Lately, the stories about Muslims that have been making their way into the LA Times have been testing the limits of the comfort zone, and of course there is nothing wrong with that. A couple months ago, there was a story about Muslim teens in America exploring a punk rock lifestyle, and today there is a feature article about a Muslim woman, Aliyah, who is a lesbian. I found the most interesting part of the article to be the following quote:
‘It firmly states in the Koran: ‘Ye without faults will be replaced. But those that commit sin, repent,’ ” says Aliyah, sitting on a shaded patch of grass in Manhattan’s Union Square one afternoon. It is her day off as a security guard. Since returning to New York in September 2007, she has been living meagerly.
“Allah doesn’t want you to be perfect,” she continues, pulling on blades of grass. “He doesn’t want you to be without faults, he doesn’t want you to be without sin, he just wants you to repent. And if you are without sin, you will be replaced by someone who commits sin.But is homosexuality a sin?
Aliyah knows the story of the city of Lot in the Koran, which is often pointed to as an argument against homosexuality. “It’s the whole story about the city being destroyed because they were gay,” she says. It is the same text as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which has been used to condemn homosexuality in Christianity and Judaism.
“I am living an upright life. I try to be charitable,” she says. “But who decides what is sin and what is not? It’s not for man to decide.”
I know that there is consensus regarding the sin of homosexuality in Islam, so I’m not even going to go there…it’s not a matter that “man has decided,” rather it’s a matter that man has interpreted from knowledgeable reading of the Qur’aan.
The idea that “Allah doesn’t want us to be perfect” is what I take umbrage to. There is a difference between what Allah wants and what Allah expects…I would say that He wants us to be as close to perfect as we can, but does not expect us to be so. Had He expected that, He would have stopped creating once the angels were in place. No, He expects us to strive for perfection, and repent when we fail…not fail so that we can repent. I never realized there could be disagreement about something so simple, but we all learn something from one another.