18 September, 2021

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Lifting The Veil Of MMDA Reforms – Quazi Court

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” wrote Edward L. Bernays in 1928, in his influential book “Propaganda“. 

The purported reforms to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) are an exercise similar to the above quote. Specifically relating to the new recommendations namely to undermine the Quazi Court system and the abolition of polygamy. These came neither from a collective of respected personalities from the Muslim community nor from a collaboration of any reputed Muslim organisations. And, the jewel in the Crown is that none of the government appointed Committees had ever made recommendations to that effect. It is being influenced by those whom the larger Muslim community have never heard of.

These practices form part of the unmistakable collective spirit and character of the Muslim community handed down from antiquity. They are so deeply embedded that they cannot be separated from the cultural ethos of the community. In other words, they constitute the ‘conscience’ referred to in Article 10 of the constitution.

The Supreme Court of India in S.P. Mittal Etc. vs Union Of India And Others said: “Any Freedom or Right involving the conscience must naturally receive a wide interpretation and the expression ‘religion’ and ‘religious denomination’ must therefore, be interpreted in no narrow, stifling sense but in a liberal, expansive way.” (1983 SCR (1) 729). Freedom of conscience is not to be separated from the Right to profess, practice and propagate religion. They go together and together they form part of the Right to Freedom of Religion.

They Don’t Care

The overall ignorance of the Muslim public and its ‘don’t care’ attitude on certain matters provide a conducive environment for agenda driven interests. The larger segment of the Muslims who are poor are more worried of their next meal than fashionable ‘women’s rights’.

Do the majority of the Muslim women want reforms to MMDA? The clear and unequivocal answer is that the larger Muslim community is not bothered at all. This is the truth. Let us do a simple calculation and analysis using empirical evidence. The Muslim population in this country is approximately 9% which totals to approximately 2 million. Of the total population of Sri Lanka, those between the ages of 15 – 59 is around 12,707,000 as per 2012 Department of Census and Statistics. How much is 9% of this overall figure? It works out to 1.1 million Muslims.

Ask this 1.1 million Muslim people both men and women, the following questions:

1. Are you aware that MMDA requires serious reforms?

2. Are you demanding for the repeal of the MMDA?

3. Are you supporting the abolition of Polygamy and Quazi court system?

4. Are you protesting that you are being mistreated under the MMDA?

5. As a woman, do you shout asking for women’s rights?

The answer to all these questions from the 1.1 million will be a resounding “NO”. Except for a few hundreds. This means, to begin with, the vast majority of Muslims are not disturbed about the MMDA and are not concerned with any of the questions above. Now ask these same people the following questions:

1. Do you know that Islam permits multiple marriages?

2. Do you know that Muslim marriage (Nikah) and divorce (Talaq) are matters related to religion?

3. Do you know that Muslim marital affairs are looked into by the Quazi court?

The answer to all of these will be an emphatic, “YES”.

The arithmetic above clearly demarcates the boundaries of the discussion between the million and the very, very few that is absolutely insignificant relatively. It is reasonable for the readers to curiously question then, who are these people protesting and making a loud noise about the MMDA? To be fair it must be acknowledged that this is a democratic state and freedom of association and expression is a constitutional right. So, anyone has the right to make a noise. Therefore, let us leave aside the “few” and focus on the core issues that really impacts on the vast majority of a million people.

Centuries Old Muslim Laws

Bertram CJ in the Supreme Court observed, “The brief Code of Mohammadan law promulgated in this Colony in 1806 are certain portions of a very great system of jurisprudence.  It … has to be read in the light of the general principle of that jurisprudence.” King v Miskin Umma (26 NLR 330).

The Supreme Court in the above case has unambiguously acknowledged that the Code of Mohammadan law was promulgated in this Colony in 1806 and that it has to be read in the light of the general principle of that jurisprudence. Two elements of relevance in this statement are that it gives evidence of the age of practice of Muslim law in Sri Lanka and the depth of Islamic jurisprudence.

The formal history of the Quazi court begins in 1926 when the British Government appointed distinguished Muslim personalities to a Select Committee Chaired by M.T. Akbar who was the Acting Attorney General. They recommended the establishment of the Quazi Court.

Current Period

In the Report dated 20th December 2017, of the committee appointed to consider amendments to the Muslim Marriage And Divorce Act, its Chairman Justice Saleem Marsoof PC, former Judge of the Supreme Court states as follows:

“Hon Rauf Hakeem, who was then the Minister of Justice, gave details of the progress made by the Committee in his address to Parliament on 9th March 2012. It is also noteworthy that the Hon. Minister of Justice on that occasion was speaking in support of a resolution moved by Hon. A.H.M. Azver seeking the enhancement of the status of the Quazi Court System and with better facilities, which was duly adopted by Parliament.

The above report citing the ‘Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) dated 9th May 2012’ highlights the resolution adopted by Parliament to the following effect: “this Parliament is of the opinion that the Quazi Court System that was established in Sri Lanka under the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Ordinance of 1929 and subsequently amended under the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act in 1951 must be upgraded with powers vested with the Quazi judges to adjudicate upon all matters concerned with disputes arising in Muslim families and also the status of the Quazi Court System must be upgraded in such a manner where sittings be held in premises congenial to the dignity of the system and as the Quazi judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission they should be placed on a respectable and an acceptable salary structure payable to other judicial officers.” 

Hyperbolic Or Hypocritical

It is tragic that without focusing on what really needs to be done, energy is being directed towards trying to abolish or undermine the Quazi Court system. The natural conclusion that the community can arrive at is that this has more to do with everything other than sincere reforms to the MMDA.

Condemning the Quazi system based on delays and abuse is not a convincing argument. Such allegations only depict the extent to which one labours to make a mountain out of a molehill. Or, like someone remarked this is an act of deception to mislead the public because even in the regular courts these problems do occur.

No Police Training – Scotland Yard

Corruption and abuse are rampant almost everywhere in this country. Scotland yard stopped training police, was a recent news item. Police Scotland has put a controversial scheme to train officers in troubled Sri Lanka on hold amid criticism from global watchdogs. The global watchdog has reported a surge in police abuses in Sri Lanka during the pandemic, including extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention. (The Times, 13.08.2021). Is the Police Ordinance going to be scrapped because of the abusive practices of a few policemen?

Provide the resources and facilities to ensure that the Quazi System functions efficiently. Revisit the appointment procedures and enhance the system to enable qualitative and efficient results.

It has been argued that if MMDA deprives ‘rights’ so do parts of the General Marriage Registration Ordinance (GMRO) and other personal laws. If Quazis are allegedly called abusive; So, can someone allegedly call some of the judges as the same. After all, why is it clearly laid down in the Constitution as follows with regard to the Judges.

“The Judicial Service Commission is hereby vested with the Power to – (a) transfer judges of the High Court; (b) appoint, promote, transfer, exercise disciplinary control and dismiss judicial officers and scheduled public officers.” (Article 111H. (1)).

Why should the Constitution provide for the disciplinary control and dismissal of judicial officers? Judicial officers are not angels. In the same vein Quazis are not angels too. They are fallible. Like you and me, they are also human beings and are subjected to human weaknesses. Therefore, to only blame the Quazis and the Quazi system is irrational, illogical, indefensible and untenable if one is sincerely and truly interested in justice and reforms.

Therefore, I humbly urge everyone involved in this reform effort to please think independently, fairly and to act reasonably.

“Act well your part, there all the honour lies.” (Alexander Pope).

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Latest comments

  • 4
    14

    “These came neither from a collective of respected personalities from the Muslim community nor from a collaboration of any reputed Muslim organisations.”
    Come on Usuf, what is your idea (hypocrite definition) on “Collective, Respected, Wide, no narrow, stifling sense but in a liberal, expansive way”? in a multicultural country like Lankawe? Just only the “1M Muslims Men ” in Lankawe out of the 7B world population”? Tell us something about which other country in the world has MMDA, which is more draconian than Sharia.
    “And, the jewel in the Crown is that none of the government appointed Committees had ever made recommendations to that effect “ So who brought MMDA, not commissions appointed by the Appe Aanduwa, but the LLSP’s labor unions, who were staging anti-government Hartal, those days? What is your point, honestly?
    “ It is being influenced by those whom the larger Muslim community have never heard of.” Sorry man, if the “larger Muslim Community” didn’t hear What is UN’s Charter of Human Right, you need to think in superlative: Would the largest world Muslim community may have heard about the UN?

  • 4
    15

    “These practices form part of the unmistakable collective spirit and character of the Muslim community handed down from antiquity You mean Muslim religion is the antiquity in Religions? Then there are 1,000 reasons why you haven’t heard about the UN so far. Muslim religion is youngest one in all important religions. Anyway, what antiquity has to do with the UN charter of Human rights, especially UN is an organization that came out because of last century world wars. Muslim religion was born in the deserts during the high turmoil time, to win the enemies. The UN was created after the world’s largest religious war, to ensure that the people can live with freedom, without any kind of oppression from anyone man can have over another.
    “They go together and together they form part of the Right to Freedom of Religion. “ Your freedom of religion is explicitly calling for prison for women for no apparent reason, by Quasi men, not by any court of law.
    “ Do the majority of the Muslim women want reforms to MMDA? Are you asking me or Muslim women? In the Justice Saleem commission, just four women participated but they influenced the positive side of the reform. All religious heads unanimously influenced the negative side. You still didn’t hear about the UN, so how can I expect you to know this.

  • 3
    15

    “The larger segment of the Muslims who are poor are more worried of their next meal than fashionable ‘women’s rights’. “ I know non fashionable poor women are easy to keep and handle as slaves; but it is your stupidity that raises that matter. So, let me ask you a question. If a man marry 4s under MMDA and busy typing “Talak, Talak, Talak” on his cell phone screen while leaving the fours in the Cuisinee to grind the Pol Sambol on the Meal Stone, then how is your economics theory proposing the women become get fair with men in income like other women from the countries where the labor laws say, they should be equally educated, job trained, equally employed and be paid equally. Don’t you think, four men to a woman or even at least one to one can ease the Muslim women’s economic condition? Could you broaden your mentality and talks to Nobel Prize winning Economists and ask them how to make Muslim women get richer in equal to the men from the Lankawe’s richest community, Muslims. And I need help from you. How do you reconcile this? In Lankawe Muslim society (men Only?) is the richest. As per you, Muslim women cannot afford fancy women rights because they are the poorest in the country.

  • 3
    16

    Is that because the antiquity of the religion is separating them from other women and holding them as the poorest in the nation, or Muslim-Sinhala government is masterminding to use Muslim men Modaya as a weapon against Tamils and creating all these chaotic dramas? Why should the Muslim women not reach out other women, who can think wider, (Specially the influential Western Province women) to advocate for their rights?
    “those between the ages of 15 – 59 is …………. overall figure works out to 1.1 million Muslims. Ask this 1.1 million Muslim people both men and women, the following questions:” Ha ha Ha aha. Usuf, is this the new Lankawe Taliban Band you propose to emerge as the advocates of the antique Muslims religion? in Lankawe? So, these women want to grind the Meal Stones in the kitchen, not type super programing codes on the hi-tech computers in the offices, where they can get jobs, while their mates are getting training to type Talak on their cell phone.
    Bertram CJ in the Supreme Court observed, “The brief Code of Mohammadan law promulgated in this Colony in 1806 are certain portions of a very great system of jurisprudence. It … has to be read in the light of the general principle of that jurisprudence.” King v Miskin Umma.

  • 4
    16

    King v Miskin Umma case was about a Muslim man and his daughter were prisoned because the woman remarried after properly having divorced her first husband, and father abetted the illegal marriage because her first husband was alive. Guys this time I think I have not made much spelling mistake or didn’t put any unwanted “not” or missed any necessary “not”. Bertram CJ refused to accept the devoice papers signed by a maulana, another Muslim. It was customary a Tamil, Sinhala, colonial woman remarrying after a lawful divorce. Unfortunately, under Muslim law, no woman can divorce a man. At this point I urge the readers to read the whitewashing questions Usuf has suggested to ask from his Taliban Band. After sending the father and daughter to prison, the CJ stickily warned the woman not to take the Muslim laws so naively. The Kegalle Sinhala judge who took the case first saved him by reserving the case. I don’t know how the Maulana escaped not going to prison? Is that possible he might have written off his Tea and Rubber estates to the CJ, a brother to Hangbangtota Help? Now you can guess where Usuf’s long to be expected to end.

  • 5
    15

    These are the jihadies carrying their guns to save the antiquity if the Islam.

    Usuf, I give up man, here; I stop here; I don’t see that you have written one sentence that makes common sense! it is not your fault writing this garbage, because you dedicated to your lifetime profession of misguiding the societies, but it is our fault reading it.

    • 17
      4

      “Usuf, I give up man, here; I stop here; “

      Thank God for that. Please Don’t start again with your DRIVEL. With Muslim Hating Tamils like you, there can NEVER be any Understanding and Goodwill between Muslims and Tamils. Of course, that is the Last thing in your Callous mind.

      • 4
        18

        Muhanthiram Thullukan. Sri Lankan Muslims, even the 5% with part Arab ancestry are all Thamizh by ethnicity and Muslim by religion. Stop posting nonsense, pretending being a Muslim is an ethnicity. It is not an ethnic but a religious identity. Your ethnicity is Thamizh and religion is Islam. Ethnicity and religion are two different things. It is Islamic fanatics and the powere hungry Muslim politicians and elite, who are deliberately creating a rift between the island’s Muslim Thamizh and other Thamizh. in the name of Islam and a so called Arab origin that only around 5% of the island’s Muslim population partially have. The rest are all Dravdian Thamizh converts to Islam, now being brainwashed to hate their own origin and ethnicity in the name of Islam, by these 5% part Arabs, who themselves are are around 75-80% of Thamizh Dravidian ancestry.

        • 17
          3

          STOP your CRAP

        • 16
          1

          @PK .
          I believe Muhanderam is a Muslim.
          You can tell by his comments

          btw what is Thamizh ?🤔

  • 14
    0

    As a baic Muslim , I do not know the technicality of the( Sunni Schools) Sharia.
    But it would be a great injustice to abolish polygamy all together.
    The problem with Sri Lanka is ,they have not got it right yet how to make decisions , You can not change situations overnight, you don’t start by banning , you begin with reforms , it is niethet practical or wise to change laws without thoughts of the consequence that will follow by hasty decisions.
    No matter what the decisions are about , enviorment or religous laws of a community,.it should always begin with reforms and not banning.
It is unreasonable to deny sacred rights of a community’s religion and it sums to total insenitiveness
towards a community’s emotions.
    Before repealing laws of a community,understanding the reason and benefit it has is a responsibility to those who have become decision makers to deny of a Commumity of one million plus members sacred freedoms and rights.
    I agree at present there are many misuse of polygamy , but abolishing is not the answer , if its all about lust as usual the rich man will not miss a thing if not in lanka he will find a young thing in a poorer nation.

  • 14
    0

    Islamic polygamy is permitted especially to protect Muslim divorcees ,widows and their children.
    Divorcees and Widows are most vulnerable.
    what is required is to reform the polygamy act and not banning it.

    • 0
      15

      If I were living in 1806, I might have been hanged by CJ Bertram for ridiculing his judgement compared with Hangbangtota Help fame, Buffoon de Silva. But if some had made the British administration to hang Don Stephen in 1915, for his anti-Muslims riots, Ceylon might have remained in the British ways still. We might have transferred the additional 200-year civilization they have attained in the past. Then, right after the passing of the UNHRC, Resolution 30/1, the Ceylon government might have investigated the Genocide criminal King and hanged him, too.
      Then just like in Britain, A Muslims woman can divorce any man as many times as she feels that they are dangerous in her life and still she will be able to take care of herself and her children. Then a Muslim woman, unlike the Tamils, who were captured by Portuguese, that slavery handed over to Netherlands, then to Britain and then their slavery sold to the Wildlife Sanctuary, she need not to suffer one slavery to another until her soul depart the body, reach the upper world to be as fifth or sixth, or 72nd to jihadis or, unknown trillion th wife for the almighty man Allah.

  • 0
    16

    Let’s think about this: In the 1950s. Lankawe was a good country (though only 2m/20m) and invented MMDA and enabled religion respecting Muslim men to divorce with talak and saved the women by finding another slavery, under another religion obeying man. But Lankawe Aanduwa was bad at 18/20, because it didn’t either change all men woman be Muslims and save all of them all under MMDA or creating SMDA and TMDA another two Sharia versions, and save the Sinhala and Tamil men and women by making them to obey law if they are not obeying Islam. On the other hand, if you think another way: in a country where there is no anarchy like the Lankawe or Islamic Emirate, and if a government is present, won’t she be able to live on earth as a free woman, even if she will be forced to marry as one in 72 for a jihadists in heaven?
    The hell on the earth is created by man, in the name of saving their gods. The hell in heaven was created by Gods in the name of saving men. If these two damn rotten were not there the earth and the heaven would have been two beautiful serine.

  • 0
    16

    It seems to the divorce rate was too high in heaven than Lankawe at the time of these laws were created. Because if a man marry four woman in Lankawe it will save all the divorced women, but in the heaven, it has to be 72.
    I don’t know why we make our selves as sex addicts and stupids by creating these imaginative laws.

  • 14
    0

    Yes agree 100 % about the divorce system must change , women should have the same privelege ad men do,but what uspets me is when people of other religions, athiests and othersn link Sunni Sharia with all Islamic branches.
    It is not so,each Islamic branch of Muhamadan Fraternity, that is Shia Jafari( the 2nd largest after Sunni) The Shia Zaidys, Ismaili Agakhanis , Ismaili Thayabis ( all three borahs) have their own incorprated laws based on Quran and Sunnah and hadees of their own branches and schools
    The Quranists only depend on the Quran,I do not know beyound that about them.
    The ( Neo) Mu’tazilite , also depend on the Quran, but not tradtions , they are 100% Rationalists.The follow the law of the land as long as it does not deny the obligations of the faith , they use modern Science and philosophy as long as they do not have to compromise their Thoweed( strict none compromise Monothiesm). They do not have sharia, but some of the laws in the Quran that is beneficial is adopted with independent reasoning, but do not endorse any copral punishment or death sentence.

  • 14
    0

    btw people who imagine Islamic God aka in Arabic Allah is a person or man have reached that conclusion drawing similarities from the background of their religions.
    Islamic belief is God has no form , Quran has to be read with reasoning some as metaphors.
    I believe so with The Virgin of paradise , whenever the word virgin is mentioned most men can only assume the private part of a women, it’s real meaning is purity, they are actually Spritual beings of companions , I believe all humans will be res

  • 14
    0

    btw people who imagine Islamic God aka in Arabic Allah is a person or man have reached that conclusion drawing similarities from the background of their religions.
    Islamic God has no form , Quran contains many metaphors.
    I believe so with The Virgin of paradise , whenever the word virgin is mentioned, most men can only assume the private part of a women, it’s real meaning is purity, they are actually Spritual beings of companions , I believe all humans will be resurrected as Spritual beings , sort of Angelised.

  • 14
    0

    After long years of independent research and reasoning about the Sri Lanka Local Muslims , I fully agree we are not Arab decendents , it would be impossible to have almost 2 million with the few Arabs who may have come via India.I niether agree of any ethinic fusion of Afgans , Malays or anyother , Afgans were a few immigrants during British and were very Jewish in practicing usury and malays have been a closed community preserving their culture and language.
    The closest I can agree is Sri Lanka Yonaka or Sonahar Muslims are an indeginous people, who have been in the Island as long as The Indeginous Sinhalese and Tamils.
    Until Proven otherwise by DNA , I accept my ethnicity as Yonaka aka Sonahar by a ethinic fusion of native Sinhala and native Tamil ,not moorish even by an atom and same with Arab ; Malay or Afgan.they are all Myths.
    Rubbing it in with insult of refering as low cast is no issue for us , because cast system is the most cruel and inhuman system a certain people created to oppress a segment of people and deny dignity. .
    But in Islam all humans are equal as the teeth of a Comb.

    • 0
      16

      They are not descended from local Chingkallams or Thamizh but from South Indian Thamizh Muslim immigrants. Just look at the Thamizh dialect spoken by the Muslims, esepcial;y the southern Muslims. It is an Indian Thamizh dialect. Look at the family.clan names, Marrikar, Lebbai, Rawther, Kayala, Kutti ETC. All Indian Thamizh Muslim caste/clan names. Some of these male South Indian Thamizh Muslim immigrants may have married Chingkalla and local Thamizh women, definitely in the eastern province, the female line amongst all the eastren province Muslim is from the indigenous Hindu Mukkuva. This is why the eastern Muslims until they got Arabized a decade or two ago were following the eastern Hindu matriarcal Kudi system and the Hindu Mukkuva law of the native eastern Thamizh.

  • 11
    0

    @Usuf.
    q1= A= Yes The MMDA NEEDS a Complete reform amd sent to the cleaners.

    2) No, not repeal but a complete reform.

    3) As for polygamy I have given my opinion , it should not be abolished but introduce strict reforms that will only be legal for divorcees , Widows to consider a polygamous marraige , with exception for a man whose wife is unable to concieve a child.

    Men who wishes to engage in a polygamous marraige ,should provide evidence of financial resources to maintain a extra spouse and children it is responsibility to foster them.

    Along with it a written permission by the first wife attested by a lawyer with two witness must be included All Nikas of polygamy marraiges must be registered.

    to be cont.

  • 11
    0

    @.mmda reforms

    cont.
    3/2.
    Quazi court must be fully abolished, it has tomuch leverage for corruption.
    A new and separate ordinance with the reforms must be drawn and endorsed under the Land’s family court or whichever it needs to come under..

  • 11
    0

    @mmda
    4..
    The ones who really need to protest , are the gullible,ignorant,and mostly the uneducated and those who are oppressed by their community and women of poor and among the common are the largest among the lot.

    So its also the duty muslim men to give them the rights and protection in reverence to the wombs that bore you, not just the feminists.

  • 11
    0

    @mmda
    5= please refer to answer of question. number 4 it is the same

  • 11
    0

    @Mr.Usuf ,
    How is it rational to assume just because majority in numbers by women who are ingnorant of thier rights, uneducated,too poor to standup against mistreatments, fear the attitude of the community, their children’s welfare and fear of being exploited, endup in adivorce by their protest agree with Muslim misogynists be taken as an endorsement of yes?

  • 11
    0

    @ mmda
    do you know Muslim Nika and Talaq are related to Islam ?
    Yes and varies among The Sunni
    Schools ,Shia Zaydis , Shia Jafaries, Ismaili Aga khanis and The Borhas differ alot..

    However here the Question, I understand is about the Sunnis , if I am wrong, someone please update me , as The local Ismailis and Borhas information is not accessible at all ,so I think the MMDA only covers Sunnis.
    You can”t hold onto age old traditions and claim it like a devine command, Sharia is not devine, it has been drawn up by men ,wheather it was partly from quran and tradtion, Sharia is a law of man not God and Quran approves
    theologians to draw the set of law at the same time it also gives them full authority to use independent reasoning by considering the benefit of Commumity

    So The Nika and Talaq must be reformed.

  • 2
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  • 0
    3

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  • 2
    0

    I would also like to include the women’s position , where she is able to concieve due to any medical problem with the man, in that case, she should have the freedom to decide if she should seek a divorce without any hindrance and chose to marry someone of her choice, it would be totally unfair not to offer that previlege to a Women when the medical issus is with the man.

  • 2
    0

    Excuse typos .meant to say women who are unable to concieve due medical issues of the husband

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