British imams and Muslim leaders speak out against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill
“We have serious misgivings about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which seeks to legalise gay marriage. As imams and Muslim leaders we have a responsibility to fulfil our sacred trust to God and present our view on these proposals on behalf of the Muslim communities we serve. Marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman that cannot be redefined. We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is the cornerstone of family life and the only institution within which to raise children. We are concerned that this radical change to the institution of marriage will impact on what is taught in schools. Muslim teachers will be forced into the contradictory position of holding private beliefs, while teaching a new legal definition of marriage. Muslim parents will be robbed of their right to raise their children according to their beliefs, as gay relationships are taught as something normal to their primary-aged children. We support the numerous calls from other faith leaders and communities who have stood firmly against gay marriage and instead support marriage as it should be, between a man and a woman.”
13 May 2013
The BBC reports that an Islamic practice, nikah mut’ah (temporary marriage), is gaining in popularity amongst young Shia Muslims in the UK. Described as “basically a contract,” temporary marriages allow young Muslims to meet and get to know each other before entering a permanent marriage and without breaking Islamic law. These informal marriages are the subject of a recent BBC Radio Asian Network special report entitled, “Married for a Minute.”
Sara, a Muslim woman who entered into a temporary marriage and spoke to the BBC about her experience, said that she entered into the arrangement because “It allowed us to meet without breaking the bounds of Sharia [Islamic law]. We both wanted to date, to go out for dinner or go shopping and just get to know each other better before getting married, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.” Though statistics are not gathered on these informal arrangements, Muslim leaders interviewed by the BBC claim that the practice is experiencing a revival amongst Shia university students in the UK.
Temporary marriages are not universally accepted in the Muslim community. The practice is largely confined to the Shia community, with Sunnis considering these informal marriages haram (forbidden). A Sunni spokesperson for the UK Islamic Sharia Council said that “There is no difference between mut’ah marriages and prostitution” and that she has never come across a Sunni scholar who has declared such practices halal (permissible).
May 14 2013
According to De Volkskrant, during a meeting on honor-related violence held by the social affairs ministry, police announced that they had supported an underage girl’s Islamic marriage. The Pakistani girl, who was in love with a Pakistani Hindu boy in her neighbourhood, was resisting a planned marriage to a cousin in Pakistan. Police brought her to a secret location, because her family threatened to kill her. The parents supported their daughter’s choice of partner on the grounds that the daughter would have an Islamic wedding. As a result, the couple married in an Islamic ceremony, though the girl was underage and in the Netherlands the performance of a religious marriage without a preceding civil marriage is an offence.
In 2012, the Liljeberg Research International Institute has conducted a representative study about the living environment of German-Turkish people in Germany. In total, 1.011 persons with Turkish origins have been asked about value and live attitudes towards Germany.
Although 27 per cent of the interviewees have been born in Germany and 39 per cent of the interviewees have been living in the Federal Republic for more than 30 years, only 15 per cent would perceive Germany as their home country. In contrast to interviews in previous years, labour is not the main motivation for migration to Germany, being replaced by the choice for the marriage partner.
About 45 per cent do plan to return to Turkey. However, most of the interviewees do not consider a return before the next 10 years. The highest rate (55%) of persons willing to return is among the 30-49 years old group. Most interviewees explain their will to return by the desire to live in their “home country”. Only 6 per cent gave labour as a reason for return. In fact about 40 per cent of the interviewees are not Turkish citizens. They possess the “mavi kart” a card for “Turkish foreigners” without Turkish citizenship. It facilitates the return formalities to Turkey in terms of re-integration in the labour market. Also, it entitles subjects to receive social transfers.
70 per cent of the younger interviewees perceive their German language skills better than their Turkish. Consequently, 31 per cent of the total number of interviewees, naming the older persons, perceives their Turkish language skills as clearly better than their German.
The overall attitudes towards Germany are positive. Germany is perceived as the “modern”, “trustable”, “accountable” and “tolerant” country with high standards related to social security.
Albeit the overwhelming majority is satisfied with the migration to Germany, 63 per cent of the interviewees feel regarded as Turks by Germans in Germany and as Germans in Turkey. They feel as strangers, no matter where they migrate to. 47 per cent of the interviewees do feel unwanted and not welcome in Germany. However, maintaining the Turkish culture is important to 95 per cent of the interviewees. 84 per cent believe being a German citizen and a good Muslim would not juxtapose each other. Hence 37 per cent of the interviewees perceive themselves as strongly religious and 44 per cent claim to pray at least once a day. The high amount of religiosity among young people has been a surprising aspect for the study. This seems to be a tendency for the next years. The reservation of older Turkish-German migrants towards religion could be explained by the patterns of Kemalism and the Turkish national identify.
Complete Study Liljeberg Research International
For the first time in France a group of 20 Muslims men and women came together to found a collective against the proposed same-sex legislation. The group named ‘Les musulmans pour l’enfance’ (Muslim for childhood) aims to “sensitivise French citizens of Muslim faith of the consequences of the law”.
The group remains unaffiliated with larger French religious authority and puts emphasis on being a citizen initiative. Members criticise that the proposed law on same-sex marriage didn’t take children into account, whose opinion remain outside of the debate. Les musulmans pour l’enfance claims to protect the traditional institution of marriage and has already called for rallies in Paris and other French cities. According to them, French Muslims who oppose same sex marriage do so in line with convictions and not as a move against the French government or its President.
Internet Marriages on Rise in Some Immigrant Communities
With a red embroidered veil draped over her dark hair, Punam Chowdhury held her breath last month as her fiancé said the words that would make them husband and wife. After she echoed them, they were married. Guests erupted in applause; the bride and groom traded bashful smiles.
Normally one of the most intimate moments two people can share, the marriage had taken place from opposite ends of the globe over the video chat program Skype, with Ms. Chowdhury, an American citizen, in a mosque in Jackson Heights, Queens, and her new husband, Tanvir Ahmmed, in his living room with a Shariah judge in his native Bangladesh.
Their courtship, like so many others, had taken place almost entirely over the Internet — they had met in person only once, years earlier, in passing. But in a twist that underscores technology’s ability to upend traditional notions about romance, people are not just finding their match online, but also saying “I do” there.
The practice of proxy marriage is particularly widespread in Islamic countries where the Koran has long been interpreted to explicitly endorse it.
“After all these advancements in technology and all kinds of telecommunication tools, scholars came to the conclusion that it is acceptable,” said the imam Shamsi Ali, of the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens.
“Skype is making it easier,” he added. “These days you have Google Hangout, too.”
16 February 2013
Recently passed gay marriage law which enabled gay couples to marry in religious institutions have angered Muslim community since homosexuality is banned under the Islamic law. However, their feelings have become stronger after the voting in the Parliament since five Muslim MP voted in favor of the gay marriage. Muslim MPs came under harsh criticism from Muslim groups, some of those accused the MPs with “apostasy”.
It has been also reported that some of the MPs have received death threats over the vote. According to Daily Mail, Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary has received death threats after voting in favour of gay marriage. Police have told Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, that the threats are credible enough that he should review the security around him and his family following the Commons vote.
Mufti Muhammed Aslam Naqshbandi Bandhalevi, who is the head imam of the Jamia Islamia Rizvia mosque in Bradford, has issued a fatwa, or ruling, declaring Mr Khan an ‘apostate’ from Islam and said he should ‘repent before Allah’.
Hizbut Tahrir Britain said “some people hold up these MPs as examples for young Muslims to follow yet nothing could be further from the truth”.
A recent study conducted by the Flemish daily De Morgan in Antwerp and Ghent revealed a high level of Islamophobia and xenophobia amongst young Flames. Accordingly, one in three Flames has a completely negative view on Muslims and almost every fifth participant is correspondingly convinced that many Muslims are criminals. Almost one quarter of the respondents (20%) think Muslims should be prohibited from practicing their religion in Belgium whereas 1/3 hesitated in face of the question.
The study equally reveals a disturbing level of homophobia amongst young Muslims in Belgium: almost half of them reject gay marriage and one quarter considers violence against homosexuals to be well justified. 21% of young Muslim participants approve of the dead penalty for homosexuality in countries where it is still practiced. What the study however also shows is that homophobia is not just widespread amongst Muslims, but also amongst young Flames of whom 1/3 say to be disturbed by the sight of two men kissing.
Young Muslims on the other hand show a higher level of anti-Semitic views: 45% of them agree with the prejudice of “Jews being a dominant social group” or “Jews to incite wars”.
In a recently published article by Zaman France, John Bowen, an anthropologist at the University of Washington St. Louis and author of the book “L’Islam à la francaise” (Islam in French), shares his thoughts on communitarianism amongst Muslims in France. He has previously conducted field research in the mosque community of Clichy-sous-Bois, the Tawahid Centre of St-Denis, the Lyon mosque as well as Centre of Islamic Studies and Research (CERSI). According to him, Muslims in France are far from being communitarists but are instead attempting to adapt to Republican values by making use of universal Quranic concepts.
On the question whether Islam is a problem in France, Bowen explains that “islamic mosque projects, the construction of mosques to meet Muslim needs (…) can all be seen as proofs for the existance of a communitarian spirit amongst Muslims (…) but if this is to believed one has to come to exactely the same conclusion about Jews, Catholics and other groups who create schools and associations”.
He relativises the focus given to France’s Muslim communites by saying that it’s “precisely the same processes that Jews and Catholics who are now integrated into France have undergone”. Bowen emphasises upon the fact that after 1905 Catholics, secularists and non-Catholics have had to go through a long process before coming to understand one another to be foremist citizens of the French Republic. In light of that, the construction of community buildings and mosques might appear as attempts to remain amongst their own community but are in fact “part of the history of France itself and the history of integration in France”. According to him “Muslims can’t be blamed for doing exactely the same as Catholics and Jews have done before them!”.
He further asserts that there is a certain convergence of Islamic reasoning around a number of Islamic concepts amongst Muslims of North African descent and Muslim public persons in France. In contrast to public opinion, Bowen considers Muslims of France to have shown proof to voluntary adapt to the French state and society. This can be traced in “for instance the call to the purpose of islam (maqâsid ash-sharî‘a), a universalists concept that permits to de-communitarianise Muslims to some degree”. He cites the Islamic marriage tradition as an example: Muslims in France are encouraged to marry in the registry office and to consider such marriage to be equal to being married in front of an Imam.
Bowen further underlines that we are ought to distinguish between the “question of islam and the question of Muslims”. He concludes that “if we speak about suburbs or social issues we alays speak of Muslims as if religion is causing these issues: we need to make a dinstiction between the two”.
News Agencies – November 14, 2012
French government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has condemned the inflammatory language used by the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF) in opposing gay marriage , including equating same-sex marriage to bestiality. The UOIF also added that everyone should understand “the consequences that it could have on society, if this new form of marriage and parenthood is legalized. President François Hollande’s government has recently drafted a bill on “marriage for all” that could allow same-sex couples to get married in France as early as 2013.