A group of British Muslims have officially declared their wishes to open up mosques open to all genders and sexual orientations.
UK co-ordinator of the “Inclusive Mosque Initiative” (IMI), Tamsila Tauqir, said in a BBC radio interview today that: “We want to start our own mosques, we’re not aiming to change existing mosques or tell them what they should or shouldn’t be doing.
“The initiative is to create another space for Muslims who don’t feel welcome, disenfranchized with what currently exists. We want to start our own, reaching out to all Muslims regardless of sexuality, gender, gender identity, denomination, Shia or Sunni, ethnicity or language.”
This comes in light of the recent outrage from the Muslim community about Muslim MPs voting in support of the Same Sex Marriage policy.
If this initiative materializes in the future, it would be the first of its kind in Britain and would be following other European countries like France that have already established mosques for gays and transgenders.
Ms Tauqir also highlighted that not only will the IMI welcome the gay community but it will also allow men and women to pray side-by-side. This goes against the orthodox rules of free mixing and gender segregation within traditional Islamic law.
It’s a initiative that will most definitely anger many Muslims, but Ms Tauqir insists that they will not pressure other mosques to follow suite.
IMI and the Safra Project
Ms Tauqir is a Trustee at Safra Project, Chair of the British charity Interfaith Alliance UK and Steering Committee Member of Muslim Women’s Network UK. She was awarded an MBE for her voluntary contribution to Muslim communities.
Although the IMI has a very small following in the UK, it is part of a global network with sites in India and Malaysia. They also have support networks in the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Sweden. The IMI aims to set up a network of international mosques based on the same ethos.
Safra Project is a resource organization working on issues relating to lesbian, bisexual or transgender women who identify themselves as Muslim. The Safra Project was set up in October 2001 by “Lesbian Muslim” (LBT) women. They aim to deal with the issues faced by LBT women, prejudices based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, religion, race, culture and immigration status which they believe are currently insufficiently addressed.
The issue of homosexuality in Islam is very clear, but the “grey area” is whether it is considered “apostasy”.
Director and Founder of Ebrahim College, Shams Ad-Duha Muhammad told 5 Pillarz: “There are three issues. Firstly, Islam does not accept homosexuality. Secondly, there is a consensus on the matter of free mixing and segregation in mosques, this will never change.
“Women who feel they don’t get equal access to mosques due to cultural biasness need to know this is not from Islam. Women should be facilitated for, this needs to be addressed and is open for discussion.”
Muslims should always resist calls from outside to reform our religion which goes against the Quran, Sunnah, Ijma Sahabah and juristic traditions.”
“Being a homosexual does not necessarily mean you’re an apostate. It comes down to whether the individual perceives homosexuality as ideologically justified, has committed isolated acts or gets homosexual urges. As far as we’re concerned, gays are like any other Muslims who sin, we are all sinners and sinners are welcome in any mosque. Whoever said homosexuals aren’t welcome in mosques is talking nonsense.”
Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Taji Mustafa said: “In the West, we see increasing attempts to invent a “Western” Islam that claims that Islamic guidance from the All knowing Creator is not clear on matters such as same-sex relationships. An Islam designed to suit Western tastes, not the Islam revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (saw).”
Other Islamic organizations that 5 Pillarz have contacted also confirmed their opposition to the IMI like IERA and the Hittin Institute.
The Muslim Council of Britian (MCB), Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) and the Lancashire Council of Mosques which comprises of 60 mosques declined to comment on the matter.
Earlier this year 500 Muslim leaders, imams, institutions and mosques signed a petition against the Same Sex Marriage policy and it seems that the Muslim community will unite again in condemning the IMI.
5Pillarz forwarded some questions to IMI and asked for an interview, they chose not to comment.