Kindness and great advice for a Muslim gay man in distress

I came across the following advice on a blog I follow on Tumblr. It is advice which touches me and strikes me as just so kind, and I want very much to put it here, because it’s a great example of compassion. My fantasy is that every single one of my Muslim relative, friend, colleague, feel the same way as the writer does, and that I know about it, so that I can shake off this awkward feeling that I don’t quite belong with them, that my life is quite separate from them. I think I end up being a bit aloof with them, as some sort of defense mechanism. It makes me sad when I think about it. I don’t know why I’m like that.

The Tumblr blog is Arabswagger. I remember thinking it’s a cute name when I first came across the blog perhaps over a year ago. I also wasn’t expecting more than what I usually come across on Tumblr, which are normally things like beautiful and interesting images, and quotes, frequently artistically and prettily presented. Well, don’t let the name fool you as it did me. The writer does share a lot like the above via posts and reblogs, and these are already very interesting as he covers ‘Arab style’ in so many things like traditional clothing, architecture, poetry, art, calligraphy, fashion, food, interior design, music, etc.

What I really enjoy though are his insight and perspective on a variety of subjects. He takes on questions from anonymous submitters asking his opinion on various aspects of Islam and Arab culture. I also recall ‘questions’ which were really just hostile attacks on him and his blog, but he takes these on with a no-nonsense approach. He doesn’t lash out but neither does he pander or persuade them to change their mind, he just answers them sensibly, with an even tone, and sometimes throws in his wry sense of humour.

Anyway, this is the advice he imparted on this post. Just for the record, unlike the anon asker, I am perfectly fine with being gay. But he’s not, and the advice he got about the need to accept himself and not to be ashamed of himself, well it’s a thing of beauty.

Anonymous asked: Assalamu aleykum; I need a piece of advice from you.. The thing is that I am a muslim man attracted to men, and I feel horrible about myself, it doesn’t matter how much I pray and ask Allah for a change in this lifestyle, I can’t help looking at men in a different way.. I really don’t want this to lead to a more serious problem, So what should I do?

Waleikum Al Salam. My brother, before anything I want you to understand that you have nothing to be ashamed of, there is nothing “mentally” deranged about you or even perverted, you are feeling something natural that even the Prophet(S) identified could be a desire in the heart of every man or woman towards their own gender. You aren’t going to change this lifestyle or your mentality, but I need you to understand how to handle it or how to channel it.

As much as I can berate you with the “sinfulness” of Homosexuality, I don’t feel someone in your position wants to have more salt on the wound.

Everything in life can be categorized as Forbidden or Allowed, and this is characterized by the general positive or negative effects that this act has. Although one person may “sin” and not reap any general negative effects on themselves, Islam is a collective guide to mankind and it is not a circumstantial message to every individual, only God judges one by their circumstance and is merciful upon them in that manner. That being said, when individuals compare Heterosexual sex to Homosexual sex, one must understand that one is only Haram outside the realm of marriage, whereas sodomy is Haram as an act itself, whether between men or women.

I need you to accept that this is a part of who you are, not something to be ashamed of, but rather to understand that this is the very challenge God has put upon you to avoid, and as much as this might seem “unfair” that this is your challenge, I often think that this can actually be a gateway to heaven for you and the reason God could bestow his utmost mercy because you withheld this desire for him.

Every individual is given this type of Challenge or Balaa’, no one has it easier than another person, and if they have it harder, in the greater picture of Existence, God loves you in a manner he chooses to cleanse you through these challenges. Some individuals are sex addicts, some love the consumption of alcohol, and many often are actually lazy to pray or wish to avoid it, which I feel is the biggest challenge God can give to a person.

I really would like to pray that you can be strong in this realm, and please try to channel your energies towards the good. May the peace and blessings be upon you.


Image, not related to post, from Click to go there.

And, I just have to include another one here, from this post:

Anonymous asked: what do you think of the gays or trans people?

This is written so offensively.

I don’t have a generalizing opinion on any group of people because I don’t view individuals through their subscriptions to a lifestyle, religious identity or even gender identity; I treat people like how they should be treated: with dignity and respect.

What a guy, the man behind Arabswagger. I admire him.

8 thoughts on “Kindness and great advice for a Muslim gay man in distress

  1. Yes, but still how hard for the questioner who feels bad about his thoughts. What should he do Halim, if this is how he is and he is Muslim? Is their room in Islam for a devout homosexual? How can he repress his natural inclinations in order to please God? This seems so cruel to me. Is it the same as with some Christians who reject homosexuals as sinners, and others who do not judge? I guess this is why I like and respect you so much Halim, your kindness, tolerance and compassion, and your bravery in coming out. I can understand that you feel distant from some of your family and friends. This is not your “problem” my friend, but a natural reaction to their intolerance.
    I supervised a male, Arabic, homosexual, therapist for his licensing for several years. He had to leave his country and his family. If he returned as a open homosexual, he said he would be killed.
    Why do so many humans insist on creating misery for each other?

    • What I think, Cindy, is that the questioner needs to try overcome his bad thoughts about his being gay, as the writer suggests, and accept his homosexuality, as I have mine. My personal reconciliation with being both Muslim and gay is simply by refraining from sodomy, that’s it really. As the writer also points out, sodomy is forbidden not only between men, but also between a man and a woman. So to me it comes down to only refraining from anal sex. To me that’s fine. Well I must admit I never cared for anal sex anyway, so to give it up was not a big thing for me. But of course I can’t speak for other Muslim gay men, on whether they think it is cruel they can’t have it.

      As for other stuff in bed, and meeting and falling in love with my partner, and wishing to spend the rest of my life with him, I’m free to do that. So, yes, I do sincerely believe there is room in Islam for gay guys.

      As for people whether Muslims or Christians or others, who insist on putting us down as sinners no matter what, I think there will always be such people. I guess if they are rotten enough, they will be able to create discomfort and problems for me if they wish, but spiritually they can’t touch me because my faith is for God, not for them, and I’m totally at peace with being Muslim and gay.

      I’m ‘officially’ out (meaning I have mentioned out loud I’m gay) only to some members of my family and some close friends, so I’m not totally out so I shouldn’t accept the compliment that I’m brave haha! You’re such a lovely person Cindy, thank you, I have a lot of admiration and respect for you too.

      I’m so sorry to read about the Arabic therapist. I can’t imagine having to leave my family, especially if my parents are still alive. I would be devastated. I have never been to any country in the Middle East, and have never come face to face with any form of intolerance, there or anywhere else (so far). Yes humans can be terrible, and what’s worse they use religion to justify their actions. I’m very lucky to be born and live in Singapore. We may not have things like gay rights, but things are quite open, especially for a country that does not have gay rights yet.

      Thank you for your comment, Cindy! I’m loving the oppurtunity you give me to reflect on the points you raised.

  2. It is I who wanted the clarification from you and I so appreciate receiving it. What a neat and brilliant way to be gay and Muslim. Refrain from the act of sodomy and you are not in violation. (I still am concerned for those who do engage in sodomy. I know God loves them just as much as me). I must correct you on thing though. You are very brave in putting your feelings and thoughts out in a world that is often unkind. I am so very glad you did, because not only are you educating me, if you hadn’t had the courage to start this blog, I would never have had the chance to meet you, and that would be my loss.
    Cheers to you my friend & thank you! So glad to have met you here in blogdom~

    • I agree with you that God loves us all, that is my belief too. I think what is also important is that we love ourselves, accept ourselves and be at peace with what we are and what we do, including private bedroom stuff. So we decide what we need to do for ourselves, whether change or stay as we are. I think that at the end of the day, in this world, it seems we are more busily judged by other people and their opinion, than by God, and we need to consider this and not care too much what other people think. I say this because my opinion is that when we worry and wonder ‘what God thinks’, sometimes we are actually worrying what people are thinking and what they think of us.

      But what about someone really concerned with his inner peace with God? Well to be honest, when I try to empathise, it’s hard for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who feel they must have sodomy but feel bad about it, since it’s not what I like and I don’t need to have it. I won’t persuade him to adopt my way of being okay with being Muslim-and-gay (“just don’t have sodomy and you’re fine!”) because that is only my personal belief, not his. No one should judge him either. For all we know he could very well have a huge heart and be a shining example of what a beautiful human being is.

      Again thank you for your lovely compliments, Cindy. This blog is mainly to record my thoughts and opinion, and note the things that caught my eye, like in the news for example; I am no teacher or expert in gay issues or matters pertaining to Islam, at all haha! So it’s just so gratifying that you like this blog and think well of me, because you are someone I respect who I’ve learnt a lot from, and I’m glad to have met you here too! Cheers to you, my friend!

  3. Salam – I highly respect you and your blog, mashallah! I think that it’s lovely that you’ve been able to respect the fact that Islam forbids sodomy – but at the same time, I think that it’s pretty hard to deny that Islam also forbids ANY sexual acts outside of marriage – so whereas I totally respect your choice to have a partner, I don’t think that you can Islamically justify ‘bedroom stuff’ in that regard – wouldn’t it have to remain a platonic relationship?

    • Salam to you too Rayan, and thank you for the lovely compliment.

      I know what you mean regarding sex, any sexual act, as a sin outside marriage. When you consider that, even masturbation is a sin. For me personally it comes down to settling for the ‘lesser sin’. Because I’m human, and I’m not perfect, lol. I’m okay with it. Even if I’m a perfect little sinless angel when it comes to sex, totally refraining from everything, I could still be a massively bigger sinner in a hundred other ways. Like causing harm to others, whether physical or emotional. If I’m going to be concerned about anything, it would be about how I can be a better and more caring human being to others, and not about feeling guilty about what I do in the bedroom.

      To go back to your comment, your mention of ‘platonic relationship’ have got me thinking. I don’t think I would mind that, but that’s just me personally, and only because me and my partner (of over 20 years) have been celibate for years anyway. Not for religious reasons. The desire for sex just fizzled out, and that’s that, we’re not bothered by it. But if the switch for sex is suddenly and unexpectedly flicked back on, as unexpectedly as it was flicked off, I won’t let myself be bothered by that either. Also: ‘platonic’ in our case would refer to the sex department lol. We are still very much in love and committed to each other.

      Thanks for reading my post and for your comment! Cheers.

  4. This is great. To straight Muslims over there: If you are against Islamophobia, but are willing to throw LGBT folks (especially gay Muslims) under the bus, then you fail at intersectional feminism 101. Sorry. LGBT Muslims exist.

    • Thanks for reading and for the compliment, tsuruhami.

      I had to look up ‘intersectional feminism’! And came across a nice intro from The Telegraph. Link here. It was an interesting read, and I’m glad for your comment that led the way to learning about it. Thanks again. Cheers.

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