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Offline Reader Questions

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Homosexual Acts between Women (Lesbian Acts)
« on: June 03, 2019, 03:57:45 AM »
Dear Brother Joseph

I read with interest your article on homosexuality in the Quran. Thank you.

However, I note that the verses quoted seem to apply to men, rather than homosexual women.

Is the Quran silent on the issue of Lesbians?

Many thanks for your time and help.

Kind regards

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Homosexual Acts between Women (Lesbian Acts)
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2019, 04:12:38 AM »
As-salamu alaykum

Albeit there may not be a specific verse that exclusively deals with ‘lesbian acts’, there is a broad verse which deals with lewdness (fahisha) on the part of women in particular. This verse immediately precedes the verse which deals exclusively with men (4:16).

“Those who commit lewdness / immorality (fahishata) from your women - bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or God ordains for them [another] way.

I have argued previously that given the reference is to the plurality of women (3 or more - nisāikum) and the nature of the retribution stipulated (house arrest), this matter possibly covers prostitution [1]. It is interesting to note that the mention is of the broad term ‘fahisha’ [2] which is a non-specific term covering the entire remit of ‘lewdness’ rather than ‘zina’, which is a specific reference to fornication or adultery. Therefore, it is quite possible that ‘fahisha’ (lewdness) in this context covers the broader services that a prostitute may offer.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that the scope of 'fahisha' excludes lesbian acts. As mentioned, the term covers all lewd acts that the Quran deems inappropriate. This is evidenced with the threat of 'twice the punishment' that the prophet's wives would receive if they ever indulged in any form of 'fahisha' (33:30). This verse also proves that no-one was exempt from 'capacity/capability' and that those who had received a manifestation of the truth would be held accountable to a greater standard of answerability.

However, the Quran generally takes the approach to define the scope of 'permissibility' which then by logical deduction, would exclude all else.

Ergo - The Quran rejects any physical intimacy outside the confines of holy matrimony (the sacred covenant of legitimate wedlock) which it only accepts as lawful between a man and a woman. Any sexual pursuits by any gender outside this restricted ambit are considered a transgression by the Quran.

This would include adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, lesbian acts, incest, prostitution etc. These acts are all outside the remit of legitimate wedlock and hence, forbidden by the Quran for believers.

Some acts attract specific punishments in Quranic law (such as fornication/adultery 24:2), whilst others do not (other acts which the Quran deems indecent outside wedlock). However, non-consensual sexual acts such as rape arguably attract a greater severity of retribution which I have discussed in another post [3]

Finally, if I respectfully may, I would like to make a few additional points from a Quran's perspective which may be of further interest to you and other readers.

As I intimated in my article that you mention [4], It is not necessarily the 'inclination' (or as some would interpret - 'temptation') which is the 'sin' from a Quranic perspective, but the act.

As a crude example, one may have inclinations to commit an adulterous act with another man's wife, but it is the ability to restrain which is the key. A powerful example of this is Prophet Joseph's encounter with his master's wife. She certainly was in awe of him and desired him. However, there was one moment, one powerful moment, where Prophet Joseph nearly inclined to her. The Quran captures the split moment in which one recognises that they are inclining towards evil / a transgression and the arguments that suddenly come into one's mind. Many would undoubtedly fail, but here, Prophet Joseph succeeded.

He said: "O my Lord! The prison is dearer / more beloved (ahabbu) to me than that to which they invite me. And unless You turn away their plot from me, I will incline (yasbu) towards them and be of the foolish / ignorant."

The verb 'Saba' (yasbu) means to incline to or to yearn towards something. This term exquisitely captures the challenges all humans face in the face of heightened emotions in such a context. Here Prophet Joseph was no different. He too was subject to the same battles that all humans endure in the face of such a situation.

"And certainly she did desire him and he would have desired her, if he had not seen the proof / arguments of His Lord..." (12:24)

I hope this helps, God willing.



[3] RAPE

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell