The prohibition of homosexuality is rooted in the
theologico-juridical corpus of Medieval Islam. This corpus consists
mainly of jurisprudence of the major Islamic Schools of
Thought (madhhab) or fiqh, within Sunni Islam, 26 and is
followed by most contemporary Islamic scholars. Their views are
based principally upon the Quranic parable of the Prophet Lot,
or Lūt in Arabic, as discussed below


A. General Prohibition of Same-Sex Relationships According to the
Primary Sources of Sharia Law?
Islam attaches immense significance to traditional
heterosexual marriage as the only lawful and religiously
acceptable vehicle for sexual contact amongst consenting
heterosexual men and women. However, this emphasis on
legitimizing and regularizing heterosexual conduct through the
institution of marriage does not impact the Qur’an’s positive
view upon the celebration of sexual diversity, and the
recognition of homosexuality and lesbianism as a legitimate
practice for those whom Allah Almighty has endowed with
homosexual and lesbian tendencies.
1. Classical Interpretations of Sharia Law
As noted above, in the context of marriage, Islam takes a
positive view of sexuality. Sexual pleasure between spouses is an
integral part of the marriage. Even more importantly, sexual
intercourse, as the consummation of marriage, is a condition of
its validity (marriage and coitus are associated in the term
nikah).28 The ‘sexual duality’ of those associated by nikah is a
form of sacred relationship,29 and that is the reason as to why
sexual conduct must be performed within the bounds of the
30 The Qur’an and the Sunna indeed explain in detail the
sexual practices between spouses, who are described in the

Islamic scriptures as “garments” fitting each other. 31 Some
authors have even claimed that there is a certain relationship
between the magico-religious spheres of life and the sacralizing
character of the nikah.
Outside of a lawful marriage, as prescribed by the Sharia, no
other form of sexual activity is permissible. In accordance with
the classical understanding of the Sharia, any extra-marital (i.e.,
unlawful) sexual relations are illegal, with corresponding
criminal law sanctions.Unlawful sexual intercourse is identified
as zina,
33 which is a major offense.34 As Fida Sanjakdar notes,
“deviating from the Islamic narrative of heterosexual relations
within zawaj (marriage) is a highly charged and politically
sensitive act, which can subject persons to ‘harsh criticism from
fellow Muslims’ as well as becoming ‘ostracised from the Muslim
It is therefore not surprising that there is unanimity
amongst scholars of the major Islamic schools of thought (Sunni

he same time considered to be a moral, physical, and
psychological disorder. 37 All the major doctrines within the
Sunni and Shi’a traditions, and most notably the Shafi School,
agree that homosexual intercourse (liwat) is analogous to
heterosexual zina, and should therefore be rejected.38 Apart
from the Hanafi school, all Islamic schools take the position that
homosexual conduct amongst men, and particularly the act of
sodomy (i.e., anal penetration), attracts the Hadd punishment.39
Only minor doctrines, like Zahirism (a Sunnite doctrine) and
Rafida (a Shi’ite doctrine), suggest that homosexuals should not
be punished.40 Such prohibitions may be related, among many
things, to the Islamic preoccupation to avoid filthiness, as
prescribed in the Qur’an and the Sunna, 41 as well as to the
connection between the sexual relationship and the effect of

procreation. 42 As for female homosexuality (musahaqa),
references to its punishment are scarce. It is argued that female
homosexuality is “treated with relative indulgence”: those who
indulge in it incur only the same reprimand as those
condemned for auto-eroticism, bestiality, or necrophilia.4

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