The founder of what has been dubbed the ‘Open Mosque’ set to be launched this week says their focus is gender equity; and have no ties to any organizations lobbying for equity between people of differing sexual orientations within the fold of Islam.
This comes after a week of heavy rotation on social media of Dr. Taj Hargey’s organization and institution being labelled a ‘gay’ mosque. But in an official statement on Monday, Hargey said these statements are “malicious rumours and groundless allegations”.
“We unreservedly confirm that we are not a gay organisation. We reject with contempt the unsubstantiated charges leveled against us that we are connected with people who are gay. The Open Mosque is an entirely independent non-sectarian institution that prides itself in having no formal links with other Muslim groups, let alone homosexuals or lesbians. We are a Qur’anic-centric mosque where Islam’s transcendent text is our sole constitution and supreme guidance,” Hargey said in the statement to VOC.
He said the mosque focuses solely on gender equity, citing extracts from the Qur’an in which men and women were allowed to pray together during the time of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
“We are a completely non-sectarian mosque, which means that we are not interested if someone is Sunni or Shi’ah, Wahhabi or Salafi, Tablighi or Sufi, Shafi or Hanafi. We heed the authentic sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his original mosque in Madinah where there were no separate entrances for the sexes or artificial screens and barriers separating the genders inside the prayer hall. We follow the pristine practice of Islam’s prophet who did not belong to any sect, group or madhab (school of thought) and where all believers as well as adherents of other faiths were warmly welcomed in the House of God,” he explained.
While there remains contention over the ‘open’ aspect of the mosque, another concern that has reared its head is the possible Ahmadi agenda. Accusations have been levelled by members of the Muslim community that Hargey belongs to the Ahmadiyya sect, which is considered out of the fold of mainstream Islam.
During a brief telephonic conversation with VOC on Monday, Hargey said, “I want to clear this up, this comes from some people related to me being part of it, but it does not mean I must be painted the same as them. If your brother were a communist it doesn’t mean you are too by default.”
He added that if the libellous allegations against him and his institution continue he will not hesitate to take legal action against the parties seen to be perpetuating these statements.
“If any one seeks to falsely portray the Open Mosque other than what we actually are by defaming, libelling and smearing us or to label us wrongly as gay or homosexual, we will institute legal proceedings against them and seek maximum punitive damages for such baseless accusations.” VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)