Letters to the Editor

Guyana Chronicle Online

Dear Sir / Madam:

As a Muslim and one who believes in a secular constitutional government versus government by theocracy (as practiced in Saudi Arabia and Iran), I take strong exception to statements attributed to the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) on the issue of "civil rights of gays and lesbians," as articulated in Esther Elijah's article: "Mainstream Muslim group speaks on contentious bill" (July 6 edition of the Chronicle Online). First of all, the lifestyle of gays and lesbians has been around mankind from time immemorial, as referenced in the sacred scriptures of various religious traditions. Moreover, the type of sexual behavior practiced by this non-traditional group has been universally condemned by relatively all mainstream religious bodies, based on scriptural dispensation, including the Noble Qur'an.

However, I see a major difference between the "unapproved lifestyle" of the gays and lesbians versus their "inalienable right" to be safe from prejudice and discrimination as free citizens on any nation. As such, it was particularly painful to read the hateful and vituperative words spewed out by the CIOG and its chief proponent, Dr. Taha Jaber Al-'Alwani, against gays and lesbians. These unsanctified words reveal a deep reservoir of bigotry and intolerance inhabiting the minds of these Muslims, words which by themselves paint a sad commentary of the views of mainstream Muslims, but words which are also inconsistent with the essence of the noble Qur'an, despite the protestations of Dr. Al-'Alwani.

The fact is: whatever wrong or curse accrues to gays and lesbians on account of their disreputable lifestyle, this community of people, according to Judaic-Christian-Islamic tradition, would have to account for their deeds (or misdeeds) to the great Creator in the Hereafter, as admitted by Dr. Al-'Alwani (just like the rest of us…!). Nonetheless, since all sexual relations (licit or illicit, by heterosexuals or homosexuals) from an Islamic viewpoint are considered strictly private and confidential, what takes place within the confines of one's bedroom is nobody's business. It is for this very reason that the sacred Qur'an demands four witnesses to corroborate an instance of illicit sex; that is, four reputable, sane persons must witness actual penetration before an accused can be adjudged guilty. The legal consequence of this draconian Qur'anic rule of evidence, in the matter of sex, can be summarized as follows: "don't ask, don't tell." However, the CIOG, like their patron (the Wahhabites of Saudi Arabia) and their blood-brothers (the now defunct Taliban of Afghanistan) would truly have us promulgate the barbarism of capital punishment on the gays and lesbians, if that were possible…!

It thus becomes all the more imperative and incumbent on the Guyana legislative authorities not to permit mainstream Guyana Muslims to have their way with this so-called "sexual orientation" Clause 15 of the Bill under parliamentary consideration. In conclusion, we must beware of the preaching of these ministers of learning (or ministers of darkness… to some!), who tell us truth in little things only to betray us in deeds of greatest consequences!

Mohamad K. Yusuff

Washington, DC/USA

Posted July 20, 2003. The above editorial was eventually published in the Guyana Chronicle on December 23, 2003.