The following article was penned during Pride Month, in 2021, addressing rahab al-mukhanithun, homophobia, which this work will demonstrate is borne out of a misinterpreting of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, based upon lack of knowledge of what the sin of Sodom was - xenophobia, rape, brutality and mistreatment of the poor...
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The familiar passage of the Book of Genesis, which tells of the Great Flood (found in chapters 6–9), is understood very differently depending on which language one is reading the account in. The traditional Christian, and most notably, the Evangelical American variation of such Protestantism, reads from translations which emanate ultimately from the King James Version. Most forwards and prefaces to any of these translations claim that they use a combination of the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate and – last but not least – the Hebrew Tanakh.
The spurious claim that the King James (and subsequent translations) derive in any way from the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Tanakh is belied by the fact that King Edward I issued the infamous Edict of Expulsion of the Jewish people in 1290. This edict remained in effect throughout the Middle Ages and did not end until Oliver Cromwell permitted Jews to return to England in 1657.
With no Jews in England for centuries preceding the King James translation, one would have to wonder how Christians would have any authoritative knowledge of the language which was at the time only truly mastered by devout Jews. While there may have been extremely limited Hebrew that could have been passed down in England during those centuries, it would by no means constitute a fluent or complete understanding of the language, nor would it pay attention to differences in terminological nuance.
It raises the question, of course, since the Tanakh is Hebrew (barring the limited Aramaic portion of the Book of Daniel), why should Greek and Latin be needed to decipher the meaning? The answer is as obvious as it is audacious: the Hebrew text simply does not state what Christian theology and doctrine teaches. In this case particularly, we read in the Hebrew account that the eretz (land) was flooded, not the `olam (world).
A global flood as described in the Christian reading of this myth is inconsistent with the physical findings of geology, paleontology and the global distribution of species. The branch of creationism known as “flood geology” is no more than a pseudoscientific attempt to argue that such a global flood actually historically occurred. Ironically, Evangelicals and conservative Christians in general, claim to be “Biblical literalists” and yet, had they literally read the Hebrew text, there would be no need for confusion nor contradiction with science.
The Great Flood myth originated in Mesopotamia long before the Torah was set to pen. The Mesopotamian story has three distinct versions, the Sumerian Epic of Ziusudra, (the oldest, dating from about 1600 BCE), and in the form of episodes in two Babylonian epics, those of Atrahasis and the Epic of Gilgamesh. In these accounts, the flood is described as a massive regional flood. There is no mention that the entire planet was covered in water, nor is there evidence that these cultures had any concern with peoples and regions outside of their immediate contact and influence.
Verse 17 of Genesis chapter 6 states clearly:
“And I, behold, I bring the flood of waters upon the land (הארץ), to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under the skies (שמים); everything that is in the land (בארץ) shall perish.”
Had the reader simply known the nuanced difference between “the regional land” and “the whole world,” then there would be no need for a fanciful, exaggerated and unscientific belief in a global deluge, from which all the species of the planet were saved on a wooden boat. There is no need for the religious to defend such a tale, as it is simply not stated in the Torah in any way.
The devil, as it were, is in the details… or the glossing over and ignoring of the details, perhaps.
Far from the only instance of such woeful ignorance of Hebrew textual distinctions and nuance, Evangelicalism and indeed conservative forms of Christianity in general, have embarrassed themselves by failing to properly read Hebrew passages of the Bible which they believe relate to homosexuality. Compounding this error, Muslim jurists have misinterpreted Qur’anic references to Biblical stories, by grafting the theological assumptions of Christianity onto the ‘ayat.
In the work at hand, these passages will be analyzed and deciphered with attention paid to the terminological distinctions made in the text. Quite simply, this is Biblical and Qur’anic literalism, and it in no way supports the traditionalist Christian readings on homosexuality. Furthermore, this works will expand on these misinterpretations by exploring what the literal Arabic of the Qur’an says, as it midrashically expounds and exegeses on the Biblical narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah – a story which the Hebrew Bible makes clear has absolutely nothing to do with consensual homosexuality, whatsoever.
Following this, an examination of Islamic religious law condoning homosexuality in the cases of those effeminates or “mukhannathun,” who were “born this way,” will reveal that the presumptions vehement and blanket homosexual denunciations are nothing more than a figment of the modern fundamentalist imagination, and born of the late influences of Christianity on the Muslim Ummah, more than deriving from source criticism or the earliest followers of Muhammad.
“Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”?
The creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 is certainly an extraordinary tale in its own right. Of all the fantastic elements of the story, a literal reading of the Hebrew text makes it extremely difficult to fit into modern binary ideology. As a mythic or symbolic tale, it is a fascinating example both of ancient understandings of creation and the cosmos and also of the inextricable unity of humanity in all its diversity. Bearing in mind that the Torah is a Jewish work, and not a Christian one, it is important to note that Adam was a hermaphrodite according to the Torah and Midrash. Furthermore, the first spouse of Adam, Lilith (Genesis Rabbah 22:7 and 18:4), was not even a human (Babylonian Talmud on tractate Eruvin 18b) and Eve, for her part, was considered a hominid who was “as an ape.”
This should hardly come as a surprise to those familiar with the Midrashic tales of Adam and Eve, since in these accounts, Adam was not the first person ever to live, but the first prophet sent to a hominid people. He is regarded as the first “human” being, and as such the traditional designation for a human being in Semitic linguistics is “ben Adam.” This aside should be noted by the astute reader who will notice in translations of both prophetic texts and even the Christian accounts of literary character of Jesus, when “Son of Man” is mentioned. The phrase is not at all something unique to the Jesus character, but is in fact a way that spiritual or angelic entities address human beings. It is little wonder then why the Talmud teaches that “every translation is a lie.”
While a Jewish story in origin, content and context, the Torah as rendered by the Christian and particularly Western Christian imagination is largely drawn from translations of translations and as such, much is “lost in translation.” For the Jewish reader, much is said “between the lines” midrashically, in each verse of the Torah. This is so much the case that entire bookcases can be filled with Talmudic commentary and Rabbinic debates regarding the meanings, subtitles and nuance of each passage.
In that Jewish reading of the Genesis account, Cain himself is described as being the hybrid son of Eve and the Nachash “Serpent-Man,” who interestingly enough stands as tall as a camel and addresses Eve from over top of the gates of Eden, before being let in and either seducing or alternatively taking advantage of her innocence. The resulting offspring was said to have “scampered” about the room after birth, and to divorce him even further from any familiar human description, Cain’s progeny was said to have intermarried with the offspring of Lilith.
From a midrashic perspective, humankind as we know it are Biblically a hybridization of these species, sired by non-humans and by a hermaphrodite. While obviously myth, the story was composed to tell a number of truths, both quasi-historical on one level and spiritual on another. To reference this myth as heterosexual instruction by the Creator misses not only the points of the myth but the details of it as well. So much then for the fundamentalist concept of a Biblically monogamous, heteronormative family.
If the revelation that Adam was a “hermaphrodite” or “androgynos” (אנדרוגינוס) wasn’t surprising enough to those who bring Christocentric assumptions to the Biblical reading, the rabbis of the Mishnah who lived in the first two centuries of the Common Era, identify at least six possible genders, which seem to tie in with and overlap at least partially with their notions of biological sex (though not necessarily explicitly so).
The two familiar binary genders and sexes are of course the “zakhar” (זכר, male) and the “neqevah” (נקבה, female). Additionally, there are two sexes that are neither male nor female, called the aforementioned “androgynos” and another non-binary designation of “tumtum” (טומטום). The tannaitic texts also record the minority opinion of Rabbi Yossi who insists that “an androgynos is a creature in their own right and the sages could not decide whether he is man or woman” (Tosefta Bikkurim 2:2). The rabbis additionally told of two other categories for gender identity that don’t appear at birth, but develop later in life. The “saris” (סריס) is one who is born male but later develops female traits. Here we can assume some combination of both gender and biological sex, with the emphasis seemingly on gender, though a saris can be “naturally” a saris chamah (סריס חמה) – “born that way from the time of seeing the sun” – or become one through human intervention, a saris adam (סריס אדם), indicating some form of “gender-affirming” body modification. There are no less than 156 references in Mishnah and Talmud, as well as 379 references in classical Midrash.
Additionally, the “aylonit” (איילונית) designation is one who is born female, but later develops male traits. Again, this could indicate androgenizing physical traits but part and parcel with that – and beyond it – one must presume it to reference gender. In Ketuvot (11a), the Talmud suggested the etymology of the word Aylonit: “An Aylonit [is given this name] as if she is a ram [דכר is the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew word איל– a ram] which [is masculine and] does not bear children” (איילונית - דוכרנית דלא ילדה). Furthermore, Rabbi Avahu rules that a saris and an aylonit “are not classified as adults until they reach the age of twenty,” thus making it beyond debate that the Torah is calling the 17-year-old “little boy” (or “na`ar,” נער), Joseph a saris.
Far from rare occurrences in such commentaries, all of these genders appear frequently in classical Jewish texts. For example, the tumtumin appear no less than 119 times in the Babylonian Talmud alone. If all of this comes as a shock to the reader, then the revelation that both Abraham and Sarah were regarded as tumtumin will no doubt evoke much of the same bewilderment. The eleventh century text by Nathan ben Jehiel of Rome known as the Arukh, (c. 1035 – 1106 CE) connects the word tumtum with the word atum (אטום), meaning sealed. In many halakhic commentaries it is imagined that the genitals are covered by what is usually described as skin, though scientifically this assumption must be disregarded as having no documented biological precedence. Instead, the covering or “sealing” over of the sex should be regarded as figurative in nature, meaning the gender or even sex of the individual is ambiguous.
According to Rav Ammi (Yevamot 64a), both Abraham and Sarah were each a tumtum. Rav Ammi suggests this as an explanation as to why the couple were infertile for so many years.
Rabbi Ami said: “Abraham and Sarah were originally tumtumin, as it is stated: ‘Look to the rock from where you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from where you were dug’ (Isaiah 51:1), and it is written in the next verse: ‘Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you.’” (Isaiah 51:2)
אמר רבי אמי אברהם ושרה טומטמין היו שנאמר (ישעיהו נא, א) הביטו אל צור חוצבתם ואל מקבת בור נוקרתם וכתיב (ישעיהו נא, ב) הביטו אל אברהם אביכם ואל שרה תחוללכם
Had a physical “sealing” of the genitalia been the obstacle in conceiving a child for the couple, then this would not explain how Abraham was able to impregnate Hagar without any problem. Instead, the issue if they were tumtumin seems to be that Sarai was androgynous in some hormonal fashion. Too much testosterone can interfere with ovulation and menstruation in women. As such, Sarah’s hormonal infertility was due perhaps to elevated levels of testosterone. Rashi thus explains further that “hewn” (חוצבתם), in the passage above from Isaiah, means “he was made into a male” or “masculinized” (עשה לו זכרות) and with regards to Sarah, “you were poked” (נוקרתם) means “we made her female.”
Urologists have yet to identify any physical syndrome akin to a literal interpretation of this, which would indicate that the “sealed” aspect of the tumtum is not from their physical bodies but sealing or covering of clothing – meaning that without seeing genitalia, the two were ambiguous in appearance. Again, we know from the Genesis account that Abraham had no difficulties impregnating Hagar. So, there can be no confusion that he was simply unable to access his genitalia because of some bizarre flap of skin covering his and Sarah’s sex organs.
As for the concept of the saris, our greatest Biblical example appears to be none other than the Prophet Joseph himself. The story of Joseph and his brothers begins in Genesis, chapter 37, when he is 17 years old, yet the Torah still deems him a “little boy” or na`ar (נער), indicating he has not reached any sort of biological manhood in spite of his halakhically adult age. Far from our only evidence of Joseph as a saris, the word for Joseph’s coat which so upset his brothers is only found elsewhere translated as a “princess dress.” Could part of the reason for Joseph’s rejection by his brothers be based on his gender expression?
In Hebrew the “coat of many colors” is called “ketonet passim” (כתנת פסים). Its meaning is considered unclear by many traditional Bible scholars. Various translations employ terms such as “a robe with long sleeves,” as well as “an elaborately embroidered coat” or “a varicolored tunic.” This term is only ambiguous, however, if we ignore the only other use of the term, where princess Tamar wears a “ketonet passim” and the author is kind enough to explain that this is “how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times” (2 Samuel 13).
Does this also explain Jacob’s particular love for Joseph – the special care by a father who himself was described as a “smooth man” in appearance (Genesis 27:11)? As well, Jacob had been described as spending too much time in the women’s camp, in Genesis 25:27, which describes him as “a mild man, who stayed in the camp [with the women].” Far from a criticism, Leah makes it clear that she prefers Jacob’s nature to the overly-aggressive, hyper-masculine Esau (Tanhuma, ed. Buber, Vayeze 12), who the Torah mocks (as it does with Nimrod in Genesis 10:9) by sarcastically calling him a “mighty hunter” (Genesis 25:27) also suggesting he grunts for “red-red” (האדם האדם) stew (which the Torah teaches was a vegetarian lentil stew), like some sort of barbaric caveman (Genesis 25:30).
Does this feminine nature of Joseph as a saris further elucidate the way in which Joseph, like an ancient eunuch, was able to rise and be given special responsibility among the Egyptian leaders and their households? Could this in fact be part of the lesson that the Torah is teaching to the hyper-masculine and gender-normative? For which of Joseph’s brothers can claim the status that he is elevated to in the Torah? And yet he was regarded by his brothers as a little boy, what in modern times might term him the derogatory description of a “sissy.” In spite of all of this, it was through Joseph that all of his family and their descendants were saved. Like the account of Eden, it is clear that this myth is not meant to serve as annals of history as much as it is intended to metaphorically teach principles and truths that run deeper than mere sterile history texts. What we have here is a lesson being taught, and the lesson is not only to accept the saris, but to defeat the internal arrogance of his brothers, when it arises in any of us – what today might be called “toxic masculinity.”
These are hardly the only examples. We see that Eve is referred to as “he” (Genesis 3:12); Noah is said to have repaired “her” own tent (Genesis 9:21) and Rebecca herself is called a “little boy” just like Joseph – a na`ar rather than na`arah (Genesis 24:16). These sorts of grammatical substiles are trademarks of the Torah and its attempts to force us to “read between the lines” of the text. It is clear from these terms that the Torah does not see gender as a fixed concept that always stays to one’s assigned biological sex.
The REAL “Sin of Sodom”
If all that has been addressed thus far were not enough to have utterly decimated Christonormative assumptions about gender identity, sex and sexual orientation in the Torah, the proverbial final nail in the coffin is no doubt found in Ezekiel 16:49-50. Therein, the prophet declares that “the sin of Sodom” was not consensual male homosexuality at all (it is worth a passing mention that lesbianism is never implicated at all, by any reading of the text). Ezekiel declares, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were arrogant and did horrific things before Me...”
Here Ezekiel enumerates the sins of Sodom. Nowhere is consensual homosexuality listed. Instead, the Hebrew word often translated “detestable” or “to`evah” (תועבה) is utilized to refer to something that is morally horrifying, not merely “disgusting,” as it is often interpreted from the pulpit. The exact same word used in Leviticus 18:22 where it refers to what is often rendered as an “abomination.”
Thus, Ezekiel is using the same term to describe both rape and incest – calling this an abomination, a horror or to`evah (תועבה). The term to`evah more precisely than these or any other English rendering, can be rendered as “horror.” That is, a to`evah is not necessarily merely something that cause repulsion, it is the sort of repulsion that can be associated with fear, terror. This does not mean simply that one is “grossed out” by an action, it means that the action induces horror, terror, fear, as in the Oxford Dictionary’s phrasing: “the children screamed in horror.”
The Western reader can become so inundated with these terms that their literal meaning begins to dissolve and the cultural assumptions ascribed to the terms are grafted onto them instead. Just as the Sodom and Gomorrah account was not referring to consensual activity of any sort, Leviticus too is not referring to consensual homosexual behavior, but instead – in the literal reading – to incest, and in Talmudic interpretation, to polytheistic fertility cult temple prostitution, as we will see.
Misinterpreting the story of Sodom and Gomorrah based upon lack of knowledge of what the sin of Sodom was - xenophobia, rape, brutality and mistreatment of the poor - begins with the Biblical account, but is later carried on in the Muslim world as well. We thus see that this misunderstanding is easily as widespread in the Muslim Ummah as in Evangelical Christian circles. This is essential to note. All hadith literature that prescribes execution for acts are heterodoxically assumed to mean homosexuality. In fact, however, they literally make reference the crimes of Sodom, or literally, “the people of Lot.” No actual hadith exists saying to execute homosexuals and as we have now established what the forbidden sin of Sodom was, it is clear that consensual homosexual relationships were not it.
While the Qur’an never explicitly mentions homosexuality, it does speak of the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah engaging in an act so foul and contrary to Nature itself that no other being in all the worlds (مِنَ أَحَدٍ مِنَ الْعَالَمِينَ) had ever engaged in it (29.28). This leaves us with two options if we accept the reality of the natural world before us, and the empirical wisdom with which we can observe and analyze it. Either the Qur’an is referring to homosexuality and thus it is wrong – since homosexuality amongst an array of non-human species is extremely well attested to and documented – or the Qur’an simply is not referring to consensual homosexual activity at all, and thus it is potentially correct, if the horror and abomination here refers instead to the gang rape of foreigners. Since the Qur’an tells us repeatedly to refer back to the stories in the Torah, it seems clear that the Torah and the Biblical prophets should be deferred to for understanding of what exactly the “sin of Sodom” was. Otherwise, why does the Qur’an tell us to “remember” these accounts?
Finally, we find that Second Temple Era historians saw the “Sin of Sodom” in much the same way as Ezekiel – never once mentioning consensual homosexual activity whatsoever. Had this truly been the purpose ascribed to their destruction then it would be difficult to imagine why secular historians would not at least document this belief. Instead, Josephus identifies the sin of Sodom in the following passage from his Antiquities of the Jews:
“Now, about this time the Sodomites, overwhelmingly proud of their numbers and the extent of their wealth, showed themselves insolent to men and impious to the Divinity, insomuch that they no more remembered the benefits that they had received from Him, hated foreigners and avoided any contact with others. Indignant at this conduct, God accordingly resolved to chastise them for their arrogance, and not only to uproot their city, but to blast their land so completely that it should yield neither plant nor fruit whatsoever from that time forward.”
Josephus had been charged by Rome to document not only an array of histories, but specifically the history of the Jewish people and Jewish beliefs. There were many instances in which he wrote in apparent disagreement with certain matters, but nevertheless documented the prevailing beliefs or attitudes. That he does not even mention this one way or another indicates strongly that such a view was unheard of at the time, and that later views to the contrary were misinterpretations of earlier attitudes.
Leviticus 18:22: Death Penalty for Incest, Not Homosexuality
Without question, the most fundamental Biblical reference utilized to promote homophobia is Leviticus 18:22 and it’s parallel verse in chapter 20. The passage, as it were, is not only translated and interpolated to support homophobia, but also violence and even murder against members of the homosexual community. If indeed the passage is speaking of homosexuality, then the Torah would indeed be mandating a death sentence for homosexuality. This, of course, is the assumption made by those who accept fundamentalist homophobia as well as those who reject Biblical instruction entirely. It is little wonder why so many would reject a document that is misrepresented to them as promoting murder off innocent, consenting adults. The problem is the Torah does not promote any such thing, nor could it, since it is a document focused on justice and promoting a panentheistic verbal concept of Divinity that is said to carefully maintain justice in the world.
In the same way, the Christian assumption that the Torah speaks of killing a “rebellious” child, is absolutely rejected by rabbinic interpretation, which debates over whether such a child has ever existed. The degree of “rebelliousness” indicated in the Torah is so egregious that the rabbis Talmudically debated whether it had happened, once, twice, or never at all in history. Such an instance seems to foreshadow the account of the mysterious Al-Khidhr in the Qur’anic tale of the instruction of Moses, when such a youth is deemed so evil that he is executed by this enigmatic figure – much to the initial horror of Moses (18.65–82).
Similarly, the Torah passages assumed to refer to homosexuality mean nothing of the sort. The nuance of the Hebrew language is essential. Nothing is said in the Torah unintentionally. Textual switches in gender are always deliberate, intended to relay deeper truths of the story, to be read between the lines. In Leviticus, the phrase translated “as one lies with a woman” or, as we will see, “as one lies with a wife,” is only found here and in Leviticus 20:13. The phrase “as one lies with” occurs five times in the Hebrew Bible. “As one lies with” occurs four times where it references bed and does not indicate a sexual act. Genesis 49:4 designates a sexual act when Rueben sleeps with his father’s wife – a forbidden act of incest, though it is important to note here that both parties were adult and consenting (this matters, as we will see in Leviticus).
Biblical commentator K. Renato Lings’ understanding of Leviticus 18:22 suggests that the text is not self-explanatory without the surrounding context of other prohibitions before and after it. Lings accurately notes that the Hebrew text is far more complex than English translators disclose. This in fact is one of the more ambiguous passages of the Torah, yet it is presented as though translations are word for word renderings. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Lings thus maintains that the English text should be translated on the basis of Hebrew linguistics and as such, he concludes that the interpretation of David Stewart – that this passage is really about male-on-male incest - is the only accurate way to look at the verse.
Lings astutely notes that the word used for “man” is not the typical noun used for “man.” Instead, the Torah uses a word which translates as “male” (235). Therefore, Lings translates the text of Leviticus 18:22 as “and with a male you shall not lie” (236). This, he explains, means “a male of any age in your family” (as we will see below). Translators have taken huge liberties with the second half of the verse, typically rendered “as with a woman,” by including the word “as”. Many translations also include particles “with” or “like.” Lings correctly notes that these words are not part of the original Hebrew text. They simply are not there. Thus, Lings translates the verse as “and with a male you shall not lie down the lyings of a woman” (238).
Lings notes that “lyings” (משכבי) here appears in the plural, and is only found in these Leviticus 18:22 and Genesis 49:4. The singular version of the Hebrew word is used frequently, but in these two passages alone it is used in the plural. As noted above with regard to Reuben, the reference in Genesis 49:4 depicts “lyings” as a forbidden act of incest (241). Lings argues that the term “lyings” refers to an action that is of “arguably illicit nature” (240). If we take into account Genesis 49:2 then, we discover the text refers to forbidden act of incest (241).
Finally, Ling focuses on the noun for “woman.” The King James Version and all normative Christian translations render the word “womankind” or “woman.” As we have discussed, however, the King James Version is not primarily drawing from the Hebrew of the Masoretic text. While the word used for “male” is clearly referenced elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible for all ages, the one used for “woman” or “eshah,” refers to an adult woman, or more specifically someone old enough to be married, even a “wife” (242) as in the famous Proverb regarding a “Wife of Valor” or “Eshet Chayyil” – which Jewish men traditionally sing to their wives amidst Shabbat blessings every Friday evening. This passage thus seems to be a continuation of both the preceding prohibitions on adultery as well as incest. That is, the focus on one’s wife seems to be noting that the offending parties are married to women and committing acts of adultery in secret.
Lings says we must consider the context in which Leviticus 18:22 is written, noting that the passage “deals with various illicit relationships in the sexual realm: one marrying two sisters (18:18), intercourse with a menstruating woman (18:19), infidelity (18:20), and bestiality (18:23).” (243). Context is key to understanding Biblical criticism. Most of Leviticus 18 deals directly with incest. Notably, the list of laws from Leviticus 18 is reordered in Leviticus 20. In Leviticus 18 the order of the topics is ambiguous, but in chapter 20 the incorrectly imagined homosexual prohibition appears within a list referring to incest (245) and in chapter 20 it is specified that the penalty for such an action is in fact death. If this passage were in fact referring to consensual homosexual activity, this ordering would be bad literary composition, as this prohibition would come out of nowhere and would disrupt the flow of the text and its context. It is clear from the context as well as the linguistic nuance of “lyings” that this is a prohibition and sentence on male-to-male incest.
Ironically, fundamentalists call themselves “Biblical literalists” and yet they disregard the literal wording and grammar of the Hebrew Torah in favor of literalistic clinging to translations and interpretive interpolation that requires us to read the Hebrew of the text non-literally and out of context. One can only imagine why such fundamentalists would want us to do that, unless for the fact that the translators, with their lying pens, know good and well that the literal text does not support their bigotry and homophobic dogma.
Lings thus maintained, from his linguistic study that one could reasonably conclude that Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 continue the theme of incestuous relationships – prohibiting male family members from engaging in incest, just the same way they would be prohibited in heterosexual incest. Thus, Lings suggests that the passage should be paraphrased: “Sexual intercourse with a close male relative should be just as abominable to you as incestuous relationships with female relatives” (245), as if they were lawful wives. It would seem that this might be about as close of a translatory approximation as one could render the verse into English.
The Torah prohibits incest. It has nothing to say about homosexuality itself. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of mistreating the poor and foreigners according to the prophet Ezekiel. A man “shall not” lie down with a male relative as if they were a lawful woman (that is, a wife). The Torah says that to do so is an act of “horror” and is punishable by death. The Torah says nothing one way or the other about the personal, private issue of homosexuality. The Torah does not endorse it nor denounce it, it is simply a non-issue.
Lest there be any dispute on this matter, we turn to the Gemara in exegetical elaboration and insight into this passage. There we read:
“From where do we derive the prohibition and punishment for intercourse with a ‘male’? It is as the Sages taught in a baraita with regard to the verse: ‘And if a man lies with a ‘male’ relative lies with a with a wife, both of them have committed a horror; they shall be put to death, their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:13): The word ‘man’ excludes a minor boy. The phrase ‘lies with a male’ is referring to any male, whether he is an adult man or whether he is a [adult like Joseph who is like a] boy. The phrase ‘as with a woman (mishkevei isha),’ referring to lying with a woman, appears in the verbal plural. The verse thus teaches you that there are two manners of lying with a woman for which one who engages in intercourse with a woman forbidden to him is punished, vaginal and anal intercourse.”
זכר מנא לן דת"ר (ויקרא כ, יג) איש פרט לקטן אשר ישכב את זכר בין גדול בין קטן משכבי אשה מגיד לך הכתוב ששני משכבות באשה
Just as Joseph was called a “little boy,” the implication here is that the prohibition is extended not only against male-to-female incest (which the Torah has already articulated), but also against male-to-male incest, and even incest towards those classes of non-binary individuals born as female, but regarded as “male” hormonally or in terms of gender, as we have previously discussed. This sort of playing with linguistic gendering is common throughout the Torah and seems to be indicating here a prohibition against male or female incest.
Rabbi Yishmael elaborates on this further, saying: “This phrase is written to come to teach about the punishment for such intercourse, and the halakhah that one is liable for anal intercourse with a woman who is forbidden to him is found to be derived from it.”
א”ר ישמעאל הרי זה בא ללמד ונמצא למד מות יומתו בסקילה אתה אומר בסקילה או אינו אלא באחת מכל מיתות האמורות בתורה נאמר כאן דמיהם בם ונאמר באוב וידעוני דמיהם בם מה להלן בסקילה אף כאן בסקילה
While this prohibits anal intercourse with a woman who is prohibited to a man, we know that anal intercourse is halakhically permissible in Judaism just as it is in Shi`i Islam. Accordingly, if one were to assume from this that it is a prohibition on all homosexual sex and not just homosexual incest, then it would further reason that this verse would then prohibit heterosexual anal intercourse, which is not halakhically the case. In fact, the only prohibition on anal sex (or oral for that matter), is when a man ejaculates outside of his wife’s vagina with the intention of not getting her pregnant during periods of time when pregnancy would otherwise be desired. The Talmud even somewhat suggests anal intercourse for the 24 months of breast feeding, to avoid harming the health of one’s wife, by risking pregnancy before two full years of recovery from the previous pregnancy (Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim, 20b; Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot, 34a-b; Tosafot, Yevamot 34b; Tosafot Rid, Yevamot, 12b). In fact, in Nedarim, Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai argues against anal and oral sex, even suggesting that birth defects arise from these acts. But Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai rebukes this interpretation and retorts:
“The above is the view of Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai alone; but on the contrary our Sages said: The halakah is not as Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai, but a man may do whatever he pleases with his wife. A parable; Meat which comes from the butcher, may be eaten salted, roasted, cooked or seethed; and so it is with fish from the fishmonger…”
א”ר יוחנן: זו דברי יוחנן בן דהבאי, אבל אמרו חכמים! אין הלכה כיוחנן בן דהבאי, אלא כל מה שאדם רוצה לעשות באשתו עושה; משל לבשר הבא מבית הטבח, רצה לאכלו במלח – אוכלו, צלי – אוכלו, מבושל – אוכלו, שלוק – אוכלו; וכן דג הבא מבית הצייד.
Rabbi Akiva adds that: “It is not necessary to derive this halakhah from the aforementioned passage of Leviticus, “Rather, it says: ‘And you shall not lie (tishkav) with a male as with a wife.” Read into the verse: “You shall not enable your being lain with (tishakhev) by a male.”
רבי עקיבא אומר אינו צריך הרי הוא אומר ואת זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה קרי ביה לא תשכב
The Gemara here teaches is that it says both vaginal and anal intercourse are prohibited with any “male.” What does this tell us? This teaches that the Torah prohibits in the plural of vaginal and anal, and applies that to sex with any “male” – whether a biological male relative or a “male” relative like Rebecca. If this doesn’t stand out as clearly not referring to a simple matter of homosexuality then what would be the explanation for reference to vaginal sex with males? The Gemara must be speaking of something beyond simple homosexuality, lest the application of prohibited male vaginal sex be out of place.
We read in Sanhedrin 54b that the prohibition in Leviticus is about a “qadesh” or “ritual male prostitute” in idolatrous cults of Canaanite fertility religions. Translations of this passage of the Talmud often invent words and terms interpolated into English that are simply not found in the Hebrew, such as incorrectly translating qadesh (from the root “holy”) as “Sodomite”. As with previous forced translations we can only ask why fundamentalism of any sort feels the need to put words where they are not found in order to fit religious texts into later dogmas.
“We have learned the warning but from where is the prohibition derived? The verse states: ‘And you shall not lie with a male [relative] as with a wife; it is a horror’” (Leviticus 18:22). Thus, Sanhedrin is actually linking the aforementioned prohibition on homosexual incest to ritual temple prostitution as well.
“We have learned from here the prohibition for the one who engages in this behavior actively. From where do we derive the prohibition for one who engages in it passively? The verse states: ‘There shall not be a qadesh among the children of Israel’ (Deuteronomy 23:18). And another verse, cited to clarify the meaning of the term qadesh, states: ‘And there were also qadesh in the land, they did according to all the horrors of the nations which Ha’Shem drove out before the Children of Israel’ (1 Kings 14:24). This is the statement of Rabbi Yishmael.”
Rabbi Akiva says: “It is not necessary to derive this halakha from the verse: ‘There shall not be a qadesh.’ Rather, it says: ‘And you shall not lie (tishkav) with a male as with a woman.’ Read into the verse: You shall not enable your being lain with (tishakhev) by a male.”
Thus, Rabbi Akiva extrapolates from this the meaning that one shall neither subject someone to such, nor shall one enable themselves to be a “cult prostitute” known as a qadesh - not a “Sodomite.” This, he says, is what Leviticus was talking about. Accordingly, one can reason that the “lyings” incest phraseology had to do with Canaanite families sending their sons and daughters to be temple prostitutes. If the Leviticus prohibition seems out of place in the modern age, it is because it is – it is contextual to a Bronze Age fertility cult and their rites of temple prostitution. It has nothing to do with consensual, adult, homosexual relationships.
Deconstructing Religified Homophobia Against Halaal “Mukhannathun” and “Men who have no desire for women”
Islam is typically characterized as an extremely homophobic religion, but in reality, such attitudes have rather shallow historical roots. Today, in normative modes of Islam, it is thought that the union of two people of the same sex is strictly forbidden. In Islamicate jurisprudence, homosexual acts and are liable to different punishments, including the death penalty, depending on the situation and legal school today. Some hadith collections, not emerging for centuries after the events which they describe, also seem to condemn homosexual and transgender acts, prescribing death penalty for what is often wrongly translated as something meaning “male homosexual intercourse. As we will see, this translatory obfuscation is similarly tied into confusion as to what the “sin of Sodom” actually was. It may thus come as a great surprise to many, that homosexual relationships were generally tolerated in pre-modern Islamic societies. When these laws were invoked, they were done so extremely infrequently, primarily in cases of rape or other “exceptionally blatant infringement on public morals”.
Public attitudes toward homosexuality in the Muslim world underwent a marked negative change starting from the 19th century through the gradual spread of Islamic fundamentalist movements such as Neo-Salafism and Wahhabism, along with the influence of the sexual notions and restrictive norms prevalent in Europe at the time. A number of Muslim countries have retained criminal penalties for homosexual acts enacted under European colonial rule.
In Ira Lapidus and Lena Salayeh’s A History of Islamic Societies, we find an important synopsis of the period when this shift happened, and its relationship to Eurocentric, Christonormative dogmas. The attitudes toward homosexuality in the Ottoman Empire underwent a drastic change during the 19th century. Before that time, Ottoman societal norms accepted homosexuality in spite of condemnation of homosexuality by religious scholars.
In the 19th century, Ottoman society started to be influenced by European ideas about sexuality as well as the criticism leveled at the Ottoman society by European authors for its sexual and gender norms, including homosexuality. This criticism associated the weakness of the Ottoman state and corruption of the Ottoman government with Ottoman sexual corruption. By the 1850s, these ideas were prompting embarrassment and self-censorship among the Ottoman public regarding traditional attitudes toward sex in general and homosexuality in particular.
In the popular imagination of Muslim cultures around the world in the Modern Era, the hurmah of homosexuality is thought to be codified in the Qur’an itself. We find there the story of the “people of Lot” destroyed by the wrath of God because the men engaged in lustful carnal acts between themselves (7:80–84, 11:77–83, 21:74, 22:43, 26:165–175, 27:56–59, and 29:27–33). Not only does homosexuality fail to be mentioned as the cause for the people of Lot’s destruction, a careful reading of the mubin, clear Arabic used in the oration, notes that it is not the cause.
“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 clothing over their breasts, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or the disciples from amongst the men who have no desires for women, or children who know nothing of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto God together, O believers, in order that you may succeed.” Quran 24:31
وَقُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَىٰ عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِنْ زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
Here the Qur’an clearly speaks of homosexual men as part of the earliest followers of Muhammad. It has no critique of them nor anything disparaging to say. In fact, it says that a woman need not worry about wearing revealing clothing around such “disciples from amongst the men who have no desires for women” (التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ). Contextually this clearly means homosexual men, as the Qur’an does not say those who have no sexual desire at all, nor those who have no desire for men or women. Instead, the listener would have easily understood that “at-tabia`yin ghayr 'uwli al`iirbat min ar-rijal” meant homosexual men from amongst the earliest community of Muhammad’s followers. As we will see, this included trans mukhannuthun who were even permitted to casually visit Muhammad’s wives, and regularly spend time alone with them without them being covered.
Furthermore, the aforementioned ayah (24.31) nowhere says the word “hijab” nowhere, even though it is often regarded as a commanding verse for covering a woman’s hair. Instead, it says to draw the khumur (literally: “table clothes”) over one’s breasts (بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ). While there is no question that hadith literature frequently instructs both men and women to cover their hair with a kufi or turban, in the case of men, and hijab in the case of women, this is not a commandment presented in the Qur’an.
We see further that lesbians are exempted from many of the stringencies of modest dress. Still, the Qur;’an says modesty is still recommended. Naturally, translators commonly lie about what the clear Arabic says here.
“And the rules (قَوَاعِدُ) from the women who have no desire for heterosexual intercourse (نِكَاحًا): it is no sin for them if they discard their clothing in such a way as not to show adornment. But to refrain is better for them. God is the Hearer, the Knower.” Quran 24:60
وَالْقَوَاعِدُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ اللَّاتِي لَا يَرْجُونَ نِكَاحًا فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْهِنَّ جُنَاحٌ أَنْ يَضَعْنَ ثِيَابَهُنَّ غَيْرَ مُتَبَرِّجَاتٍ بِزِينَةٍ ۖ وَأَنْ يَسْتَعْفِفْنَ خَيْرٌ لَهُنَّ ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
The first term that must be discussed here is “nikaha” (نِكَاحًا). Any Muslim knows this term refers to marriage, but this is colloquially, not literally. Literally, the term means to have heterosexual “intercourse.” The term that means marriage is actually zawaj (زواج), and the Qur’an makes use of it many times. Post-menopausal women are often married, so the interpolation here that it is “post-menopausal women who have no desire for marriage” is illogical on every level. As well, since the Qur’an is perfectly familiar with the term zawaj, there is no reason it would here substitute this word for nikah if it only meant marriage, not heterosexual intercourse that is permissible through marriage.
Furthermore, why one should ask themselves why translators would render the phrase al-qawa`id (الْقَوَاعِدُ) as “menstruating women” or “post-menopausal women” when the term clearly means “regulations” as well as being acceptably interpreted as “those who sit”? This masculine plural term makes far more sense in the very gendered Arabic language to be referring to rules and regulations, rather than “those who sit.” Furthermore, if the Qur’an was trying to imply that “those who sit amongst the women” means “postmenopausal” women, then why elsewhere is the word “Ajouz” (عَجُوزٌ) used in four times to indicate an old woman who is in a postmenopausal state including suwar Hud 11.72, Ash-Shu'ara 26.171, As-Saffat 37.13, and Adh-Dhariyat 51.29? The Qur’an says over and over that its Arabic is “clear”, and “unambiguous” and yet when it comes to passages that reveal equality and freedom, suddenly these clear words (that are used everywhere else to mean completely different words), suddenly have ambiguous, strange meanings born out of the imaginations of late-date mutfassirun commentators? Those who have minds that can reason all know why this is.
It was widely understood that women in harems engaged in lesbianism, just as women today in many polygynous households do. In fact, I can attest to firsthand knowledge that in Saudi Arabia, there are even “sex parties” between women of multiple households. As men are not present for these, most never know anything about them. Still, within harems, such activity was impossible to miss. As such, rulers who wished to try to stop this behavior would go so far as to have cucumbers, and other such long and girthy vegetables, prepared sliced before being served to them.
During the Ottoman Empire, a Venetian envoy named Ottaviano Bon observed of the harem that, “Now, it is not lawful for anyone to bring aught in unto them, with which they may commit deeds of beastly uncleanness; so that if they have a will to eat cucumbers, they are sent in unto them sliced, to deprive them of the means of playing the wantons.”
One of the clearest statements regarding the acceptance of lesbianism in the Muslim Ummah, comes from a sexological treatise written in the twelfth century by a Jewish convert to Islam:
“There are also women who are more intelligent than the others. They possess many of the ways of men so that they resemble them even in their movements, the manner in which they talk, and in their voice. Such women would like to be the active partner, and they would like to be superior to the man who makes this possible for them. Such a woman does not shame herself, either, if she seduces him whom she desires. If she has no inclination, he cannot force her to make love. This makes it difficult for her to submit to the wishes of men, and brings her to lesbian love. Most of the women with these characteristics are to be found among the educated and elegant women, the scribes, Qur’an readers, and the female scholars.”
In addition to these Qur’anic and anthropological references, the hadith material provides endless examples of homosexuals and transgender individuals. The term mukhannathun (مخنثون) is a classical Arabic designation for people who would now be called transgender women, perhaps poorly distinguished from and perhaps in many cases indistinguishable from what have been called “eunuchs.” The term khanith (خنيث) denotes a person assigned male at birth who uses feminine gender expression, including trans women, men who have sex with men, or cisgender men perceived as feminine. It is generally considered derogatory but some individuals have sought to reclaim it as a mark of pride. Drawing from hadith reports speaking of the mukhannath (effeminate male), some writers have asserted congruities between legal discourse related to the mukhannath and transgender persons who also exhibit characteristics that diverge from their constitutional anatomy. Various “mukhannathun” appear in several hadith. In all, they are deemed to have attraction only to men, or to men and women alike.
In one relevant hadith Muhammad banishes a mukhannath to a region near Medinah, in order to prevent homophobic Meccans from killing them. It is clear that this was not instruction to expel mukhannathun in every instance, as there are many other accounts of mukhannathun, even being alone with Muhammad’s own wives. As well, these mukhannathun could only be regarded as Muslim trans women who were accepted as Muslims as they are “within the boundaries of Medinah and Mecca” the latter of which, hadith literature claims non-Muslims had been prohibited from entering.
One of the most telling ahadith regarding mukhannathun is found in Sunan Abu Dawud, in a hadith graded as “Sahih,” that is attributed to A`aishah, one of the wives of Muhammad, relayed the following:
“An effeminate individual [with a penis and testicles, known as a] mukhannath used to enter upon the wives of Prophet [Muhammad]. [The people] considered him among those who were free of [heterosexual] needs. One day the Prophet entered upon us when [the mukhannath] was with one of his wives, and was [erotically] describing the [naked attributes] of a woman [in meticulously-observed detail], saying: When she comes forward, she comes forward with four [folds in her stomach], and when she goes backward, she goes backward with eight [folds in her stomach]. The Prophet said: Do I not see that this [mukhannath] knows what here lies [in all your naked form]. [From] then [on, the wives of Muhammad] observed hijab in front of [the mukhannath; who was presumed to have bi-sexual inclinations].”
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عُبَيْدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ ثَوْرٍ، عَنْ مَعْمَرٍ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، وَهِشَامِ بْنِ عُرْوَةَ، عَنْ عُرْوَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، رضى الله عنها قَالَتْ كَانَ يَدْخُلُ عَلَى أَزْوَاجِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم مُخَنَّثٌ فَكَانُوا يَعُدُّونَهُ مِنْ غَيْرِ أُولِي الإِرْبَةِ فَدَخَلَ عَلَيْنَا النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمًا وَهُوَ عِنْدَ بَعْضِ نِسَائِهِ وَهُوَ يَنْعَتُ امْرَأَةً فَقَالَ إِنَّهَا إِذَا أَقْبَلَتْ أَقْبَلَتْ بِأَرْبَعٍ وَإِذَا أَدْبَرَتْ أَدْبَرَتْ بِثَمَانٍ . فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَلاَ أَرَى هَذَا يَعْلَمُ مَا هَا هُنَا لاَ يَدْخُلَنَّ عَلَيْكُنَّ هَذَا. فَحَجَبُوهُ.
We see here the mukhannath was permitted alone in private quarters with Muhammad’s uncovered wives. Even when Muhammad hears them describing observed female nudity in erotic detail, he doesn’t punish the mukhannath, nor even tell him never to come around his wives again. He just tells his wives they must cover up in front of them, as their bisexuality had thus been made obvious.
The term effeminate here means that one is like a woman in all ways, including the predominant sexual orientation of heteronormative women towards men, but not necessarily exclusively so (as nearly all women tested for physiological arousal in response to lesbian imagery have proven, or even self-identify as having some degree of bisexuality).
Abu Zakariyya Yahya ibn Sharaf an-Nawawi (c. 1233–1277), popularly known as al- Nawawi or Imam Nawawi was a Sunni Shafi`i jurist and hadith scholar. He authored numerous and lengthy works ranging from hadith, to theology, biography, and jurisprudence. In his work, Sharh an-Nawawi `ala Sahih Muslim, on Hadith 2180, An-Nawawi said, “The scholars said effeminate men are two types,” which he then goes on to describe as follows:
“First, one who was created that way and he is not responsible for his behavior resembling women, their appearance, their speech, and their movements. Rather, Allah created him upon his disposition, so this is not blameworthy for him, nor a fault, nor a sin, nor is he punished. He has the excuse of not being able to control that. For this reason, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not condemn him at first when he entered the homes of women, nor his behavior as it was originally his disposition. Indeed, he condemned his behavior after his deliberate imitation of women was made known to him, and he did not condemn his description as an effeminate man in itself… Second, an effeminate man whose disposition is not like that. Rather, he is responsible for his behavior resembling women, their movements, their appearance, their speech, and mimicking their presentation. This is blameworthy as has come in the authentic traditions cursing him… As for the first type, he is not cursed.”
>عَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ أَنَّ مُخَنَّثًا كَانَ عِنْدَهَا وَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي الْبَيْتِ فَقَالَ لِأَخِي أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ أَبِي أُمَيَّةَ إِنْ فَتَحَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكُمْ الطَّائِفَ غَدًا فَإِنِّي أَدُلُّكَ عَلَى بِنْتِ غَيْلَانَ فَإِنَّهَا تُقْبِلُ بِأَرْبَعٍ وَتُدْبِرُ بِثَمَانٍ قَالَ فَسَمِعَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ لَا يَدْخُلْ هَؤُلَاءِ عَلَيْكُمْ
2180 صحيح مسلم كتاب السلام باب منع المخنث من الدخول على النساء الأجانب
قال النووي قَالَ الْعُلَمَاءُ الْمُخَنَّثُ ضَرْبَانِ أَحَدُهُمَا مِنْ خُلِقَ كَذَلِكَ وَلَمْ يَتَكَلَّفِ التَّخَلُّقَ بِأَخْلَاقِ النِّسَاءِ وَزِيِّهِنَّ وَكَلَامِهِنَّ وَحَرَكَاتِهِنَّ بَلْ هُوَ خِلْقَةٌ خَلَقَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهَا فَهَذَا لَا ذَمَّ عَلَيْهِ وَلَا عَتَبَ وَلَا إِثْمَ وَلَا عُقُوبَةَ لِأَنَّهُ مَعْذُورٌ لَا صُنْعَ لَهُ فِي ذَلِكَ وَلِهَذَا لَمْ يُنْكِرِ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَوَّلًا دُخُولَهُ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ وَلَا خَلْقَهُ الَّذِي هُوَ عَلَيْهِ حِينَ كَانَ مِنْ أَصْلِ خِلْقَتِهِ وَإِنَّمَا أَنْكَرَ عَلَيْهِ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ مَعْرِفَتَهُ لِأَوْصَافِ النِّسَاءِ وَلَمْ يُنْكِرْ صِفَتَهُ وَكَوْنَهُ مُخَنَّثًا … الضَّرْبُ الثَّانِي مِنَ الْمُخَنَّثِ هُوَ مَنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ ذَلِكَ خِلْقَةً بَلْ يَتَكَلَّفُ أَخْلَاقَ النِّسَاءِ وَحَرَكَاتِهِنَّ وَهَيْئَاتِهِنَّ وَكَلَامَهُنَّ وَيَتَزَيَّا بِزِيِّهِنَّ فَهَذَا هُوَ الْمَذْمُومُ الَّذِي جَاءَ فِي الْأَحَادِيثِ الصَّحِيحَةِ لَعْنُهُ … وَأَمَّا الضَّرْبُ الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ بِمَلْعُونٍ
2180 شرح النووي على مسلم
It is hard to imagine who this category of mukhannath who isn’t born that way is, until we see some who have attempted to take advantage of recent social acceptances of transgender individuals – using that for their own misogynistic designs. For instance, many women today can attest to the existence of men deceptively claiming to be trans “lesbians,” who are in fact not transgender at all. These devious men use this faux femininity to get women to lower their guards when dating, thinking they are with someone like them hormonally, and not actually a manipulative male predator pretending to be transgender. I have met men like this who claim to be transgender one day, upload dating profiles claiming to be “lesbians” and then months later say they never really were trans. As the prophet Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” It would seem that such unscrupulous imposter mukhannathun are the only type decried by Muhammad – and with good and obvious reason. Authentic mukhannathun “created this way by Allah” are said to be “blameless.” That means no execution, no punishment, no sin. Period.
This is not some new, 21st century tafsir, this is the classical Islamic interpretation of the matter. This traditional position of understanding and acceptance has been obfuscated by both Sunni and Shi`i fundamentalists in the Modern Era, through grafting of Western and particularly Christonormative prejudices and bigotry.
So, what about ahadith which seem to indicate death for homosexuals? For starters, they are contradicted by ahadith where Muhammad was documented literally saving the lives of such individuals when people presented him to be killed. Muhammad told him to move away from such hostile people, to live near Medinah instead. He followed by telling the apparently new Meccan converts in his presence that it is forbidden to kill anyone who prays, regardless of them being homosexual or transgender, as in this case. It is presumed that these were new converts because if this was Muhammad’s attitude, it should have been well known to them that he was not in the business of executing such people.
Secondly, we must bear in mind that the hadith genre is an extremely late source of material which must be judged by the historiographical criteria of historical criticism (also known academically as “higher criticism”), rather than source criticism (“lower criticism”). This means that sources from centuries after the events that they describe can never be taken at face value as though they are accurate records, but instead must be discerned through reason. It is not coincidental then that the Ahl al-Bayt taught that Al-`Aql – REASON - is not only a requirement in Islam, but also a primordial power of the Universe, the first of creation itself and through which all of the rest of creation was brought forth into existence.
Accordingly, when we have late ahadith which speaking of murdering homosexuals, but we have others more consistent with not only the Qur’an – which affirms “there is to be no compulsion in religion” – and the attitudes of the Hebrew scriptures previous, then al-`Aql must tell those with discerning minds to disregard the contradictory reports as reflecting instead the attitudes of those who penned them, centuries after the events which they purport to describe. But there is something else at play in this class of ahadith. At no time does any hadith speaking of execution actually say the crime for which it is prescribed is “homosexuality.” Instead, in each case, it speaks of the crime being that of the “people of Lot” – in other words, homosexual rape. Certainly, few would take issue with executing such individuals.
Sexual Balance and the “Din al-Fitrah” (Religion of Nature)
One of the areas in which there has been the greatest misconceptions about the WAY OF LIFE in the NATURAL ORDER (which Islam calls the “Fitrah,” فطرة) — caused by misinterpretation in some cases and miscommunication of beliefs in others — is regarding the issue of SEXUAL BALANCE. In order to dear up any and all misconceptions about SEXUAL BALANCE in the State of Nature, amongst our Jam`at al-Fitrah of the Tali`yah al-Mahdi, our official view on sexuality is here laid forth:
The sexual drive and libido — the psychological, social and biological factors, the sex hormones and associated neurotransmitters that act upon the nucleus accumbens, primarily testosterone and dopamine — came into existence for the evolutionary purpose of procreation. That evolutionary drive stems from the roots of the very FORCE of NATURE and the Universal energies of Yin and Yang polarities. The pleasurable component of sex, is thus inseparable from the evolutionary drive for Yin and Yang forces to meet and balance each other harmonious, with the underlying drive towards perpetuating the cycle of LIFE.
This, however, is NOT to say that all sex must or even should be engaged in for the purposes of procreation, nor that heterosexual activity is by nature “balanced” and that homosexual coupling is “imbalanced.” The interaction of Yin and Yang forces is far more complex and nuanced than that, and these forces are not always manifested in binary “male” and “female” physiologies, or heteronormative orientations.
The sexual drive in the human species constitutes and array of completely natural feelings and activities which are found in all animals. When unadulterated by society, the sexual drive is one of the purest instincts we have left. To subdue that or to deny it would be an attempt to ignore or conquer NATURE. Our MOVEMENT is not about false human perception of law and morality. It is about living by the NATURAL LAW — where morality means abiding by the NATURAL ORDER of things — maintaining the balance.
Our MOVEMENT is about LIFE. Our struggle against the enemies of LIFE. Not only is that against the external forces of oppression whom we fight in the hopes of achieving a future world free of oppression — it is also against the darkness that lurks within the human psyche.
The fear of living that leads many to find comfort in sexual neuroses such as negation and self-denial, or even rigid views that moralize objection to certain sexual activities and orientations based on religious dogmas or cultural biases. Our abstinence from certain behaviors is not based on abstinence for the sake of itself. Discipline is only of worth when it helps one walk free of the harmful ways of the enemy. To let that discipline deny to us even that which is balanced and healthy would be to let the enemy win — thus, in our battle for a better world, we would have stopped living ourselves, becoming artificial creatures.
With our eyes always turned back to our ORIGINAL STATE in the NATURAL ORDER, we recognize that INDIGENOUS societies and communities throughout the world have, for millennia, recognized nuanced interpretation of gender variance of masculine and feminine energies between the two sexes. While we reject the notion that sex (rather than gender), can be determined by how one feels or identifies alone, we observe that quantifiable energies, hormones and the like can manifest as a gradient of gender expressions, regardless of what chromosomal sex one was born as, in their physical bodies.
As such, we accept FIRST NATION and INDIGENOUS concepts of these non-binary identities as third, fourth, fifth or even more gender expressions. Regardless, our focus — as we build an international REVOLUTIONARY VANGUARD — is on maintaining the balance within each individual and unique family, as we gradually, generationally, MOVE FORWARD TO EDEN.
As a revolutionary principle of solidarity, we derive inspiration from and stand in agreement with Huey P. Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense, who gave a speech in New York City, on August 15th 1970, where he outlined the Party’s position on LGBT rights and liberation. He said, unequivocally, that “we must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for ALL oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor.”
He drew the connection to the underlying oppression effecting both issues of racism and homophobia, intersectionally, saying that “many times, the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So, you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm…”
Homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society… we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants… There is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary… Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.
Huey noted his own personal apprehensiveness towards male homosexuality, but he held himself up to critique and challenged himself philosophically — reasoning that his natural affinity for lesbianism and feelings of aversion to male homosexuality were rooted in psychological, subconscious perceived “threats” to his manhood. Furthermore, he reasoned that as a revolutionary, it is impossible to be intersectional and ignore the struggle for “gay rights” or LIBERATION, as it were.
We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process that builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not… Homosexuals are not enemies of the people. We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups.
In terms of Nature — as expressed by Taoism — the notion that Yin always manifests as extreme Yin in a normatively effeminate “female” gender role, or Yang always as extreme Yang in a normatively macho “male” gender role, is contradicted by not only casual observation, but also by science. In homosexual couples, whether male or female, we see a common tendency for Yin and Yang coupling to manifest in pairing between homosexual partners in the same manner as we do in heterosexual relationships. Nature maintains the balance more often than not in coupling — whether heterosexual or homosexual.
Furthermore, appeals to false naturalistic arguments that male homosexuality is uniformly the result of what Chinese medicine terms “Yang deficiency,” are also contradicted by numerous studies indicating that male bisexuality is typified by higher-than-normal levels of testosterone. This, in fact, accounts for why we see the aggressiveness and need for defensive fight or flight response in male prisons, result in elevated testosterone or “yang” energy, and thus in widespread bisexual behaviors and desires that are commonly carried on by the individuals even after release from imprisonment. It is why many extremely “Yang” male athletes are known to be “on the down low” and engage in bisexual behavior, even while conditioned to not publicly talk about it.
These issues are not openly discussed up about by many of the men who could provide the most insight into them. This is primarily because of the homophobia in many of our communities. Still, there have been numerous studies conducted on this subject and the science is conclusive.
Homophobia is a reaction — an extreme reaction of struggling communities to try to preserve reproduction — the same way that we find birth rates go up areas where there is poverty, even though we would think of this as counterintuitive. Racist politicians and pundits blame these elevated birth rates on lack of education or ignorance, but the reality is that birth rates decrease only as we climb out of poverty.
In states of diminished resources, ape societies — including those of our species, the homo sapien sapien ape — will tend to be more or less exclusively heterosexual. In this, it is important to note that we do not reject or run from the status of the human animal as an ape or higher primate, but instead embrace our NATURE and status, as highly intelligent animals, with pride. We see this essentially uniform heterosexuality with chimps who also find it necessary, from their perspective to engage in limited meat consumption — even consuming the flesh of other chimpanzees in war. In regions of plentifulness and abundance, however, we see the nearly identical bonobo apes — our other closest primate relative — engaged in a completely herbivorous diet and social bisexuality. Is this coincidence?
An error of evolution?
Or in this are there signs for those who reflect upon the NATURAL ORDER?
SEXUALITY AND AFRICAN ORIGINS
Another common naturalist argument against homosexuality is that “homosexuality is un-African” or that it is the byproduct of colonialism. This contention is rooted in the essentialist assumption that Africa is a single homogeneous entity. In reality, however, Africa is made up of thousands of ethnic groups with rich and diverse cultures and sexualities. As appealing and romantic as the notion of a homogenous “African culture” may be to some, no such singular thing exists, nor ever has. Like Indigenous, Native American “culture” there is no such static, singular thing to be pin-pointed as monolithic.
For instance, in African groups like the Aka and Ngandu, homosexuality and even masturbation are relatively unheard of. There are no taboos, nor prejudices against homosexuality, but because of their context, heterosexual coupling is seen as literal “night work” to produce and (in their view), “nourish” reproduction — with semen, in their view being necessary not only for conception, but also to fetal development, or what the term “searching for children.”
The Ngandu, Barry and Bonnie Hewlett reported in the journal African Study Monographs, “were familiar with the concept” of homosexual behavior “but no word existed for it and they said they did not know of any such relationships in or around the village. Men who had traveled to the capital, Bangui, said it existed in the city and was called ‘PD’ (French for par derriere or from behind).”
Given all of this, the Hewletts concluded, “homosexuality and masturbation are rare or nonexistent” in these two cultures, “not because they are frowned upon or punished, but because they are not part of the cultural models of sexuality in either ethnic group.”
By contrast, in pre-colonial African societies where there was relative abundance and larger communities, homosexuality was noted and accepted — contrary to what is often thought to be the case today. The ancient cave paintings of the San people near Guruve in Zimbabwe depict two men engaged in some form of ritual sex. During precolonial times, the “mudoko dako,” or effeminate males among the Langi of northern Uganda were treated as women and could marry men. In Buganda, one of the largest traditional kingdoms in Uganda, it was an open secret that Kabaka Mwanga II, who ruled in the latter half of the 19th century, was homosexual.
The vocabulary used to describe same-sex relations in traditional languages, predating colonialism, is further proof of the existence and acceptance of such relations in much of precolonial Africa. To name but a few, the Shangaan of southern Africa referred to same-sex relations as “inkotshane” (male-wife); Basotho women in present-day Lesotho engage in socially sanctioned erotic lesbian relationships called “motsoalle” (special friend) and in the Wolof language, spoken in Senegal, homosexual men are known as “gor-digen” (men-women).
The Ndebele and Shona in Zimbabwe, the Azande in Sudan and Congo, the Nupe in Nigeria and the Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi all engaged in same-sex acts for spiritual rearmament — as a source of fresh power for their territories, mirroring esoteric, guarded Inner Door Taoist teachings on the matter of Yang energy amplification through a meeting and competition of masculine forces. In Taoist sexual practice and Inner Door teachings, there are many sexual practices and methods of hormone development and training that would be seen by outsiders as nothing short of bizarre — even among those typically identifying themselves as heterosexual. Taoist prostate massage is not only common, but widely recommended for various methods of energy cultivation associated with Taoist meditation. The idea the homosexuality was or is foreign to Taoist sexual practice or disciplines is simply incorrect, though it continues to be propagated in some circles.
While Yin and Yang coupling between heterosexual or homosexual partners is the tendency in relationships and Nature itself, there are Taoist sexual practices that cannot be dismissed as anything other than very masculine homosexuality for the purpose of giving rise to extreme Yang energy, resulting in what we could scientifically quantify in the West as heightened testosterone production. Even on a microscopic level, we see that sperm from two heteronormative “masculine” males will fight one another, but from the perspective of these practices, that energy of conflict between Yang-on-Yang forces can be harnessed to amplify and cultivate masculine hormone production, and thus life-extension and health in an internal parallel to the testosterone replacement therapy so common in Western medicine these days
Homosexual energy cultivation was also used for ritual purposes in various African cultures. In South Africa, among adolescent peers it was typical to experiment through acts such as “thigh sex” or “hlobonga” among the Zulu, “ukumetsha” among the Xhosa and “gangisa” among the Shangaan.
In many African societies, same-sex energy cultivation was also believed to be a source of magical powers to guarantee bountiful crop yields and abundant hunting, good health and to ward off evil spirits. In Angola and Namibia, for instance, a caste of male diviners — known as “zvibanda,” “chibados,” “quimbanda,” gangas” and “kibambaa” — were believed to carry powerful female spirits that they would pass on to fellow men through anal sex.
Even today, marriages between women for reproductive, economic and diplomatic reasons still exist among the Nandi and Kisii of Kenya, the Igbo of Nigeria, the Nuer of Sudan and the Kuria of Tanzania. Like elsewhere around the world, anal intercourse between married opposite-sex partners to avoid pregnancy was historically practiced by many Africans before the invention of modern contraceptive methods.
For the purposes of our MOVEMENT, we should understand a fundamental fact: that both meat-eating and exclusive heterosexual social-supremacy emerge in the societies of our closet ape relatives when resources appear to be threatened. As we provide for the needs of human societies, we thus afford them the opportunities to sociologically evolve on these issues, rather than assuming we can simply judge and aggressively prove and prod them into enlightenment without improving their situations or alleviating their suffering.
It is thus very easy for some to judge from the ivory towers of more middle class or affluent communities those lower income communities and musical art forms like hip hop in the inner city or regions like Jamaica where homophobia as a theme in the works of many reggae musicians is quite common. The reality is that this unbalanced, extreme reaction to poverty and limited resources is part of the process too. It is up to us to help balance those attitudes, to help them evolve, not to accept them just because they happen to be a reaction, and not to judge those communities by the standards we see white-identifying Western liberals often holding their own communities and socioeconomic segments of society to.
NATURE, SEX AND GENDER
Historically, while some Native American communities were characterized by rigid gender roles and even homophobia, many others were known for their acceptance of non-binary and transgender roles and identities. Literally dozens of North American indigenous communities recognized at least one other gender identity besides “male” or “female” — many with five or more in total.
In Samoa those who could be considered “transgender” are called “Fa’afaine” — people who identify as having a third or non-binary gender identity — nearly 5% of Samoan society. In Hawaii they have traditionally been called mahu — those “in the middle,” between the polar genders, in some Pacific Islander indigenous communities — or in Tongan communities, fakaleiti. Throughout continental Native American societies, the names vary from culture to culture, but the concept is nearly universally recognized, and since the 1990s, has been termed “Two-Spirit” or “niizh manidoowag” (from Ojibwe) — a modern, pan-Indian, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial role in their cultures. With hundreds of Native American cultures in the continental, so-called “United States,” we see this concept embodied in examples such as the Blackfoot a’yaikikahsi, aawowaakii, ninauh-oskitsi-pahpyaki; the Cree napew iskwewisehot, iskwew ka napewayat, ayahkwew, inahpikasoht, iskwehkan, napehkan, batee; the Lakota winkte; the Navajo nadleeh; the Ojibwe ikwekaazo and ininiikaazo; or the Zuni ihamana.
In the East, transgender identities were so common that they often were glossed over in ancient works of history and religion, having been culturally assumed as a given. In many cases we see religions that are commonly associate with transphobia and homophobia, laying down jurisprudential rulings accepting transgender identities. Biblically, the concept of a “eunuch” was not always some poor soldier or slave who had his genitals shorn to ensure he didn’t engage in sex with a ruler’s harem — though this did occur in some cases. Instead, a eunuch was often someone who was what we would today call “transgender” in the West. In the regions of India and Pakistan, these non-binary identities — the Khawaja Sira — were and, in some cases, remain common. The idea that traditional societies abhorred or rejected transgender individuals and identities as anathema to Nature is simply not historically accurate.
To add to this, in some societies, there is the phenomenon of children being born as one identifiable sex, and naturally transitioning to the other upon puberty, with no pharmacological or surgical assistance. Even among those of binary chromosomal status, there are varying degrees of in utero development of proto-female sex organs into male. That is to say, all humans embryonically develop as something of a “proto-female” and the release of hormones at certain points of gestation determine whether the sex organs continue with female development, or if androgenizing effects will engage. If the latter, the androgenizing effects will cause ovaries to descend into labias to become gonads by the 28th week of gestation. The hormonal changes will engorge and grow a proto-clitoral genital tubercle into a penis — meaning that all of us are gestationally “intersex” for much of our fetal development.
One pronounced anthropological example that deserves highlighting is the case of the “Guevedoces” of the Dominican Republic. There, some males are born looking entirely female, and only grow penises during puberty. The term “Guevedoces” literally means “penis at twelve.” In utero, around eight weeks after conception, sex hormones typically engage, with those having a Y chromosome developing gonads and sending testosterone to a structure called the genital tubercle, where it is converted into dihydro-testosterone (DHT), which is known for its masculinizing, androgenizing effects. If you are normatively female, the tubercle does not grow, and becomes a clitoris. In males, it typically becomes a penis.
In this community, many children have less of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which is responsible for producing DHT from testosterone in utero. At puberty, those with XY chromosomes get a surge of testosterone that creates DHT and the apparently “female” children develop into what is perceived as normatively “male”. Even still, they retain intersex features, such as smaller prostates. Some then go on to identify as male, while others to remain identifiably female. How normatively “masculine” one is to be later in life, is primarily determined by how much DHT is produced by the mother at approximately 8 to 9 weeks of gestation. To claim that these individuals are somehow an aberration of Nature is itself a choice to close our eyes to empirical wisdom and scientific observation. Though an outlying example, the Guevedoces illustrates what very likely might be occurring internally, hormonally in people who identify as “transgender.”
As such, as a MOVEMENT, it is thus not for us to determine what an individual is hormonally or energetically experiencing within their bodies, and we thus defer to Indigenous societies throughout the Earth who have classified and described this status of individual throughout the ages, as these societies have proven to be closer to the Fitrah that we follow than any civilization, East or West. Any gradation between binary “female” and “male” is common and part of the NATURAL ORDER of things, not in conflict with it. While this realization might make some uncomfortable, our position is to allow NATURE to speak for Itself, and for us to quietly LISTEN and reflect.
The REVOLUTION of the VANGUARD OF THE MAHDI is for ALL downtrodden and oppressed. It is for the outcast, the marginalized and subjugated, whether the masses personally feel an affinity for them or not. For centuries these matters have been concealed by lying translators and religious leaders who decide for us what they want the Torah and Qur’an to mean, rather than what the texts actually say in black and white. But now the Truth has been hurled at falsehood, smashing and shattering it, until the Truth has finally shined through (بَلْ نَقْذِفُ بِالْحَقِّ عَلَى الْبَاطِلِ فَيَدْمَغُهُ فَإِذَا هُوَ زَاهِقٌ ۚ وَلَكُمُ الْوَيْلُ مِمَّا تَصِفُونَ) – Truth has come and falsehood has vanished, for truly, falsehood is an inevitably vanishing thing (وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ ۚ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا).
 Readmission of Jews to Britain in 1656, BBC < http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/history/350.shtml >
 Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, Volume 1:2, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909
 Shira Halevi, Adam and Havah: A Targum of Genesis 1:16-5:5, Jason Aronson, Inc.
 Ginsberg; Halevi both contain this midrashic material, compiled and organized. Both works are suggested for the seriously interested reader.
 Jewish Antiquities, 1:194-195, available at: < http://www.hup.harvard.edu/features/kugbib/ chapter.html >
 K. Renato Lings. “The ‘Lyings’ of a Woman: Male-Male Incest in Leviticus 18.22?” Theology & Sexuality 15, no. 2 (May 2009)
 ibid., 233
 E. K. Rowson (2012). “HOMOSEXUALITY ii. IN ISLAMIC LAW”. Encyclopedia Iranica
 Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P., eds. (2012). “Liwāṭ”. Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill; Falaky, Fayçal (2018). “Radical Islam, Tolerance, and the Enlightenment”. Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. 47: 265–266.
 E. K. Rowson (2012). “HOMOSEXUALITY ii. IN ISLAMIC LAW”. Encyclopedia Iranica
 Tilo Beckers, “Islam and the Acceptance of Homosexuality,” in Islam and Homosexuality, Volume 1, ed. Samar Habib, 64-65 (Praeger, 2009); Shafiqa Ahmadi (2012). “Islam and Homosexuality: Religious Dogma, Colonial Rule, and the Quest for Belonging”. Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development. 26 (3): 557–558; “How homosexuality became a crime in the Middle East”. The Economist. 6 June 2018.
 Barber, Noel. The Sultans. (Sinlon and Schuster, 1973) 35
 Walther, Wiebke. Women in Islam. (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishing, 1993) 174
 Sunan Abi Dawud 4107; Book 34, Hadith 88 (English translation; Book 33, Hadith 4095)
 This was most recently documented by Dr Gerulf Rieger from the University of Essex and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in the study Sexual Arousal and Masculinity-Femininity of Women, 2016, Vol. 111, No. 2, 265–283
 Shahr an-Nawawi, `Ala Sahih Muslim 2180
 This ‘aql is the First of Created-Beings (awwal al-makhluqàt, and the closest of ‘Instaured-Beings’ (aqrab aql-maj‘ulàt) to the First Reality (al-Haqq al-Awwal), according to the great mystic Mullah Sadra. Al-`Aql, he explains in his tafsir on the Shi`ah collection of ahadith entitled Usul al-Kafi, and it is the greatest and most perfect of creation. It is the second of Existent-Beings (al-mawjudàt with respect to ‘being-ness’ al-mawjudiyyah), even though the First – Allah – is regarded in both exoteric and esoteric Islam as has no second in Its reality because, Sadra explains, Its Oneness is not something enumerated as a category of units.