Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon's highest Sunni Muslim religious authority, on Monday waded into the renewed debate in the country over the thorny issue of legalizing civil marriage.
The heated discussion was revived by remarks by newly-appointed Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan, who is Lebanon's and the Arab world's first female interior minister.
“The stance of (Grand) Mufti (Sheikh Abdul Latif) Daryan, Dar al-Fatwa, the juristic council and the council of muftis, which categorically rejects and opposes civil marriage in Lebanon, has been well-known for years,” Dar al-Fatwa's press office said in a statement.
“Because it fully contradicts with the rules of Islamic sharia and also violates the stipulations of the Lebanese constitution in terms of the need to respect the personal status law that is applied by the religious courts of the Lebanese,” the office added.
“Accordingly, the draft law cannot be approved in parliament without taking into consideration the viewpoint and stance of Dar al-Fatwa and the rest of religious authorities in Lebanon,” Dar al-Fatwa's press office said.
It also called for “refraining from debating and discussing the issue of civil marriage,” saying “it falls under the jurisdiction of the Lebanese republic's Dar al-Fatwa, which is entrusted with the religion of Islam and the interest of Muslims.”
Al-Hassan's statement has sparked debate between the supporters and opponents of civil marriage in Lebanon.
In an interview with Euronews, the minister said she is personally in favor of having a “framework for civil marriage” in Lebanon.
“I will talk about this issue and seek to open the door for serious and profound dialogue over the topic with all religious authorities and other officials, supported by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, so that civil marriage can be acknowledged,” al-Hassan said.
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