The Homosexual Double Standard

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double-standard

In the wake of the Kim Burrell controversy new conversations about religion, homosexuality and homophobia are being had across the nation and the web. Mrs. Burrell and others like her, who disagree with homosexuality on a moral/religious basis, are being labeled as homophobes and hatemongers. This led me to ask ‘is everyone who disagrees with homosexuality a homophobe?’

Of course we know that the answer to that question is an emphatic ‘no!’; We understand that someone can be against abortion and despise the firebombing of Planned Parenthood centers, we know that someone can be against Israeli settlements and its violence against civilians and still not applaud Palestinian suicide bombers. We also know that someone can disagree with the act of homosexuality and not have irrational or negative thoughts about homosexuals that would lead to discrimination in the work place or any other unfair treatment. So why then does anyone who speaks out against homosexuality get labeled as a homophobe?

Part of the reason is that no matter what the movement, no matter what the group, there will be people within it who will not tolerate any sort of criticism, justified or no, without trying to silence the critic with some sort of derogatory label. Racist, anti-Semite, homophobe, bigot. These are all terms that, while accurately describing large segments of the society we live in, have been used to undermine the valid critiques of people who, understandably, don’t want to be saddled with any of those horrendous designations. In a world where freedom of speech is truly valued, a person should feel safe to speak out against the ills of the Blacklivesmatter movement without being labeled a bigot. A person should feel safe from being call an anti-Semite and at the same time feel free to call Israel out on the illegality of the settlements in Palestine. And in the same way, people should feel free to speak out on their religious and moral convictions in regard to homosexuality without be termed a homophobe.

However, this does not preclude the fact that some people who do speak out against homosexuals, even from a religious/moral standpoint, are indeed homophobes. Robert Jeffress, for example, is a pastor that is well known for his negative stance on homosexuality. He has been quoted as saying “Homosexuality is perverse; it represents a degradation of a person’s mind.” And that “God established the pattern of one man–one woman marriage on the sixth day of creation (Genesis 1:26-27). Any deviation from that norm—adultery, unbiblical divorce, or homosexuality—is wrong.” He equates homosexuality with adultery, yet he supports Donald Trump, an infamous adulterer. I doubt Jeffress would have supported an openly gay candidate. And Christians, represented in this duplicity by Robert Jeffress and his ilk, are not alone. In Islam the punishment for homosexuality is the same as the punishment for adultery, yet there is no public debate on whether adulterers can pray in the masjid with the rest of the Muslims like there is for homosexuals. No questions as to if adulterers are Muslims which are questions being posed in regard to homosexuals. There are many people among Christians, Muslims and Jews, scholars and laymen, who chastise homosexuals while befriending adulterers and fornicators.

This double standard must stop if there is to be any constructive conversation about the relationship between sex and morality and the role that relationship plays in religion and our country. If people who object to homosexuality on moral grounds want to do so without being labeled a homophobe, they need to object just as forcefully and just as frequently to other sexual behaviors that are equally reprehensible in the eyes of their faith. Fornication, Adultery, out of wedlock children and divorce seem to be a part of this country’s culture and it is unfair, homophobic in fact, to single out homosexuality as our nation’s foremost sexual problem.

Maybe Robert Jeffress isn’t a homophobe it just wants people and the nation to follow the word of God. Maybe Kim Burrell truly is concerned with the souls of homosexuals and hates the sin while loving the sinner. Perhaps the Muslims concerned with whether homosexuals are Muslims are just as concerned with whether or not adulterers are Muslims. Maybe. But until their worry and concern for other sexual issues are spoken of just as vociferously and frequently as their concern for homosexuality, I’m guessing that they’ll continue to hear the term homophobe bandied about.

 

And Plus To Boot

This isn’t black ink on my body

Freshly applied, awaiting to dry

Marring perfection, a paint job shoddy

That will rub off or run if I cry-

So we can touch hands without you looking to die.

And

This brown isn’t muck on my skin

Ripened by sows, smeared head to toe

To reap satisfaction, a deep dark sin

That reeks to high heaven God knows

So you can turn down your skyscrapping nose.

Plus

This beige isn’t a badge on my chest

Received with pride, coveted and dignified

Raising my station, a cause to feel blessed

That i find favor in my hater’s eyes

So you can give up your plans to divide.

To Boot

That white isn’t heaven’s pure light

Shining from within, erasing your sins

Making you right, whether you’re wrong or right

That is just? the color of your skin

And this is just the color of my skin.

Whose God Is It Anyway?

    sunset-on-the-Sargasso-can-be-almost-spiritual

Whose God Is It Anyway?

 The recent dismissal of Larycia Hawkins, a Wheaton College professor placed on administrative leave for standing in solidarity with Muslims, has raised numerous questions many of them having been asked for centuries. The one that seems to be most hotly debated is whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

The argument seems to be going back and forth between Muslims asserting what they believe and some hard-line Christians telling them that they are wrong. In all fairness I have to say there are many Christians who not only support Muslims’ right to assert who they worship, but also share the one God belief. One such Christian who believes that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is no less than The Pope himself, who Hawkins referenced in her statement.

Many people who are opposed to the idea of Muslims and Christians worshiping the same God say that it’s a matter of proper Theology and preserving Christian orthodoxy; however the fact that what someone else believes can in no way affect another individual’s belief or theology coupled with the hate filled rhetoric, blatant lies and animosity that has attended many of these debates, has lead one Christian commentator, Miroslav Volf, to believe that these arguments, as well as the professor’s suspension, are “about anti-Muslim bigotry, not theology.”

For the mind that is unclouded by hate or fear the position that Muslims and Christians don’t worship the same God is senseless. Muslims believe in the One who created the heavens and the earth, who created Adam with His two hands. They worship the One who delivered Noah and those with him in the ark while drowning those that rejected His message. Muslims worship the God of Abraham, Moses (to whom He gave the 10 commandments and helped deliver the children of Israel from Pharoah) and Jesus whom he strengthened with the Holy Spirit, the son of the Virgin Mary. This is the God that sent the Quran down to Muhammad and whom all Muslims believe in…..

 While God is called by many different names, Dios by some spanish speaking believers, Prussa by those that speak Chinese, Allah by many Arabic speaking Christians, Ar-Rahman one of the names used by Muslims or even simply God, it is clear that all of those names refer to one being which is the Creator and Maintainer of all that exist.

So if the above definition is not consistent with the god that is being worshiped by the powers that be at Wheaton College, or the Christian hardliners who agree with their decision to suspend Professor Hawkins, perhaps they are indeed not worshiping the same God as Muslims and the rest of Christianity worship.

Cultural Islam

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‘Cultural Islam” is a phrase that I’m hearing more and more about; an idea that is finding a lot of traction with the younger generation of Muslims  as well as some of their parents. It’s an idea and practice (or lack of practice I should say) that is  in complete contradiction to what Islam is. “Cultural Islam” is the idea that a person can identify as being Muslim without having to fulfill any of the religion’s obligations. It’s the bastard child of secularism and it’s rape of Christianity, championed by the global reach of America’s media juggernaut.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah, pay the Zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj to the House, if you are able to do so.’ Islam cannot be separated from these obligations, because these obligations are Islam. The same cannot be said for Christianity and Christians which is who these “cultural Muslims” are trying to imitate knowingly or unknowingly.

In Christianity, where there is no codified set of obligations, it’s easy to mix culture and religion; if a person wears a crucifix then they’re Christian, if a person goes to church on Sundays then they’re Christian. Read the Bible? Christian. Watch the Passion of Christ? Christian. This is not the case in Islam. In Islam there are obligations that if they are not met take you outside the fold of Islam; completely abandoning the prayer is one of the things that takes you outside the fold of Islam according to the majority of Islamic scholars. The Prophet (PBUH) said:The pact between us and them is prayer.Whoever abandons it is a disbeliever.[Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhi,AnNasa’I and Ibn Majah].

Wearing a kufi, eating food that comes from traditionally Islamic countries, celebrating Islamic holidays does not make a Muslim, despite what those who proscribe to “cultural Islam” may think. The dangerous part is that they don’t see how damaging their “cultural Islam” is. They don’t see that it’s exactly this mixing of culture and religion that has many in the world thinking that Islam condones female circumcision, the killing of innocent people and the wide-spread violence against non-Muslims in general. Islam, nor Muslims, condone any of these behaviors. These actions, when perpetrated by people who identify themselves as Muslims, are carried out in the name of “Cultural Islam” by “cultural Muslims” who identify more with the culture and trappings of Islam than they do with the religion.

Islam is not a club although it brings people together. It’s not a political party although it does give us guidelines through which to live our lives. Islam is not a culture although it does give us a sense of history and an identity. Islam is a religion the it’s purpose to guide mankind to the pleasure of i’ts Creator. To give glad tidings to those who believe and warn those who disbelieve. The Quran and the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) transcends culture, race and nationality.

No one needs to redefine Islam. Not to justify their failure to meet it’s obligations. Not to assuage the feelings of guilt for possibly losing faith. Not to please their parents nor friends. Islam needs no redefining, nor reformation. it doesn’t need to be secularized, modernized or Americanized. Allah says in the Quran, “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”

 
 
 

A Rose By Any Other Name…

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“My name is Muhammad.” He reaches out his hand to shake mines.
I grab it firmly. “My name is Steven, nice to meet you.” Muhammad lets go of my hand.
“That isn’t a Muslim name.”
This conversation begin when I flagged down a cab who pulled over and ask me if I was heading downtown and I, guessing that he was heading to the masjid for prayers, greeted him with “As salamu alaikum, yes I am.”
I had just come from Harlem’s famed soul food restaurant Amy Ruth’s and thought the cab ride would get me home to a hotter meal than a walk or bus ride. Being African American I grew up on Soul food and couldn’t wait to get home and eat.
When I got into the car the driver’s glimpses into his rear view mirror let me know that his curiosity was piqued so I asked, “you going to the masjid to pray?”
“Yes,” He answered.
We had some little chit chat about the masjid he frequented and his driving schedule compared to the prayer times and about how I converted to Islam. It was a short drive from the restaurant to the projects where I lived and at the end of the ride is when the introductions were made and the confusion over my name, even after I had revealed i was born Christian and had converted, were expressed
His reaction isn’t unique to those born into Islam or with “Muslim names”; many of the converts who decide to change their names will question the decision to keep a birth name asking “why don’t you take a Mulsim name?” That gives rise to what is, I think, a more pertinent question: What is a Muslim name?
When we think of ‘Muslim names’ we think of names like Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, Hamza, and so many more; the list can go on and on. These are undoubtedly the names of Muslims, so of the most highly esteemed Muslims in the history of Islam in fact, but are these actually Muslim names and are some of the generally held beliefs about what a Muslim name is correct?
During the advent of Islam the prophet Muhammad, and many of the following leaders of the Islamic community, already had their names; names that were popular and/or common to the time and area in which they were living. Arabic names. These names became recognizable as “muslim names” not because they have any intrinsic association with Islam, but because of the piety, humbleness and patience these men exhibited, the dedication and steadfastness in following the Quran and the Messenger of Allah. It’s the man that makes the name, not the other way around.
So, when people asks, “why don’t you have a Muslim name?” what they really should say is “Why don’t you have an Arabic name?” and my personal answer to that question would be “because I’m African American.”
Now, back to this baked mac & cheese.

Clothing vs. Nature

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Hollaback! is a non-profit and a movement with the daunting goal of ending what they call street harassment. In a recent video released by the organization, they show a Shoshana B. Roberts, a physically well endowed and attractively proportioned woman, walking the streets of NYC in skin-tight jeans and a skin-tight shirt in order to show the type of harassment, they claim, women must endure on a daily basis.
What I think it shows is the consequences of our choices and the type of negative attention dressing in a provocative manner can draw. This brings us to the beauty of Islam which teaches the physical beauty of a woman should be covered. Allah says in the Quran in chapter Nur (24), verse 30: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment except to their own husbands or fathers or husband’s fathers, or their son or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons or sister’s son, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness.” The Messenger of Allah, the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also mentions that “There will be women who will be dressed but they will be naked…”
Scholars have said that this refers to women who wear clothing that is so tight it conceals nothing but the color of the woman’s skin. Her entire physical form is out on display; the heaviness of her breast, the size of her buttocks, each and every curve of her calves, thighs, stomach and arms is being exhibited for the world to see as if she is naked though she is fully clothed.
Covering the body is a form of modesty. It speaks to the world that the woman who is covered is not seeking sexual attention, so she has her sexual parts covered. In the sam way the woman who has her sexual parts all but exposed is screaming to the world that she wants to be objectified, she wants people to notice her sexual parts and give her sexual attention.
Let me make this clear, I am in no way implying that what a women wears justifies her being assaulted, harassed or bothered in any way, but if we ignore the fact that this is going to happen then we are blinding ourselves to the reality of the world.
It’s clear that the producers at Hollaback! are aware of this; the skin-tight clothing that Mrs. Roberts was wearing during the recording of her harassment filled stroll through the streets of New York was no where in evidence during her interview on WPIX11 talking about the video. Instead we see her with a loose-fitting skirt and layered tops. She would still stick out in a Muslim country or in a nun’s convent, but the attire is a far cry from the form-fitting outfit she was wearing during the video. It’s my conclusion that had Mrs. Roberts been wearing this more conservative outfit she wouldn’t have gotten half the amount of harassment that she received during her 10 hours on the street.
Does this mean that Mrs. Roberts shouldn’t be allowed to wear whatever she wants? No it doesn’t mean that. Mrs. Roberts has the right to wear whatever she wants. At the same time she, as well as all of the women who decide to walk around with their sexual parts clearly exposed, has to expect sexual attention. She has to know that her clothing decisions will affect the way people see and treat her. It’s a basic lesson that we teach to our daughters right from the very first time we allow them to walk out the door unaccompanied.

In her interview with WPIX11 Mrs. Roberts speaks of the ulterior motives of the men that try to talk to her when she mentions that they weren’t asking the men walking behind how their day was, her implication being that they were talking to her for some other reason besides wanting to know how her day was. I say she is correct, although maybe not for the reason her nor Hollaback! think. I contend that the ulterior motive is not so hidden; her breast and buttocks are on full display and while the response might not have been the same i can assure the people at Hollaback! that, had the man walking behind Mrs. Roberts had his penis flapping in the wind he would have definitely elicited a response he wasn’t looking for, perhaps one he might even term harassment or worse.
The conclusion from the video is clear; if you wear a certain type of clothing you will get a certain type of attention, a certain type of response from people the corresponds exactly to the way the clothing portray you and I propose a challenge to the people at Hollaback! and Mrs. Shoshana Roberts: take another stroll. Record Another 10 hours walking along the streets of New York, microphones in hand, no-nonsense look on your face, but this time do it in clothing that isn’t placing on display the ample assets of Mrs. Roberts and report on the vast amount of harassment, I’m betting she will not receive.