A New Muslim: I Can’t Change My Sexual Orientation | About Islam
Home > Ask the Counselor > Gender Issues > A New Muslim: I Can’t Change My Sexual Orientation

A New Muslim: I Can’t Change My Sexual Orientation

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Oct 02, 2017

Question

I have converted to Islam this year. I had considered it since I was 14 years old, but I knew that my family wouldn't accept it, so I abandoned this idea until I became a financially independent adult. I can't say that I'm a "good Muslim" because I don't cover my hair outside the mosque, but I've been trying to pray 5 times a day. I don't drink alcohol, don't eat any forbidden kinds of food and I always dress in a modest way. My main problem is that I'm a lesbian. I've known this for many years, but as I grew up, I was trying to prove myself that "I can be normal". I had several sinful relationships with men. While I can't say anything bad about my ex-boyfriends who were good and decent people and who are still my friends, I'm absolutely sure that I can't enjoy being in a relationship with a man. I simply don't feel sexually attracted to men and having a sexual intercourse was always very painful for me. I've searched help both from doctors and from therapists, but there's clearly no physical/anatomical problem. I simply don't feel this kind of attraction towards men. I've also never really had any romantic feelings for men, only for women. Since I know that homosexuality is considered a sin in Islam and also my country isn't exactly LGBT-friendly, I decided that the best and safest option for me would be just to stay single for the rest of my life. I'm not afraid of loneliness, I'm quite successful in my professional and academic life, so this seemed to be a reasonable solution. Until recently, when I met a girl who's also lesbian and fell in love with her. I can't really fight these feelings and, to be completely honest, I don't want to. While I can have a good life as a single woman, I think we all have this inner instinct to love and to be loved. Of course, I can't be sure how will this relationship develop, especially that we live in different countries and can't see each other very often, but I'm sure I want to give it a try and that I won't quit this relationship just for religious reasons. My family totally accepts my lesbianism, but they're very islamophobic (therefore they don't know about my conversion. I live far away from my family, so it's not hard to keep it secret). I realize that my question may be controversial, but I hope it's not offensive. Do you think it's better if I quit Islam (stop praying, stop attending the Friday prayers in the mosque and generally stop calling myself a Muslim) under the circumstances I've described above? I believe in Allah and I've read it somewhere that being a "bad Muslim" (who commits a lot of sins) is better than not being Muslim at all. On the other hand, I'm afraid that a person like me may give a bad example to others who would like to learn more about Islam. I mean, some people may see me and my lifestyle and think that it's alright to be Muslim and gay at the same time. I will be really thankful for any advice.

Counselor

Answer


A New Muslim: I Can’t Change My Sexual Orientation

In this counseling answer:

“Dear sister, you have to truly decide what is most important to you: Islam or your lifestyle/choice, whether it is truly biological or a conditioned choice. ”


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum,

Thank you for writing to us, dear sister. I will address your last concern first as this is one of the most important points: should you “quit” Islam.

As you apparently love Allah (swt) and believe Islam to be the right path for yourself as well as mankind, why would you risk and sacrifice your life and your way of life by giving up being a Muslim which is something that is obviously very important to you? I understand the possible fear and quilt you may feel about being a lesbian. However, your lifestyle other than that is a Muslim who truly loves Allah (swt).

I would kindly suggest, dear sister that you continue with your prayers, worshipping Allah (swt) and going to the mosque.

In addition, you may want to consider taking classes in Quranic studies/recitation or Arabic classes, Islamic history as well as getting involved in Islamic social activities as much as possible. I suggest this because as Muslims, we are to increase our knowledge and strive to build a healthy Islamic social network. All of this will, in sha’ Allah, provide you with the blessings and answers you seek. As life is filled with tests and trials, our pursuit of knowledge and engagement in Islamic activities will serve to support us and build a solid foundation for which to draw from.

As Muslims come from all walks of life, the fact that you consider yourself a lesbian is not a surprise nor is it a rare thing in the Muslim community. True, it is not discussed a lot; however, it needs to be addressed in a spiritual and compassionate manner.

The past decade in particular, especially in the west, has seen more and more attention given to this issue in the community as an increasing amount of Muslims open up about their lifestyles, feelings, and choices. Some imams and other scholars are now addressing this issue from various points. Indeed, homosexuality is forbidden in Islam, just as zina is forbidden. However, committing zina sadly appears to be a more acceptable or understandable “sin” than homosexuality. But it does not negate the prohibition of either.

First, dear sister, you have to truly decide what is most important to you: Islam or your lifestyle/choice, whether it is truly biological or a conditioned choice. Some individuals are truly attracted to the same sex through no fault of their own. For instance, those born as hermaphrodites, have both male and female genitalia and often at birth the doctors and parents will discuss which sex to assign the child (which may not always be the right one) based on internal and external features. This disorder can also present in varying degrees from severe as just discussed, to very mild with only slight hormonal changes biologically.

In other cases, there are additional hormonal imbalances which may predispose one to same-sex desire such as PCOD. While I am sure that you have done a lot of research, I am just bringing this up to illustrate that yes, some people are born with certain conditions that may lead them to be attracted to the same sex through no fault of their own. For some, it is a choice, for others, it is not.

However, as a Muslim striving to please Allah (swt), you should in sha’ Allah try to overcome your attraction to the same sex, if possible if you desire to live within the foundation of Islamic principles.

I would kindly suggest that you look back upon your attractions. Have you ever been attracted to men? Do you feel it is something that could be a learned behavior, an emotional response? Are you willing to commit to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Reparative Therapy to possibly help you overcome your same-sex attraction?

AboutIslam illustrates how reparative therapy works with a brother. In your case, it would, of course, pertain to a possible dysfunctional relationship with you and your mother. The post states “Reparative Therapy is aimed at reversing sexuality in the belief that the most important relationship with a parent for a boy is the father-son relationship which, if dysfunctional, can lead to “incomplete gender identity”. The psychiatrist who formulated this therapy and has written a book on it is Joseph Nicolosi Ph.D. (Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality). To him: Many homosexuals are attracted to other men and their maleness because they are striving to complete their own gender identification”.

While I am not stating this is true in your case (relationship issues with your mom), I am just putting it out there as a possible venue to examine if you want to try to examine and possibly change your attraction from females to males.

While nothing is guaranteed, sister, in terms of changing your focus of attraction, I can only imagine how hard it may be for you. I can only encourage you to decide if you truly want to please Allah (swt), examine ways to reconstruct your thinking patterns, as well as focus on drawing closer to Allah (swt) by dkhir, prayer, reciting the Qur’an, and making du’aa’ to seek Allah’s help in overcoming your attraction.

Perhaps, you may never overcome your attraction and you will have to live with it. You will then have to decide if you can resist the temptation of sexual acts. You will also want to decide if you should marry because, as you said, everyone deserves to be loved in this life.

Perhaps linking up with groups in your area for support will be helpful. There are a few groups for Muslims who are or were gay/lesbian seeking to live a halal life. Perhaps joining such a group would be of benefit. Often these support groups are hard to locate due to the stigma and often the danger in certain countries. However, with some networking and searching, you may be able to find one. I would start looking at meetup.com as well as your local university directories of groups and clubs. A key phrase may be “progressive Muslims”. If you have a therapist, she or he may be able to direct you as well.

Whatever your choice and outcome is, sister, please do continue to seek out Allah (swt). Never give up Islam and continue to pray for guidance, mercy, and forgiveness. We all have our tests and trials in this life, some harder than others. In sha’ Allah, with prayer, deep introspection and insight, you will be able to come to terms with your issue and lead a happy life that is pleasing to Allah (swt).

We wish you the best.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:




About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

find out more!