Thursday, 26 July 2012

Same Sex Marriage in Scotland: Bridging Islam and Politics

By Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies
University of Miami, FL. USA.

Scottish ministers have confirmed that they would bring forward a parliamentary bill that would legally allow same sex couples to marry.  After months of religious wrangling on the issue we see every political party in Scotland voicing their support for the bill.  The most vocal Muslim voices have been led by the Sunni Glasgow Central Mosque who have opposed the campaign from the start.  Furthermore they distributed pamphlets to Muslims nationally to rally support for opposition.  The issue has pushed me to think more carefully about religion and politics. 

Bashir Maan posed a question in the Scotsman newspaper a few months ago, “Whose human rights are being violated by this proposed legislation which attacks faiths and beliefs dating back thousands of years before politics was even invented?”  There are several parts of this question that I would like to address.  Religion in all its manifestation must address the spiritual needs of its adherents yet continually accept a realistic and pragmatic approach to the feelings and sensitivity of the same believers.  Faiths and beliefs have never flourished in a vacuum and it is ill informed to deny the fact that politics is never far from religious debate.  What part of Islamic history is not political?  The prophet Muhammad was not just a religious prophet but was a statesman and a politician.  Even though he held an exclusive Islamic position in relation to Jews and Christians he had to create a society that was inclusive of their needs.  He was also more inclusive of different Islamic needs of Muslims too, something we forget today. 

From left to right, religion and politics has the potential for heated and fiery debates but at the end of the day we must accept that one has every right to a religiously exclusive position but we expect the state to uphold an inclusive one that allows everyone liberty and freedom.  We Scots have a history of opposing views when it comes to religious claims but we will now be leading the political way in relation to other parts of the UK.  I have always been inclined to the arguments by Abdullahi al-Naim, professor of law at Emory, in which he argues that the state must always be secular in order for Muslims to live their Islam in whatever way they want.  Maan is losing sight of the fact that just as there are no two Muslims alike, or Jews or Christians, it is commendable on the part of the Scottish government to allow this diversity to flourish.   

On the other hand there are those who have tried to dodge the religious question and adopt a more politically inclusive one.  Azeem Ibrahim recently wrote an opinion piece in which he basically said that same-sex marriage was the least of the Muslim communities worries and that they should concentrate on other matters.  This in a sense is sugar coating some form of a given that same-sex relationships and marriage is and will always be un-Islamic.  Same sex relationships and love, yes I used the L word, has always flourished in Muslim societies, most often hidden away from sight in order to safeguard heterosexual relationships and love.  The times are changing.   Muslims of all sexual identities must accept differences of opinion at both a religious level and a political one. A neutral and inclusive political system assures that this can take place.


  1. Your views are your own, Islam will never accept same sex relationships. Hidden or not is is forbidden as it is in all the semtic faiths. Dream on Doc ...

  2. I appreciate your post. But the mere fact that Allah (SWT) said that union is between man and woman is enough for a conscientious, practicing Muslim to realize the facts that have been laid out for him by the highest Being.

    I do not doubt that homosexuality lives and grows within some Muslim identities, but if he/she stand up and pronounce they are Muslim then the faithful thing to do is to hinder those urges and live a heterosexual life. Because that is what Allah (SWT) demands. This jihad in their life is commendable and if they suppress that and act upon the teachings of their Lord then inshaAllah they will be amongst the winners in the Hereafter. If not, their judgement is coming...الله أعلم

    I also agree that our Muslim society has many bigger problems to solve besides this one, but that is a whole other can of worms.