British Imam: Killing Gays is Good

Yahoo News reports:

Arshad Misbahi of the Manchester Central Mosque confirmed his views in a conversation to John Casson, a local psychotherapist...

"I asked him what would be the British Muslim view? He repeated that in an Islamic state these punishments were justified. They might result in the deaths of thousands but if this deterred millions from having sex, and spreading disease, then it was worthwhile to protect the wider community."

"I checked again that this was not a matter of tradition, culture or local prejudice. 'No,' he said, 'It is part of the central tenets of Islam: that sex outside marriage is forbidden; this is stated in the Koran and the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had stated that these punishments were due to such behaviours.'"


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Lemmie see if I got this straight...the Iman says "It is part of the central tenets of Islam: that sex outside marriage is forbidden; this is stated in the Koran and the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had stated that these punishments were due to such behaviours."

So he means all sex outside marriage. Gays of course (since by definition all gay sex is outside marriage when you don't allow them to marry) ... but also all adulterers as well as those simply having pre-marital or even casual sex (homo or hetero) outside the marriage bond.


So I guess to this guy scenes from MP's The Holy Grail and Life of Brian where they burn the witch and stone the man for saying 'Jehovah' are more government training films than parodies of religion.

Remind me never to eat halibut.

Richard Dawkins and his ilk are so correct it isn't even remotely humorous anymore.

Sigh, this is *not* in the Quran, yes premarital sex and affairs outside of marriage are prohibited, the Quranic punishment was lashing, but it required 4 eyewitnesses so that in practice it was made pretty hard to actually prosecute (because of the issue of people lying in order to punish enemies).

The second caliph changed the adultery punishment to stoning to death. He also started stoning homosexuals as I remember (I could be wrong). Tehre is nothing in the Quran about a specified punishment for gay sex.

In fact there is a debate among Muslims about whether there is enough evidence in the Quran to constitute the generally accepted position that Islam says being homosexual is wrong in the first place. There is a gay muslim scholar who has studied the issue a lot named Daaiyiee (god I can never spell that guy's name right, just too many vowels) who has written a lot of stuff on this and he regularly engages more traditionalist anti-gay types on Islamic forums.

Daaiyiee's position is that gays should be allowed to contract Islamic marriages and then their relationships would be "halal" (permissible).

However, he has not had much luck convincing others. I don't think they will often be swayed from their position, which is more gut-level and based on conditioning than it is based on anything textual in the religion.

yes premarital sex and affairs outside of marriage are prohibited, the Quranic punishment was lashing, but it required 4 eyewitnesses so that in practice it was made pretty hard to actually prosecute

How did that get turned into "If a woman is raped, there must be four male eyewitnesses to confirm it, otherwise she is guilty of pre-marital sex and shall be killed"?

(And why are the men never killed for these things?)

I have enough friends that attend or have attended Manchester Central Mosque in recent years to know that Mr Misbahi isn't particularly effective in convincing his congregation of his views.


The cases you are mentioning are travesties of justice and we are fighting them as Muslims. In fact at least one of those cases was overturned because of Muslim outcry against it. Helped, I might add, by Western outcry which was tailored to the idea that real Muslim justice would not use that method.

In a country where the vast majority is Muslim and where the vast majority will not listen to an argument that is not religion based, we must argue from the religion for justice against these cruel and insane people in charge, and we argue that they are misinterpreting the religion (and in my view we make quite a strong argument based on the texts and the sayings).

Now: If it were a secular country with a long history of secular approaches to law we could possibly use a different approach. But just as a practical matter it does not work. So attacking the entire religion will not help those women, whether or not you believe that the entire religion deserves attack, if you follow me.

Also speaking as a practicing muslim myself, this sort of intra-Muslim argument against these types of inane laws helps us be better muslims as one of the things muslims are supposedly responsible for is confronting injustice when we find it. But of course that is an internal Muslim discussion and not really appropriate here.

"Sigh, this is *not* in the Quran, yes premarital sex and affairs outside of marriage are prohibited, the Quranic punishment was lashing, but it required 4 eyewitnesses so that in practice it was made pretty hard to actually prosecute (because of the issue of people lying in order to punish enemies)."

That's four male eyewitnesses; you need eight female witnesses for the same burden of proof. I've always wondered if it would work if you had two men and four women, or three men and two women, or one man and six women. After all, this is the culture that invented algebra.

There are also differing opinions about the issue of female witnesses. Some schools of thought restrict this 2:1 ratio to financial issues, meaning that in such a case as rape/premarital sex/other such things a woman's testimony is equal to a man's. Others seem to generalize the more specific Quranic verse on the subject so that no matter what the case, 2 women equal the testimony of 1 man. In the case of those others, all of the combinations you list are in fact used in practice.

Again the reason 4 witnesses are asked for is that the punishment is so severe and the temptation for enemies to frame each other using sexual crimes would be great.

This is also the reason that the punishment for bearing false witness in a capital case is also lashing.

Legal systems all are pretty chaotic and often the rationale/logic for existing laws does not seem to make much sense. Both in Sharia and in common law. If we treat the systems as mutable and progressive we can work within them for change. If we don't think this is possible then I guess our only fallback is violent revolution.

Do you happen to know off-hand the regional breakdown of these two schools? The only case of this that got much international attention took place in Saudi Arabia.

(Although maybe that answers my question.)

Re the rape/adultery travesty cases:

Cases recently in teh news were from Iran. See Eteraz' blog if you want to send letters in support of some women.

There was another similar case recently in Pakistan.

There were two cases in Nigeria and in at least one of them the sentence was actually carried out but I think the other woman got off somehow orgot off with the lashing and it was purposely done in the least harmful possible manner.

Re the witnessing, sorry I don't have a really clear idea of the breakdown. It's something that is discussed on Mulsim forums at times which is why I know it is not totally cut and dried (very little in Islamic theology actually is - you'd be surprised). I think in Egypt women are full witnesses for most kinds of cases - of course they use a mix of civil law and Sharia law (Sharia law is sort of restricted to Muslim family law from how I understand things). Other countries I am not so sure about.

S. Arabia has mostly pretty restrictive and extremely conservative views about women, but everyone pretty much knows that already. They follow the Hanbali school, but I don't know how that school treats the issue of testifying.


Thanks for your very thoughtful reply, and I understand your point that these arguments are most effectively made from within Islam, i.e., "There is no basis in Islam for behaving this way; therefore you have no justification." A lot of people within Christianity also use that tactic to condemn the behavior of fellow Christians. But I must ask, where does that leave those of us who don't belong to the faith? Is there no ground from which we can compelling argue against such behavior? Or should we instead simply support Muslim groups who are speaking out against it, and keep our traps shut?

I thought the Saudis were Wahabists? They also believe in the supremacy of religion over state, IIRC.

To Me: Ibn Abdel Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi sect, is not a legal school founder. Wahhabism is more of a philosophy than a legal system. As far as I know the Wahhabis (who are mostly indigenous to S. Arabia and Qatar) are also mostly Hanbalis. (A Saudi could elaborate on that though and my understanding could be mistaken. I am not an expert on Gulf society.)

To Gretchen, it's an issue of practicality. Either you want to help people in Middle Eastern countries or you just want to be abstractly against religion. If it's the former, yeah, supporting Muslim grassroots activists who ask you for support on certain issues (like Eteraz' activism about the changes to the hodood laws in Pakistan) is a lot more useful than railing against Islam per se. (In fact, suppose you wrote to the person in charge and told him his religion was backward and evil, this might actually make him more likely to use a stoning punishment than not because having to be put on the defensive makes people angry and angry people act out towards those who are weaker - this really is not all that complicated. Conversely if you wrote to this person saying that there are other readings within the tradition of Islamic law that are more compassionate and just, and ask him to abide by the more beautiful tenets of his religion, it might conceivably have more of a positive weight on his course of action.)

As I understand it, even Dawkins uses these practical tactics when he uses his own study of the Bible to detract from what fundies are saying about their own religion. And he is still a card carrying atheist.

It just entails a basic amount of respect for a society that is not your own and that has to make its own way. I think (perhaps I am an idealist) that societies with healthy civil society will become more secular over time in order to protect the rights of minorities. But whether they do or not, it's not very useful for me to preach at them that they are backward or not backward. It's for me to support the people within that country that I think need my support, or to get out of the way, and yes, shut up, and fix problems within my own society (as this very blog attests over and over, there are surely enough sick fundies hurting women/minorities/gays here in the US to keep people busy).