Human Rights

Love & Hate: A Muslim community’s response to a gay wedding

Islam in North America is increasingly finding itself in deep “intersectional identity” quicksand. Recently, we have seen religious conservatives like Linda Sarsour simultaneously lauding theocratic law while selling the world on “Muslim Feminism”. Oxymoronic as that may seem, it is nothing compared to the cultural chasm that has opened up in response to gay weddings.

Earlier this month a young Muslim man, Ali, belonging to the Shi’a Ithna-Asheri (Khoja) sect got married to his partner Paul in Vancouver. His family accepted, supported and celebrated their wedding. Immediately following the wedding, customary congratulations poured in, and positive news of the marriage even went viral.

“Ali expressed many times, that if he could flick a switch and not be Gay, he would do it in a heartbeat. If Ali was your son, what would you do?”

Unfortunately, the bliss at the nuptials was to be short-lived. The joyous outpouring of support immediately drew the ire of both officials and the community at large. Condemnations rolled in from around the world, major centers of the sect in Dar Es Salaam and Madagascar issued public condemnations. Others like the London based World Federation put pressure privately on the North American leadership, which was followed by a petition demanding the resignation of anyone involved in condoning the wedding:

“It is indisputable that the Secretary General, Mrs. Siddika, took part in the same-sex wedding of her son. The wedding was celebrated openly and proudly, with #AliandPaul2017 hashtag on social media. While we believe it is not necessary to extensively or deeply examine the personal lives of the members of NASIMCO, this incident cannot be dismissed as “the personal lives of the family.” Traditionally, a wedding is a public demonstration of a relationship. This sin was not done in private, but rather was publicly celebrated and promoted.”

What is even more damning is this petition was produced by younger members of the community and not some older, out-of-touch conservatives.

“This action of accommodating the wedding ceremony of a haram union between two mature men has left an impact on youths all over the world. It means this action might make another innocent shia take the stand.”

The Africa Federation (Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaats of Africa) also declared their outrage at the love and support this couple received on their wedding day. They stated, “Shockingly, this event was ostentatiously and brazenly publicized with the family members and their friends seen participating and celebrating the event without any qualm, feeling of guilt or sense of respect for the broad community’s sensitivities and respect for Islam and the lofty ideals and values it stands for.”

They continued to state the religious basis for their condemnation: “The Africa Federation, the Territorial Councils of Madagascar and Reunion along with its constituent member Jamaats vehemently condemn this despicable act which goes against the tenets of Islam. Allah (s.w.t.) in the Holy Qur’an has condemned the act of homosexuality while recounting the tale of the people of Loot culminating in the destruction of the people and their nation through the wrath of Allah (s.w.t.).”

As a consequence, the groom’s mother Siddika was forced to resign from her leadership position at NASIMCO (North American Shia governing body) due to her acceptance of her son. While religious communities always try to coerce obedience amongst members, only in highly orthodox conservative ones do parents suffer for the sin of accepting their children.

In her heart-breaking resignation letter, Siddika – the groom’s mother, describes her own journey to accepting her son’s homosexuality and her path to supporting him. She notes that in her “moments of darkness, I realized that the only way for Ali to live an authentic life and not have to hide and fear rejection was to give him space to reach his human potential as God’s creation.” Her religious faith was central to her journey to accepting her child and loving him exactly as he was. She notes Ali’s struggle as well: “Ali expressed many times, “that if he could flick a switch and not be Gay, he would do it in a heartbeat”. She ends with the plea “If Ali was your son, what would you do?”

The liberal minority within this Khoja Shi’a community are reeling from the reaction to a couple’s love, even as they are disturbed at their own association with such deeply held homophobia by their families and friends. Some have sent Ali personal messages of support while attempting to speak to family members with varying degrees of success.

A young member notes: “I’ve had heated debates with my cousins and siblings and was attacked left, right and center. To the point, I had to stop because I was only giving them reasons to continue shunning Ali.”

Every mother wants to celebrate her child’s wedding, and if Allah made him that way, they should have the right to celebrate like everyone else does”

One commenter from the community (Fatima) noted, “My mom and I had a very productive conversation about the situation, and I was able to reach her. She went from a position of “I accept that people are probably born gay so they can’t help it, but they shouldn’t act on it” to “well yes, every mother wants to celebrate her child’s wedding, and if Allah made him that way, they should have the right to celebrate like everyone else does.”

Other responses from the community, on furiously typed WhatsApp chats, have not been as charitable, but are sadly representative of the majority view on this event. One woman starts with an objection to the very first paragraph of the resignation letter where Siddika has stated that her son’s right to marry is legal in Canada. The commenter then goes to ask the most damning question of them all: “But is it legalized in the Holy Quran?” Much of the reasoning follows in this vein: “This action of accommodating the wedding ceremony of a haram union between two mature men has left an impact on youths all over the world. It means this action might make another innocent shia take the stand.” She then accommodatingly quotes the following passage, which is important enough to quote in its entirely and evidently relevant to this discussion.

ISLAMIC VIEW OF HOMOSEXUALITY (SODOMY – SEX BETWEEN MEN)

From the book: Greater Sins, vol 1

by Shahid e Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)

The eleventh sin that is classified as a Greater sin is sodomy or homosexuality. This is verified from the sayings of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam ar-Reza (a.s.). In fact it is a sin greater than adultery. Its retribution and punishment are more severe than for adultery. 

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,

“A person who commits sodomy with a boy will acquire such a Janabat (impurity) that even all the water of this world cannot remove it. Allah will be wrathful at him and curse him. (That is He will take away His Mercy from him and will award Hell for him.) What a dreadful place it is! Then the Heavens shudder of it. And the person who allows another to mount him from behind to commit sodomy, then Allah puts him on the fringe of Hell (in extreme heat) and keeps him there till He completes the reckoning of all the people. Then He orders him to be put into Hell. One by one he is made to suffer all then punishments of Hell till he reaches the lowest stage. Then he never comes out from there.

As liberal values have begun making inroads into Muslim communities, the backlash by religious conservative will only increase. The interconnected nature of the modern world also allows the rapid flow of intolerance and influence from one part of the world to another. This is not going to be the first time, and it will only get worse as the rest of the world continues Islamizing rapidly.

The pressure brought to bear on the North American community by the World Federation forced Siddika’s resignation and normalized the condemnation she and her family have faced from her own community in Canada.

For most Muslims, homosexuality is a bridge too far and the response – from all sides – will help set the battle lines of this debate. Muslim communities that are now starting to mouth the words “progressive” are going to have to walk the walk. In turn, Progressives who embrace the Muslim cause must learn to navigate this fault line in a manner that allows them to remain true to their principles. The paying of mere lip service should no longer suffice, and allowing special protection for ‘religious sentiment’ over the rights of a human being, cannot be tolerated.

There will be many such wake up calls to come, many such injustices to be responded to with solidarity, respect and above all, with love. We stand in solidarity with this community, Ali and Paul, Siddika and all those who love and support you.

Previous post

Islamism: From Turkey to Canada

Next post

This is the most recent story.

Editor

Editor

  • Syed Iftekharuddin

    you can be gay and christian, you can be gay and jew, you can be gay and
    hindu, you can be gay and buddhist BUT you can NOT be gay and muslim

    • Muhammad Syed

      Well Ali Reza and many others disagree 😉

      • Syed Iftekharuddin

        gay, porn, sexual partners, sex out side marriage ONLY acceptable to NON MUSLIMS

        we muslims superior to other human

        • Happy Canadian

          Strange… i’ve had two muslim boyfriends. They both watched about the same amount of porn as… pretty much every other guy I know.

          You can hardly claim to be superior over the rest of the human race if you aren’t even wise enough to see the failings in your own teachings. Humility leads to wisdom not arrogance.

          • Syed Iftekharuddin

            i was not talking about your boysssssssssfriend

          • Happy Canadian

            Well they are muslim, or at least identified as such, so in a sense you were but I get that’s not really what you would consider a muslim person probably. Now having said that I also have friends who are muslim and at least several I know watch porn and they are not gay. I’m sure there’s plenty of muslims that never watch porn but to claim that no muslims watch porn is simply untrue. Similarly it is a sin in christianity, but that doesn’t seem to stop them either so I’m not saying any group is better or worse simply that pretending as if it does not occur isn’t helpful to anybody.

          • Syed Iftekharuddin

            we as muslims who does not accept gay, porn, prostitutes, sex partners, dating for sex, girl friend, boy friend, sex outside marriage

            sexual immorality ONLY for non muslims

          • Happy Canadian

            Okay, so I know that’s what your religious text says you must abide by, however my point is people are imperfect, even Muslims, and most don’t actually abide by all of those rules all the time. Also your claim that only Muslims have those rules is false, where I grew up there is a sect of Christians for example that abide by all of those same rules. I suppose you are welcome to think of yourself as superior to others simply because you think you have chosen the right faith, I sometimes wish I could just forget all reason and do the same and perhaps I’d be a happier individual but I don’t think so.

            Also that’s fine if you don’t accept those things. You’re allowed to think whatever you want. Just as I’m allowed to think many of the teachings of Islam are really stupid. Thankfully here in Canada we are taught to think for ourselves not just blindly accept what’s written in a book and most people agree with me and so I can exist and not need to worry about being disowned by my family, denied civil rights, or killed or imprisoned just because of who I’m sexually attracted to.

          • Syed Iftekharuddin

            i dont care what you do with YOUR life

            and those christians sect that you mention they are as superior as we are

          • Happy Canadian

            okay well that’s good, and i would never want to force my beliefs upon others either – However if you happen to believe all persons in a given country should be governed by sharia (not saying you do, it is my understanding that many muslims do though) then you do care what I do with my life. In most countries where sharia law is the law its not okay to be openly gay whether you are muslim or not.

            I’m superior to you, see anybody can make such statements. Unless you have proof that your abstention from those sexually related things somehow makes you better the words are completely meaningless though. It’s like saying a red bird is superior to a blue bird but only because you prefer the colour red.

  • Sajid Rafique

    you may be Ex Muslim and I am also Ex Muslim but I think marriage is natural only between Man and Woman ! That is natural and procreative . These men cannot contribute to humanity’s need of reproduction.

    • Jim

      So what if they can’t make babies? Put yourself in their shoes… imagine you lived in a world where 99% of the world was gay because only same-sex marriages could somehow make babies. You are the odd one out who has these feelings of immense desire for tits. What could the people of the world possibly lose by just letting you live life the way you were born to live?

      You claim you’re ex-muslim, but I feel a lot of you is still muslim. All these ideas that marriage is only between man and woman come from books like Bible and Quran, an imaginary man in the sky told us that is the limit. Get over it we have so much more important issues to deal with than bullying people who have different sexual orientations than we do.

      • Syed Iftekharuddin

        there is no NEED for two man to marry

        • Sameh Socrates Alexander

          So what? There is no NEED for more people on Earth, so should we all stop having children?

          • Syed Iftekharuddin

            we NEED people on earth

          • Jim

            No we don’t actually, our exponential numbers are destroying everything that can sustain human life.

          • Syed Iftekharuddin

            without new born babies gayism will die out

        • Happy Canadian

          there is no need for anybody to marry, marriage is due to a desire not a need. If your religion requires marriage for whatever reason then I would say it is your religion that needs marriage and not the other way around. Marriage is also not a requirement for the production of children.

      • Sajid Rafique

        I can be ex muslim but still believe that a pen*s is designed only to enter a vag*na ..if you think it should enter an a**hole then you are saying nature’s most common design is flawed ; the design which brought you here too … you get over it all …

        • Simi Rahman

          The argument about what is natural is right and all else is unnatural, is more ‘intelligent design meets social Darwinism’ mumbo-jumbo.

          Nature also intends that the next bacterial infection you get, ends your life on the planet. Would you like to refrain from prescription antibiotics in the same manner you’d like gays to stop putting their pen*ses wherever they please?

          Or..is nature only to be conveniently thwarted when we choose to think it worthy?

        • Jim

          As an ex-muslim (non-religious person), I think the concept of “design” is religious bullshit. Nature wasn’t “designed”, it merely evolved to what it is right now. And yes, the “design” as you call it is VERY flawed. People need glasses, have hearing defects, epilepsy, diabetes, acromegaly, adrenal insufficiency, many other genetic disorders, and we can’t survive without medicine. Why is that? Because it’s not “design”, it is merely how nature is. Everything reproduces, and only the fittest survive. Our human knowledge is currently what’s driving us to survive despite all our problems.

          Also by your logic, blowjobs should be forbidden too, since penis is only for a vagina according to you.

          In the end, what’s the point? Make more babies to bring us one step closer to extinction as we deplete Earth’s resources? All I see here is a bully acting like a religious nutter self-righteous person telling people (without evidence lol) that nature forbids them from fulfilling their sexual desires however they please. In terms of rational morality, what do you deem “immoral” about homosexuality besides your emotional repulse at anal sex? If you say bible I will deem you no better than a muslim homophobe.

    • DoctorDJ

      Then don’t marry a man!

      But stop thinking that your opinions should be forced on others.

      • Simi Rahman

        You mean like Muslims are trying to force their opinions on this family? Can you not see the irony and hypocrisy in your own statement?

      • Sajid Rafique

        Aint you also forcing your opinion on others ? Is a pen*s designed to enter an a$$hole or a Vag*na ? Tell me ?

        • Jim

          he’s not forcing anything on you, you can still marry a woman so you’re free. Just telling you that you’re being a penis nazi.

        • Happy Canadian

          Hello, i’m a gay man. Would feel happy to try and answer your questions so long as you remain respectful.

          The wedding question is a bit of a loaded one. The most common retort to your argument is that marriage at least in Canada where this story is taking place, may have historical roots in religious tradition and reproduction but its current form does not represent that. A woman with no ovaries can marry a man but could not produce a child/a man with no testicles could marry a woman but also not produce a child, by your reasoning those individuals should also not qualify for marriage. Personally, if marriage was to be exclusively for those that are raising children then I’d think you have a point to make, similarly if marriage was just a religious ceremony with no civil/legal attachments then you’d also have a point to make. However, here in Canada that is simply not the case, and as a result same-sex marriages are now legal.

  • ChrichriB

    The homophobic comments here justify the attempt from Trump to keep Muslims out of USA. If you can’t live with gays, do a service and stays or go back in your homophobic and theocratic countries. Muslims complain about Islamophobia, but then some say that they are superior to other humans or just spread homophobia which only serves to justify people who are Islamophobic. By the way, you are probably unaware of it but the world is overpopulated… especially by bigots.

    • Syed Iftekharuddin

      i have problem with gay living in the west