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Friday, May 23, 2014

9 year-olds can marry say Muslim clerics

Not All Religions Are Created Equal
Girls as young as nine years old are eligible to be
married, “if the signs of puberty are visible”.

The Pakistan Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), on Wednesday endorsed its earlier ruling that girls as young as nine years old were eligible to be married, “if the signs of puberty are visible”.

The CII meeting, chaired by Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), also said that most of the clauses of the existing Muslim Marriage Law, 1961, were un-Islamic.

Talking to reporters after the conclusion of a two-day CII meeting, Sheerani criticised the Sindh Assembly, the media and ‘some other segments of society’ for not taking the council’s decisions seriously reports Dawn News.

On March 31, the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution demanding dissolution of the CII and on April 28, the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Bill, 2013, was enacted, which stipulates strict penalties for all parties that compel underage individuals to enter into marriage.

“The primary responsibility of the council is the ‘Islamisation’ of the country’s laws and those opposing our decisions need to reconsider their position,” Sheerani said.

The CII chief said marriages that were solemnized at a time when both individuals were minors were only binding if they were arranged by the wali (father or grandfather) of the two individuals. In cases where marriages were solemnised by someone other than the wali, both individuals had the option to refuse or reconsider upon achieving adulthood.

Clarifying the decision, Sheerani said that a nikah could be performed at any age, but the bride could only start living with the groom after reaching puberty.

He said laws that defined a minimum age for marriage were not Islamic and should be repealed, adding that the council would recommend that parliament amend these laws to bring them in accordance with Islamic principles.

Sheerani also said that section 6 of the Muslim Marriage Law, 1961, which required men to seek permission from their wives before contracting another marriage – was not in accordance with Islamic principles.

The CII had taken up the issue in an earlier meeting held on March 11, 2014, and after detailed deliberations, the points under discussion were finally endorsed on Thursday.

Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani, chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology.
—File/ INP

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