My column with the above title elicited two kinds of criticisms. Some criticisms chose to ignore everything else I wrote and isolate the portion where I mentioned that the Qur’an does not prescribe a punishment for homosexuality. Others took issues with what they said was my impulsive defense of Islam in light of the Orlando gay massacre. Interestingly, both reactions were from Muslims. In the coming weeks, I will feature samples of both reactions. I will start this week with a reaction that provides justification for capital punishment for homosexuality. It was written by Usman Halliru, and has been slightly edited for space.
This was first published in the Daily Trust on Saturday on July 9, 2016
I recently read your article where you justified the baselessness of capital punishment upon homosexuals or lesbians. Although there is no explicit provision in the Holy Qur'an regarding the sanction for such offence, that the sanction has no genuine justification in Islam is a fallacy.
The primary sources of Shari'a are Qur'an and Sunnah. There are authentic Hadeeths where the Prophet (peace be upon him) was reported to have proclaimed the punishment for homosexuality.
The Sahaabah were unanimous on the execution of homosexuals, but they differed as to how they were to be executed. Some of them were of the view that they should be burned with fire, which was the view of ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) and also of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him). And some of them thought that they should be thrown down from a high place then have stones thrown at them. This was the view of Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him). Some of them thought that they should be stoned to death, which was narrated from both ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them).
After the Sahaabah, the fuqaha’ differed concerning the matter. Some of them said that the homosexual should be executed no matter what his situation, whether he is married or not. Some of them said that he should be punished in the same way as an adulterer, so he should be stoned if he is married and flogged if he is not married.
Some of them said that a severe punishment should be carried out on him, as the judge sees fit. Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah be pleased with him) discussed this issue at length, and he mentioned the evidence and arguments of the fuqaha’, but he supported the first view. This is explained in his book al-Jawaab al-Kaafi’ li man sa’ala ‘an al-Dawa’ al-Shaafi, which he wrote to deal with this immoral action.
The scholars differed as to whether it is to be punished more severely than zina, or whether the punishment for zina should be more severe, or whether the punishments should be the same. There are three points of view:
Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, Khaalid ibn al-Waleed, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas, Maalik, Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh, Imam Ahmad according to the more sound of the two reports from him and al-Shaafa’i according to one of his opinions, were of the view that the punishment for homosexuality should be more severe than the punishment for zina, and the punishment is execution in all cases, whether the person is married or not.
Al-Shaafa’i, according to the well-known view of his madhhab, and Imam Ahmad according to the other report narrated from him, were of the view that the punishment for the homosexual should be the same as the punishment for the adulterer.
Imam Abu Haneefah was of the view that the punishment for the homosexual should be less severe than the punishment for the adulterer, and it is a punishment to be determined by the judge (ta’zeer).
Those who favoured the first view, who are the majority of the ummah – and more than one scholar narrated that there was consensus among the Sahaabah on this point – said that there is no sin that brings worse consequences than homosexuality, and they are second only to the evil consequences of kufr, and they may be worse than the consequences of murder.
They said: Allaah did not test anyone with this major sin before the people of Loot, and He punished them with a punishment that He did not send upon any other nation; He combined all kinds of punishment for them, such as destruction, turning their houses upside down, causing them to be swallowed up by the earth, sending stones down upon them from the sky, taking away their sight, punishing them and making their punishment ongoing, and wreaking vengeance upon them such as was not wrought upon any other nation. That was because of the greatness of the evil consequences of this crime which the earth can hardly bear if it is committed upon it, and the angels flee to the farthest reaches of heaven and earth if they witness it, lest the punishment be sent upon those who do it and they be stricken along with them. The earth cries out to its Lord, may He be blessed and exalted, and the mountains almost shift from their places.
It is narrated from Khaalid ibn al-Waleed that he found a man among one of the Arab tribes with whom men would have intercourse as with a woman. He wrote to Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allaah be pleased with him) and Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq consulted the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them). ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib had the strongest opinion of all of them, and he said: “No one did that but one of the nations, and you know what Allaah did to them. I think that he should be burned with fire.” So Abu Bakr wrote to Khaalid and he had him burned.
‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas said: The highest point in the town should be found and the homosexual should be thrown head first from it, then stones should be thrown at him. Ibn ‘Abbaas derived this hadd punishment from the punishment that Allaah sent upon the homosexuals of the people of Loot.
When Allaah mentioned zina, He described it as a “great sin” ( faahishah – indefinite) among other great sins, but when He mentioned homosexuality, He called it “the worst sin” (al-faahishah – definite). This suggests that it contains all the essence of evil and sin. End quote from al-Jawaab al-Kaafi (p. 260-263).
Of course, we should avoid extremism in matters of religion. At the same time we should not compromise the core Islamic tenets simply to console non-Muslims.
Usman Halliru can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org