When conservative Muslims say Islam is against homosexuality, they generally use Qur’anic verses found in the story of Prophet Lut (or Lot, as he is known in Jewish and Christian Bibles). These verses are all over the Qur’an (7:81, 26:165-166, 27:55, and 29:28-29) and would deal with male homosexuality, if they were about homosexuality.
There is a particular phrase about men “approaching men” in lust that appears in several verses, including 7:81, 26:165, and 27:55.
Here are how some reconcile these issues:
Junaid Jahangir, a professor at MacEwan University in Canada, says that “dissenting Muslims argue that such a reading fails to appreciate context and linguistics. They also mention how extreme fanatics have bastardized the sacred texts by quoting verses stripped of their context.” He adds that based on “a contextual analysis, it becomes clear that the Qur’an is portraying a picture of coercion, exploitation and inhospitality. Specifically, verse 29:29 alludes to highway robbery and verse 15:70 refers to Lot’s people prohibiting him from entertaining guests.” (Based on article, http://huff.to/1yszAqG)
Imam Daayiee Abdullah, the first openly gay imam in the United States, agrees. “The sexual acts that are condemned in the Qur’an were done without the consent of the other. They were torture. Sexual acts are not the same as sexuality. The Qur’an doesn’t condemn any sexuality, anywhere,” said Imam Daayiee (as quoted in “Life as a Gay Imam Isn’t as Bad as It Sounds” by Tofik Dibi, for Vice magazine.)
Faris Malik, a Muslim researcher in the United States who is the current custodian of the website queerjihad.org, has a different viewpoint. He believes there is nothing against gay men in the Qur’an. Malik proposes that the Qur’anic verses are misunderstood, and that in fact the Qur’an is not against homosexuality between two gay men but homosexuality between straight men:
“The Qur’an generally scorns ‘approaching males in lust’, as well as the castration of males, as the sin of the people of Lot (Qur’an 7:81, 26:165-166, 27:55, 29:28-29),” writes Malik. “But the Qur’an does not prohibit using, as passive sex partners, the ancient category of men who by nature lacked desire for women, since such men were not considered ‘male’ as a result of their lack of arousal for women. This kind of man is often known as ‘gay’ in modern times, but in the ancient world he was identified as an anatomically whole ‘natural eunuch.’ Although the Qur’an never uses the word eunuch, the hadith and the books of the legal scholars do. Furthermore, the Qur’an recognizes that some men are ‘without the defining skill of males’ (sura 24:31) and so, as domestic servants, are allowed to see women naked. This is a reference to natural eunuchs, i.e. innately and exclusively gay (if not totally asexual) men.” (from the website “Born Eunuchs,” http://bit.ly/19Oyfk5)
Whether you choose to follow the logic of people like Jahingir and Imam Daayiee or Malik, that leaves the question of what Islam would expect of gays.
Imam Muhsin Hendricks, who is the first openly gay imam in South Africa, has said that his work “aims to make the individual realize that he is innately a sexual being but at the same time he needs to take responsibility for his/her actions and to keep the relationship with the Creator constant. The individual’s sexuality is but a fraction of who s/he is. It should not become the overriding factor in the individual’s life. We were created to worship Allah, and we should do so with whatever fate we were handed” (as quoted in in the book Queer Jihad: LGBT Muslims on Coming Out, Activism, and the Faith by Afdhere Jama, http://amzn.to/1vWOvKf).
However, Hendricks believes that the Qur’an “makes room for same-sex relationships. The Qur’an is clear. Take surah 30:21: ‘And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.’” (as quoted in “Diversity of Sexuality in Islam: Interview with Imam Muhsin Hendricks” by Björn Krondorfer, http://bit.ly/ZKUHrR).