February 2, 2022 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1621

Religious Authorities Across The Muslim World: Homosexuality Is A Dangerous Abomination That The West Is Trying To Impose On Us

February 2, 2022 | By B. Chernitsky*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1621

Prominent religious authorities in the Muslim world have lately made numerous statements against homosexuality and against what they called the Western campaigns to promote it. Senior clerics and official religious institutions, such as the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the Saudi Grand Mufti, Jordan's Iftaa Department and the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), issued announcements and fatwas on this topic, which claimed that the West is trying to force Muslim societies to accept homosexuality as legitimate. Claiming that homosexuality is in fact a perversion that contravenes human nature and the laws of Islam and of other religions, they urged the West to respect the values of other societies instead of trying to undermine them under the pretext of promoting freedom and human rights.  Al-Azhar also published advice for parents "to help them protect their children" from the threat of homosexuality.

These statements seem to be a response to Western interest in the status of the LGBTQ+ community across the world and especially in Muslim countries. For example, criticism was recently voiced over Qatar's treatment of gays, as part of concern about the safety of gay fans who will visit the country for the FIFA World Cup in November 2022.[1] Statements against gays by retired Egyptian footballer Mohamed Aboutrika, who said that homosexuality is against human nature and Islam, and is not a matter of human rights,[2] likewise sparked critical reactions. The issue was also raised in the context of the UN's recent approval of a resolution on the promotion of democratization and elections, which "calls upon States to take measures to eliminate laws, regulations and practices that discriminate, directly or indirectly, against citizens in their right to participate in public affairs, including based on… sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity."[3] Also in the background was the release of the Netflix movie No Dearer Friends, produced with the involvement of Egyptian, Lebanese and Emirati companies. The film is an Arabic version of the Italian film Perfect Strangers, in which one of the characters is gay.

This report  reviews the statements by the religious authorities in the Muslim world against homosexuality and against the Wests' alleged attempts to force Western pro-gay attitudes on  the Muslim societies.

The Sheikh Of Al-Azhar: The "New Imperialism" Seeks To Force The Muslim World To Tolerate The Sin Of Homosexuality

The Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, said in a December 6, 2021 meeting with a group of French members of the European Parliament, headed by Thierry Mariani of the right-wing Identity and Democracy party, who is a member of the subcommittee on human rights: "The West is trying to impose its culture on the East. This can be termed new imperialism. It seeks to force unacceptable ideas and behaviors upon us, for example through campaigns that praise homosexuality and other phenomena that are foreign [to Islam] and are against Allah's will. The West's insistence on forcing a single outlook [on everyone] provokes the people of the East, and is destined to fail because it contravenes God's desire for difference and diversity among people."[4] Al-Tayyeb made similar statements in a December 19, 2021 meeting with India's ambassador to Egypt, Shri Ajit Vinayak Gupte, saying: "We are witnessing a Western cultural invasion of our Eastern societies, which has descended upon us like dark storm clouds under the pretext of [promoting] rights and freedoms. The objective is to legalize homosexuality, transgenderism and other ideas that the East cannot accept from a religious and human point of view. This is a violation of [our] right to maintain life and humanity as Allah wanted them to be… and a violation of the right of the East to adhere to religion and regard it as a basic source of authority, so as to repel this storm of deviant ideas."[5] 

Ahmad Al-Tayyeb (Source: Al-Ittihad, UAE)

Al-Azhar: West Must Respect Values And Cultures Of Other States And Societies; Parents Must Watch Their Children And Protect Them From Danger Of Homosexuality

On December 4, 2021, Al-Azhar's online fatwa center issued an announcement stating that homosexuality is an abomination and constitutes aggression against humanity. The announcement also included advice to parents "to help them protect their children" against homosexuality. It said: "International forces and bodies are carrying out organized campaigns… whose goal is to spread the abomination of homosexuality and permit… this perverted behavior  around the world, including in the Arab and Islamic societies. In light of these [campaigns] and of this new moral disaster, Al-Azhar's International Center for Electronic Fatwa firmly condemns these inhuman campaigns and these Satanic plans, and their goals, which are to destroy the moral code of society regarding the institution of the family, erase the [distinct] identity of family members and undermine the security and stability of societies. 

"The center stresses its absolute rejection of all the attempts to spread homosexuality and so-called 'same-sex marriage,' especially in the Islamic world… Marriage, according to the religions and even in the natural world, is between a male and a female, with well-defined constraints. [The center] also stresses that homosexuality is a despicable abomination that contravenes human nature, undermines moral values, and constitutes violence against humanity's right to defend itself and the natural [relations] between the sexes, as well as the right of the younger generation to be raised by both fathers and mothers… Al-Azhar informs the Muslim youth that homosexuality and so-called 'same-sex marriage' are forbidden and are among the gravest of transgressions…

"The center notes that the effort to impose the culture of homosexuality on the Islamic world, under the pretext of accepting the other and defending rights and freedoms, constitutes demagogy and [an act of] renouncing religion, human nature and human values. This is a regression to the era of ideological control, colonialism and forced patronage of [other] peoples and nations. [The center] emphasizes the duty of respecting the cultures of [different] states and societies and the importance of [letting] the Arab and Islamic societies adhere to their values and to the principles of their Islamic faith…

"Al-Azhar dispenses the following advice to parents in order to help them protect their children from this despicable perversion:

"1. Monitor what the children are doing on the electronic [platforms], to protect them from messages that spread, accept or support homosexuality… through activities like computer games, apps for smartphones and other devices, cartoons, [television] series and movies, popular content on social media, books and novels, sports tournaments, commercials and ads for [various] products and goods. 

"2. Clarify the position of the religions and religious scholars, which opposes homosexuality, and raise awareness in order to protect [the children] from the propaganda directed at them through the [abovementioned] channels.

"3. Fill children's spare time with useful activities, such as studying or various sports.

"4. Develop the children's skills in ways that will benefit them and society, provide an outlet for their creativity and provide them with good [role] models.

"5. Choose good company for your children and monitor their studies by keeping in touch with their teachers.

"6. Always encourage the youngsters to do good deeds…  and give them room to fulfill themselves, become empowered and gain confidence…"[6]

On January 26, 2022, following the release of the Arabic Netflix film No Dearer Friends, in which one of the characters is gay, Al-Azhar's online fatwa center issued another ruling that reiterated its position on homosexuality, saying: "The rebellion against virtue and the renunciation of society's decent values by means of planned programs and campaigns do not mean freedom, liberation or creativity. They mean corrupting societies, weakening them and drowning them in the filth of abomination… Homosexuality is a despicable abomination and loathsome moral degeneracy that violates the principles of the religions and subverts proper human nature. Normalizing and marketing it are crimes [that] corrupt our identity, undermine the security of our societies and destroy our moral and social systems and the family institution…"[7]

Al-Azhar's Facebook account also posted a graphic denouncing homosexuality and quoting from the online fatwa center's rulings. It said: "Homosexuality is a despicable abomination and loathsome moral degeneracy that violates the principles of the religions, and subverts proper human nature. It constitutes excessive materialism and sanctifies [carnal] urges… Al-Azhar's global fatwa center warns against media content aimed at normalizing homosexuality."[8]

Graphic denouncing homosexuality on Al-Azhar's Facebook page

International Union Of Muslim Scholars: Same-Sex Relations Are A Perversion, Moral Degeneracy, And An Existential Threat To Humanity

On December 5, 2021, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) also issued a fatwa against homosexual relations.[9] Signed by the head of the IUMS, Ahmad Al-Raissouni and its secretary-general, 'Ali Al-Qaradhari, the fatwa says:

"In the recent years there has been an increase in the Western campaigns and pressures aimed at forcing all the peoples of the world, and all human beings, to accept homosexuality, welcome it, and regard it as one of the basic human rights, as though it is one of the conditions for happiness, civilized [existence] and progress. These campaigns use this right to slander and malign the majority of world peoples that still condemn homosexuality and regard it as a moral perversion. The [Western] campaigns and political and media pressure have come to the point of oppressing, punishing and persecuting anyone who voices a different opinion and criticizes homosexuality…

"In accordance with its religious duty, the IUMS rules and stresses that:

"1. Homosexual relations between two men or two women are absolutely forbidden according to the Quran, the Sunna and the consensus of religious scholars in all schools of Islam…

"2. All the divine religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and others, forbid and condemn homosexual relations.

"3. The fervent attempts to present the filthy phenomenon of homosexuality, and the farce of same-sex marriage and same-sex families, as socially and legally normal pose an existential and cultural threat to humanity…   

"4. The accusations and slander directed at the peoples who reject homosexuality, especially at the Islamic peoples, and the persecution campaigns aimed at hobbling whoever criticizes and opposes [homosexuality], are a horrible violation of freedom of opinion and belief and constitute bossiness, selfishness, tyranny and patronage directed by the West and its servants at the peoples of the world…

"5. Finally, the IUMS recommends heeding the voice of reason, jurisprudence, wisdom and the common Muslim good, and refraining from being swayed by the voice of deviancy and [moral] degeneracy…"[10]

Grand Mufti Of Oman On Twitter: Homosexuality Is A Dangerous Abomination

The Grand Mufti of Oman, Ahmad Bin Hamad Al-Khalili, who also serves as the deputy head of the IUMS, also addressed the issue, in a tweet he posted in several languages, including Arabic, English, Farsi, and Russian. The English version of the tweet said: "This is a call to everybody with upright conscience, regarding the obscenity of the so-called homosexuality. This is a matter of utmost seriousness that must not be neglected by anyone seeking goodness for himself and for all that is on the earth. Tolerating it will definitely lead to God Almighty's wrath and punishment."[11]

Al-Khalili's English tweet

Saudi Grand Mufti: Human Rights Stem First Of All From Divine Law

Following the UN's approval of the resolution that included a call to eliminate discrimination against citizens based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and after Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN, 'Abdallah Al-Mou'allimi, criticized this resolution,[12] Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz Bin 'Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh, who also heads the kingdom's Council of Senior Clerics, also criticized the resolution, saying that homosexuality "is one of the gravest crimes according to Allah, and whoever commits it is abhorrent in Allah's eyes and is said to incur disgrace in this world and the next." He added: "The entire world is harmed today by shameless insolence, false claims, corrupt slogans and abhorrent perversions that aim to deprive people of their humanity and of the most noble traits that Allah bestowed upon them, which distinguish them from all other creatures." He concluded by saying: "Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of its King and Crown Prince, underscores its firm position vis-a-vis these false claims and shameful slogans, [namely] that human rights in general, and all their good, compassionate, decent and justified meanings, [stem] first of all from divine law and not from the perverted atmosphere that sows corruption upon the earth."[13]   


Sheikh 'Abd Al-'Aziz Bin 'Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh (Source: Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

Bahrain's High Council For Islamic Affairs: Homosexuality Contravenes Human Nature

Bahrain's High Council for Islamic Affairs issued a statement that said: "Religion should impose a complete ban on homosexuality, and the glorious Islamic shari'a, as well as the laws of all the divine religions, [indeed ban it].  In fact, Islam regards it as one of the gravest sins; it is an abomination that normal human nature rejects and which is despised by the religious values that have never been contested throughout the history of any religion.  [Homosexuality] leads to great corruption that destroys human society and the natural social system of family values, distorts the identity of the [family] members, undermines the security and stability of societies, brings human dignity to the level of the basest depravity, violates human rights and exposes people to the gravest punishments, in this world and the next…

"These depraved attempts [to spread homosexuality] do not respect the values of societies, their conscience and their religions, and clearly reveal that [the goal] of these Westernization and cultural invasion campaigns is to stage a focused attack on the values and identity of the Islamic societies and bluntly violate [these values]. [The West] does not recognize the principles of proper [inter-]cultural dialogue  but is regressing to the era of ideological control, colonialism and forced patronage of [other] peoples and nations.

"The council calls on fathers and mothers, and on those in charge of the media, culture and education institutions, to fulfill their vital and noble role vis-à-vis the [Islamic] nation, which is to raise the younger generation in an upright and normal manner, strengthen its religious, national and social values and inoculate the coming generations against these destructive attacks…"[14] 

Jordan's Iftaa Department: We Refuse To Sanction Homosexuality

Jordan's Iftaa Department, the kingdom's main body in charge of issuing fatwas, addressed this matter as well. In response to a question regarding studies that advocate granting rights to gays in Muslim societies and amending the strict laws banning abortions and unmarried sex, the department ruled that all these phenomena are "clear violations of the Muslim faith." The fatwa stated: "The Muslim faith is known to be based on absolute principles, the first of which is that all creatures were created by Allah and that He knows them best… Allah created males and females, each [sex] with its own necessary characteristics and uniqueness… Hence, it is forbidden to spread or advocate anything that contravenes the agreed-upon [principles] of the Islamic religion and shari'a… the moral values that underpin Muslim societies, or the international laws and conventions that call to respect the religious and cultural uniqueness of [different] societies...

"The phenomena mentioned in the question [also] contravene the constitution of the [Jordanian] state, which defines Islam as the state religion. In addition, they are at odds with the moral values of all sectors of the Jordanian people… We oppose everything that was mentioned in the question, for [these phenomena] contravene the laws of the Islamic shari'a, and therefore we refuse to sanction homosexuality, legalize it, defend it or encourage it in any sector of society…

"We urge families to be alert to dubious preaching [disguised] behind attractive titles like freedom, and keep their children from heeding them. We also call on the governments to stand fast against anyone who tries to undermine the moral values of Muslim societies."[15]

Jordan's Iftaa Department (Source:

* B. Chernitsky is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[2], December 1, 2021. Aboutrika said this on November 27, 2021 on the beIN sports channel, where he is a commentator. He was responding to the English Premier League's "Rainbow Laces" initiative championing LGBTQ+ inclusion, as part of which rainbow-themed branding, armbands, laces and badges were displayed at matches.

[3] The UN General Assembly adopted this resolution without a vote. See, December 16, 2021.

[4], December 7, 2021.

[5], December 19, 2021.

[6], December 4, 2021.

[7], January 26, 2022.

[8], January 28, 2022.

[9] The IUMS, comprising Islamic clerics and jurisprudents from around the Muslim world, was founded in 2004 by Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi as an alternative religious source of authority for Muslims instead of the institutions affiliated with various regimes. Ahmad Al-Raissouni, who replaced Al-Qaradhawi as IUMS head in November 2018, told Al-Jazeera in an interview that Qatar has supported the organization since its inception and that Turkey now funds it as well. See, November 18, 2018.

[10], December 5, 2021.

[11], December 12, 2021.

[12] Al-Mou'allimi said: "The attempts of several countries in our civilized world to take undemocratic measures, impose controversial values and approve decisions regarding  'sexual orientation and gender identity' are unacceptable and contravene the most basic standards of international law and of the UN Charter, which emphasize the importance of respecting states' sovereignty and laws. This also contravenes the basic democratic principle of respecting the opinions of the other and refraining from imposing values and principles on societies that do not accept them… Allah created natural pairs of male and female, and anything else contravenes nature…Saudi Arabia is against terms pertaining to gender identity  and sexual orientation that contravene its Arab and Islamic identity and also contravene the laws of other states. See, December 18, 2021.

[13], December 22, 2021.

[14] Al-Ayyam (Bahrain), December 4, 2021.

[15], December 30, 2021.

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