The Death of Lebanese Civil Marriage

Khouloud and Nidale are a couple that distracted everyone from the utter failure of our politicians at coming up with an electoral law last week with them using loopholes in Lebanon’s political system to have a civil marriage in Beirut. Everyone was abuzz with what the couple did.

But, as is the case with Lebanon, not all reactions were positive and their marriage left us with more questions than answers (link).

The first official reaction to the marriage was Lebanon’s president Michel Suleiman who expressed his support to what Khouloud and Nidale did, voicing the need for civil marriage in Lebanon. His statement was also echoed by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al Raï.

Soon enough, our prime minister Najib Mikati was the first to shoot down hope of ratifying a proposal to have legalize marriage in Lebanon because we “don’t need such controversial issues at the time being.” It eventually culminated with Lebanon’s justice minister announcing that Khouloud and Nidale’s marriage was, in fact, illegal and will not be accepted.

And we thought that was it – we had a brief stint with the possibility of our country maybe becoming civil. But Lebanon’s civil marriage drama was renewed today when the Sunni mufti, Kabbani, decided to captivate us with his take on the issue by issuing the following fatwa (link):

“Whoever of Lebanon’s Muslim politicians in legislative power agrees to legalize and ratify civil marriage – even if optional – will be considered an apostate and a deserter of the Muslim religion. He won’t be washed, entombed, prayed on and buried in Muslim cemeteries.”

And with one of Lebanon’s main sects absolutely refusing any prospect of civil marriage in Lebanon, the issue has been killed probably to no return anytime soon. Many people agree with him as well.

What Mufti Kabbani is failing to realize is that he doesn’t live in a country where his sharia is applied to everyone and when he effectively shoots down a national proposition of this magnitude, he is limiting everyone’s freedom of choice – not only the Muslims that he wants to fight for.

What Mufti Kabbani seems not to know is that for $2000 his Muslim population can hop on the first plane to Cyprus, get married and be back in Lebanon that same afternoon. What he is failing to realize is that the point of an optional civil marriage is precisely that: it is optional. Those who want have a civil marriage, regardless of religion, should be free to have one. And those who want a pure Muslim or Christian marriage regardless of their reasons could have one as well. Why should it be the entire country’s problem if he’s worried that, when given another option, many of his Muslims would opt out of an Islamic marriage?

I fail to see how an optional civil marriage is degrading to the rights of Muslims. I fail to see how such a fatwa is Lebanon’s mufti fighting for the rights of his Muslims. Whoever of his Muslims doesn’t want a civil marriage and believes it is blasphemy can simply not have one.

We are now a country that threatens with apostasy to make a point. We are now a country that has fatwas target civil liberties. Last time I checked, that existed in places that we ridiculed as having no freedom of speech and whatnot. It turns out we may not be much better. Thank you Mufti Kabbani for the eye opening realization.

24 thoughts on “The Death of Lebanese Civil Marriage

  1. *sigh* Whenever we have any glimpse of hope for something positive to happen in this country, they just kill it for us… We need civil marriage in Lebanon not because we need it to be available (bcoz like u said, we can just jump to Cyprus, tie the knot and jump back to leb the same day). We need civil marriage bcoz we need religion to stop dictating us and to stop limiting us. Religion should be something between each individual and God, not something between so-called religious men (or politicians) and the citizens of the country. Religion should empower us, not limit us. I can’t believe I am saying that, but maybe we do need a “Klink revolution” after all…


  2. Okay i am not the right person to talk about Islam Fatawa and Rules But what i am sure of is that the main point in the marriage in Islam is declaring the union and the relationship of the couple to the world .. what is known as “al ish-har” and this goal can be achieved by civil marriage (although this union is preferred to be in the “religious” way BUT whoever gets a civil marriage is NOT a KAFER!!) .. And what the Mofti just did is expiating a huge number of Muslims because they agreed or chose not to have the sacred union abiding by the “religion” ..  Excuse me for this, but this mofti does not represent me as a Muslim and he’s the last one to refer to in the emerging issues especially after his son’s scandals (for which he shouldn’t be washed or prayed on or buried in muslim cemeteries) .. Using Allah and speaking on the behalf of Allah is NOT justified


    • Precisely. Regardless of what religion states, people should know that this isn’t against religion but this gives an option to those who don’t want to have a religious marriage or have religion dictate everything to maybe – just maybe – feel freer.


  3. Who expected otherwise? Hes a religious leader, its his duty to defend what his religion says or what he believes it says. Politicians’ duty, on the other hand, is to secure citizens’ rights, including those of who dont share religious leaders’ beliefs. Blame be given to the politicians who let these leaders dictate these last citizens’ lives


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