexuality, let us look into the biological and psychological studies conducted.

Most scientists are studying whether or not homosexuality is natural; these studies attempt to discover if homosexuals are born with such an inclination, or if they develop this behavior during the course of their environment. These studies are mostly statistical and theoretical, and based on two parallel theories for the cause of homosexuality – the biological theory and the psychosocial. The biological theory proposes that genetic factors, hormones, and neural structures are the root causes, whereas the psychosocial theory states the social environment is the main triggering factor. And apparently, there exist little scholarly consensus regarding which sex differences are due to biological factors and which are due to one’s social life and environment.

In regards to whether homosexuality is natural or not, many theories have been put forward. One journal article (in the Archives of Sexual Behavior) cites the phenomenon where some children develop childhood gender non-conformity. In this phenomenon, children fail to conform to gender-related issues. For example, a girl is termed as a “tomboy” who demonstrates more masculine traits, while a boy is generally referred to as “sissy” who prefers to play with dolls rather than playing outdoors and exhibits more effeminate behavior. Various related studies are merely statistical in which all homosexuals perform self-reporting, whereas one study included the self-reports of homosexuals, heterosexuals, and those of the mothers of these people.

The studies show a high incidence of homosexuals arising from gender nonconformity since childhood. But, the irony of the study is that it itself questions the credibility of the reports of the mothers and homosexuals, claiming it to be a retrospective bias because of the knowledge of mothers already knowing their children’s homosexuality before recalling the childhood behavior. Another interesting observation on the same study says that within homosexual samples, maternal and self-ratings of subjects’ childhood gender non-conformity failed to correlate significantly among themselves. More definite research is needed in order to prove that gender non-conformity could be interpreted as complete evidence to homosexuality, and such ideas have been considered absurd by one study. (Journal of Gender Studies)

Another greatly researched parameter of scientists is the study of twins in Australia possessing identical genes in order to find what might be the cause of sexual differences in homosexuality and heterosexuality. Conclusively, twins brought up in the same environment since birth but with sexual differences later on in life is an area of great controversy regarding the cause and effect of homosexuality. The limitations of the study were the insufficient number of homosexuals in the survey of the twins. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) In another similar survey of twins recently from Sweden, the results are only statistical and show that the individual specific environment affects the sexual preference of homosexuals. (Archives of Sexual Behavior) If homosexuality is environmental, as only statistically shown by a recent study of twins in Sweden, this would help us provide a solution that the environmental factors can be changed again to change the sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

Therefore, scientists have not yet been able to establish which genes, hormones, or neural structures are responsible for homosexuality. Mere theories and statistics would never conclude anything in favor of the hypotheses concerning homosexuality unless studies are performed at the biological scale. Even after so many struggles in the field of science, nothing still proves that homosexuality is genetic.

What has been proven, however, is that there exist more chances of sexually transmitted disease among homosexuals as compared against heterosexuals. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided a factsheet stating those men who have sex with men (MSM) among all races continues to be the risk group most severely affected by HIV infection. MSM accounts for nearly half of more than one million people living with HIV in the US (48 percent, or an estimated 532,000 people). Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 279,000 MSM with have also died with AIDS. (CDC Factsheet 2010) If scientists still do not agree to term homosexuality as a disease, they cannot reject the fact that other diseases are being spread due to this behavior.

With gays believing that the soul of the person is more important than the physical being, this belief itself provides many answers that homosexuality is actually a disease. Assuming the physical body is actually not important, then what is the reason for them to deviate from natural tendencies and indulge in physical behavior with the same sex? If the soul is what matters, what is the reason that they cannot satisfy their souls with the opposite gender nature has provided them with?

Matter of Free Will

The first basic thing is to make it clear in one’s mind – one was not born a gay or a lesbian. These deviations are simple illnesses of the soul, mind, and body that arise with time. Homosexuality can be cured through free will and by reflecting upon the physical capabilities God has provided mankind with. Instead of giving in to weak desires caused by some vague thoughts, believing in oneself by using proper intellect and determination is the solution. One should remain humble and thankful to God for all His bounties and remain in constant fear of His wrath.

Homosexuality in the Qur’an

Homosexuality is neither a contemporary issue nor a recent phenomenon; rather, it has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an as well. The Qur’an condemns homosexuality when the people of Prophet Lut (peace be upon him) deviated: “When We sent Lut, he said to his people, ‘What! Do you commit the indecency which none in all the nations had committed before you? Look at you! You approach the men lustfully instead of approaching your women! No, you are a people who have exceeded the limits.’ The only answer of his people was that they said, ‘Expel them from your city, surely they are a people who seek to keep themselves clean!’ So We delivered him and his followers, except his wife; she was one of those who tarried behind. We sent upon them rain. See now the nature of the consequence of the evil-doers!” (7:80-84)

The Qur’an further states: “His people came rushing; they had grown accustomed to their sinful acts. He said, ‘O my people, it would be purer for you if you take my daughters instead. You shall revere God; do not embarrass me with my guests. Have you not one reasonable man among you?’ They said, ‘You know well that we have no need for your daughters; you know exactly what we want.'” (11:78-79)

God then punished the people by destroying the city: “So when Our punishment came upon the people of Lut, We turned the city upside down and showered them with stones of baked clay, one after another.” (11:82)

The Final Argument – Challenge this Logic

After studying a few scientific explanations on homosexuality that tried to prove it is natural, let us now look into an interesting argument. Everything that exists in nature and the environment is self-sufficient, proving that nature has all kinds of facilities for its products to survive, multiply, and keep progressing. All of us know that when we mix any two things from nature in a correct and appropriate way, we get a new natural product. For example, after sowing various kinds of natural seeds on fertile soil or land, we get natural products of different flowers, trees, or grains. One cannot get these products by sowing these seeds on a table or chair, or any other surface. Soil cannot grow a particular kind of plant from itself alone; both the seeds and the soil are complementary.

Analogous to this is the example of the man and the woman. One cannot survive without each other. Both of them need to unite to produce a baby and retain the human race, and this is the ultimate truth of reproduction, it is what nature has provided us with. The impossibility of reproducing and sustaining humanity through homosexuality is the final and undisputable proof of how unnatural this behavior really is.

Editor’s Note: For suggestions on how to deal with homosexuals in society, see Confronting Homosexuality.

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  1. masooma
    March 29, 13:40
    "Homosexuality can be cured through free will and by reflecting upon the physical capabilities God has provided mankind with."<br /><br />I've done a little study on some of the Christian faith-based efforts to "cure" homosexuality, and from what I can tell, the success has been very limited at best; will power or desire alone does not seem to be sufficient for most people. Few people who are homosexual would say that they wanted to be, and among those who tried to change most have not been successful so that any clear method can be determined to date. Even many of those who claim success admit that the feelings still exist but are just more successfully repressed than in some other people. If the cause of homosexuality is not understood, changing the tendency is also not understood.<br /><br />Further, gender nonconformity and homosexuality seem to be different issues; transgenderism, for example, is an acknowledged medical condition in Islam for which people are allowed to pursue surgical and hormonal gender alteration - but this is not necessarily indicative of homosexual tendencies or behavior - it is a different matter to have a body that does not match one's psychological gender than to be attracted to the same physical and psychological gender.
    • jafar
      March 30, 00:00
      gender nonconformity may be a different issue but people have studied and linked it with homosexuality.....so one cannot say its a different matter.<br /><br />Free will can change it along with prayers. Free will and prayers together have all the powers in the world. People who complain about being homosexuals despite having tried quitting the desires thru free wills have some problem with their wills......They themselves dont want to change.<br /><br />If one wants something, one can achieve it. Else, theres something wrong in the Will, Heart and mind.
      • sm
        March 30, 00:58
        I agree with the brother. If you truly feel like you are attracted to the opposite gender, but at the same time you realize the evil of it and want to change, surely God won't abandon you like that. Also, I am interested to know if our communities or scholars have developed ideas to help "cure" those suffering from homosexuality, and how they differ from the approach taken by Christian groups.
      • masooma
        March 30, 01:06
        Doesn't that suppose that homosexuality is indeed a choice and not a disease or condition with some cause, whether biological or environmental or psychological or whatever? I thought your article said we basically do not know what makes some people homosexual, so we cannot exclude one of those causes. Unless you have some evidence that people choose to be homosexual? Surely people have a choice in acting on homosexual tendencies or not - I'm not talking about that - I'm talking about the condition itself.<br /><br />If someone has cancer, which may have a genetic or environmental or other cause, can they cure it with free will and prayers alone guaranteed, every single one of them, and if they don't cure it that way, then they want to have cancer and don't want to cured badly enough? If they want to be cured of cancer, can't they just will it and achieve it? Can't a depressed person just will to stop being depressed? Can't every drug addict just quit of his own will without any help? And if they can't, then they're weak or didn't really want it or so too bad for them, it is all their fault? That seems to be the argument you are making, but I just don't find the evidence wholly convincing.<br /><br />As for gender nonconformity, my point was only that it is not exclusively linked to homosexuality (as transgender and heterosexuals also may exhibit this) nor has there been any scientific causal relationship established, so one should confuse gender nonconformity itself with homosexuality or assume a cause/effect relationship, etc.
        • masooma
          March 30, 01:29
          I realize you cannot read my tone and that last post may have come across as argumentative. That is not my intent. <br /><br />I have a scientific and statistical background and thus have a scientific interest as well as religious, although not a personal interest, in this topic. Since I do not have homosexual tendencies myself, I can only guess at what causes them or look at the studies that are there, as well as listen to people who do have them and have tried to be cured. What I have learned is that we do not know the causes. Further, we do not know the cure. I do not think it really serves homosexuals or people with any problem to tell them to solve their problem by strength of will and prayer and that if they can't, they must not really want to solve their problem, as indicated by your response to my comment. We have had posts on II about depression and drug abuse which do not negate the place of will and prayer, but which also acknowledged the need for research and assistance. We are not Jehovah's Witnesses that tell people to cure their own cancer by prayer and will and not go to a doctor for treatment. Nor do we expect people with depression, mental illness, or drug addiction to do that either. By extension, why should homosexuality be different, given that we do not know the cause? The trouble is without knowing a cause, finding effective treatment is merely guess work. Further, I am not aware of any efforts by Muslim groups to provide such options anyway, so a Muslim would presumably have to try something like Exodus International or go it alone, which have both, from a scientific/statistical standpoint, not been very successful. Therefore, the need for more support for homosexuals who desire to change is urgent, and telling them they're just not trying or don't really want to change or that there is something wrong with them is purely defeating and ineffective in my opinion.
          • jafar
            March 30, 03:47
            I get your points sister and I agree that the causes are not known...My comment may seem too specific and straight because this is only my personal opinion of what might be the solution....Having said that, when we dont know the cause, these (praying and willing) seem the only solutions to me unless we open some 'rehab' schools and centres or some more solutions. I agree with you that we need to show support who are willing to change by various means.<br /><br />What I have tried to show is that the scientific peer reviewed journals (both biological and statistical) do not know the cause but still claim that the cause is natural and innate. In my opinion, the cause is environmental....sorry I dont have any scientific proves....but that's just my opinion. <br /><br />Also, I agree with u and my point is also to clear that gender non-conformity has no or very little effect on homosexuality and the scientific studies that have been done as shown in the article can not be considered authentic.<br /><br />We should come up with a list of solutions as well.
    • PinkMuslimah
      March 30, 15:28
      Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah<br />Sister, thank you for your level-headed response to a rather level-headed article.
  2. Unique
    March 30, 02:05
    Here is an extremely unique and interesting approach taken by Orthodox Jews: http://www.vancouverite.com/2011/03/11/israeli-rabbi-match-marries-religious-gay-lesbian-partnerships/<br /><br />Not sure what to think about it. Your thoughts?
    • masooma
      March 30, 02:54
      That is interesting. Why not, if people want to do that, it seems to have no religious objection per se if properly adapted to the Islamic context and could be a good thing if done well.
    • PinkMuslimah
      March 30, 15:33
      A very interesting idea! As long as other points of compatibility are assessed, it could help people to become settled into a more stable life situation on their own terms.
  3. hussain
    March 30, 06:42
    Nicely written. For Muslims, looking at how Quran terms homosexuality as an indecency, we can definitely say that it is an acquired condition due to psychosocial factors. If it was in our innate or genes then there was no way that Islam would forbid it.<br /><br />Looking at the action itself we can easily conclude that it's disadvantages (transmitted diseases, useless physical body theory, a potential plan to extinct human race) overweigh the advantages (pleasure) as brother Jafar points out. Therefore, for a person possessing sound intellect homosexuality would definitely be a disease that requires treatment.<br /><br />If hypnosis, medicines, psychological counselling, gender change can help to cure a person. We should then be researching and developing those methods/medicines and find ways of preventing people from becoming homosexuals by taking personal responsibility for every boy/girl born.
    • masooma
      March 30, 12:22
      It might be a combination - for example, alcoholism and other addiction problems have genetic factors which make some people much more disposed to these problems than others, but clearly environment/psychosocial factors are key. <br /><br />I think the current societal movements of accepting homosexuality as a normal condition interfere with the development of treatment for people who would want it, but from an Islamic standpoint (and others as well), that is what is clearly needed, as you stated.
  4. Abcd
    March 30, 07:49
    Very good article... Thanks for the putting light on this subject. I hope many people can get better picture after reading it.
  5. PinkMuslimah
    March 30, 15:30
    Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah<br />While I appreciate the level-headed tone of this article, I sincerely wish that II would produce more articles about the Islamic perspective on finances, especially given the turbulent nature of our economic situations recently. I really would like more information about the topic and its sub-topics, and some scholarly advise about what is wajib, what is haram, and what is halal would be most appreciated. Thank you for your hard work, and keep it up!
    • The II Team
      March 30, 16:33
      Wa Alaikum Assalam Sister<br /><br />Thank you for the ideas. Insha'Allah we will strive to include articles on the topics you have mentioned. Jazak'Allah, and keep the suggestions coming! :-)<br /><br />Wasalam Alaikum,<br /><br />The Islamic Insights Team
  6. fatima5
    April 01, 14:00
    First of all, I think there needs to be a much clearer defining of homosexuality. For instance the "bache baz" Afghan type warlord stories are clearly disturbing and a trangression in society. But thats really not the same as a for instance the average gay man in America, who is living a normal "Modern Family" type life. I am speaking about the latter here.<br />I think its unfortunate to put forth these sweaping ancient ideas about homosexuality in 2011. I think part of the reason we have so little understanding about homosexuals is that society had banished them into secrecy in the way this article does, by making them a moral hazard. This is nothing short of discrimination, which Islam surely does not permit. So many individuals have suffered alone with their homosexuality and the discrimination from society; its time to let them breathe a sigh of relief and allow them to be who they are openly. And then maybe one day we will undrstand the whys and hows. But just for a second put yourself in the shoes of someone who is homosexual and feels they have no control and no amount of prayer has helped them, and then to be confronted with people like this author... the result is a very unhealthy situation, and unforunately all too common.<br />Just let those people be for God's sake.
    • Chachi fatima5 And bhaijaan Ahmad,<br /><br />Your attitude is indeed very modern and 'live and let live' sort.<br /><br />Before saying your opinion, it is recommended to read the article atleast..Ohh and if you did, then it means you are not only denying scientific flaws and simple logic but you are denying Quran as well.<br /> Please have a firm opinion with your proves not with such attitudes.
  7. Quran
    April 08, 10:41
    Great discussion and information about homosexuality in Religion islam and what islam and Quran says in this matter.thanks for sharing the information.
  8. s.a
    May 25, 05:11
    there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual. being a homophobic is just as ignorant as being anti-semetic. if you want to look at this from a religious stand point, then we shall.<br />it also says in the bible and the quran that the act of sex is for reproduction yet we live in a society today where birth control is practiced far more often than sex is practiced for reproduction. if everyone was to follow every little thing from the bible or quran, everyone would be stoned to death by now. <br />and who even knows if thats gods will...
    • re: s.a
      May 25, 06:56
      actually, you are just making generalizations. obviously you have not read the quran or studied islam too much, or you would know that one of the responsibilities of a husband towards his wife (and wife towards her husband) is to keep each other physically satisfied. in fact, one of the grounds for divorce in islam is if either party refuses bedroom relations for more than four months! and yes, there are millions of people in the world who follow every little thing from the quran, just like it is intended to.
    • dot
      May 27, 00:12
      if everyone was homosexual, the human race would cease to exist. I rest my case, it is NOT natural behavior.

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