On 10 May 2012 Wael Shihab issued the folloewin Islamic ruling (fatwa) titled “Same-Sex Marriage and Objectives of Shari`ah”:
Recently, US President Barack Obama made clear his view that same-sex couples should have the right to wed. Obama’s controversial argument has sparked anger from faith groups and Republican rivals, though it has been highly praised and embraced by gay supporters and activists.
“I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts.
Like all the world’s major religions and traditions, Islam has a clear stand on this issue, as it emphatically forbids homosexuality and lesbianism and regards them as a violation of the commands of Allah. It states clearly that same-sex marriage poses a serious and dangerous threat to human societies and communities.
Islamic Concept of Marriage
Islamic Sharia pays great attention to marriage as it is the straight path towards establishing strong and healthy human communities. Sharia, therefore, lays down the basic foundations that guarantee the stability and wellbeing of married couples. For instance, the consent of both parties—the prospective wife and husband—is a condition per se for the validity of “Islamic” marriage. Prospective spouses are Islamically recommended to consider important factors—such as social, educational, cultural, and religious compatibility—so as to lead a happy marital life.
So it’s clear that the Islamic concept of marriage is totally different from “gay or lesbian” styles of marital relationships. Islam considers “marriage of a man and a woman” as a sacred, solemn bond that entails specific mutual rights, duties, values, and responsibilities that should not be violated. The Quran describes marriage contract as a sacred bond and calls on married husband and wife to observe kindness, true love, and marital rights and duties. The Quran says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا
O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah , through whom you ask one another, and in kinship. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.[Surah An-Nisa 4:1]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْهًا وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا
O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take back part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.[Surah An-Nisa 4:19]
Islam also perceives marriage as one of the great favors, gifts, and signs of Allah Almighty. The noble Quran says:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.[Surah Ar-Rum 30:21]
So marriage, as far as Sharia is concerned, is meant to build a happy, stable, and prosperous family, to raise healthy committed children, to preserve offspring and social order, to satisfy human physical and psychological needs, and to create sound faithful communities and societies. Marriage in Islam, as in all divine religions, does not mean sexual enjoyment only but also the establishment of a family on hygienic and safe foundations.
Marriage and Preservation of Humankind
Among the main goals of marriage, in Islam and other religions and systems, is reproduction and the preservation of humankind. Reproduction serves to preserve the entire human species all around the globe until the point when life comes to an end. Allah Almighty says:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.[Surah Al-Hujjurat 49:13]
Moreover, preserving one’s lineage and offspring is one of the main essential objectives of Islamic Sharia that almost all Muslim scholars agree on. Imam al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH), for instance, specifies five objectives of Sharia, saying:
ومقصود الشرع من الخلق خمسة: وهو أن يحفظ عليهم دينهم ونفسهم وعقلهم ونسلهم ومالهم؛ فكل ما يتضمن حفظ هذه الأصول الخمسة فهو مصلحة، وكل ما يفوت هذه الأصول فهو مفسدة، ورفعها مصلحة
Maslahah (benefit), which we are concerned about here, means the protection of the objectives of shar’, namely the preservation of religion, life, offspring, reason, and property. Anything that furthers theses five objectives is maslahah, and anything that runs contrary to them is mafsadah (corruption).
The Maliki jurist, Shihab ad-Din al-Qarafi (d. 684 AH) has added a sixth to the above list of five objectives of Sharia, namely the protection of ‘ird (honor). Ibn Ashur (d. 1973 CE), who has been known for his deep study and profound knowledge of the objectives of Sharia, has opened the scope of the Maqasid (objectives of Sharia) to include the preservation of the social order, promotion of the wellbeing and righteousness of the community, preservation of the family, etc.
Given the above, Islamic marriage aims, among others, at securing happiness, wellbeing, and prosperity of married man and woman, families, children, and the whole society at large. Happy, stable marriage of man and woman leads, of course, to sound, strong families and communities.
Same-Sex Marriage and Social Repercussions
Same-sex marriage endangers true faithful family atmosphere where children should be soundly and morally raised. Gay and lesbian marital relationships lack social acceptance and impose serious dangers to the family institution.
Same-sex marriage, moreover, threatens the existence of human species. Such relationships could not build human communities or secure the existence of humans. Marriage per se is universally known to be between a man and a woman, not between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman.
Allah tells us in the Quran that He created everything in pairs. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says:
وَمِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Of all things We created two mates, so perhaps you will remember.[Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51:49]
For sure, the pairs referred to in the above verse are of different kinds, not of the same kind.
According to the divine laws and norms, nothing can ever perform its duty single-handedly. Allah meant everything to be in need of another of its kind, so that one would complement the other. In the field of electricity, positive and negative poles need to be in contact so as to induce an electric current, which in turn, yields light, heat, motion, etc. Male and female animals have to be in contact in order to reproduce. The Glorious Quran highlights this universal law saying:
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْأَزْوَاجَ كُلَّهَا مِمَّا تُنبِتُ الْأَرْضُ وَمِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَمِمَّا لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
Exalted is He who created all pairs – from what the earth grows and from themselves and from that which they do not know.[Surah Ya Sin 36:36]
In response to this law, Allah Almighty has legislated a sublime tradition for a man and a woman to be united in such a way as befits the lofty, status of human beings, namely through marriage.
Given the above, same-sex marriage imposes serious social dangers that destroy the basic foundations of families, societies, and human communities.
Religions Vs. Same-Sex Marriage
In fact, same-sex marriage is outlawed by all the world’s major religions and traditions. Dr. Muhammad M. Abu Laylah, professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religions at Al-Azhar University, makes it clear that:
This act (same-sex marriage) is an ugly sin which Allah forbids in all religions, even in the most primitive ones. It is against the ordinances of Allah and against the law of nature. I wonder how in this age of advanced knowledge, science, technology, we allow such things to take place in our human society, how someone allows or gives a legal sanction to such a widespread act that poses a threat to the whole human race and destroys our fabric of society like cancer… In both the Old and the New Testaments, all Prophets of God forbid such evil activities and punish severely those who practice them.[Muhammad Abu Laylah, Gay Marriage: Islamic View]
Likewise, Tariq Ramadan, a well-known intellectual, says:
We must reiterate, as does Isabelle Levy, that all the worlds’ major religions and spiritual traditions—from the majority view in Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism to Christianity and Islam—condemn and forbid homosexuality. The great majority of rabbis hold the same position, as do the Pope and the Dalaï Lama, who condemns homosexuality. For these traditions, as for Freud (who speaks of “perversion”), homosexuality is considered to be “against nature,” an “expression of disequilibrium” in the growth of a person. The moral condemnation of homosexuality remains the majority opinion of all religions, and Islam is no exception. It would be senseless to wish to deny the facts, to contradict the textual sources and to force believers to perform intellectual contortions so that they can prove they are in tune with the times.[Tariq Ramadan, Islam and Homosexuality]
In Islam, marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of Allah, to lead a happy, enjoyable life and continue the lineage. The main goal of marriage in Islam is the realization of tranquility and compassion between the husband and wife. Marriage, moreover, aims at the preservation of the human race and promotion of the human values. It maintains social order and stability of human communities and groups.
Same-sex marriage, on the other hand, imposes serious dangers to the family institution, lacks social support, endangers the real lovely family life, and breaks the social order of the human community.
(www.faithinallah.org / 15.05.2012)