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Ibrahim Abdul Matin: A Muslim American’s Thoughts on Gay Marriage

27 June 2011 Huffington Post 14 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

When you are a compassionate person, you also fight against injustice.

As a Muslim, I have always been taught to be compassionate.

When I was about fifteen years old and lived in upstate New York, I was part of a track club. This club, a group of high school runners, competed during the school year and through the summer. Our coach was a man from the Bronx who brought us to competitions in New York City. My mother lived in NYC at the time (and still does) and once accompanied us to a competition as a chaperone. We drove there, in a van, my mother and coach sitting in the front seats. The drive had us passing the Gay Pride Parade — which none of us were aware was happening that day.

At the time I was a young, naive, somewhat ignorant youth which included being homophobic. These were also the characteristics of a number of the other young athletes in the van. Gawking out the windows, we made jokes, laughed, expressed dismay — and did so loudly and crudely.

My mother then turned around and snapped at us, “What you’re doing is exactly what happened to black people 30 years ago!”

The van was quiet. For the rest of the ride through the Pride parade, we were silent and thinking about what she said. Most of us came from working and middle class black families where the lessons and stories of the civil rights and black liberation movements were fully integrated into our understanding of the world. For me, that same story was intertwined with the freedom of religion that is intrinsic to the American experience. Were it not for that basic principle, then I would not be the man I am — following a religion of my own choosing.

This brings me to today. This weekend, the New York State legislature approved gay marriage in an eleventh hour push that brought people to the streets of New York City and set up yesterday’s Gay Pride Parade as a celebration of years of pushing and overcoming the failed promises of two Governors (Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson).

As someone that is part of two minority groups in the United States (Muslims and African-Americans) I feel that this ruling is a victory for all of us. Majorities in the country have attempted to define the American experience in limited and controlled terms. To be American means you need to be white, Christian, and of course, straight. There is nothing further from the truth. To be American and to enjoy the rights and privileges therein you simply have to live here and pay taxes. This is a diverse nation and to limit the rights of one group opens the potential to limit your rights.

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Original post: A Muslim American’s Thoughts on Gay Marriage


  1. Poor people who don’t pay taxes — at least not income taxes — are just as much citizens. Just saying.

  2. I believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman. It is a relationship sanctioned by God. I do not believe two people of the same sex can be married.

    That being said, I do believe in civil unions. That would be a union between two people sanctioned by the state. I also believe that any two people related or not should be able to take part in a civil union, as it is not always about sex. The purpose could simply be to provide health insurance to the partner, or to provide some other benefit that a person could not achieve being single. Civil Unions could have a solid place in our society for a number of reasons but Marriage is of the church be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and so on. No church or pastor should ever agree to perform such a marriage as it would have no meaning within the religious doctrines of the church.

    Yes I know that there are some “churches” out there that support gay marriage and a number of other things. My view on this is that anyone can call themselves anything they want and apply for tax exempt status. They can open a building and hold meetings with any number of people but it does not make them Christian or members of any other faith. I can get a group of people together, form a baseball team, pay them to play and call them professional baseball players. I can then claim I own a professional Baseball team, but its a fairly hollow claim.

  3. you have to scroll down alittle bit….no pun intended

    so can we take an unscientific poll? what do the muslims who read this website, or hannah, should we limit it to american muslims? would it be to presumptuous to assume yazeed, 2prez, drm, max30, richard, nathaniel, salem are against gay marraige. anyways you (muslims) may find some common ground with the christians and jews on this point. strange to find a black muslim in favor. didn’t 70% of blacks in california vote against the gay marraige proposal? plus i’ve never heard a muslim come out (pun intended) in favor of public reconition of homosexuality.

  4. Brother Ibrahim — God bless you, and God bless your wise and wonderful mother!

    criley — Although certain religious propagandists are recently claiming that marriage is a religious matter, that’s far from the case. “Marriage” is the word used in all the marriage contract and family law of our secular governments. Civic officials (justices of the peace, judges, city hall officials, etc…) perform non-religious weddings for atheists, agnostics, mixed-faith couples, and many others who, for whatever reason, prefer to marry without religious blessing. In America, since “Brown v. Bd. of Ed.” our law recognizes that “separate, but equal” is in fact not equal, so setting up some parallel universe where same-sex unions can be the same without being the same is still discriminatory in the eyes of the law, as it is in actual practice.

    Mike — there are a number of Muslim individuals (like myself) and organizations that fully endorse GLBT rights as a matter of Islamic principle — including Muslims for Progressive Values, al-Fatiha, Salaam Canada, Iman (UK) to name just a few of them — and other groups such as MPAC that argue for supporting equality, not on religious grounds, but as being necessary for Muslims to fight Islamophobia. Simply, offer respect and equality for diversity in order to gain it. Such groups usually say that while same-sex relations are not Islamic, it is Islamic to respect diversity and not push our ways on others.

  5. I read this as I listen to the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship on this night of Miraj and I KNOW we are entering into the time of Compassionate Islam! We have arrived!

    Thank you, brother, and thank you to your mother, and thank you to everyone who shows the compassion of Islam. Huuuuu!

  6. jack,

    thanks for your reply. it’s good to hear there are progressive muslims. can i ask you a personal question? do you think you are in the majority? do u go to mosque? are most of the members of yuor mosque in agreement with you.

    i do find the statement “not on religious grounds, but as being necessary for Muslims to fight Islamophobia” a bit disconcerting. so are hiding your true feelings until you establish a majorilty?
    so do you (these organisations) push for same sex marraige in iran, saudi, indonesia, egypt??

    but i agree with your assement of criley, he is mincing words. marraige, civil union, what is the diff? one is godly and one is worldly? i know a woman who is married to a gay guy for health insurance. is it godly because it’s a male and a female? they don’t even live in the same town.


    intersting sites. i still hope to hear from others. hannah, lawan, nasreed, nura (sorry if i’ve mispelled those, been awhile since i’ve seen them) khalisa, tanseem, sarim q, what do you think?

    so jack what do you think about the opening of the 24th surah?

  8. Mike, I mince because I do see a difference. I believe in a secular society not dominated by religion. I realize that judges and others can marry people but for most Catholics, Jews, and Protestants being married in a church is important, as they wish to follow the tenets of the church. For example if a Muslim woman wants to marry a Jewish man any judge in the country can marry them, but the woman(or man) may worry about how their side of the family will view the marriage or even recognize it. It is a small but important distinction if you have religious beliefs. How many Catholic women could not or would not marry a non-Catholic if the man refused to abide by the churches demand the children be raised Catholic. Any judge could marry them but once again the couple will hit a wall when it comes to the views of the family and church.

    I do not believe any valid church would marry or recognize the marriage same sex couples, but that is not to say that the government cannot use the term marriage to denote the relationship between the couple, however, if you were to ask most pastors or religious leaders they would state the union is not sanctioned by god or the church. For some people that does not matter, for others it is all the difference in the world.

    I prefer civil unions because a son could form a civil union with his 90 year old mother so that she could have better health care. I believe that is the direction we need to take on the issue, as it would benefit society in greater ways and still give same sex couples the rights they desire and deserve. Homosexuals are looking for ways to force people to see their relationships to be as valid as heterosexual relationships, they will get the recognition by secular officials but religious individuals and organizations will not accept this view regardless of the law of the land or the insults used by homosexuals who attempt to draw comparisons of the bigotry seen against blacks and Indians in the past.

  9. The brother who wrote this is a calamity upon the Ummah! There is nothing about Islam, nothing in the Qur’an or the Sunnah of our Messenger, saws, that supports gay marriage or recognizes homosexuality as moral. It is immoral, full stop.

    As a Muslim and and member of an ethnic minority it is extremely offensive to draw comparisons to the civil rights of Blacks and the civil rights of homosexuals. In Islam rights are according to Nature, not desire.What’s next? Will we try to find a genetic explanation for pedophilia, rape, murder, and exonerate people on the basis of these “findings”, and find a way to create a discussion of the civil rights of murderers, pedophiles, rapists,racists,racialists, bigots?

    There is nothing Progressive or Muslim about supporting homosexuality. True Islamic compassion comes in not condemning homosexuals to the Hellfire, since none of us knows for sure what Allah will do with any of us or any other person. True Islamic compassion comes in not advocating or prescribing Earthly punishment where Allah and His Messenger have prescribed none. It involves thinking of and treating homosexuals as human beings, not condoning their immorality.

    Allahu A’lam

  10. There you go Mike, on this issue Muhammad’ABD Al-haqq and I agree as do many churches. Do not condone the behavior but treat them well.

  11. mike,

    I believe that what you are upon is diversion to a tangential yet related issue. The article we are discussing is about homosexuality and Islam, and as the brother mentioned his support for its morality and his support for the right of gay marriage, my aim is only clarification that this position is not the correct Islamic position. Many people erroneously think that “diversity” among Muslims is diversity of aqaa’id(beliefs). It is not.

    What the brother is upon is clearly not supported by the Speech of Allah(al-Qur’an) or the Sunnah of the Messenger(saws) of Allah. I mentioned in allusion the punishment of homosexual acts because it has a bearing on the article and is directly related to the issue of Islamic compassion. Any discussion of the other hudud of the Shari’ah is tangential at best or deliberately diversionary at worst. If you wish to discuss the issues surrounding the questions you raised please direct me to an article here that specifically discusses Shari’ah and hudud as it would be more appropriate to discuss it there.

    The reason I have dealt with you in this way is not because, as some people falsely claim, “Muslims always avoid answering direct questions”. It is because the tone of your questions, in my experience, resembles many so-called critics’ approach to Islam, whereby they couch the language of assertion in the language of genuine inquiry. Are you asking a question here, or baiting and making an assertion disguised as genuine interest? Let’s review your question(s) to see why I am making this assumption:

    “so you say,”True Islamic compassion comes in not advocating or prescribing Earthly punishment where Allah and His Messenger have prescribed none.” so do you prescribe the stoning to death of adulterers as muhammad did? do you think that fornicators shoulod be lashed 100 times as prescribed in the koran?”

    If I say that we don’t advocate punishments not found in Qur’an and Sunnah, then with respect to stoning of adulterers and lashing adulterers I find it hard to believe that you haven’t read in the Qur’an that the punishment for zina(not fornication) is 100 lashes. You seem to be baiting me into a debate about the validity of the punishments prescribed in the Qur’an, knowing full well that if the Qur’an says 100 lashes for zina and I don’t advocate punishments other than those of the Shari’ah then of course I support it. Again, are you asking a question or making an assertion?

    Secondly, zina is defined as comprising both adultery and fornication. In light of this, since in Islam no homosexual can be legally married, by default any sexual act between them is fornication by definition, subject to punishment in an ISLAMIC STATE. And the punishment is discretionary, meaning possible pardoning and an unfixed nature of the type of punishment. This is the case only for homosexuals because homosexual acts were considered a special category of zina.This is why ibn Warraq, a very popular pseudonymous Islamophobic bigot, cannot make up his mind as to whether Islamic societies were tolerant or intolerant of homosexuality.

    The punishment for heteros who commit zina is 100 lashes. As for these 100 lashes the ahadith show that this punishment was to be carried with an “whip” not specified, and that the executioner was never to raise his arm above the shoulder level. The object of this punishment in light of this and all the ayat in the Qur’an and ahadith that warn against causing unnecessary harm, and that show that there are specific acts that warrant capital punishment, of which zina is not one, is deterrence. Specifically, it is designed to humiliate the offender and shame the family of the offender and show that zina is a moral evil in society.

    Two more issues related to this: 1. Should Islam be contorted in order to be more in line with what is acceptable in terms of Western norms and ideals? 2. The fallacy that in the West there is a belief that morality cannot be legislated must be addressed.

    I think it should be obvious that Islam is not beholden to any Western paradigmatic framework, in which case we must address the double standards of “relativism”. Also I think we can agree that every society actually does legislate morality. It is just that ever society has different ranges and standards of a)what is morally acceptable and b) whether what is viewed as morally unacceptable should be legislated against and punished. There is nothing “universal” about the Western standard.

    As for stoning to death of adulterers, which you claim Muhammad(saws) did,two issues arise:

    1. Did the Prophet(as) prescribe this punishment before or after the ayat prescribing 100 lashes for adulterers was revealed?

    2. Since every case of stoning revolves around either da’if(weak) or mursal hadith or cases where Jews were punished with this punishment according to THEIR religious laws, the issues raised by #1 become paramount.

    The issue about stoning adulterers is an internal debate among Muslims, again, not beholden to contemporary Western standards for legitimacy. If you are asking for my view, then I do not think, based on the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah that stoning to death for adultery is UNIslamic, and your assertion that Muhammad(saws) carried out this punishment is a red herring. The punishment for adultery is 100 lashes.

    Allahu A’lam(Allah Knows Best)

  12. “If you are asking for my view, then I do not think, based on the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah that stoning to death for adultery is UNIslamic,” from above should read:

    If you are asking for my view, then I do think, based on the evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah that stoning to death for adultery is UNIslamic,…

    Allah A’lam

  13. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Thank you Ibrahim!

    wa-s-salāmu ʿalaykum
    from Berlin, Germany.

  14. Sorry, my link was wrong –
    the correct link is:

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