Use Reeaz Khan saga to reflect on personal values regarding sexual conduct - CIOG
Stabroek News
June 5, 2004

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The Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) has referred to the controversy with businessman Reeaz Khan and the 13-year-old girl as "an unfortunate fiasco", saying that it should be used as an opportunity for persons to reflect on themselves, their values and their commitment to God, specifically with regard to sexual conduct.

Numerous women's groups and other organisations have condemned the relationship between Khan and the girl since the saga began, but Director of Education on the Central Executive Council of the CIOG, Kerry Qays Arthur urges that concerned persons should not "degenerate into a self-righteous lynch mob."

In a press release on Thursday, the CIOG official said "with regard to recent incidents made scandalous, where a member of the Muslim community (it did not name Khan) has been accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour, the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana urges that caution be exercised by all commenting parties until the facts are ascertained."

He also offered "points of clarification regarding Mus-lim Sacred Law (Sharia) which have been raised as a result of this matter."

The CIOG director of education noted that though marriage and consummation are permitted once puberty has been reached, it is not always appropriate. He pointed out that the appropriateness or lack thereof, is determined by other factors such as the likelihood of "committing truly sinful acts such as fornication and adultery and to a lesser extent prevailing social norms."

He explained further that fornication (sexual intercourse without marriage), and adultery (sexual intercourse of a married individual with another to whom he/she is not married) are "fatally sinful acts because sexual intercourse is illegitimate and socially and ethically dangerous outside of the institution of marriage."

Khan has been accused of having sexual relations with the 13-year-old and refusing to return her to her mother.

In Muslim Sacred Law, Arthur says, age is a consideration of appropriateness, but impropriety should not be tolerated despite the fact that in Guyana the age of consent is below age fourteen.

However, he contends, the "real issues at stake as we see them are beyond the realm of propriety and more fundamental: the twin evils of fornication and adultery, vices which are pervasive in our society." And he says further, "in light of this fact, one wonders why exactly this incident receives such special attention when it appears that weekly similar or worse atrocities are reported."

Arthur also asserts that the "individual who stands accused (and apparently tried and convicted in the eyes of many) should not be excused if he is guilty of any legal breach. On this the courts will decide, God willing."

The CIOG executive also expressed the view that Muslims need not apologise because the businessman happens to be Muslim, as he is also a Guyanese. But as regards the more serious moral crimes, fornication and adultery, Arthur declares that no one should be excused, although in a secular land such as Guyana, persons are left to decide.

And he refers to the Gospel, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24, KJV). He also quotes Prophet Muhammad, "He who does not show mercy does not receive mercy."