Over the past few years and months there has been increased debate within the UK about the position of homosexuality in Britain. This initially surrounded attempts to pass equalities legislation criminalising any different treatment of people based upon their sexuality. It later became a debate about civil partnerships between people of the same gender. Now, Parliament is debating a bill attempting to legalise ‘gay marriage’.
Muslims have taken various different positions on this, highlighting some confusion within their ranks.
One response is silence, for fear of being mobbed by prominent gay-rights activists.
One response was that a few isolated voices decided to endorse equalities legislation through the confused logic that Islam says you should not let your hatred of anyone or anything lead you to do an injustice to them.
Another is that this issue is the greatest issue facing Muslims today, and that it is obligatory to oppose this legislation and indeed, to lobby MPs to oppose this legislation. This may, in part be meant to stimulate Muslims and to mobilise their sentiments towards this issue in the correct direction.
We would like to highlight some key points regarding this issue:
- No one can be in any doubt that the Hukm Shari’ on this issue is very clear. Same gender sexual relationships are famously known in the deen of Islam to be haram – and one of the major sins (kabair) – along with zina (adultery and fornication).
- To justify through some leap of logic that the Islamic injunction not to be unjust to people somehow justifies calling for equalities legislation on civil partnerships and marriage is pure nonsense. Not treating people unjustly in day-to-day dealings is one thing. Endorsing, normalising and legalising haram acts are quite another, and unacceptable.
- To argue that this issue has some special status that is more urgent than any other is also misplaced. In the past few weeks we have heard of Britain supporting yet another colonial military venture in Mali; we have seen the British Prime Minister on a mission making mischief in Muslim countries; we have seen prisons feeding Muslims pork in their ‘halal food’; we have seen no change in the abuse of Muslim prisoners and detainees around the world; we have seen a member of the royal family celebrating the invasion of Afghanistan. Are these matters any less worthy than this issue? Or indeed, any of the other commonplace issues in Western society such as zina, riba, gambling, the consumption of alcohol or the usurping of the lawmaking process from The Legislator? Why, one might ask, focus on this, most sensational of issues, with a sense of urgency above all others?
- The idea that the correct response to this matter is to lobby MPs is deeply confused to the say the least for both ideological and political reasons:
a) Ideologically: Part of the reason that Western society is in such a mess is the idea that people – through their elected MPs – decide what is morally and legally right and wrong – as opposed to the sacred Islamic idea that the Shariah of Allah (swt) decides these matters. This is the meaning of secular democracy where what Allah (swt) has made haram is made halal and what Allah (swt) made halal is made haram. To then appeal to the same process and the same MPs – who make these judgments based on totally different criteria – is deeply flawed and contradictory!
b) Politically: When the Catholic Church, one of the most organized and powerful lobbying groups in the UK, failed to secure exemption from equalities law that so affected their adoption agencies, what hope do Muslims have through emailing their MPs! Moreover, when Muslim MPs have consistently voted on such issues as war, detention, alcohol, gambling and sexuality in a manner that contradicts Islam, we need to get real about the manner in which the values system of society dictates the decisions on such matters more than personal conscience or the views of their constituents. To ignore these matters can mislead the Muslim community as to the effectiveness of this type of political action.
The correct approach to such an issue is not an exercise in discredited political lobbying, and it is most certainly not to endorse this proposed change in the law.
Rather the approach is three key points:
Firstly, that Muslims themselves should be clear in the understanding of this matter according to Islam – that it is a sin and that in an Islamic state such acts, if proved, would be a crime in law. Such laws in Islam protect the institution of the family – which is the bedrock of any society.
Secondly, as well as knowing what is forbidden by Islam, Muslims must build the Islamic understanding of what is right and wrong within our community – in particular the young. It seems absurd that when haram lifestyles are propagated as normal by the media and by schools, people should think that lobbying on the marriage issue is the most important thing. The Muslim community needs to view this issue as a symptom of an entire value system which has a different outlook and criteria to Islam, and which leads to much harm in society – both individually and collectively. If we build the correct Islamic values – a criteria of right and wrong based on the Shariah, the promotion of the values of how Allah SWT says human beings should satisfy their needs and desires – this will provide far greater protection than any of the schemes currently being promoted.
Thirdly, Muslims must engage with non-Muslims in Britain to show how their belief in unrestricted freedom – and systems that come from that – have destroyed family life, and are so destroying the society.
The persistent pursuance of limitless freedoms in sexual behaviour, drugs and alcohol, gambling, economic and financial matters has brought such obvious collective and personal harm in society. We then see contradictory policy attempts to try to mitigate these harms.
Moreover, the attempt to decide what is morally and legally correct according to public opinion not only leads to contradiction, but (as is very obvious in the UK at present) leads to bitter division in society.
When a government and society is built on a belief that man has the right to do whatever he chooses, it will naturally result in such legislation being debated. This week it is about gay marriages. Next week it will be about people’s rights to take their own lives. MPs decide what is right and wrong based upon reconciling public views with those of the dominant political and business class.
It is important that we understand that it is not any particular piece of legislation that is the issue. Rather, it is the very principle of man deciding what is right and wrong that contradicts the Islamic Aqeeda, and it is this we must challenge through an intellectual dialogue with wider society.
Chairman, UK Executive Committee