We’ve heard Jonathan A.C. Brown, a convert to Islam and professor at Georgetown University, defend Islamic slavery and Islamic child marriage. What does he have to say about homosexuality? This is a tough one: for an American academic in the twenty-first century, openly opposing homosexuality is simply not tenable. But for a Muslim, it is the only view that is acceptable by God.
In one talk, he approached the subject this way: unlike their Christian counterparts, he insisted, Muslim scholars don’t see same-sex attraction as “unnatural.” In fact, they don’t judge attractions at all. No, they just judge actions – they rule on what people do, not what they feel. And, yes, under Islam “a specific act is wrong.” Which act? Why, the “act of Lut.” (Christians know him as Lot.) In other words, sexual intercourse between males. Under Islam, he acknowledged, that’s a “sin.” But he was quick to add that Muslim judges, out of the goodness of their hearts, strive to “err in mercy” rather than to “err in severity.” Which is to say that they strive to let offenders off in cases of insufficient evidence – strive to grasp onto whatever “ambiguities” they can find. “It’s almost like don’t ask, don’t tell,” he said. If you can keep it behind closed doors, you’ll probably get away with it. Of course, this claim is sheer nonsense, and by making it Brown is dropping down the memory hole countless amply documented cases of young men being hanged or stoned or thrown from the roofs of buildings for the crime of homosexuality.
Brown actually was invited to write about homosexuality for Variety, the Hollywood trade paper. After same-sex marriage became the law of the land in 2015, Variety published a special issue on the subject, containing dozens of articles and interviews. Brown was their Muslim authority. His contribution was a masterpiece of evasion, which danced around the topic at length before concluding with the following paragraph:
The issue of gay marriage in America is a tough one for Muslims. On one hand, it’s nigh impossible to construct an argument by which sexual contact between men, let alone anal sex, is considered permissible in God’s eyes. On the other hand, attempts to ban the Shariah in the U.S. threaten Muslims’ ability to have their own marriage contracts. Like gays, they want to be able to define marriage free from majoritarian cultural biases. So many Muslims are willing to support the rights of other Americans to shape marriage according to their particular beliefs. Muslims expect their beliefs and relationships to be respected in return.
As one reader commented: “That last paragraph made little sense. Are Muslims against homosexuality or are they not?” Another knew the answer: “Nice snow job.” A third asked: “Why is Variety running muslim [sic] propaganda?” And a fourth spelled out the facts: “The intellectual dishonesty of this article is just staggering. Why is this Muslim cleric [sic] not openly explaining that homosexuality is punishable by death according to the respective scholars of all sects in Islam?”
Why, you might ask, hasn’t anybody who knows the truth about Islam publicly taken on Jonathan Brown’s claptrap? Actually, somebody has. Or has tried to. We’ll wind up with that story tomorrow.
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