Pushing Islam to extreme

While the local government of the two towns of Maguindanao del Sur earned accolades from the disciples of the strict Wahabbi-Salafi Muslims, others criticized them for going out of the bounds of Islam.

A bit of news item got my curiosity last week. It’s not a front-page story. But a golf mate mentioned it after a round of golf. It’s something about how believers blinded by their passion and intense devotion to following the teaching of their religion tend to push its dogma to the extreme, and in the process transgress the human rights of others.

The report datelined Sharief Aguak, Maguindanao del Sur, said the “third class town with a population of around 35,000 has imposed stricter measures against members of the LGBTQ community . . . (imposing) “a ban for the gays to wear cross-dresses in public places.” As if to console those affected, the Secretary of the municipal government says “members of the LBGTQ community are welcome to live, do business and visit our municipality.”

But the prohibition did not stop there. “The local government also required women to wear hijab in public places… restaurants and markets (and) that penalties will be imposed for violators like community service.” It explained it to be an ordinance since 2019 “in line with upholding and respecting the Islamic religious tradition propagated by their forebears.”

Another town in the province was embroiled before under related circumstances. Last year, the media reported that in the town of Ampatuan, the heads of women were forcibly shaved for being lesbian. The reason was that “Islamic beliefs prohibit homosexuality.”

The Commission on Human Rights condemned it. Human rights groups not only in the Philippines but also abroad called for more protection for the LGBTQ community. According to New York-based Human Rights Watch “Nobody should suffer this kind of violence and humiliation because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Moderate and progressive — thinking Muslims believed that what happened in the two towns of Maguindanao del Sur cannot be justified by invoking the Holy Koran. While it is taboo, there is no verse in the scripture that imposes any penalty for one who is a member of the LGTBQ+ community. If at all, it is based on Hadith al Shariff or the sayings of Holy Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, which conservatives invoked. But the Hadith was written several centuries after the death of the prophet and its validity has been subjected to questions and continuing discussions.

The Holy Books — Koran and Bible — both cited the tale of the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorra as the source of the curse against homosexuality. It was written that Almighty God has warned Prophet Lot (Lut) about the immorality of His people. The saints, in the guise of men sent to warn them, were even subjected to homosexual advances and abuse. And because of this, the Divine Creator punished and destroyed them with a “disastrous colossal natural disaster.” Observers noted that the people were punished not specifically for homosexuality but because of the complete disregard for the warning of immorality they have committed.

While the local government of the two towns of Maguindanao del Sur earned accolades from the disciples of the strict Wahabbi-Salafi Muslims, others criticized them for going out of the bounds of Islam. Critics say they forgot that we have a secular government, where a separation of the state and church is sacrosanct. Although the region was granted autonomy thru the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, Philippine laws and not the Shariah still prevail. Our laws respect and protect the human rights of everybody, regardless of gender including homosexuals. It is different with ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, and Afghanistan which are uncompromising in following Islamic teachings, and where homosexuality is a serious crime that entails corporal punishment including death. This extreme interpretation of the Holy Koran gave birth to the advocates of al Bagdadhi’s Caliphate by way of the Islamic States and the Talibans.

The clash between moderate and radical Islam has defined many religions. It’s a tug-of-war between tolerance and unforgiving. Even with time, it does not appear to ebb.

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