Debate: “Islamic gay marriage” December 10, 2006Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Proggies, Responses, Shari'ah.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how focusing the scriptural debate over homosexuality according to Islam on just the passages about the people of Lut (peace be on him) falls short of understanding the whole picture of opposition from the entire legal system of Islam, based faithfully upon the Qur’an and Sunnah.
I want to write something in-depth about this, but in the meantime here are snippets from an ongoing debate over at ProgressiveIslam.org, a haven for bizarre opinions, but not entirely unchallenged. I have posted a couple of comments, which I reproduce here alongside others relevant to the thread:
Laury Silvers posts:
FINALLY SOME GOOD NEWS!
Now in a certain sense, we don’t have to wait for big moments like this:
1. Islamic marriage does not require a religious authority, simply witnesses, etc. You can look in Nuh Keller’s translation of the Reliance. It’s easy. Gay Muslims can already marry in a practical sense right now.
2. Gay men can already legally lead prayer, give khutbas.
3. Legally speaking, being gay should not be a barrier to community leadership. If I am correct, the only thing “really” illegal associated with homosexuality is anal penetration. It is illegal for everyone. Not much chance of that happening such that anyone would know. And, uh, gay men are not the only ones *not* doing that in public.
4. Gay women are stuck for leadership as women are in general. So we keep working on the women’s issue, yes?
Straight Muslims got a ways to go on this, but we have what we need to at least stop making life hell for our gay brothers and sisters right now.
> 1. Islamic marriage does not require a religious
> authority, simply witnesses, etc.
I’ll look into this. Interesting that you referred to a Shafi’i fiqh manual. I wonder how much you concentrate on the rest of its contents.
But of course the whole notion of “gay marriage” has no supportability in Islamic law. e.g.: Who are the categories of men forbidden to a man to marry? Can he marry his brother or father? (Na’udhu billah) Who gives the dowry to whom, and how is divorce enacted? What nonsense.
The authority is before Allah, and He has revealed His law, to which we are bound. This law gives “marriage” its definition and significance. Sin cannot be sanctified, and the marriage bond is a sacred one as well as being based on a legal contract.
> 2. Gay men can already legally lead prayer, give
If they are known to engage in sin, then they will not be accepted by a believing community in any position like this. But if you mean people who simply have same-sex attractions, then those inner SSA are nobody’s business.
That being said, I did hear that the Maliki school has recognised that some men are “ma’boon” and it is disliked (makruh) to pray behind them. The scholar who mentioned it seemed to mean people with SSA, but the dictionary says “catamite”, i.e. younger partner in pederasty. Something to investigate.
> 3. […] If I am correct, the only thing “really”
> illegal associated with homosexuality is anal
Not so. The generality of the Qur’anic condemnation (in the words of Prophet Lut to his people) indicates that ANY ACTION based upon homosexual desire is sinful. I discuss this idea more at my blog.
Fashion Mujahid (Nakia Jackson) responds:
“But of course the whole notion of “gay marriage” has no supportability in Islamic law.”
-Neither do many Muslim marriages contracted today, where Muslims marry for mutual companionship, instead of a man acquiring a bride to improve familial holdings, secure an heir, etc.
“e.g.: Who are the categories of men forbidden to a man to marry? Can he marry his brother or father?”
He can’t marry his mother or sister, either: what is your point?
As to the remainder of your comment, fiqh focuses on actions, not identities- i.e. one can’t be condemned for being something, but you may be condemned for doing something. Therefore, strictly speaking, one can’t be under penalty for being gay, one can only incur penalties for extramarital sex, no matter the gender of the partner, or one’s own sexual orientation.
Now, do you suggest we return to the “established form of Islamic marriage”, where a man acquires a bride to secure an heir, improve familial holdings or status, or in the case of those who hold office, to secure the terms of a peace treaty, or otherwise improve relations between foreign powers?
Rasheed Eldin in response to FM (Nakia):
You didn’t grasp my point about “supportability in Islamic law” – think supportability as experienced in computer systems. Can your operating system handle this program? Well I am saying that Islamic Shari’ah does not handle “gay marriage”, as it is a nonsensical concept Islamically, even if some man-made legal systems accept it.
I asked: “Who are the categories of men forbidden to a man to marry? Can he marry his brother or father?” You said: “He can’t marry his mother or sister, either: what is your point?”
MY POINT: The Qur’an has enumerated the categories of women forbidden to a man to marry. It hasn’t said what categories of man he cannot marry. So going by the idea that anything not expressly prohibited must be OK, why would you say that he cannot marry his brother or father? (Na’udhu billah). And as I mentioned also, who gives dowry to whom, and how is divorce enacted? These would be serious questions to anyone trying to officiate “Islamic gay marriage”. And there are of course plenty more where those came from.
> As to the remainder of your comment, fiqh focuses on
> actions, not identities- i.e. one can’t be condemned for
> being something, but you may be condemned for doing
> something. Therefore, strictly speaking, one can’t be
> under penalty for being gay, one can only incur
> penalties for extramarital sex, no matter the gender
> of the partner, or one’s own sexual orientation.
There is probably no greater advocate for distinguishing actions from attractions in this matter than me (except my colleagues).
But to restrict what is prohibited only to one specific act (sodomy), while the Qur’an and Sunnah didn’t do that explicitly, is unwarranted. To live with a man is not in itself prohibited (or as far as I know, disliked). But if they mean by that to REPLACE the concept of spousal relationship with this arrangement, then surely they are guilty of contradicting the Qur’anic guidance. Some more thoughts on that here.
> Now, do you suggest we return to the “established form
> of Islamic marriage”, where a man acquires a bride to
> secure an heir, improve familial holdings or status, or in
> the case of those who hold office, to secure the terms of
> a peace treaty, or otherwise improve relations between
> foreign powers?
This, of course, is a red herring. Marriage has always had companionship as its highest aim, as established by Q30:21 and by the example of the Prophet (peace be on him), who did not only marry for those aims you mentioned.
[Continuing in response to another FM comment]:
> [D]epriving a segment of the Muslim community of the
> familial relationship that a spouse provides, and
> condemning them to lifelong celibacy to boot should
> give us pause. Does the Qur’an dictate that this be so?
> It’s possible, but it would be inconsistent with other
> parts of the Qur’an, which speak of God’s mercy, and
> the extolling of marriage as just about universal.
At least you admit it’s possible. There could be any number of people who are not able to experience all the joys and blessings available in this temporary life. There are people who are asexual and will never taste that sweetness.
There are people who are poor and cannot go on Hajj. There are people who are physically disabled and cannot stand in prayer. There are people who are mentally disabled and cannot even recite the kalimah.
None of this lessens the people in Allah’s sight, and all of what is ‘missed out’ on in this life will be recompensed in the Next.
The call for mercy, compassion and empathy is a noble one, but one that is abused by some. Mercy doesn’t mean ignoring God’s laws. We should recognise the difficulties faced by SSA people and try to reduce the social stigma that is attached to not marrying.
But of course the path of marriage is one option available to SSA Muslims, but only really those who are willing to strive against their misleading desires. Even for those people, marriage will not always be right for them. But let’s not pretend that the road is entirely cut off. Plenty of folks will happily testify to the contrary.