Mufti Qabbani Issues Fatwa against Civil Marriageإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani issued a fatwa on Monday against moves to legalize civil marriages inside the country.
The religious edict came a day after President Michel Suleiman tweeted that he would remain steadfast in supporting such unions, while Prime Minister Najib Miqati wrote on his Twitter account that a consensus was required to address the issue.
Qabbani issued the fatwa branding as an apostate any Muslim politician who approves civil marriage legislation.
"Any Muslim with legal or executive authority in Lebanon who supports the legalization of civil marriage is an apostate and outside the religion of Islam," he said on the website of Dar al-Fatwa.
"There are predators lurking among us, trying to sow the bacteria of civil marriage in Lebanon, but they should know that the religious scholars will not hesitate to do their duty" and prevent the passage of such a bill.
Qabbani said offenders would not be eligible to be buried in a Muslim cemetery.
Suleiman had tweeted that he would "respond to the evolution and aspirations of the people and prepare the appropriate laws for the issue of civil marriage."
"There are authorities opposed to civil marriage, but this will not sway my convictions or my quest to put the train on the right track," he said in another tweet.
But after meeting Suleiman on Sunday, Prime Minister Najib Miqati tweeted in Arabic "the current circumstances do not allow us to address new controversial topics that create divisions."
He added in English: "I believe that the civil marriage issue cannot be dealt with from a top-down approach."
The campaign for civil marriage in Lebanon has gained momentum with a daring initiative to create new jurisprudence.
Kholoud Sukkarieh and Nidal Darwish announced earlier this month they had wed as a secular couple by having their religious sects legally struck from their family registers under an article dating from the 1936 French mandate.
Suleiman has since lobbied for a civil marriage law as a "very important step in eradicating sectarianism and solidifying national unity."