Dr Mohammad Arif Shahar
Dr Mohd Faiz Md Tahir

Last Updated: 14 July 2020


Ponder on what the Creator has to say about human sexuality and gender.

Key points:

On Sexuality (Biological aspect):

  1. God created men and women
  2. God know what is in the womb

On Gender (Psychological aspect)

  1. Men are made attracted to women
  2. The intimacy between men and women is described in a dignified way
  3. Homosexuality is forbidden
  4. Shamelessness and immorality is abhorrent

On Gender (Social aspect)

  1. Men is given more responsibility and is charged with protecting women
  2. Man and women have different role in society
  3. Inheritance – more are given to men because of their responsibility over women

On Gender (Spiritual aspect)

  1. Men and women are not created equal but both are equitable
  2. Both man and women are equally honoured
  3. Both men and women are given due compensation for their own good deeds
  4. Both men and women are equally equitable for their own crimes
Brief Explanation:


Sexuality and gender; the talk on these subjects are heightened in the post-modern society. Believe it or not, the issue on gender has been discussed much earlier in human civilization.

In our current day and age, movements such as those who at minimum sympathize with individuals or groups that are actually convinced of the LGBT’s, feminist or even masculinist advocacies have given us quite a stir. This writing is not about judging people or their take on sexuality or gender-role; rather it is a look on what God – the Creator of both men and women – has to say about what is disputed.

First and foremost, we should understand that sexuality and gender are two different ideas. While sexuality refers to the physical, biological characteristics or either men or women; gender refers to the individual identification of their gender-role as male or female – as an individual; in the society and their relationship with God. In short, sexuality refers to the biological characteristics in the physical sense, while gender refers to the psychological acceptance, social and spiritual role of male and female.

Moving on, answering what God has to say about sexuality and gender in the Quran.

God created men, women and He knows what is in the womb

Firstly, God created both men and women. This is clearly stated in the Quran in multiple ayaat[2] (4:1, 42:49, 42:50, 49:13, 53:45, 75:39 and 92:3). The realization the God created both men and women gives a notion that both gender are equal in the sight of God. For those who beg to differ with such notion may find out later that this idea is well establish in God’s own word.

Men and women are created with unique physical characteristics (i.e. sexual characteristics). Men with their XY chromosome are created more muscular, virilised and have coarse features differentiating them from their counterparts who carry in their cells the XX chromosome. Women are generally smaller in body built and more graceful – what most would agree to describe as lovely and beautiful in their physical sense. We are also very well aware of the differences between their reproductive organs.

However, some are born with gender ambiguity where their sexual physical characteristics are not apparent. This can be seen in cases of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, Turner syndrome and other Disorders of Sexual Differentiation. It is God’s wisdom that although the sexuality in these cases are ambiguous, the gender-role has always been clear.[3] Indeed, He knows what is in the womb (13:8, 31:34, 35:11 and 41:47).

The realization of these two key points humbled us; that we should accept His guidance on the issue of human sexuality and gender.

Sexual psychology and behaviour

Men are made by God to be attracted to women. The feeling of attraction to the opposite gender is inherent in the human psychology as opposed to fascination towards the same gender. The reason is clear – God placed this feeling in humans. He said so in the Quran, “Beautified for people (men) is the love of that which they desire – of women…” (3:14).

Thus he dignified the relationship between men and women through the sacred tie of marriage; describes the spouse in the most beautiful of ways – husband and wife as clothes for each other by which they find warmth and protection (2:187). The relationship between them is so close to likeness of the skin and clothes that they can confide with each other. He also made marriage for the purpose of love, mercy and tranquillity for both men and women (30:21). This by itself is the proof that God wanted human to adopt heterosexuality. The purpose is simple and clear; the dignified continuity and propagation of humankind on earth.

On the other hand, homosexuality is forbidden (7:80, 7:81, 27:54 and 29:28); shamelessness and illicit sexual relationship is abhorrent; they are considered the fulfilment of the call of the devil; people are warned against doing such acts (2:168-169, 2:268, 7:33, 17:32, 24:19 and 33:30).

Gender-role in society

God created men and women with diverse advantages. These differences do not make either gender superior over the other. However, the purpose of having these differences is to fulfil specialized role of each gender in society. The ayah 4:34, described the rights and responsibilities of men and women – clearly, their role varies from one another. Men are charged with taking care of women’s needs in the family (4:34); even if divorce took place (2:233). In another place in the Quran, it is explicitly mentioned that men are not the same as women in their role (3:36). In that particular verse, it refers to the role related to the service to God.[4] Men are commanded to provide for women and thus are expected to work and earn a living for the family. However, the Quran acknowledges the situation where women are required to work. This lesson is implied when the Quran mentioned Moses’ encounter with two women who were tending their flock among a group of men (28:23).

On the issue of inheritance, although men are given a larger portion than women, they are however, expected to spend on – and provide for – their female counterpart (4:11). In any case, the wisdom of God is obvious that He dictates justice for both men and women when it comes to rights and responsibilities. The gender which are given more are expected to fulfil larger responsibilities: to protect and to provide the needs of the other gender. Being different does not mean being superior or inferior. Men and women are given different advantages in order for them to be able to fulfil their God given roles.

Spiritual aspect of gender

This section describes the differences between genders in the sight of God from the spiritual sense. Although, men are charged with leading the family, in the eye of God, both men and women are equally invited to enjoy provision from Him; equally vulnerable to the whispers of Satan and equally responsible for their own actions. It is interesting to ponder when God mentions Adam first followed by his spouse (Eve) (in Arabic ‘anta wa zaujuka’ meaning you, and your spouse) when it comes to commanding them to stay in Paradise. However, God uses a pronoun referring to both of them (in Arabic ‘huma’) – giving the notion of equal rights and equitabilities – when it comes to enjoying food in Paradise, being deceived by Satan and subsequently when expelled from Paradise. This provides us with an indication that, regardless of gender, they are both responsible for their own actions (2:35-36).

Both men and women are equally honoured in the sight of God in the Quran (33:35). In addition to that, it is mentioned evidently that women are to be protected against slander and mistreatment (24:23). Both men and women are given their due compensation for their own good deeds (3:195, 4:124 and 16:97) and are being warned equally of punishment against their own crimes (40:40, 9:67 and 111:1-5).


God guides humans with regards to their sexuality and gender. Men and women are created with differences, not to compete with one another, but to actually complement each other by fulfilling their specific gender-role. Although these responsibilities (and roles) differ, their rights are equal and both are equitable for their own actions in the sight of God, the Most Just.

The disputed sexuality and gender-roles is still a conundrum in this days and age. After all the disagreement and differences of opinion, one question remains,

“While God fashioned humans to be the best of creations… who, is then, the one, put their own dignity to its worse? By which, as a result, God returned them to the lowest of low”[5]

End notes:

[1] Translation of the Quran is obtained from Sahih International accessed through

[2] Although inaccurate, ayaat can be translated as verses of the Quran. Ayaat is not similar to sentences. In the Quran an ayah may contain several sentences, while several sentences may make one ayah.

[3] Islamic Jurists have discussed sexual ambiguity and the solution to gender-role has always been clear following the principles laid down in Islam. There are specific rights and role of men, women and true hermaphrodites in Islam. However this is neither the time nor place to discuss this matter. In the Malaysian context, the Ministry of Health has published a guideline on management of disorders related to gender in 2017, ISBN:  978-967-5322-14-3.

[4] The ayah 3:35 described how the wife of Imraan pledge that the baby she is carrying in her womb be raised in the ‘monastery’ for the service of God. When she delivered the baby and found that the baby was a girl, she exclaimed, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And she continued, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary…” This was the story of the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Quran.

[5] (95:4-5)

Sources from the Quran:[1]

Click the ayah number in the tables below (e.g. 4:1) for more details

On Sexuality (Biological aspect):

  • God created men and women
4:1O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.
42:49To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males.
42:50Or He makes them [both] males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Competent.
49:13O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted
53:45And that He creates the two mates – the male and female –
75:39And made of him two mates, the male and the female.
92:3And [by] He who created the male and female,
  • God know what is in the womb
13:8Allah knows what every female carries and what the wombs lose [prematurely] or exceed. And everything with Him is by due measure.
31:34Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
35:11And Allah created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop; then He made you mates. And no female conceives nor does she give birth except with His knowledge. And no aged person is granted [additional] life nor is his lifespan lessened but that it is in a register. Indeed, that for Allah is easy.
41:47To him [alone] is attributed knowledge of the Hour. And fruits emerge not from their coverings nor does a female conceive or give birth except with His knowledge. And the Day He will call to them, “Where are My ‘partners’?” they will say, “We announce to You that there is [no longer] among us any witness [to that].”

On Gender (Psychological aspect)

  • Men are made attracted to women
3:14Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.
  • The intimacy between men and women is described in a dignified way
2:187It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. These are the limits [set by] Allah, so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His ordinances to the people that they may become righteous
30:21And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.
  • Homosexuality is forbidden
7:80And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds?
7:81Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.”
27:54And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit immorality while you are seeing?
29:28And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, “Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds.
  • Shamelessness and immorality is abhorrent
2:168-169O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. He only orders you to evil and immorality and to say about Allah what you do not know.
2:268Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
7:33Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed – and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.”
17:32And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.
24:19Indeed, those who like that immorality should be spread [or publicized] among those who have believed will have a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you do not know.
33:30O wives of the Prophet, whoever of you should commit a clear immorality – for her the punishment would be doubled two fold, and ever is that, for Allah, easy.

On Gender (Social aspect)

  • Men is given more responsibility and is charged with protecting women
2:233Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers’ provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father’s] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do.
4:34Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.
  • Man and women have different role in society
2:233See above
4:34See above
3:36But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah ].”
28:23(about women working) And when he came to the well of Madyan, he found there a crowd of people watering [their flocks], and he found aside from them two women driving back [their flocks]. He said, “What is your circumstance?” They said, “We do not water until the shepherds dispatch [their flocks]; and our father is an old man.”
  • Inheritance – more are given to men because of their responsibility over women
4:11Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. But if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two thirds of one’s estate. And if there is only one, for her is half. And for one’s parents, to each one of them is a sixth of his estate if he left children. But if he had no children and the parents [alone] inherit from him, then for his mother is one third. And if he had brothers [or sisters], for his mother is a sixth, after any bequest he [may have] made or debt. Your parents or your children – you know not which of them are nearest to you in benefit. [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

On Gender (Spiritual aspect)

  • Men and women are not created equal but both are equitable
2:35-36And We said, “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, “Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time.”
  • Both man and women are equally honoured
24:23(Women honour are protected) Indeed, those who [falsely] accuse chaste, unaware and believing women are cursed in this world and the Hereafter; and they will have a great punishment
33:35Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.
  • Both men and women are given due compensation for their own good deeds
3:195And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killed – I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from Allah, and Allah has with Him the best reward.”
4:124And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer – those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed.
16:97Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.
  • Both men and women are equally equitable for their own crimes
40:40Whoever does an evil deed will not be recompensed except by the like thereof; but whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – those will enter Paradise, being given provision therein without account.
9:67The hypocrite men and hypocrite women are of one another. They enjoin what is wrong and forbid what is right and close their hands. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them [accordingly]. Indeed, the hypocrites – it is they who are the defiantly disobedient.
111:1-5May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame. And his wife [as well] – the carrier of firewood. Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber.