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Professor sees potential for reconciliation of Islam and homosexuality

by Andrea Bennett
An article by USC Assistant Professor Shafiqa Ahmadi examines various aspects of Islam and homosexuality. (Photo/Steve Cohn)
An article by USC Assistant Professor Shafiqa Ahmadi examines various aspects of Islam and homosexuality. (Photo/Steve Cohn)

In a recently published article, USC Rossier School of Education Assistant Professor Shafiqa Ahmadi argued that the religion of Islam can be reconciled with homosexuality and can provide a stand against oppression and discrimination of Muslim LGBT individuals.

The article, which appeared in the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development, published by St. John’s University, analyzed the religious, historical and legal contexts of Islam and homosexuality.

Ahmadi urged an examination of the Muslim LGBT community through the lens of intersectionality within critical race theory, which acknowledges that individuals who are minorities in both religious and sexual orientation identities are burdened by multiple forms of disempowerment.

The article explored Quranic passages, which Ahmadi asserted are used to justify objections to homosexuality, concluding that many are actually ambiguous, open to interpretation and likely refer to infidelity, assault and deviant behavior, rather than homosexuality. Ahmadi also pointed to sacred verses in the Quran that espouse acceptance of diversity in all aspects.

Ahmadi looks at homosexuality from the perspective of Sharia, the guiding principles and customs of Islam generally followed by Muslims. Her article concluded that these principles and customs can be open to scholarly debate and evolve with the times. She also underscored the notion that the most conservative mosque leaders are often those the media turns toward to be the voice of the faith, though their beliefs do not often reflect those of the Muslim community in general.

While homosexual conduct is criminalized in more than 80 countries around the world, the majority of those countries inherited these laws when they were British colonies. According to Ahmadi’s article, the laws against homosexuality that the British used to enforce Judea-Christian values and exert control over a colonized people became entrenched within those societies long after the colonizers had left.

The article also urged the global Muslim community to address the status of homosexuality in Islam and insisted that open dialogue about the root causes of intolerance may reveal potential for what she called “the religion of peace and anti-oppression” to re-examine its stance on homosexuality.

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