A MUSLIM group has accepted the apology of the Guardian, ­following the publication of an article by ­columnist Kevin Baldeosingh, which was deemed to be offensive to Muslims. And it is calling for other ­Muslims to accept the apology as well, and not to be misled by other leaders of the Islamic faith.

Ummah T&T Muslim Lobby Group, in a news release issued yesterday, stated it rejected calls by other Muslims and Inshan Ishmael, founder of the Islamic Broadcasting Network, to have Guardian editor-in-chief Orin Gordon and Baldeosingh fired from the ­company.

Ishmael was arrested and charged with leading an unauthorised protest on Friday in front of Guardian Media Ltd’s office in Chaguanas. He is expected to ­appear in the Chaguanas Magistrates’ Court today. Ummah T&T chairman Imam Rasheed Karim stated: “Our group agrees with editor-in-chief Orin Gordon that the timing of the publication of the commentary by writer Kevin Baldeosingh was indeed inappropriate, coming as it did on the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday, one of the holiest days of the Islamic calendar.

“Ummah T&T wishes to reiterate that we fully acknowledge freedom of the press which guarantees the right of journalists to practise their trade, which is enshrined as a pillar of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago.

“However, we would like to emphasise that journalists across the board have a great responsibility as the ‘Fifth Estate’ which, in the main, they have zealously carried out, and Ummah T&T will do all in its power to ensure that media practitioners perform their duties unhindered. But we do not appreciate the threats that have been levelled against the Trinidad Guardian and its employees and totally reject all calls for the termination of the employment of Gordon and Baldeo­singh for the acknowledged faux pas,” he added. Karim said the Islamic Prophet Muhammad was one of the most heavily criticised personalities, yet “he bore the barbs of his critics with dignity”.

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No temporary marriages The group is also distancing ­itself from statements made by Imam Muhammad Luqman ­Abdul-Latif, who on Thursday suggested there be “temporary marriages” to curb sexual promiscuity among ­teenagers.

Karim said the suggestion will only humiliate Muslim women.

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Abdul-Latif made the ­suggestion of Nikah al-mut’ah during an open forum on child marriage at the National Library, Port of Spain.

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Nikah al-mut’ah is a form of marriage in which the duration of the marriage and the dowry must be specified.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

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“Ummah T&T states quite unequivocally that there is no justification for ‘temporary marriages’, as Islam stresses the importance of Islam as a long-lasting relationship which bestows unqualified legal rights on both husband and wife.

“In Islamic Shari’ah, temporary marriages are considered adultery or fornication, and are strictly prohibited with serious penalties prescribed for the offenders, and as such cannot be considered as a potential solution for the problem of extra-marital or teenage sexual activity,” said Karim.

“We declare without fear of contradiction that the introduction of mut’ah is against the laws of Islam, and will only serve to humiliate our Muslim sisters and undermine the fabric of the family as clearly ­defined by the Shari’ah.” More emphasis must be placed on proper parenting and teachings instead, he added.

“Great stress is placed on parental guidance, teaching our young people the virtues of modesty, guarding their chastity, pursuance of sound Islamic education to strengthen their moral and ethical moorings to properly equip them so they can make responsible and correct decisions when the time arises.

“Organisers of public discussions which require an input from the Muslim community need to be very circumspect, and exercise their right to adequately vet contributors who must conform to standards that comply with the beliefs of the majority of adherents of the Muslim faith in the country,” said Karim.

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© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

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© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

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