“Muslims Americans Cannot Deny Gays and Lesbians Their Right to Marry” – The Goatmilk Debates

THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, irreverent manner.

Each debater makes their opening argument. They can elect to post a rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of their argument.

The motion: “”Muslim Americans Should Not Oppose Legalization Of Same Sex Marriage””

For the motion: Sabir Ibrahim and Michael Muhammad Knight [Read MMK’s post here]

Against the motion: Mahdi Ahmad [Read his post here] and  Sister A.  [Read her Opening Argument here.]


The legality of same-sex marriage is emerging as the next hot-button issue in America today. The recent landmark ruling in the Northern District of California overturning Proposition 8—which amended the Constitution of the State of California to limit marriage to a man and a woman—has sparked renewed discussion and debate of same-sex marriage, family values, and the government’s rightful role in regulating social institutions. Like any issue of importance in society, Muslim-Americans should educate themselves and take an informed stance on this question.

In her article in favor of the position that Muslim-Americans should oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, Sister A asserts that heterosexual marriage complements the human fitrah by serving as a means for procreation, whereas same-sex marriage is “founded on the modern conceptualization of marriage as an individualistic love relationship rather than a practicality” and thus “makes a mockery of God’s dualities”. In so arguing, Sister A is essentially advocating that Muslims should oppose same sex marriage because heterosexual marriage is the only natural and acceptable means by which humans may procreate and co-habitate.

On this point, I agree with her 100%. Indeed, homosexual relationships are absolutely forbidden in Islam, and traditional juristic methodologies leave little doubt that a heterosexual union between a man and a woman is the only valid type of marriage in Islam. Thus, from a moral perspective, Muslims should oppose same sex marriage.

However, the question is not one of how Muslims might feel about homosexuality or same-sex marriage from a moral perspective, but of what stance Muslim-Americans should take on the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. And the answer should not be determined by appealing to personal or even community morality, but to political principles and community interests.

As a religious minority, Muslim-Americans subscribe to a set of social values and cultural norms that differ in a number of respects from those of the Christian majority. Thus, it is in the interests of Muslims to oppose efforts to enshrine the values of any religious group as law, even in instances where those values may not differ from our own. In a secular, pluralistic society such as the United States, Muslims are best served by advocating for the principle that the government ought not to involve itself in personal matters such as marriage, particularly on the basis of (from a secular perspective) arbitrary religious criteria.

It is this principled approach to the question of same-sex marriage that preserves Muslims’ standing to argue that our own customs and norms should not be subject to government scrutiny simply because they differ from those of the majority. For instance, if Muslims are to support a government ban on same-sex marriage, then on what basis would we oppose a government ban on marriage between cousins? Or laws regulating what Muslims may teach in their mosques and religious schools?

Furthermore, before supporting a movement, we must scrutinize the agenda of its organizers. The campaign to ban same-sex marriage has been driven mostly by right-wing Christian organizations and finds its strongest support on the Right. Though many Muslims in America may find the possibility of political convergence with Christians on family values appealing, a cursory overview of the Christian Right’s positions on issues involving Islam and Muslims should pre-empt that notion.

The recent spate of campaigns against the construction of new mosques around the country has been led by churches and Christian groups. Prominent right-wing Christian pastors such as Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson regularly insult the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and denounce Islam as a tool of the devil. A church in Gainesville, FL announced that it would be commemorating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by publicly burning copies of the Quran.

The Christian Right has strongly advocated for destructive and imperialistic American foreign policies in the Muslim World. And the rise in xenophobic, extremist rhetoric from evangelical leaders on not just homosexuality, but issues ranging from immigration to affirmative action indicates that the politics of the Christian Right are governed by fear and intolerance, not morality. Though I am not suggesting that Muslims should support the legalization of same-sex marriage simply because Christians oppose it, we must be wary of lending our support to the efforts of a constituency whose opposition to gay rights is derived from the same hatred and intolerance that gives rise to its campaigns against Islam and Muslims.

On this and other issues, Muslims must avoid knee-jerk reactions that are driven more by emotion than preserving our community’s best interests. If we are to argue for equal rights as Americans, we must uphold equal rights even for those Americans with whom we might otherwise disagree.

The current environment in which mainstream political figures openly label Muslims as a deviant people intent on destroying America should give us pause before we join a movement to deny equal rights to another besieged minority battered with the same accusations.

Sabir Ibrahim is an attorney in San Jose, CA

THE OPPOSING VIEWS  – Against the motion: Mahdi Ahmad [Read his post here] and Sister A.  [Read her Opening Argument here.]

12 thoughts on ““Muslims Americans Cannot Deny Gays and Lesbians Their Right to Marry” – The Goatmilk Debates

  1. Even before I became than muslim I felt it was wrong for the america rightwing christian to oppress the homosexual and I include woman homosexual and bissexual and other like female inpersonal(man who dress like woman and want to be woman under homosexual.

  2. @ Wajahat Ali. Thank you for your well-reasoned comments. As a gay Muslim, I am not in agreement with your conclusion(s) about samesex marriage as interpreted by some applying Quranic ayyat to support their prejudices based on heteronormality. However, I am in full support your comments as they relate to how easily some Muslims are misled by “religious fundamentalism” of those who denounce samesex marriage. As you stated, they are walking into the bear trap and noose for their own faith. Blindly following also leads them into false beliefs. Allah is the final judge, leave it to Allah and Muslims need to get out of the business of being judge and jury–we’re not qualified.

    • said the Muslim shopkeeper who sells liquor and lottery tickets in one of the poorest, most down-and-out neighborhoods in the city.

      Oh I have an idea! Let’s start a loan program where we encourage said shopkeeper to stop selling the booze and gambling paraphenilia, encourage him to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, and so he can make a little income on the side, he can sell gay marriage licenses!

  3. Both religious Jews and Muslims observe dietary laws. But I see no one telling the entire society that eating pork should be made illegal. Why should gay marriage be any different? The religious can observe their own practices and leave everyone else alone.

  4. David,

    Right, that’s the question. There are many commandments that come from the religions… don’t eat pork, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t murder, etc.

    Some of the rules, we actually do enforce as a society (don’t steal, don’t murder) other, not so much (don’t eat pork, don’t commit incest). Some used to be illegal but aren’t at the moment (don’t drink alcohol, don’t commit adultery)

  5. I whole heartedly agree with the author, not as a Muslim but as a Christian American who believes in equality and Human Rights. The one thing that the author does not mention is that the currant political climate from the far-right is motivated by fear that is driven into the hearts of the Christian Right by the Corporate Right whole will never legislate morality but will use their power only to deregulate industry and further cut the taxes of the very wealthy in America. This is a phony movement that hurts both the minority groups experiencing discrimination but also for those whose fears are being taken advantage of.

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