Lesbianism in the Quran?

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Question and Answer Details

Name of Questioner

Marie   - United States


Lesbianism in the Quran?




Hello, Since few days I am hearing some of my friends accusing Islam so I wanted to make sure I know the correct thing by asking you. They pointed out that in verse 3:14 "Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return." This verse refers to mankind "nas" which includes men and women. They said that woman can desire woman only if they are lesbian. Can you clarify this?


Women's life

Name of Counselor

Yasmin Mogahed


Salam, Marie.

Thank you for the sincere question and may Allah reward you for your desire to correctly present Islam to others.

Your question brings up a number of issues. First, there is the issue of how to interpret the Quran. It is important to note that in order to properly understand the Quran, you must have a deep knowledge of the Arabic language in which it was revealed.

Scholars of tafseer (exegeses of the Quran) spend a lifetime studying the language. One of the rules of the Arabic language is that the masculine address is often used to address a general mass, which includes both men and woman.

Therefore, if the Quran is using the masculine (or general) address, it would list 'women' as what is desired. This does not mean that it does not apply the other way around. Nor does it mean that women will desire other women. It is simply using the male example to represent the general rule, which applies to both men and women.

Another example of this can be found in the following verses:

*{(Lit is such a Light) in houses, which Allah hath permitted to be raised to honour; for the celebration, in them, of His name: In them is He glorified in the mornings and in the evenings, (again and again),-By men (rijal) whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: Their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new),- That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace: for Allah does provide for those whom He will, without measure.}* (An-Nur 24:36-38)

In these verses Allah uses the word 'rijal', which means men. Does this mean that it does not also apply to women who are not diverted by commerce from the Remembrance of Allah, or prayer or charity? Does it mean that only men with these characteristics will be 'rewarded according to the best of their deeds'? Of course not. Here again, the masculine address is used to apply in general to both men and woman.

Secondly, in order to understand the Quran, you must take it as a whole. Verses of the Quran cannot properly be understood without taking into account the rest of the Quran.

There are many clear verses that make it unmistakable that homosexuality is forbidden, and a grave sin. Allah says in the Quran:

*{We also (sent) Lot: He said to his people: "Do you commit the worst sin such as no people in creation ever committed before you? Verily, you practice your lusts on men in preference to women. You are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds."

And his people gave no answer but this: they said, "Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!"

But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who legged behind. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!}* (Al-A`raf 7:80-84)

The punishment that descended upon the people of Lot (peace be upon him) for their sin was extremely severe. Their cities were turned upside down, and Allah sent rain of rocks and stones until it piled up upon them. Allah says in the Quran:

*{When Our Decree issued, We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread, layer on layer.}* (Hud 11:82)

In another chapter of the Quran, Allah says:

*{The people of Lot rejected the messengers. Behold, their brother Lut said to them: "Will you not fear (Allah)? I am to you a messenger worthy of all trust. So fear Allah and obey me. No reward do I ask of you for it: my reward is only from the lord of the Worlds. Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!"

They said: "If you desist not, O Lot! you wilt assuredly be cast out!"

He said: "I do detest your doings. O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!"

So We delivered him and his family - all. Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily your Lord is He, the Exalted in Might Most Merciful.}* ( Ash-Shu`ara 26: 160-175).

All of these verses make very clear the magnitude of the sin of homosexuality. In these verses Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) is addressing men desiring other men.

Now, does that mean that all of this does not apply to women desiring other women? No, of course not. In the case of Lot, it was the men who were committing this sin, so the masculine address is used. However, the principal is general and applies to women desiring women as well.

The meaning expressed in this verse you referred to is one of worldliness. Allah is saying, to both men and women, that the desire for physical pleasure, wealth, and status are all just possessions of this worldly life, and that the true wealth and greatest of goals is only in the nearness to Allah.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.



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