In a new initiative outlined in December 2012, an interfaith organisation called the Christian Muslim Forum claims to have gathered together ‘senior’ Muslim Imams and Christian ministers to recognise the rise in interfaith marriages especially Muslim women wishing to marry non-Muslim men. The organisation has in fact published guidelines entitled ‘When two faiths meet’ which sets out how to overcome the hurdles from such a union and where to go for further support.
The guidelines has had the backing of organisations such as the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford lead by Taj Hargey, who sees this as not going against the teachings of Islam. Mr Hargey says “There is no verse in the Holy Quran that bans Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men.” He also goes on to say that he has conducted marriage services for Muslim women without their Christian or Jewish partners converting. The claim is also being made that ignoring or not allowing such unions, causes all manner of social ills within the Muslim family here in the UK, such as honour crimes against Muslim women who have found partners outside their religion.
There is a concerted effort on the part of secular liberal society to not only malign and mock religion and faith, but to further this agenda by pushing forth advocates of specific faiths who endorse and create this obscure and vague set of values in order to merge all religions into one, in the name of tolerance. This means distinct and individual religious beliefs, rules or practices must be scrapped, be they sacred tenets regarding marriage or family. Furthermore, it makes every attempt to make Muslims prove time and again that their beliefs are digestible to the secular palate. Thus the Islamic belief and values must be up for the same dilution Christianity has undergone.
What is even worse in this recent example, is that such an agenda is then presented by so called religious figures as being supported by textual evidences when in actuality, their intent has nothing to do with the religious text, and everything to do with wanting Islam to be whittled down to a set of irrelevant rituals which have no distinct principles, values or rules, and therefore no alternative to offer secular society. This same Educational Centre also had very clear views on advocating Muslim women Imams leading congregational prayers for both men and women. Again, a matter which Islam has already clarified and which directly runs counter to those being endorsed by such organisations.
We must reject such ideas and expose them to be wholly insincere and agenda serving. This is an ever growing extreme brand of secularism which wishes Islam – like other faiths – to be seen as irrelevant to Muslims here in the West. The coverage of the gay Mosque which opened in Paris is also a perfect example of how such an agenda is being fuelled wishing to make Muslims feel that they cannot even hold onto their very basic principles.
Finally it is insincere of any Muslim organisation to claim that all the major classical scholars and Muslims the world over are wrong when they understood verses in the Qur’an. For example in Surah 60, verse 10 it clearly states with no ambiguity that Muslim men and women cannot marry non-Muslims, with some exceptions which are also detailed in the textual evidences.
‘O ye who believe! When believing women come unto you as fugitives, examine them. Allah is Best Aware of their faith. Then, if ye know them for true believers, send them not back unto the disbelievers. They are not lawful for them (the disbelievers), nor are they (the disbelievers) lawful for them.’
Muslims should not feel ashamed of their values and principles, as many faiths, including the Jewish faith, also have strict codes on interfaith unions. Therefore Islam never has and never will adopt an attitude which prevails within liberal culture – which is that when there is a problem, don’t try and get to the root of the problem. Just legitimise the problem to make it go away. All the while eroding the moral fabric of society as the goal posts perpetually shift. Islam does not need modernising.
Our responsibility has always been to engage with the wider non-Muslim community to illustrate the greater need to appreciate that Islam is distinct and has distinct solutions for society. It does not force non-Muslims to be coerced into giving up their beliefs. Rather the duty of an Islamic society and State is to protect the honour, life, property and belief of non-Muslims. Something that secular society has failed to do, as it continues to place pressure on Muslims to dilute and reject the very basic aspects of their belief.
Women’s Media Representative
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain