Queer Muslim participants in London Pride 2019
The furore around the recent controversial fatwa condemning homosexuality in the Islamic faith as sinful shows no sign of abating.
On Tuesday, the chairs of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation and the Archbishop Tutu IP Trust issued a statement addressing last week’s fatwa (a ruling on a point of Islamic law) by the South African Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).
The fatwa declared that queer people could not be part of the Islamic faith and that they would only be spiritually “rewarded” if they refrain from acting on their desires.
Commenting on the fatwa, the Tutu foundations described the edict as “deeply regrettable” and argued that religions should view their ancient scriptures within the context of modern realities.
“The development of peoples’ consciousness of the concept of human rights has led to a clear change in religious practices – one is unlikely to find religions advocating for stoning and beating wrongdoers, beating one’s spouse, or not mixing threads of different kinds,” noted the organisations.
“Archbishop Tutu taught, God is not a Christian, nor a homophobe. But across many religions, homophobia remains ever-present – in the behaviour of congregations, or individual people of faith; and often in the leadership of those religions,” said the foundations.
“In fact, the Archbishop was so incensed by homophobia within his own church that he declared he would not worship a homophobic God. And that if Heaven was homophobic, he would rather ‘go to that other place’.”
The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA), however, did not take kindly to these comments. It accused the Tutu Legacy Foundation and the Archbishop IP Trust of crossing “the red line by pontificating to Muslim religious scholars…”
UUCSA Secretary General Moulana Yusuf Patel asserted that “this intrusion in the sacred space of one faith group by another is inexcusable.” The UUCSA also completely dismissed the suggestion that the Islamic faith should adapt to the times.
“It is a matter of faith for adherents of Islam that the Noble Quran contains precepts that are absolute, just, unalterable and designed to protect the dignity of humanity for all times and under all circumstances,” he said.
Patel also responded with disdain to an open letter by a group of South African queer Muslims and allies who condemned the fatwa and who insisted that “it is possible to be LGBTQIA+ and Muslim.”
Patel accused the group of trying to “equate repudiation of same-sex relationships with hate and incitement to cause harm” without justification.
Seemingly unaware of the irony of his words, Patel further accused the “clamorous and increasingly aggressive” LGBTQ community and its supporters of being “increasingly intolerant of those that are critical of same-sex relationships…”