Lebanon’s top Sunni Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani declared war on civil Marriage by issuing a fatwa branding as an apostate any Muslim politician who approves its legislation.
“Any Muslim with legal or executive authority in Lebanon who supports the legalisation of civil marriage is an apostate and outside the religion of Islam,” he said on the website of Dar al-Fatwa, the official institution for fatwas.
He branded Civil marriage as a bacteria.
“There are predators lurking among us, trying to sow the bacteria of civil marriage in Lebanon, but they should know that the religious scholars will not hesitate to do their duty” and prevent the passage of such a bill. ”
He issued a warning to Muslim officials who support the Civil marriage issue that they would not be eligible to be buried in a Muslim cemetery
“ Such officials would not be washed, would not be wrapped in a burial shroud, would not have prayers for their soul in line with Islamic rules, and would not be buried in a Muslim cemetery,” Qabbani warned
His comment comes days after Lebanese President Michel Suleiman’s announcement in Arabic and English on his Facebook page that Lebanon should work on drafting a civil marriage law to help build unity in the multi-faith country, appears to have helped the issue gain momentum . 95 % of the respondents reportedly backed the president’s position .
The first one to denounce civil marriage was Prime Minister Najib Mikati who called the debate on the issue a waste of time and useless .
Mikati’s comments has already surely disappointed many Lebanese who were hoping that the government will take up this issue immediately and refer it to the parliament for a vote.
Progressive Socialist party leader MP Jumblatt , who along with Suleiman and Mikati form the centrist bloc in the cabinet praised Suleiman’s announcement calling it progressive thinking” and adding “this measure will mark the beginning of the process of elimination of sectarian barriers in the country
3 cabinet ministers also jumped on the civil marriage bandwagon after Suleiman’s announcement and voiced their support for it as an alternative.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel who represents Suleiman and Qortbawi who represents MP Michel Aoun announced during separate interviews with an Nahar newspaper in remarks published last Monday that they support civil marriage in Lebanon as an alternative but both said the issue requires proper laws that regulate such a union . Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud who also represents Aoun reportedly asked the prime minister to put the issue on the Cabinet’s agenda next week.
What Mufti Qabbani failed to understand or grasp according to observers is that Lebanon is not an Islamic state run by the Islamic Shariaa law and what he also missed is the fact that for about $1500, a couple can fly to neighboring Cyprus , get a civil marriage, return to Lebanon and their marriage will be legally recognized in Lebanon. In addition , what he also failed to grasp according to observers is the fact that civil marriage is being proposed as an option and no one will forcing Muslims or Christians from any sect to have a civil marriage.
The issue gained momentum soon after Kholoud Sukkariyah and Nidal Darwish challenged the sectarian personal status code in Lebanon and became the first couple to hold a civil marriage in lebanon
To achieve their objective was not easy and required some paperwork including deleting the mention of their religious sects from their Lebanese IDs and basing their marriage on Decree No. 60 L.R. which was adopted in 1936 by the High Commissioner during the French Mandate in Lebanon , which organizes and recognizes sects and grants them rights.
Attorney Talal Husseini, who authored their contract revealed that the decree says that those who are not affiliated with a sect are subject to the civil law of personal status, as well as to the introduction of the Constitution which adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Kholoud and Nidal’s marital contract was signed by the Notary Public and it was referred to the Interior Minister who will look into its legitimacy,” LBCI quoted Attorney Husseini as saying last week
The chairman of the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee MP Michel Musa said last week that the government should allow couples to have a civil marriage in Lebanon instead of forcing many Lebanese travel abroad to wed.
According to observers there will be a lot of pressure on Mikati from within the cabinet , the legislative and the executive branches to take up this issue while it is still hot.
Gemayel slams Qabbani over fatwa
Phalange MP Sami Gemayel slammed the mufti’s remarks in Tuesday as a violation of the civil state.
Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Gemayel said: “The mufti’s comments are a violation of the civil state and every Lebanese person’s right which is stipulated in the Constitution.”
“It is the right of any Lebanese to abide by religion or not and we believe that any violation to that right is a violation of the constitution.”
He added that forcing any Lebanese to do something either physically or mentally is punishable by law, and that every lawmaker is obliged to protect the right of freedom of belief of citizens.