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was the holy prophet muhammad gay?

  1. RobBlack

    841 Posts.


    Was the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) "gay" ?

    "Ali and I, fourteen thousand years before the creation of mankind, were one light. When Allah created Adam, he split this light into two, one of which I am and the other is Ali."
    [ The Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. ]

    Islamic Scholars Ignore Evidence that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was "Gay" !

    Late one night cutthroats burst into Muhammad's Meccan home to discover the Prophet's youngest cousin, twenty three year old Ali, asleep on his uncle's bed. Muhammad himself had left the house only hours earlier.

    This is the most critical moment in Islam's early history. The Prophet outwits his killers and escapes to the city of Yathrib, soon to be renamed Medina, where the world's first Islamic community is born.

    The fact that Ali was sleeping on the prophet's bed seems an uninteresting footnote of little importance at this historic moment. He was, afterall, the Prophet's cousin. Neither is it surprising that for years Ali slept alongside God's Messenger, enjoying as one historian innocently put it -

    "the warmth of Muhammad's body and [inhaling] the holy fragrance of his breath."

    According to the Prophet's biographers, on the night the assassins struck, Ali was sleeping on Muhammad's bed in order to act as a decoy. The proof that this was just a normal, even if unusually close, relationship between cousins seems overwhelming.

    But not everything is as simple as it seems. Soon, I will explain why and also show why the decoy story is not sustainable. Suffice to consider for the moment only that many of Muhammad's contemporaries believed their intimate and highly passionate relationship was based on much more than shared blood and a shared religion. The Prophet also confessed he loved Ali as his "other half"; a unique tribute which not even Muhammad's beloved wife Khadija was able to equal.

    Muhammad was a political and military leader with enormous responsibilities. Yet, at times Muhammad entertained Ali in private at the expense of pressing political or military considerations. On atleast one such occasion he failed to convincingly refute the gossip which, even in those relatively unworldly times, his priorities provoked. But fortunately neither Muhammad's nor Ali's reputations were damaged since close inter-family relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, were not at all unusual in seventh century Arabia. Soon, we will scrutinize the story of Ali's partnership with Muhammad much more closely.

    But, I ask you briefly to consider an earlier association. It predated Ali's birth. The Prophet, while still in his twenties, fell deeply in love with his own slave Zaid. Then, following a failed attempt by Zaid's father to "rescue" his son, Muhammad himself freed Zaid and made a public declaration of their partnership in front of the Holy Kaaba.

    But this story too can wait a while for I need first to address the scepticism some readers may justifiably be feeling. There will be some who will think that I am being deliberately provacative to argue that Muhammad was "queer". This is not the case. I merely think it is wrong to be afraid of historical facts. Evidence that explodes the myth fashioned by Islamic scholars that the Prophet was totally opposed to any form of homosexuality or homosexual relationship.

    This dogmatism has cost the lives of thousands of gay men executed in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. It has also wrecked the lives of tens of thousands across the Islamic World. Publicly "outed" by a pitiless press long before the theatrical formalities of their show trials have even started, long hard labour sentences are a forgone conclusion. Forever stigmatized, the hapless defendants know there can never be any return to normal life.

    The Ayatollah Musavi-Ardebili, lecturing students at Tehran university, detailed the numerous options for the executioner, such as tossing the "crimminal" alive into a fire. "There cannot be the slightest degree of mercy or compassion," he concluded. "Praise be to God !" But what can be the justification for such fanaticism ?

    Islamic academics, and even many Islamic students, claim to be intimate with the minutest details of the Prophet's life. The shelves of scholars groan with the weight of histories and biographies recording not just every event in the Prophet's life, but also the way he walked, ate, sat, dressed and his opinion on everything from marriage to camels. And it is on such apparently detailed documentation that those claiming to speak for God, justify the most severe punishments "without the slightest degree of mercy or compassion." Is it not time for a little sober reflection ?

    The Quran itself was not written down until over twenty years after Muhammad's death. The various early histories of Muhammad didn't appear until over a century later. Therefore, in order to try to see who the real Muhammad was, and what his opinions may have been, we sometimes have to read between the lines.

    By this I am not claiming that his own personal views and actions would necessarily equate to the will of God. But if it can be demonstrated that Muhammad was emotionally and sexually attracted to other men [ I'm trying to avoid wherever possible the use of the anachronistic term "gay" ] and that he had close homoerotic partnerships then we must ask whether God would have chosen such a man as his Messenger if such characteristics were intrinsically evil ?

    So let's look more closely at some of the reasons we might have for believing that Muhammad may have had such relationships.

    1] Muhammad cherished the companionship of young men and his partnership with his younger cousin Ali was more intense and longer lasting than any of his thirteen marriages.

    Muhammad surrounded himself mostly, though there were a few notable exceptions, with young male converts. Indeed, most of them were much younger than him; men in their teens and early twenties. This is intriguing. More mature men would have given his movement much greater respect by virtue of their seniority. But by courting almost exclusively the companionship of younger men Muhammad deepened the suspicions of their parents and elder kinsmen. He also embarrassed and alienated the city elders in both Mecca and Yathrib [ Medina ].

    For instance, when the fifty two year old Messenger of God arrived in Yathrib, after his narrow and arduous escape from his assassins in Mecca, he chose to place both himself and his baggage in the care of a young man - Khalid ibn Zaid. This seems to have frustrated many of his older followers who insisted he stay with them. Muhammad struggled a little to justify his decision, responding somewhat feebly that "A man should never be separated from his baggage."

    A few weeks earlier, it was a group of Meccan elders who had plotted Muhammad's murder. Not only had Muhammad been denouncing their gods but several of them had "lost" younger members of their families to Muhammad's new faith.

    The sheiks hired cutthroats to burst into Muhammad's appartment late one night. The assassins discovered his twenty three year old beloved cousin, Ali, lying on the prophet's bed. Muhammad himself had disappeared just a few hours earlier.

    Historians claim that Ali was sleeping in the Prophet's bed as part of a deliberate ploy to buy time. Muhammad's enemies, who were known to be observing the house, would be deceived. They would, it was hoped, peer in through a window and see Ali and assume, naturally enough, that it was Muhammad asleep.

    Though this could be an explanation, it is surprising that Muhammad should have chosen a man less than half his age to play his double, especially as it would have put his nephew at risk. As a relative and as Muhammad's most trusted follower, Ali might easily have been killed by less discriminating assassins. Especially since his father, Muhammad's uncle Abu Talib, had recently died and therefore any threat of retribution would have been greatly reduced.

    As a decoy Abu Talib's youngest son was also a poor choice. Ali was a strikingly handsome youth who would not easily have been mistaken for the middle aged prophet. He was muscular and broad shouldered with a straight nose and a beautifully formed mouth. The prophet himself confessed that

    "Looking upon Ali is worship," [ Ibn Asakir on the authority of Caliph Abubakr ] and that "Ali would appear [even] to the dwellers of paradise as a morning star." [Sawai'q muhari'qa.]

    But let us return to the scene which greeted the assassins. The idea that Ali was lying in Muhammad's bed as a "decoy" seems a little far fetched. Moreover it ignores the fact that Muhammad frequently shared a bed with Ali. As one historian wrote -

    "He [Muhammad] often made [Ali] sleep by his side, and Ali enjoyed the warmth of Muhammad's body and inhaled the holy fragrance of his breath."

    Indeed, there is not one of Muhammad's thirteen wives who continuously shared the same living quarters with the prophet for as long as Ali. From his youth, until the prophet's death, Ali was always living either in the prophet's home or in an adjacent apartment. And when Muhammad died, he died in the arms of Ali. It was Ali who emerged from under a blanket, which covered them both, to announce that the prophet was dead.

    It is not surprising then, that some of Muhammad's followers suspected that there was more to this relationship than mere bonds of friendship and cousinly kinship. One such instance occurred during the seige of Tayef. Ali was returning from an expedition into the surrounding countryside. Muhammad greeted him effusively and they both dissappeared into Muhammad's quarters. The prophet didn't allow anyone to enter and as hour succeeded hour, those outside began to wonder what was happening and murmur among themselves. When Muhammad finally emerged they challenged him, but the prophet explained to his somewhat incredulous listeners that

    "God himself had inspired Ali with Divine Secrets, and that it was for this reason that he was engaged in confidential discourse so long."

    Muhammad managed a more convincing eloquence when he confessed his love for his younger cousin.

    "Ali and I, fourteen thousand years before the creation of mankind, were one light. When Allah created Adam, he split this light into two, one of which I am and the other is Ali." [Salman]

    This romantic vision of the past and present is fascinatingly similar to that described a thousand years earlier by Plato when he attempted to explain the origin of homosexuality. In Plato's Symposium the reason for the power of all love, heterosexual and homosexual, is the need to be reunited with one's "other half." At the beginning of mankind each person was composed of two halfs - either male-male, female-female or male-female - until the gods cut them all into two; thereby creating the powerful desire to be reunited, manifesting itself in either heterosexual or homoerotic desire.

    Though Muhammad adored Ali as his "other half," he did not try to stop his beloved when Ali asked his permission to marry a woman. It's not clear, however, whether Ali's desire to tie the knot was motivated more by his love for his bride to be or his love for Muhammad, for when he finally married, of all the possible partners he might have chosen, he chose Fatima, the Prophet's daughter. The balance of probability is that the marriage was born out of formality rather than infatuation, and was designed as a ritualistic cement for Muhammad's and Ali's long-standing, but still passionate, partnership.

    The marriage, though it involved close relatives, did not offend Quraishi values and similarly the discreet homoerotic union between Muhammad and his beloved cousin Ali did not bring either the Prophet or Ali [who later became Caliph] into any disrepute.

    2] The most unusual of Muhammad's many close male relationships, one which predated Ali's birth, was his love for his own slave Zaid

    Khadija [ the Prophet's first wife ] gave Muhammad, who was himself just twenty five, a handsome fifteen year old youth, Zaid, as a wedding gift. The two soon became virtually inseparable - something akin to other famous heroic homoerotic relationships such as that of the Greek fighters Achillees and Patroclus.

    Zaid had been captured many hundreds of miles to the north in or near present day Iraq and had been bought by Khadijah's nephew in the slave-market at Ukaz and later gifted to her.

    It was some time after Khadijah in turn gifted Zaid to Muhammad that Zaid's family discovered him at Mecca. They approached the Prophet to beg for his return and if necessary to pay whatever ransom he might demand. Clearly they really loved him for they had travelled a long and dangerous route across the Arabian desert to find him.

    But when asked by Muhammad, what he wanted to do, Zaid announced to his astonished family that there was no one with whom he would rather be than Muhammad.

    "I would not choose any man in preference to Muhammad. He is to me both a father and a mother."

    His real father, who had travelled hundreds of miles to rescue his son, thought his boy had lost his sanity.

    "You mean you will chose slavery above freedom, and above your father and your uncle and your family ?"

    But Zaid insisted he wanted to remain with Muhammad who now intervened to terminate the painful quarrel. Walking with Zaid to the Kaaba, even then the most sacred spot in Mecca, he announced loudly, so that all could hear, that

    "All who hear this, bear witness, that Zayd is now my son. He is my heir and I am his."

    But there is another even more astonishing twist to the story of their relationship. When the prophet was in his fifties, Muhammad decided to marry Zaid's wife Zainab bint Jahash. But his decision seems to have been motivated by Zaid's own unhappinness with the marriage and not by any Caligula like obsession with another man's wife. Zaid was always much more attached to Muhammad than Zainab.

    If it is really true that Muhammad had earlier pronounced Zaid to be his son in front of the Kaaba, he was now marrying his daughter-in-law - an unthinkable scandal even in pre-Islamic Arabia. This would never have been accepted by his followers.

    A more credible explanation is that Muhammad, in that moment of great emotional turmoil when Zaid had, perhaps against Muhammad's own expectations, chosen him over his own family, decided to make a very public declaration of his love for Zaid. It is probable that he never mentioned the word "son" in the declaration but only that Zaid would be his heir and he Zaid's - in effect announcing that they were just as close as man and wife. Later, however, Muhammad's biographers chose to cover this up by declaring that Muhammad had actually adopted Zaid as his "son."

    3] The unusual fondness of his uncle Abu Talib [ who never converted to Islam ] for the prophet seems to have been regarded by others in the Quraish as homoerotic.

    Though there is no evidence of any physical relationship, Muhammad was more than willing to rely continuously on his Uncle's protection and seems to have held a great and strong affection for him. Nothing surprising in that.

    But when the Meccan elders challenged Abu Talib, who by virtue of kinship acted as Muhammad's protector, and requested him to relinquish his protection of his nephew who so mocked their religion and practices, they offered him another man "as a son" - who they claimed was the most handsome man of all the Quraish. In other words Mecca's sheikhs who had for years been in daily contact with Abu Talib, himself a senior and respected elder among the Quraish, felt they had a chance of convincing the man to turn a blind eye to his own nephew's assassination in return for the gift of the city's most handsome young man !

    There seems a strong hint here that this was an attachment which others, rightly or wrongly, thought was homoerotic. Otherwise, why did they make Abu Talib such an offer ? There's no indication, however, that Muhammad reciprocated in any physical way. But Abu Talib's high status in Mecca and the deference, atleast until his death, which Muhammad's enemies showed the man in respecting his publicly proclaimed protection of the Prophet, suggests that a "homoerotic" inclination, even if well-known, was no hindrance to social status. And this may explain how the Prophet himself was later able to win so much deep respect and admiration, despite his sexual orientation.

    4] Muhammad generally [ with a few notable exceptions ] prefered the companionship of middle-aged widows to that of younger women.

    All the texts agree that Muhammad himself was extremely handsome even in later age, but the Prophet's wives were mostly physically unattractive and too old or [ in the case of Aisha bint abi Bekr who was only six when their marriage was contracted ] too young to have been considered beautiful.

    In the case of his first wife - the independtly wealthy trader, Khadija, fifteen years his elder, her character seems to have been what Muhammad valued most; with the middle-aged Sauda bint Zaama it seems to have been her housekeeping abilities and the prophet's marriage to Aisha seems to have been made to cement his friendship with the younger Abu Bekr, a prosperous merchant, who provided crucial financial backing for Muhammad and his followers.

    Aisha was one of the wives the Prophet was most fond of. According to Ibn Kathir, the prophet declared that "there were many perfect men, but of women there were only Asiyya, [the] Pharoah's wife, and Mary, daughter of Imran and.....Aisha." As many students of Islam have noted, she was a virgin while Muhammad's other wives were mostly middle-aged widows.

    Some have argued that while Muhammad's relationship with his beloved first wife Khadija was primarily platonic, that his partnership with Aisha was propelled by a more physical passion. As we have seen, however, Aisha was only six when the marriage was contracted, only nine when the marriage ceremony itself was conducted and just eighteen when the Prophet died. Even if, and I would totally reject this possibility as she was so young, the marriage was spurred by infatuation, it may not be proof that Muhammad was unambiguously heterosexual as even Aisha confessed that at the time of her marriage "my hair was short like a boy's".

    Though Aisha is an obvious exception, Muhammad generally prefered the company of older widows. It was an odd choice that did not go unnoticed. Aisha herself attempted to solicit an explanation -

    "O Messenger of God, do you think that if you were to go down into a valley where there was one tree whose fruit had previously been eaten from, and another that had not been eaten from, at which of them would you graze your camel ?" [ Abd Allah ]

    To which the Prophet responded without much evident forthought

    "At the one never eaten from."

    His preference for widows was not just unconventional. By marrying mostly middle-aged women he was also reducing his chances of having a surviving son. So, it is difficult to explain his unusual choice of older marriage partners as politically motivated. The real explanation was probably more simple. The Prophet was more comfortable with their less threatening comanionship.

    In an extraordinary statement Muhammad once declared "I like women and perfume better than anything else, but the apple of my eye is prayer." By linking women with prayer it seems as if his affection for women can't have been anything other than innocent, and we must assume he knew that his followers also realized this. Otherwise, it would have been scandalous for him to have made such a statement.

    5] Muhammad never claimed he was infallible. He was afterall "just" the Messenger of God.

    The evidence indicates the Prophet had either a "gay" or bisexual orientation. The probablility is that he enjoyed "queer" sex. But why should this matter ? Might it not infact be his greatest legacy for the millions of repressed gay men and lesbians in the Islamic World today ?

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