Below is the presentation TDMEA made in Ottawa, Ontario to the Justice Committee on March 21, 2000.
MUSLIM OBJECTION TO BILL C-23 ACCORDING
TO ISLAMIC LAW (SHARIAH) AND ITS
CONSEQUENCES FOR SOCIETY
THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
TUESDAY 21 MARCH, 2000
(Dr. Mobarak Ali)
TORONTO DISTRICT MUSLIM EDUCATION ASSEMBLY (TDMEA)
Sound Education Sound Society
7 Richgrove Drive # 911 Etobicoke ON M9R 2L1
Tel: (416) 245-0696 Fax: (416) 744-4360 Email: Assayyed@hotmail.com
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Cover Page 1
Introduction ....... 3
Prefatory Remarks ... 3
Preamble to Muslim Concerns 4
The Concept of Spouse ... . 4
Implications, Ramifications and Consequences for the Term Spouse .. 5
Issues of Concerns 6
Concluding Remarks.. . .7
Ladies and gentlemen, I greet you all with the universal salutation of peace, mercy and blessings of Allah.
On behalf of the Muslim community of Toronto represented by the TDMEA, we are as pleased as we are grateful to be here to participate along with other concerned citizens, groups and organisations of this great country in assisting the administration in deliberating policies, statues, and laws that have direct consequences on our lives and the larger interests of society.
Every day we witness, sadly, that something is being done, almost deliberately, to undermine the sacred institution of marriage and the sanctity of the family in our society. It seems that we are at a critical juncture of our acclaimed civilisation at the height of material advancement.
As it stands, Bill C-23 (the same-sex bill) has very serious ramifications, not only for Canadian Muslims, but all concerned Canadians who share, cherish, nurture and have laboured through generations after generations to preserve, promote and defend the sacred traditions of religious values, the sanctity of the family and core values of society. We should not be shy or afraid to defend what is right. If evil can be boldly and publicly promoted, it can, should and must be publicly condemned.
We hope that this process is not simply one of motions that serves only to appease without regard to the serious concerns of the participants and the dangers posed to the public. Public policy necessitates the participation of the public, especially on sensitive issues of morality, and when the possibility of dire consequences for the sacred traditions of society that have been preserved for thousands of years for the benefit of mankind are assaulted or otherwise threatened.
We from the Muslim community strongly object to Bill C-23 because it constitutes a direct attack, ridicule and assault on the sacred institution of marriage, the family and the valued traditions of a healthy society.
We are grateful to some individuals without whose effort we would not have come to know of Bill C-23 in a timely fashion. This highlights a very serious problem having two crucial aspects. First, it suggests that, in our democracy, the decision makers do not fulfil their responsibilities properly to the public. Bill C-23 has serious consequences for society, yet the public was not properly informed. Only selected groups seem to be aware of what is happening, shall I say, behind the scenes. For other groups, only out of their vigilance were they able to learn of this Bill. In this way, any Bill, policy or statue that is adopted by the government cannot command public support and compliance. The public is simply kept in the dark because they are not properly informed. If people are deceived, how in our conscience can we expect them to subscribe to the law. We should not try to create a fait accompli. It is the duty of the responsible authorities to undertake serious efforts to fulfil their responsibilities to the public and show full respect to their rights and wishes by properly informing them of important issues that are being deliberated, which have consequences for their lives. This failing suggest a grave danger: the systematic undermining and erosion of the democratic traditions of our society.
Two, the paperwork makes it a burden for participants with limited time and resources to do justice to the process. For instance, Bill-23 is 166 pages. Speaking for ourselves from the Muslim community, we did not have sufficient time to go through the document thoroughly and carefully in its entirety. Thus, indeed, we cannot say for sure what other consequences this Bill might have for us and even if there are recognisable benefits to the community at large.
A properly informed public can be a valuable asset and a crucial resource base to the process of public consultation and thereby make vital contributions in shaping national policies and statutes. I therefore hope that these observations would be taken very seriously for future deliberations on all public issues. We need to be contacted properly and in time. In the same token, might I say, that if this Bill comes into being, that would further confirm our worst fears as people who chose to guide our life by higher religious codes.
PREAMBLE TO MUSLIM CONCERNS
In Islam as with other religions, spousal (husband and wife) relationship can only take place in the context of a marriage proper between a male and a female. This is a lawfully constituted heterosexual relationship which does not recognise other forms of conjugal/sexual activities, whatever their euphemisms. A recognised marriage need not be registered; it is sufficient that it has publicly occurred.
Moreover, marriage entails a moral and legal contract which engenders enormous duties, heavy responsibilities, and firm commitments from both spouses, first to themselves and family and then to the greater good of society.
As with responsibilities and obligations, there are special rights, benefits and privileges which are conferred only to the married in order to strengthen the sacred institution of marriage and the treasured and perennial values of a strong, healthy and sound society.
In Islam, the privileges of the biological parents (mother and father) and the family cannot be shared but in exceptional and compelling cases only as designated by the Shariah (Islamic Law) itself. Under no circumstances, claims, pretensions, or concoctions therefore should these rights, privileges and benefits be transferred, misappropriated or expropriated to some other devised or contrived entity, whatever their epithets. This would be malignant, unfair and unjust and does not serve any real benefit to society. On the contrary, only great harm and evil would ensue from such an abuse and usurpation.
THE CONCEPT OF SPOUSE
In all the languages of the world the essential meaning of the term spouse is either the husband or wife in a properly constituted marriage as defined above.
The husband categorically refers only to the male gender or sex and the wife is no other than his female counterpart in marriage.
It is no coincidence that the term husband in itself, in the context of a family, refers to the man in relation to his wife in marriage proper; and vice versa for the term wife. This relationship cannot exist or take place in any other context.
Based on its definition, Islam insists that spouses can only mean the husband (male) and wife (female) in a lawfully constituted marriage. No other group, entity or agent can be legitimately ascribed the term spouse. Thus, they are the only rightful heir, inheritor, or beneficiary to any rights, benefits or privileges of the properly constituted marriage conferred by society because they alone contribute to the higher purpose of the preservation and promotion of societies through their duties of legitimate procreation as civilised human beings.
IMPLICATIONS, RAMIFICATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES BILL C-23
Since only in a properly constituted marriage spouses (husband and wife) exist, it follows that all other groups or categories are not entitled to this epithet and therefore cannot expropriate or share in its exclusive benefits.
Thus, those who wish to live together as sexually active partners cannot be called spouses whether it be one day, one year or more. This would be absurd, confounded and create utter confusion not only in the usage of the term but would also have very serious implications, ramifications and consequences for society. It would raise the questions of duties and responsibilities and more seriously, rights, benefits and privileges.
A heterosexual pair who simply chose to live together are not spouses in the true sense of the term because their union was not based on a properly constituted marriage. They lack both moral and legal validity and commitment and their relationship therefore is not recognised and cannot be sanctioned as spouses. This would be a ridicule, insult and abuse of the concept and a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage in society. This kind of relationship is no other than the promotion and glorification of promiscuity, adultery and fornication, even if recognised as common law.
If the case of a heterosexual relationship not founded on the requirements of a properly constituted marriage is an illegal spousal relationship, what can be said about other forms of sexual relationships? More pointedly, what is the status of those who chose to be gays or lesbians?
Consistent with the term spouse, none other that the married are entitled to this categorisation. Thus, the parties of a common law relationship can be properly called, "pair", "couple", "partners", "companions", "mates", "friends", and such terms but not "spouse", not "husband" or "wife".
It follows therefore that the agents of a homosexual relationship are no other than those self same terms used for a common law relationship. In a man-man or woman-woman relationship involving sexual activity, who is the husband and who is the wife? Where is the family? People also indulge in sex with other beings or things. What confounded situation is this to refer to them as spouses conferring like benefits. They are not and cannot be. To do so would be to usurp, expropriate and misappropriate the rights and privileges of the married; it would be a blatant and vulgar attack on the sacred institution of marriage in society. Thousand of years of valuable traditions would be maligned. This cannot be allowed to happen. Homosexual/lesbian relationship does not only negate the higher societal duty of procreation, but it is the promotion of moral corruption and degradation of human beings. Promoting such a life style is wrong and unacceptable and constitutes grave dangers to society.
Those who chose a relationship outside the realm of marriage proper in which only a male and female union is permitted must understand the consequences of their actions. Those who are common law can chose to marry or chose to remain common law, but they cannot claim the status and the attendant rights and privileges of the married. Homosexuals and lesbians have the same choice and their case is far more serious since their relationship does not reflect heterosexual lifestyle. There is no justification to expropriate the rights of the married to other categories.
These groups or individual cannot choose to be what they want and claim the rights, benefits and privileges of the properly constituted married. This is not something difficult to understand. This is not only common sense; it is fair and just. There are many examples to refer to right here in Canada.
A classic example is the case of a visitor, a student, or even a landed immigrant vis-à-vis a Canadian citizen. None of them can take the privileges and rights of the Canadian citizen, even if some aspects are shared with them. They are not equal. Could this not a be question of human rights, equity and fairness? The closest category to approximate the benefits of the citizen is the landed immigrant. All the others do not compare. Similarly, the closest to the family structure is the common law relationship because of its necessary heterosexual basis and the ability or potential to procreate in their relationship. If the homosexual relationship cannot compete for the rights and benefits accorded even to common law relationship, what then is its basis for insisting on the rights and privileges assigned to those who constitute a proper marital relationship?
Any argument against this is invalid, fraught with grievously faulty reasoning and outright absurd. This is not "all about fairness"; it is to confound and confuse the issue. Bill C-23 is a public wrong and it must be publicly condemned and opposed. Moreover, simply expanding the Bill to be more inclusive regarding other types of relationship is not the answer. What is at stake here is the status of the properly constituted marriage and the sanctity of the family with all their attendant rights, responsibilities and privileges.
Ms McLellan and others are completely wrong and misled into believing simply that: "Bill C-23 preserves the existing legal definition and societal consensus that marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of others." Conferring marriage benefits and marriage-like privileges to other groups not only blurs the distinction between the properly constituted married and those who are not, but directly serves to undermine their special status. If we say that we intend to confer rights and incentives to unlicensed drivers in this country, does this tacit act of recognition of them not have direct consequences for lawfully constituted licensed drivers?
We should be developing policies and statues to strengthen and promote the sacred institution of marriage and the sanctity of the family in society, not weaken or undermine them.
The higher interests of society are at stake and being endangered. They must be preserved and we from the Muslim community strongly object to any policy and statues that will have the effect of undermining the sacred institution of marriage and the family structure including Bill C-23.
ISSUES OF CONCERN
There are numerous issues that would be seriously impacted upon in light of Bill C-23. Given the time constraints, I would just like to iterate them as follows:
As you may well imagine, these cannot be dealt with in a hurry but they cannot also be disregarded or set aside because of the direct and indirect consequences of the Bill on them. The Bill has to be studied in light of each of these concerns and the broader and higher interests of society and this requires more time in order to do justice to them. As is and given its intent, Bill C-23 should be scrapped. What we should do instead is utilise the scarce resources of this country to promote policies that would strengthen the sacred institution of marriage. There is no justification for undermining traditional values and promoting moral corruption and degeneracy and endangering the higher interests of society.
We hope that the policy makers would appreciate the enormous responsibilities they have and the sacred public trust that is at stake here. We caution against the pursuit of reckless or mindless political correctness and the rampage of a powerful few. We need to work for the higher good of society and humankind. Nothing should be done, in any shape or form, directly or indirectly, to undermine the sacred institutions of marriage and the rich family traditions for the greater good of society. We continue to show and abiding interest in the affairs of our country and look forward keenly to the right and proper course of action from here on, but we cannot accept or support what is manifestly wrong.
I thank you.