Muslim council secretary general 'forced to resign' after attending gay son's wedding

A mother says she has been forced to resign as secretary general of an Islamic faith organisation after she attended the marriage of her gay son.

Earlier this month, a gay Muslim man named Ali Reza married his partner Paul in Vancouver. 

It comes after a couple who had one of the UK’s first same-sex marriages involving a Muslim partner received online abuse, some from fellow Muslims.

One of first Muslim same-sex marriages takes place in UK

Ali Reza’s family gave their full support and celebrated the wedding, but they soon became the target of public condemnation from leaders of their Shia Ithna-Asheri sect, also known as Khoja.

A petition was started calling for Ali Reza’s mother, Siddika, to resign from her position as secretary general of NASIMCO (the Organisation of North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities).

The petition, which received nearly 1,000 signatures, said: “It is indisputable that the Secretary General, [Siddika], took part in the same-sex wedding of her son. The wedding was celebrated openly and proudly, with #AliandPaul2017 hashtag on social media.

“While we believe it is not necessary to extensively or deeply examine the personal lives of the members of NASIMCO, this incident cannot be dismissed as ‘the personal lives of [Ali Reza’s] family.’

“Traditionally, a wedding is a public demonstration of a relationship. This sin was not done in private, but rather was publicly celebrated and promoted. It goes against the legitimate majoritarian interpretations of Jaffari fiqh, which NASIMCO must uphold.”

It also for the resignation of the organisation’s president, Mohammad A Dewji, saying he knew about the wedding in advance but failed to condemn it. 

ali-reza-paul-facebook2.jpg

Ali Reza and Paul cut the cake at their wedding in Vancouver (Facebook)

The groom’s mother, Siddika, was forced to resign from her position at NASIMCO.

Her resignation notice, sent in the form of an open letter, describes how she came to accept her son’s homosexuality and support his marriage to Paul. 

She wrote: “For us this is about standing up for Ali’s God given right to live a life that would not be filled with the burden of religious guilt and compounded by communal scorn and societal shame.

“The guilt and the scorn could potentially drown anyone and effect the human character. Many turn to drugs and alcohol (social vices) and some commit suicide.”

She added: “We chose not to have that for our son. We wanted him to be the best human being possible.

“When he chose Paul, we agreed to support him to settle down. It has been a painful and challenging journey that only a mother can understand.”

Siddika also said: “In moments of darkness, I realised that the only way for Ali to live an authentic life and not have to hide and fear rejection was to give him space to reach his human potential as God’s creation.”

In a Tweet, NASIMCO also said its president, Mohamed A Dewji, and vice-president, Sukaina Sumar-Ebrahim, had resigned, though it is unclear whether this is linked to the outcry.

A statement from Mr Dewji posted on 12 July said: “NASIMCO strongly rejects recent allegations that suggest the organisation condones and advocates for behaviour that is considered to be un-Islamic.

“We strive to uphold and promote the values, ideals and practices of the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri faith. Any information to the contrary is false and misleading.

“In regard to the specific matter highlighting the private life of a NASIMCO official, we assure all community members that we are looking into the issue quite seriously and will address it in an appropriate and timely manner.”

The Independent has contacted Ali Reza and Siddika, as well as NASIMCO, for comment.

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