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Same-Sex Marriage and Objectives of Shari`ah

France's National Assembly has approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

By Dr. Wael Shihab / 14 Feb 2013

Recently, France's National Assembly has approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. After days of intense debate, the bill was passed by 329 votes to 229. It must now win final approval in the Senate.

According to a BBC news report, the "Marriage for All" bill was backed by President Francois Hollande's Socialists and other left-wing MPs. But it was opposed by many in the opposition conservative UMP and provoked months of mass protests and counter-protests. The assembly had already approved a key article that redefined marriage as a contract between two people rather than between a man and a woman.

Last year, US President Barack Obama made clear his view that same-sex couples should have the right to wed. Obama’s controversial argument then sparked anger from faith groups and Republican rivals, though it had 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 shari`ah (law) pays great attention to marriage as it is the straight path towards establishing strong and healthy human communities. Shari`ah, 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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an says,

{O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain has spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah has been a Watcher over you.} [Qur’ân, surat an-Nisâ’, verse No. 1.]

{O you who believe! It is not lawful for you forcibly to inherit the women (of your deceased kinsmen), nor (that) you should put constraint upon them that you may take away a part of that which you have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness. But consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein Allah has placed much good. And if you wish to exchange one wife for another (for valid acceptable reasons) and you have given unto one of them a sum of money (however great), take nothing from it. Would you take it by the way of calumny and open wrong? How can you take it (back) after one of you has gone in unto the other, and they have taken a strong pledge (a sacred bond) from you?} [Qur’ân, surat an-Nisâ’, verses No. 19-21.]

Islam also perceives marraige as one of the great favors, gifts, and signs of Allah Almighty. The noble Qur’an says,

{And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets (spouses) from yourselves that you might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect.}[Qur’ân, surat an-Nisâ’, verse No. 21.]

So marriage, as far as shari`ah 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, {O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain has spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah has been a Watcher over you.} [ Qur’ân, surat an-Nisâ’, verse No. 1.] and {O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another.} [Qur’ân, surat al-Hujurat, verse No. 13.]

Moreover, preserving one’s lineage and offspring is one of the main essential objectives of Islamic shari`ah that almost all Muslim scholars agree on. Imam al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH), for instance, specifies five objectives of shari`ah, saying,

Maslahah (considerable benefit), which we are concerned about here, means the protection of the objectives of shar` (Islamic law), 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 (harm). [Abû Hâmid al-Ghazâlî, al-Mustasfâ min `Im al-Usûl, 2 vols. (n.p., Dar al-Fikr lit-Tiba`ah wa an-Nashr wa at-Tawzi`, n.d.), 1: pp. 286-287.]

The maliki jurist, Shihab ad-Din al-Qarafi (d. 684 AH) has added a sixth to the above list of five objectives of shari`ah, namely the protection of `ird (honor). Ibn `Ashur (d. 1973), who has been known for his deep study and profound knowledge of the objectives of shari`ah, has opened the scope of the maqasid (objectives of shari`ah) to include the preservation of the social order, promotion of the wellbeing and righteousness (salah) of the community, preservation of the family, etc. [ Mohammad Hashim Kamali, An Introduction to Shari`ah (Kuala Lumpur: Ilmiah Publishers, 2006 AC), p. 118; Muhammad at-Tahir ibn `Ashur, Treatise on Maqasid al-Shari`ah, annotated and trans. Mohamed el-Tahir el-Mesawi (Herndon: The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1427 AH – 2006 AC), pp. 87 & 241ff; Jasir `Uddah, Fiqh al-Maqâsid, Inatat al-Ahkâm ash-Shar`iyyah bi Maqâsidiha (Herndon: The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1427 AH – 2006 AC), pp. 26-28.]

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 Qur’an that He created everything in pairs. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says, {And all things We have created by pairs, that haply you may reflect.} [Qur’ân, surat adh-Dhariyyat, verse No. 94.] 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 Qur’an highlights this universal law saying, {Exalted is He who created all pairs - from what the earth grows and from themselves and from that which they do not know.} [Qur’ân, surat Ya-Sin, verse No. 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 in “Soins et croyances”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”,]

Concluding Remarks

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.


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