Vice-President of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan on Thursday called on the leaders of religious communities in Lebanon to form a committee to discuss the adoption of civil marriage in the country.
"An extensive study of civil marriage must be undertaken,” Qabalan stated during a meeting with a delegation of Lebanese student and youth organizations.
He remarked: “The investigation needs to take into consideration religious laws and concerns and it should be beneficial to the people”.
Meanwhile, the Religious Evangilization Committee of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council stated on Thursday its rejection of civil marriage for “ethical, constitutional, doctrinal and national concerns”.
“This union contradicts with the constitutional form of marriage adopted in the country and it is a revolution on the Lebanese culture of citizenship,” the committee said in a released statement.
It added: "Civil marriage threatens the concept of family founded on ethical and spiritual grounds".
The statement referred to several articles in the Lebanese constitution to describe the handling of personal affairs by religious authorities as a “source of richness and cultural diversity in Lebanon not a matter of a political debate that has long divided the people”.
"Religious marriage does not contradict with a civil and secular state,” the committee stated, adding that it preserves communities' “ethical and ideological privacy”.
It expressed: "Allowing a minority to infiltrate the historical cultural structure of the country is an attack on and a threat to both Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon”.
The statement urged political and religious communities to “thoroughly reflect and use their wisdom before expressing their views on this issue.
Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani had issued a fatwa on Monday against moves to legalize civil marriages inside the country.
Qabbani branded as an apostate any Muslim politician who approves civil marriage legislation, saying offenders would not be eligible to be buried in a Muslim cemetery.
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.
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."
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."
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