How should Muslim students interact with people who identify as LGBTQ? |

How should Muslim students interact with people who identify as LGBTQ?

Muslim adults are currently working through the process of understanding Islamic guidance on the matter of homosexuality and how to address the nuances of it in our workplaces, communities, and families. Simultaneously, Muslim youth are encountering the issue on a personal level in their schools with curriculum and lesson plans that normalize LGBTQ activity and lifestyles and trying to figure out how to stay connected with their faith tradition while maintaining relationships with teachers and fellow students with individuals who are part of this community.

Parents need to be aware of these struggles and offer assistance to their children. In order to do so, it is important to thoroughly understand the history of the movement and the biological, physiological, sociological, psychological, and spiritual underpinnings. 

Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi covered an important aspect of this topic in a lecture that he delivered titled “How should Muslim students interact with people who identify as LGBTQ?” The lecture specifically addressed a question that was posed by a Muslim high school student named Aliyah. His comprehensive answer delves into many facets of the issue that are important to fully understand in order to be able to answer any of the questions our children may have about Islamic guidance on the matter. It is summarized below.

Understanding the Sensitive Nature of the Topic

First and foremost, it is important to understand this topic is “very, very sensitive.” It can be easily misunderstood and famous authors, professors, and public figures have been “canceled” when they speak to the topic in a manner that is not considered “politically correct.” Nonetheless, Muslim scholars must speak on the topic, no matter what the consequences all the while being wise and not foolish. A full 10 minutes of the lecture was devoted to a disclaimer and instructions on how to preach the truth of Islam to others.

We must understand that there is a range of opinions being expressed in the Muslim community at present. Some acquiesce to the pressure and adopt tolerant positions because popular society is allowing and embracing the lifestyle. This position is incorrect and suggests a lack of knowledge and perhaps a lack of commitment to Islamic guidance. On the opposite side, some Muslims are proclaiming that following the Quran and Sunnah requires a harsh tone. According to Shaykh Yasir, these “internet warriors” act in an extremely unwise manner condemning the people who subscribe to these lifestyles and turning others away from understanding the Islamic guidance on the matter.

There is much evidence about how our prophets conducted themselves when confronted with nations who were deeply engaged in wrongdoing. Both the examples of Prophet Lut with the people of Sodom and Prophet Muhammad with the Quraysh, peace and blessings be upon them, offer lessons that are directly applicable in this day and time. Both stuck firmly to Islamic guidance while using effective language to preach in “the best of manners and wisest of words.” They reserved anger and harshness only for those who were arrogant and obstinent.

The remainder of the lecture was broken into four parts:

  • Understanding the origin of the current trends
  • Understanding the grounding of our faith in heteronormativity
  • Understanding the terms and practices associated with homosexuality
  • How to interact with members of the LGBTQ+ community

Understanding the Current Trends 

The notion of classifying a person according to their sexual preferences is an “extremely modern concept phenomenon.” Homosexual actions have been considered immoral and often illegal acts in all of the Abrahamic faiths for most of human history. Sexual preferences, be they members of the same sex or even between a married couple related to positions and personal preferences, were previously considered matters that were not part of public discourse and were certainly not a defining characteristic of a person. 

There was a rise in the early 1970s and into the 1980s to bring the matter of sexual preferences into the public realm. A German psychiatrist coined the term “homosexual” in 1868, meaning sexual attraction to members of the same sex, to make the practice seem more scientific. The movement embraced the term “gay” to describe men who were sexually attracted to men in the late 1960s. As part of the women’s rights movement, the term “lesbian,” a reference to a mythological poet from the Greek island of Lesbos, was adopted to describe women who were sexually attracted to women. In the 1970-80s, the term “bisexual” became popular as well as “transvestite” to describe those who had sex change operations. The various members of this community came together to achieve respectability and normalcy and the term “coming out of the closet” became popular. The acronym was expanded to include LGBTQQIP2AA (meaning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Queer, Intersex, Pansexual, 2 Spirit, Androgynes, Asexual); more recently it has been condensed to LGBTQ+.

Understanding Heteronormativity 

There is a default that has been accepted throughout most of human civilization:

  • Allah or God created male and female.
  • Opposite genders attract.
  • Marriage takes place between a man and a woman.
  • Intimacy occurs and is a blessing for the married couple that enhances their bond.
  • When children are born, the family continues to grows.
  • The family becomes the nuclear unit of society.

This paradigm is called “heteronormativity” and it has been enshrined in faith traditions and also in the law. It also assumed that the gender you were born into would be the gender you identify as for the entirety of your life. The term “cisgender” described the identity assigned at birth and was not considered a bad thing and was reinforced by the media, politics, society, and public policy. 

In the Quran in Surah An-Nisa, Allah reminds us that:

“He has created male and female and from this spread forth multitudes.”

(Surah An-Nisa, 4:1)

The Quran also guides us: 

“Do not desire to have what Allah has given the other, men have their share and women have their share.”

(Surah An-Nisa, 4:32)

Shaykh Yasir reminds the listener that “men and women are created spiritually equal, with the same potential to enter Jannah. Allah created men and women biologically, physiologically, psychologically, intellectually, and emotionally different; both have perks, not one more than the other.” The LGBTQ+ movement challenges heternormativity and cisgenderism.

Understanding Terminology and Practices 

Shakyh Yasir went into depth to identify the matter of individuals who are not biologically male or female. This is known in Arabic as kuntha or intersex. This has to do with the makeup of the X and Y chromosomes and the condition is extremely rare. Although these matters can be evident at birth, most individuals in this category, which is also known as hermaphrodites, do not find out about the condition until later in life as they reach puberty or recognize they are infertile. Islamic shariah recommends that these individuals choose one gender identity and that surgical or hormonal treatments are permissible in these instances.

In the instance of a person considering themselves asexual, meaning with no sexual attraction or desire for either gender, Islam has no problem with this person living a life with no sexual activity since there is no requirement that an individual man or woman be sexually active.

The LGBTQ+ movement challenges these norms. The “+” in the acronym can refer to more than 249 different variations, including pansexuals, genderqueer, gender fluidity, and even demi-gender. It is important to go into more depth related to the T, for transgender.

Transgender is the opposite of cisgender and maintains that if a person is not content with their biological sex, then he/she can choose their gender identity. There are three different aspects to this phenomenon.

Gender dysphoria is the state when biological sex and gender are not matching. Islamic guidance considers this condition a feeling which could be biological or cultural in origin and individuals who may feel this disconnect are not held accountable or considered sinful just for that feeling. In fact, if a person is struggling in this manner, we should help them to discipline themselves. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“There is a curse upon the man who acts effeminent and the woman who acts masculine.”

Gender expression is when a person acts upon those feelings. This can be a temporary or permanent condition and neither is acceptable according to Islam. If a Muslim man or woman was to engage in these acts, they do not leave the fold of Islam. They should be counseled to control their feelings and avoid the acts as immoral, repent to Allah, and seek His forgiveness. There was an analogy given to a Muslim who would might also prefer to use drugs or alcohol, both of which are prohibited by Islamic guidance.

Gender transition is the process of taking hormones or performing surgery to achieve gender reassignment. Various Sunni fiqh councils have determined this is not permissible in Islam. 

Interacting with Members of the LGBTQ+ Community 

It is important to conceptualize the LGBTQ+ movement and understand that it is trying to mainstream actions that we believe are immoral. Muslims must preach the truth but not treat anyone rudely. On the matter of how to interact with LGBTQ+ individuals, we need to be polite to everyone, and even do so with individuals who believe in false gods or do not believe in God. The message to Muslim students is that their close friends and those they associate with on a more personal level, should follow the faith and morality traditions they believe in. 

The full lecture by Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi can be viewed online at How Should Muslim Students Interact with People who Identify as LGBTQ?

Zahirah Lynn Eppard is the managing editor of the Muslim Home parenting newsletter project. As Sound Vision’s Director of Religious Education, she has also spearheaded the production of more than 400 online classes serving children ages 3-12 in the Adam’s World and Colors of Islam Clubs. Eppard has also worked in the field of education as a teacher, homeschooler, and Islamic school principal, as a marital and crisis intervention counselor, and as a lobbyist, and social justice activist. She lives with her husband, children, and grandchildren in Maryland


Thanks for the article. Just wanted to let you know that transvestites are generally men who dress in women’s clothing (the word has the same root at vestments, and vest) not people who have sex change operations. One type of these “cross-dressers” are drag queens. 



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