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Thursday, 05 January 2006

Islam and gays

P0117930003 Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Britain's most senior Muslim leader, has protested that his views on the immorality of homosexual behaviour did not mean he was homophobic.Sir Iqbal spoke to me on the issue after his comments that same-sex relationships risked damaging the foundations of society provoked outrage and condemnation  from gay rights campaigners such as Peter Tatchell. Early signs of possible divisions in Britain's Muslim community came when, speaking to me yesterday, the country's other top Muslim, Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi, urged Muslims to take advantage of the new Civil Partnership Act to enjoy the financial and property benefits it brings. Sir Iqbal declined to comment on Dr Badawi's approach.

Here is a transcript of Sir Iqbal's original comments on BBC Radio 4's PM programme. This was a small part of a wide-ranging interview. This was supplied to us by Peter Tatchell's organisation Outrage!

When you look at same-sex civil partnerships, for instance, what are your thoughts?

Sacranie: "Our view is very clear on that. I'm carried by the teaching of my faith. It is something which is not acceptable in Islam the same way it is not acceptable under Christianity or Judaism or other divine religions. Our religion, our faith is very, very clear. This is harmful. It does not augur well in building the very foundations of society - stability, family relationships. And it is something we would certainly not, in any form, encourage the community to be involved in."

Eddie Presenter Eddie Mair

Is homosexuality itself harmful to society?

Sacranie: "Certainly it is a practice that – in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that comes along in society – it is not acceptable. And what is not acceptable, there is a good reason for it."

"Each of our faiths tells us that it is harmful and I think, if you look into the scientific evidence that has been available in terms of the forms of various other illnesses and diseases that are there, surely it points out that where homosexuality is practised there is a greater concern in that area."

Eddie: And how does one society square and comfortably hold your view with the views of same-sex couples who have been getting married in recent weeks? Does that "tolerance" always get borne out?

Sacranie: "Well tolerance comes from both ways. We have an opportunity to express our views. This is what we have, this is the privilege we have living in an open democratic society. This is something which we felt deeply concerned about because we felt it does not promote the social or family harmony in society. Now, whilst its there, what do we do? We have to confront in the manner which is acceptable to all of us, but in the same way I have the right to express my view, others have the right to oppose and put their arguments."

Twenty-four hours later, Sir Iqbal said this to me:

"What I said was only to reiterate the well-known Islamic position that the practice of homosexuality is not acceptable. It is a sin. This view is shared in other scriptures, such as those of Christianity and Judaism. So this is not a campaign that have started. We have only stated our position which is indeed that of all Abrahamic faiths. What amazes us is this concerted attempt to silence views we believe we are articulating for quite a large section of society.

"We see the great controversy it has created within the world Anglican communion with the real threat of major division over this question. So our views are quite relevant." (Details of the latest Anglican difficulties with the gay issue, concerning Changing Attitude in Nigeria, can be found here. Thinking Anglicans has lots of useful links on this story and is running a blog with all anyone could need to about it here.)

Sir Iqbal said it was in the nature of a democratic society to permit dissent, even over legislation that had already been passed.

"On the question of whether my comments were homophobic, it is utterly nonsensical to suggest that. We reject any form of discrimination, whether on the basis of race, religion, gender or age.  But people cannot be bullied to remain silent on views which they believe are important for society to understand.

"The moral and religious principles are clear. In Islam there is unanimity on this subject. We do not want to be in the same position as the Anglican communion, where the scriptures say one thing but religious leaders are divided.

"We have a clear responsibility, particularly to our young, who are day in day out barraged with so much material which indirectly promotes unnatural sexual behaviour. If we remain silent now, we may regret it in years to come. In Islam the situation is clear. We detest the practice of homosexuality but we cannopt discriminate, we cannot hate such people, we pray for them.”

Dr Badawi, principal of the Muslim College, agreed that no Muslim leader could condone homosexual practice. But he said the college would be issuing guidelines advising Muslims that, as long as there was no sexual activity, it was acceptable to register their partnerships. Such relationships could be friendships, or business partnerships, he said. "I hope Muslims will take advantage of it for the financial benefits. Homosexuality exists of course, there is no way we can deny that. It existed at the time of the prophet. It is well known. But the fact is, it is regarded as unacceptable."

Sir Iqbal is correct to argue that all three Abrahamic faiths condemn homosexuality. According to Terry Sanderson, of the National Secular Society and a columnist for Gay Times, the only serious opposition to the new Civil Partnership Act has been from the leaders of these three faiths. Sometimes they work together against liberal developments in society. The Muslim Council of Britain and the Christian Institute cooperated in fighting gay adoption for example. The Muslim Council is open about its view, spelled out in the health section in its document on slaughter, that homosexuality leads to Aids. For my sins, I even ended up discussing it myself on New Year's Day on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme, along with leading members of the Muslim and Jewish communities.

Nevertheless, the Muslim views against gays seem to be more hardline. In some Muslim states homosexuality remains a capital offence. For example, in Iran, since 1979 people condemned of homosexual acts can be stoned to death, in accordance with some interpretations of Shariah.

By contrast, Liberal Judaism has been the first religious organisation in the UK to publish an authorised liturgy for those who register their partnerships.

The Pope has indicated to Francis Campbell, the new British ambassador to the Vatican and the first Catholic in the post, the depth of his displeasure about civil partnerships. And in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien used his New Year message to condemn the act. But bishops in the Anglican Communion are divided over the issue. In their official statement, they have conceded the right of laity and clergy to register their partnerships. But a church spokesman said: "This is not predicated on the intent to engage in a sexual relationship."

The Koran is unequivocally against it, retelling like the Bible the story of Lot and Sodom. But the Koran does promise men who reach heaven: "And there shall wait on them young boys of their own, as fair as virgin pearls."

In the UK there is a support group for gay Muslims, Imaan. But fear of disapproval is so strong that on the website, the photographs of those who took part in last year's Gay Pride march have been blurred to avoid their identification.

Comments

It used to be the case that libertarians and liberals could argue with some justification that tolerance is a necessary part of a liberal society. As a liberal, I could say to Sir Iqbal: “I disagree with you but I tolerate the right for you to be intolerant.” But can we still continue be tolerant of those who show so little respect for our liberal way of life?

More on http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-306.html

Sir Iqbal Sacranie protests that his critical views on gays and lesbians do not mean he is homophobic.

This is an interesting view from someone whose organisation makes something of a habit of countering every critic of Islam by accusing him or her of being Islamophobic. He would certainly accuse anyone who expressed a view that Islam threatened the foundations of British society by making such an accusation.

If he is not homophobic, then as part of "moderate" Islam in the UK surely someone in his position should be doing more to expose the homophobia of many Muslims and less to intensify it.

unsurprisingly, sir iqbal is being rather glib and simplistic:

This view is shared in other scriptures, such as those of Christianity and Judaism

as far as judaism is concerned, this is a misrepresentative oversimplification. the relevant biblical verses are:

Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”
Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them”

leaving aside the translation difficulties here, which are considerable, it occurs to me that it is possible that this verse could be easily “disarmed” simply by saying “it’s impossible to ‘lie with a male’ as one ‘lies with a female’”, for the simple reason that the acts concerned are anatomically different. nobody ever tries that particular approach. unfortunately, i don’t actually think that the text will really support that, although it would be nice if it did.

the most reasonable to approach this admittedly difficult issue is this: halacha (jewish law) at least in its basic written form in the Torah prescribes the death penalty for almost everything, including gathering sticks on Shabbat. what must be understood is the way that capital punishment works in practice in a halachic framework (although i am not an expert, so please excuse me if there are any experts reading this) which i understand to be that it is virtually impossible to secure a conviction in a capital case, for the reason that the standard of proof requires would a) require two witnesses to warn the about-to-act-homosexually couple that their action was punishable by death and b) for the couple to respond immediately by saying “we know and we don’t care and we’re going to do it anyway” and then c) *immediately* proceed to carry out the forbidden act, which is in any case restricted to refer to anal sex alone.

the next restriction would be that there would have to be a religious court that was a) authorised to try capital cases (which has not existed since the destruction of the Temple and won’t until the Messiah comes) and b) had not passed a death sentence within the last SEVENTY years. now, when you consider the number of things that technically qualify for a death sentence, the chances of getting this to trial would be effectively nil.

finally, even in the unlikely event of having a suitable court and a suitable sinner, there is another safeguard, which is the “eye for an eye” mechanism whereby if a blind man knocks out another man’s eye, there’s no way the court can penalise him accordingly, because he hasn’t got another eye. from this, the rabbis deduced that a fine must be allowable instead and they then extended this to cover many other cases. by this logic, even if convicted, the most you would get would be a fine.

returning to the question of equivalence, as i understand it (though i am not an expert) the way the halacha works is that acts that are *equivalently penalised* are seen as spiritually equivalent. therefore, if breaking Shabbat is punishable by death, then it’s logically “just as bad” as homosexuality. this equivalence means that it is halachically indefensible to sanction homosexuality *if you do not ALSO sanction Shabbat violation* - and i don’t see many jewish communal bodies that check up on whether you keep Shabbat, much less inspect what you get up to in your own bedroom. what is more, to *discriminate* against or otherwise mistreat someone verbally, physically or otherwise, on the basis of the *status* of “homosexual” (as opposed to for an actual act that you witnessed) is even *worse* than what they are supposed to have done in the first place. therefore, people who are more concerned with gays than Shabbat are guilty of imposing their own priorities on the Divine, which is really, really bad. at no point that i am aware of, do the sages start banging on about what is natural and what is unnatural, or about how sex is only for procreation (which is *not* the jewish position!) - they simply confine themselves to what is permitted and what is not.

incidentally, none of this applies to lesbianism, btw - although it is obviously not approved of, it’s not actually explicitly forbidden and you can be an active lesbian without breaking any law as far as i know.

hopefully, i have outlined why it’s not as simple as “G!D hates gays”. i am not trying to brush this under the carpet, obviously the halachic solution falls far short of complete sanction for and acceptance of homosexuality, but you are (or at least should be) effectively protected against discrimination even if you’re disapproved of and that’s more than can be said of most other ways of addressing this issue. consequently i feel no conflict between my religious principles and my many friendships with gay people whether jewish or not (and, while i’m at it, the Torah is only addressing jews when it says “you”) - in fact, by not being homophobic and fighting homophobia, i consider it to be a religious duty.

b’shalom

bananabrain

It would certainly be helpful if Sir Iqbal, "Britain's most senior Muslim leader", could at least confine himself to representing the views of his own religion. Instead, he repeatedly appears to speak in the name of Judaism and Christianity as well. I don't think he would like it if a representative from one of those two religions attempted to define Islam's presumed "position" on a controversial social or political issue of our day.

Furthermore, I cannot accept that Judaism has taken a leading role alongside other "Abrahamic faiths" in opposing the civil partnership legislation. There are various branches of Judaism in this country - and I am not aware that any of them has officially taken a stand against the new law; nor has the Board of Deputies of British Jews adopted any such stance. Meanwhile, as Ruth Gledhill points out in her post above, Liberal Judaism - which represents synagogue communities throughout this country (including my own) - has already introduced its own liturgy for solemnising same-sex commitment ceremonies.

And if we're going to talk about public statements, well, let's go back 18 years to 1988, to "Jews Against The Clause", when 50 well-known Jews in Britain - people from all walks of life and representing all strands of Jewish religion and culture - signed a declaration against the anti-gay law Clause 28 (repealed in recent years).

Back to today - not surpisingly, I was interested in what "bananabrain" wrote above. I would add that it's important to bear in mind that whatever branch of Judaism we have in mind (from ultra-Orthodox through all the varieties of Progressive), we are not talking about the religion of Leviticus. I hope no one really believes that Jewish priests still conduct animal sacrifice in a Temple in Jerusalem! The religion described in the 5 books of the Pentateuch (the Torah) is most certainly not the Rabbinic Judaism which the world has known for the past 2000 years, and thus it's misleading to create the impression that Judaism (of whatever form) is the religion of the "Old Testament" texts.

Reference is made above to halachah, traditional Jewish religious law, but it's important to note that the texts where halachah is defined are not so much the terse books of the Pentateuch, the "written Torah", as the vastly more voluminous and detailed writings of the "oral Torah" - namely Mishnah, Talmud, various Midrashic works, legal codes, responsa, etc.

The two verses in Leviticus are indeed not easy to translate due to the obscure Hebrew phrase "miskavei isha" - which literally means not "as with a woman" but "in the places where a woman lies". If we look in the Oral Torah to see where these Levitical verses are quoted, we find first of all that they are hardly mentioned, and secondly that they caused the Jewish sages of antiquity some mystification. In the only extended discussion I know of - in the Talmud - the sages seem thoroughly baffled: one suggests that the verses may refer to hermaphrodites, and another opines that the prohibited sexual act is something which a man could commit all on his own. And that's about it. We certainly cannot base a modern-day approach to what we understand as homosexuality on these passages.

After all, let's remember what we understand by the term "homosexuality" nowadays - which is quite a consellation of things (besides specific sexual acts): orientation, identity, relationships, culture, community, desire and love - to name a few. And in the Jewish sources, "homosexuality" simply isn't mentioned - there's no such word (nor does "heterosexuality" make an appearance either). Or rather, if we want to be fair, then we need to recognise the full complexity of the term - and so, rather than searching out difficult verses in the Pentateuch which relate to obscure sexual acts, we need to look to other texts which deal with things like social justice, love of neighbour, human diversity, friendship and companionship, etc. And indeed that's exactly what I would invite Sir Iqbal to do if he is going to talk about Judaism and homosexuality in the future.

Rabbi James Baaden
South London Liberal Synagogue

In the aspect of Sexuality, Creation clearly and unequivocally gave Mankind route one. All other routes are secondary. Words such as "abomination" or "detestable" (NWT) emphasise human interpretations of inspired thought even as they are set down. However though our prophets are first and foremost human they are purposed to interpret the word of Creation with the Faith they alone are gifted to possess; such is the will of Creation.

Mankind is on journey through space and time. Creation clearly intends every human being to know and to share Love in the course of this journey; thus there exists for human beings a network of possibilities in every aspect of aliveness. However we must not as a species lose sight of the purpose of Creation and wherever possible we must nurture and cherish the primary route.

I feel it is appropriate to make the following comments:

Sacranie: "Our view is very clear on that. I'm carried by the teaching of my faith. It is something which is not acceptable in Islam the same way it is not acceptable under Christianity or Judaism or other divine religions. Our religion, our faith is very, very clear. This is harmful. It does not augur well in building the very foundations of society - stability, family relationships. And it is something we would certainly not, in any form, encourage the community to be involved in."

Again, as a Police Officer committed to effective race relations and diversity and as a Hindu Priest I wonder whose view Sir Iqbal is referring to here? He says it is "our" view. Therefore is he intimating that this is his view or the view of Islam? I can only surmise that what he is referring to is the view of Islam.

Also Dr Badawi suggests that "friendships" are acceptable as long as there is no sex. Perhaps Dr Badawi needs to realise that homosexuality and gay liasons are about love and therefore, sex will be a part of that. Have these people sought to actually ask gay men and women from the Muslim Gay community? Probably not, because these people live in fear. We cannot allow people to live in fear.

I am not at all convinced by that the approaches adopted by either Sacranie or Badawi here are in any way supportive of a multicultural, pluralisitic and integrated community. However, their views suggest more support towards segregation and as such these views are, therefore, extremely dangerous for racial stability in this country.

None of the views of either are persons are about diversity; but rather their views will cause friction, and friction can be exploited.

I am disappointed but not surprised that most faiths, including mine, knock back homosexuality with ignorant comments.

I also am saddened that in this day and age in Britain it is appropriate to suggest that homosexual relationships should not be encouraged, but this is clearly what both Doctors believe. Such values suggest that individuals know and can control their own sexuality, but what if a sexuality of an individual was created at conception?

"On the question of whether my comments were homophobic, it is utterly nonsensical to suggest that. We reject any form of discrimination, whether on the basis of race, religion, gender or age. But people cannot be bullied to remain silent on views which they believe are important for society to understand."

With respect to Dr Sacranie these views here, which he suggests are supported by his faith, are actually nothing other than discriminatory. To suggest that one prays for a gay person, suggests that underlying one's belief is not love for that other person, but a dislike. That, I am afraid, is discrimination.

"The moral and religious principles are clear. In Islam there is unanimity on this subject. We do not want to be in the same position as the Anglican communion, where the scriptures say one thing but religious leaders are divided.

"We have a clear responsibility, particularly to our young, who are day in day out barraged with so much material which indirectly promotes unnatural sexual behaviour. If we remain silent now, we may regret it in years to come. In Islam the situation is clear. We detest the practice of homosexuality but we cannopt discriminate, we cannot hate such people, we pray for them.”

I really need to consider why is it that Sir Iqbal feels that homosexuality is unnatural sexual behaviour? And why is there a need to be judge, jury and executioner? None of us are gods. Surely the right to state what is right and wrong is God's decision and will.

Homosexuality has been practised for many many many years. And not everone is homosexual, so why not offer positive change?

I feel confident that if Krishna, or Lord Jesus were alive today they would fight for the rights of the other human beings that are casually referred to as Homosexuals in a negative way.

I personally am not gay and was unable to make the Gay Pride march. I have many gay friends and colleagues and these peoples, these human beings, deserve a little more dignity than our leading minority ethnic academics appear to be giving them.

I, personally, as a Hindu Priest and a Police Sergeant would not support any view that promotes discrimination or racism because views such as these here, wherever they come from, create hate, and eventually it is the police that end up dealing with hate issues.

Perhaps Sir Iqbal Sacranie, who is considered a stalwart by some leaders in this country, needs to consider reforming his views towards gay men and women.

If a community wants to practise its own beliefs which are homophobic then that community risks practising breaches of Human rights and Human rights, in my opinion, must always play primacy to religious beliefs.

I am an Evangelical Christian and I have some sympathy with the view that homosexual acts are considered sinful within the Abrahamic tradition. However, besides my obvious bias it must be noted that Sir Iqbal did not intend to provoke Peter Tatchell, nor was he speaking in an emotive or violent manner. Surely there is room in British society for people to express counter-cultural opinions without being demonised.

In the summer France faced a series of riots provoked in part due to secular intolerance of religious opinions and communities. It would be wise for British society to atleast recognise the plurality of views that exist with regard to gender, human sexuality, and religious identity.

Had Sir Iqbal attacked a homosexual on the street or advocated violent or intolerant actions toward homosexual people this would be a very different conversation. But for now I thank Sir Iqbal for reminding us all that within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam there are a variety of positions regarding human sexuality which are yet to be reconciled to one another.

That someone holds and expresses an opinion that is incompatible with your own should not be a reason for aggressive, rude, or intolerant behaviour towards that person. Rather it is an opportunity to explore our diversity and overcome our ignorance of one another.

I applaud once again the fact that the Times allows dialogue in issues of faith.

Applying whatever faith we believe in here and now today there can only be two positions; one that is right for humanity as a whole; and one that is wrong.

Whilst the views put forward by Dr's Sacranie and Badawi are evidence of diverse views towards the subject of sexual orientation, their views are not evidence of embracing diversity.

And whilst none of these people may have meant to offend others, the fact is, their views have offended; not only gay people, but people like me that have dedicated their working life to diversity.

Clearly Dr's Sacranie and Badawi feel that their view is the truth, as I believe my view is the truth to me, but a cohesive and integrated society can only progress with a view that is based on humanitarian principles.

Dialogue is wonderful but I do feel if we all follow our own faiths to a degree which decries "other" faiths, then we are following views of supremacy against each other's faiths. Surely, this cannot be right.

I still listen to the songs of Freddie Mercury and Queen and wish dearly that everyday was Christmas, because if it was we would not say and do things that offend others, just as Freddie says in the song. Mercury was gay, but he was an absolute musical genius who added so much to the music industry that his love for others lives on in his music.

May God bless you Ruth Gledhill and Peter Tatchell for you are representing diversity in a positive way and in this way you are doing what we refer to as "seva" or God's work, in helping others.

rabbi baaden makes an excellent point about sir iqbal's willingness to speak for the grateful "ahl al-qitab". he is of course correct that the jewish community as a whole has not taken a coherent position on same-sex relationships, for the simple reason that there is no communal consensus on it - or indeed on anything else! the masorti, reform and liberal movements are as right-on as one might expect. mainstream modern-orthodoxy is silent as usual, as it is on everything apart from anti-semitism - apart from those who are looking for approval over their right shoulders towards the strictly/ultra-orthodox world, whose leaders are presumably the ones that will be lining up with the mcb. i'm not holding my breath for that, though.

actually, rabbi baaden's translation of the phrase in question sheds some pleasant new light on it for me and i thank him for that. i think, however, my esteemed co-religionist is being a teensy bit disingenuous by saying that "we are not talking about the religion of leviticus". i would contend that we are - as i would consider that my religion of today is directly connected back to that by an unbroken chain of tradition and interpretation, even if our understanding of the source texts has evolved over the last 3000 years. for that matter, liberal judaism itself is "most certainly not the rabbinic judaism which the world has known for the past 2000 years" either. i do agree that more emphasis should be laid on texts about social justice and so on, as he has suggested, but we would be doing a disservice to the complexity of the views of the talmudic sages if we suggested that they were "politically correct", in favour of same-sex commitment ceremonies and the like, regardless of what our personal feelings might be on the subject. furthermore, although we do not "still conduct animal sacrifice in a Temple in Jerusalem", the traditional liturgy followed by masorti, orthodox and ultra-orthodox groups nonetheless still expresses our wish to have this system restored in the World to Come and we repeat this prayer thrice daily. not very modern, perhaps, but still, nonetheless, connecting us to the sages of the Talmud - and, indeed, the "religion of leviticus".

b'shalom

bananabrain

States one contributer to this topic ...

"I really need to consider why is it that Sir Iqbal feels that homosexuality is unnatural sexual behaviour? And why is there a need to be judge, jury and executioner? None of us are gods. Surely the right to state what is right and wrong is God's decision and will"

We know "Gods" position and will because it is stated us throught his Prophets. Notwithstanding the humanised disclosures of divine will given to us through appointed Prophets, the message seems to be very clear.

It is political correction that would have the Faithful change their view of "Gods" true will for the Man and the Woman he created; thus those who are not naturally heterosexual, in accordance with the primary disposition, understandably feel somewhat isolated.

However as I have pointed out elsewhere the (seven) ways human beings may love does allow for Homosexual relationships to exist and to do so without shame.

I don't understand why same sex couples are attracted to one another but I accept it happens and that worthwhile, meaningful and joyous partnerships can be the result. While this does not make it natural, we have to accept the validity of these relationships and act according, with tolerance, respect and not with prejudice or persecution. But we should not be afraid to promote heterosexuality as being the natural way of life and should not suppress this truth being fearful of condemnation and attack by the overly-active, expressively vocal homosexual groups.


I understand fully that procreation is between a man and a woman. But, the point I make about sexual orientation is whether there any understanding or acceptance that some people that are gay may not have a choice about their sexual orientation.

In human rights terms therefore, dehumanising someone that has no choice, is wrong in my opinion and in legal terms also. Of course this is my interpretation.

It is not for me therefore as a heterosexual person to say that a gay relationship is unnatural; for the relationships is clearly natural for that gay person.

Of course we can disagree and debate but the arguements put forward by some here are nonetheless Homophobic.

I personally believe in Lord Krishna, but Lord Krishna is neither superior nor inferior to Lord Jesus or the Prophet Mohammed for example.

Therefore why and how can I say that a homosexual relationship is unnatural if I do not have an understanding of sexual orientation.

I still, though, have faith as a Hindu person and I offer my apologies if gay people are offended by some of what they have read here and the views of some people.

As usual the same illogical and tedious arguments against gays are wheeled out by religious people like Iqbal Sacranie. Idiotic comments like "it's unnatural" are uttered when quite obviously homosexuality is anything but, since millions of men in every society on Earth are gay or wish they could be, without the insidious and subtle attempts at discrimination and fake tolerance by groups such as his. Here we have a man who claims to be committed to encouraging tolerance amongst men, but feels the ultimate expression of that- same sex relationships - is wrong..? I ask you are his words his own, are they knowledgable of anything but the writing of men a thousand years ago living in the desert?
As for the "effect" gay people have on "social" or "family harmony" the absurdity of his stance is exposed even further for its incomprehensibility.
Were does he think gay people come from? Outer space? The bottom of the garden?That old favourite "satan"?
We are all someone's brother, someone's nephew, son or uncle... all someone's friend and all someone's love, someone's light, someones "Family" believe it or not.
How hideous and shameful that someone claiming to speak for all men's best interests seeks only to further his own Islamism. Is he making our society any better by educating people that a huge section of it are "sinners"? Is my neice to be thankful that Iqbal teaches his children i am someone to be afraid of, reviled or disgusted at? Is my father to be glad that the next thug who beats a gay to death in London can do so knowing that the guy he killed was one of Gods mistakes, and good muslims should pity them?
Is our society benefited with more people like Iqbal in it or people like me, who were brought up to have no revulsion or pre-concieved ideas about anyone-including muslims?

Rabbi James Baaden is so trying to explain it away! but I think it is pretty clear what it says in the Bible. It's about time we plucked up some courage and said it. as much as i dislike him at least Scranie was brave.

While Thinking Anglicans is a fine blog and a great resource for anyone wishing to view the collapse of the Church of England at close quarters, it is untrue to say that the site provides "all anyone could need to (know) about it".
(And Mr Sacranie has a perfect right to express his views, as others have the right to disagree)

I am absolutely appalled that the laws of "liberal" Britain are now so illiberal that we cannot express a deeply held, historic Christian (and I would say true) view without being investigated by the police. I think this surely Illiberal attitude actually promotes Homophobia. I don't hate Homosexuals at all - quite the reverse. God calls us to love everyone - because HE is love. Because I respect the Bible's teaching and God's love for us, I want to say that I believe Homosexual practice is damaging to those who indulge in it and to society in general. I say this is the same way that I say to my children "don't put your hand in the fire because you will get burnt". I don't say this because I hate, but because I love. What could be more hateful than seeing someone hurting themselves and NOT saying anything? All God's laws stem from his huge love for men and women. How on earth can the police investigate us for proclaiming the love of God?

Pinknews wrote "It used to be the case that libertarians and liberals could argue with some justification that tolerance is a necessary part of a liberal society. As a liberal, I could say to Sir Iqbal: “I disagree with you but I tolerate the right for you to be intolerant.” But can we still continue be tolerant of those who show so little respect for our liberal way of life?"

People who do not agree with our beliefs, morals and practices should not be tolerated ? That's just good old fashioned "totalitarianism" !

Anyone - heterosexual or gay - who has multiple sexual partners runs the risk of getting and transmitting disease. This is not confined to one end of the sexual spectrum. Civil partnerships for gay people are to be applauded and encouraged, promoting as they do monogamy and fidelity.

I am appalled that Sir Iqbal Sacranie's remarks should be considered worthy of police investigation. I do not share his views on homosexuality, but I entirely respect his right to express his sincerely held views. He correctly pointed to the importance of free speech in a democratic society - and expressed his view in a measured and sound way, which gained my respect - even if not my agreement.

Sacranie is entitled to his views. Equally, I should be able to voice my views. I think Islam is harmful for British society and unacceptable but I tolerate it just as he tolerates homosexuality.

I believe the suffix "phobia" means, "An intense, abnormal, or illogical fear of a specified thing". This being the case society really must be careful when attaching the term "homophobic" to those who have aired their views on the morality of practising gays and lesbians.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie clearly has no fear of homosexual activity and his comments show that he has no hatred against those practising homosexuality. Rather he is making a statement about specific morality based on his faith and he is correct to state that both Christianity and Judaism would take the same stance.

His comments that he and followers of his faith would pray for those engaged in homosexual behaviour should not be seen as a negative action. To bring someone's sitiation in prayer to God is never a bad thing.

Rabbi James Baaden is just trying to please a western public. It clearly says in the Torah that homosexuality is wrong Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

I think it is very courageous for Iqbal Sacranie, even though I do not like him, to make public his opinion even though it may go against the society. Re: the story of Lot in the Bible. it's not wrong to express a view as long as it is not done out of hate. another thing is that we are really talking about the action not the person doing it. and yes there are health issues related to homosexuality and its associated culture, that's why nearly 50% of all HIV patient are homosexuals and 90% have had some sort of sexual contact with a bisexual partner who was sleeping arround. now this is not an attack on gays! I have a lot of gay friends I would not dream of discriminating against them.

I agree with my friend, Sacranie is right, 'it is a sin for a man to lie with a man like the way he lies with his wife', though I would not harm or discriminate against a gay guy.

I have written many messages all of which have been tampered with before being placed on the viewing page some even did not end up in the viewing page. This shows the seriousness of the situation, you can’t even express your opinion without being muzzled, and they call this a free country. Most of the anti-Muslim comments which are clearly racist in nature and abundant in the main-stream media did not even receive a police investigation, but first time a Muslim guy just expresses his views every one just jumps on him, is there no shame in this? Sacranie's views were clearly not intended to discriminate or influence attack on gays and he kept repeating this stance during the interview.

There was a time as memeber of the labour party and a muslim I pursuaded many orthdox muslims that it was Okay to enter pubs for lab party ward meetings. Many muslims comented that women in mini-skirts in pubs, would be a distraction as well as the gaming machines. Despite many fatwas against entering pubs I did convince many that it was OK. This was in blackburn where I thought I could contribute to new labour and make dfference for all. My work in the labour party for over 24 yrs was shattered at a stroke on March 19 2003, I went to the mosque instead of listening to CNN or BBC to beg for Allah's forgiveness. In fact I more strongly believe in muslim values than ever before and no matter how much you prpare to give up on muslim principles a large of the west (Bush, Blair, Sharon) will never accept you. Until of course you renounce every molecule of muslim value and decency. My view remains ever more with the likes of sacranie and qaradwi.Many scholars consider a sin to even walk in the footsteps of homosexuals or utter the word.
Hossain

Just as there is attitude and behaviour, discrimination and non-discrimination, surely there must be a right and wrong in relation to this issue between WHAT ARE IN ESSENCE Beliefs and FACTS.

I am sure everybody would agree that policing has been under scrutiny in relation to "race" change for example.

This scrutiny does not mean necessarily that things have dramtically changed because core BELIEFS of some service providers inside policing are at a point of denial. And this is a fact.

Also, if we believe that our attitudes do not affect our behaviour then perhaps fredom of speech might win, but surely Human Rights about people living today are more important.

Where does hatred come from? I would argue it comes from beliefs, beliefs that are not so right now as in today as oppsed to the past.

And as for tolerance, I was of the opinion that most people were now beginning to accept the "other", whoever the other was, and therefore thankfully I feel still we are moving in the right directions as a country.

I do wonder what some people would do if their child was gay?

Negative attitudes cause negative thoughts which may then cause discrimination.

Actually in an integrated society which we are trying to move towards; Homophobia remains still wrong, and that has to be a fact.

We cannot afford to teach our children hatred. That is dangerous full stop. Hence this dialogue must be good.

I endorse the comments of Andrew Gosden of 11th Jan, 10.26. I am concerned at the wall of "outrage" one meets if one believes that homosexual acts are sinful in God's eyes. This "outrage" is prepared to send another person to prison, simply for expressing a point of view. I consider it vindictiveness of the worst kind, for it is blind vindictiveness, and it surprises and disturbs me that political homosexuals and their friends appear to be obsessed with silencing those who think differently. Is the word "democracy" losing its meaning in the UK?

Easily offended and aggressivlely shrill toward anyone disagreeing with them:

a) Muslims
b) Homosexuals
C) both of the above

Why is that?

(I hope I am not labeled Islamahobophobic now!)

As commentators on the issues of homosexuality and Islam (particularly in Britain), and friends of same-sex attracted Muslims, our blog should be of interest to all those who commented here: www.gaymuslims.org

We disagreed with a small part of what Sacranie said (reference to diseases), but it is blindingly obvious that in expressing negativity towards same-sex civil registrations, and homosexual behaviour in general, he is indeed speaking for the bulk of the Muslim public and institutions, and indeed representing the clear message of Islam in this regard.

By the way, I wish to correct an egregious error in Ruth Gledhill's article. She implies a homosexual meaning to the supposed verse: "And there shall wait on them young boys of their own, as fair as virgin pearls." In fact, this verse (presumably 76:19) says, more accurately: "And there will circle around them immortal youths; when you see them you would think them scattered pearls."

Anyone acquainted with the Arabic language could confirm so. The fanciful term "virgin pearls" here is clearly to serve an illicit purpose, i.e. to back the supposition that there is a carnal meaning to this verse: not so. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuality is something promised in Paradise. It is a shame that you would perpetuate such a discredited notion.

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  • Ruth Gledhill is Religion Correspondent for The Times and Times Online
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