CARIO - In an unprecedented vocal opposition from the Muslim community, hundreds of imams in Britain have lashed out at government plans to legalize same-sex marriages.
We have serious misgivings about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which seeks to legalize gay marriage, some 505 Muslim imams said in an open letter cited by Sunday Telegraph on May 19.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.
The government has unveiled plans to allow gays to marry in register offices and venues such as hotels, but not in churches, synagogues and other religious premises.
Defending the plans, the government of Prime Minister David Cameron argues that the law change will affect civil rather than religious marriage.
But opponents warn that legalizing same-sex marriages would undermine the nature of marriage.
Marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman that cannot be redefined, the Muslim imams said.
The letter is the first time that Muslim leaders have made a collective intervention on the issue and underlines the strength of feeling among ethnic minority voters.
Organizers said Muslim opposition should be seen as a challenge to Cameron's claims to be acting in the interests of equality and diversity.
Despite the government's reassurance we believe that this will open the door for future laws that will force imams to marry gay people, the imams said.
They warned that legalizing same-sex marriage would harm the status of teachers in faith schools and rob Muslim parents of the opportunity to bring their children up in line with Islam.
We are concerned that this radical change to the institution of marriage will impact on what is taught in schools, said the letter signed by imams and leaders of mosques from London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Luton, Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, Dewsbury, Newcastle, Bradford, Huddersfield and Nottingham among other cities.
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.
The imams' opposition is seen as a major change for Muslim leaders who have been wary of airing their views publicly because of the negative way Islam is often portrayed.
The Muslim community will take this issue very, very seriously because now the Government has interfered with family, imam Suliman Gani, of Tooting Mosque in south London, who led efforts to gather the signatures, told the Telegraph.
To us that is like taking children away from their mother: it will definitely have an effect on Mr Cameron's vote.
We cannot understand how it was possible that this was introduced so fast - but we cannot give up.
The Muslim leader saluted the Christian clergy who had been vocal opponents of the Government over legalizing same-sex marriages.
There were 1,000 priests who signed a letter - yet they have been ignored so we felt we had to do this, he said, referring to a letter published in the Daily Telegraph earlier this year.
I salute those priests who have taken a stand.
We celebrate diversity, we want to have a peaceful coexistence with all people but our main concern in the mosques is the way the Government is changing the definition of marriage and what impact that will have on the children.
In December, the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain has called on the government to exempt Muslims and other religious groups from conducting same-sex weddings under the new legislation.
The Muslim criticism comes after the Church of England attacked the government's lack of consultation over the controversial plans.
Same-sex relationship and marriage are totally prohibited in Islam, Christianity and all divine religions.
Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but considers homosexual intercourse as sinful.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net