He'd Prefer His Son Be Strangled

"You know, he'd prefer his son be strangled then spend time with you if he knew that you're gay."

That's what the mother said to her son. She didn't say it with disapproval. She agreed with the perspective. Perhaps she was afraid that her son was going to convert his son. She didn't say so directly, but some level of corruption was implied. Regardless, it was so important that he remember that no one in his family agrees with him or would accept him. Not a one.

This is her islam, a religion as harsh and cruel and merciless as what she hears about on TV from non-Muslims who hate islam.

When others call islam barbaric, violent and backwards, she gets angry. If they knew how wonderful Islam is - she says - they wouldn't say such things. Islam is a religion of peace. It is a religion of mercy.

That a father should strangle his son is said without irony.

She tells her son stories of mercy in Islam. One he has heard numerous times is about a pious man, in the early times of Islam, who married a woman only to find that she was already pregnant with another man's child. She was sincerely repentant and - because Islam truly is a religion of mercy - he did not want to uncover what God had left covered. He had been entrusted with an opportunity to do good and to show mercy, and he intended to do so.

He needed to find a creative way to deal with the situation in a way that honored his wife's true repentance. She was too far along in her pregnancy for the eventual birth to not raise suspicion. A full term child born 6 months into their marriage would have exposed her.

When she came to term, he brought in a midwife from a different village that knew nothing of their situation. The child was born and the next morning, he took the child to the mosque. He made sure that he was the last man to enter the prayers and left the child at the front door when no one saw. After the prayers ended, he made sure to be the first man out the door.

He feigned surprise at seeing an abandoned child, and he said, "I will take this orphaned child home to raise."

Thus, he found a way to return the child to its mother and protect all involved.

The mother tells her son this story, speaking of this man with admiration. That is the true sprit of Islam, she says with pride. This is our religion of mercy.

He could have exposed his wife. He didn't need to raise someone else's child. But he saw her repentance was sincere. Just like we hope God will protect us, we should protect others. Just like we hope God will have mercy on us, we should have mercy on others.

With all the talk of mercy and justice, homosexuality remains an abomination. It may not be a choice, but the son should perpetually be ashamed.

This is her islam; an islam of abstract mercy that exists in stories from the past, that have no life in the present.

With her son, the shame others pile upon him is both right and deserved. There is no corollary to this man's supreme act of kindness.

With her son how dare he feel comfortable in his own skin? It is the height of hubris and conceit. It is the product of an arbitrary mind.

Never in the history of islam has homosexual relationships been sanctioned, she insists.

What of the Qur'an teaching:

[W]henever they commit a shameful deed, they are wont to say, "We found our forefathers doing it," and, "God has enjoined it upon us." Say: "Behold, never does God enjoin deeds of abomination. Would you attribute unto God something of which you have no knowledge?" (7:28)

Nay, but they say, "Behold, We found our forefathers agreed on what to believe - and, verily, it is in their footsteps that we find our guidance!" (43:22)

What of verses 2;170, 5:104, 7:95, 10:78, 21:53, 26:74, 31:21, 43:23, that issue the same warning against blindly following tradition simply because it is tradition.

To whom do these apply? Are they simply a reminder of mistakes that others have made and of which we are immune?

"At least I am not standing alone. This is not my opinion; it is the consensus of all mainstream scholars": she argues.

What of the Qur'an teaching:

Say [Oh Muhammad]: "O followers of earlier revelation! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall not ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and that we shall not take human beings for our lords beside God." (3:64)

[The followers of earlier revelations] have taken their rabbis and their monks... as their lords beside God, although they had been bidden to worship none but the One God, save whom there is no deity (9:31)

If a person doesn't follow what they believe is Godly- based on thorough study and prayerful contemplation - and instead accept as the only truth the teachings of others, how have they not fallen into placing people on the same level as God?

This is her islam - an islam of internal inconsistency, contradiction and shapeless abstractions. An islam where God reigns alone, supreme with no others, except when the scholars are in consensus. An islam where parables are pap and lessons apply only to others. It is an islam that in theory is a gentle breeze but - for some reason in practice - is always a hurricane.