24 September, 2018

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Long Awaited MMDA Report Dusting

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

After nine years of mental perseverance amidst the death of two of its members, the Justice Saleem Marsoof (JSM) committee appointed to consider amendments to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) lodged its report on 22nd January 2018 with the Justice minister Thalatha Athukorala. Although the report not released to the public, a copy of it reached me from an anonymous source. The Muslim community, especially its female sector, expected action to follow promptly so that its decades-long agony over matrimonial injustice ended forever. With a female at the helm as Minister of Justice, Muslim women naturally raised their expectations. It is therefore disappointing that the minister herself after calling for a meeting with JSM committee members on 9th May did not attend, but was deputised by her secretary. Will this report, like several others before and on different subjects, end up in the archives to dust? In the current state of play and with the government and the Joint Opposition getting busier over forthcoming elections that seems to be a strong possibility. 

Although the twenty recommendations in the report do not go far enough to reflect and include the ideological and practical changes on the status of women over the last several decades, yet, there are some progressive recommendations, which if implemented can go a long way in ameliorating some of the injustices caused to Muslim women under the current system. Recommendations regarding higher marriageable age, consent of the bride before marriage, stricter conditions on polygamy, women Qazis and women members in Muslim Marriage and Divorce Advisory Board, women registrars of Muslim marriage, and abolition of dowry in all its form, will certainly enhance the status of Muslim women. However, to allow Qazi courts to deal with child custody cases and to continue with the privilege of unilateral divorce (talak) for men are regressive steps that will certainly disadvantage Muslim wives.  Moreover, to reduce the number of Qazi courts from 64 to one per district will create lot of inconvenience and expense especially to the poor.   

One of the difficulties that every reformer or reformers confront when struggling to reform Muslim marriage and divorce practices is the confrontation with mullahs (in this case with the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama or ACJU over the fiqh that had accumulated over many centuries and developed under different social, political, economic and cultural environment context. When environment changes, laws governing that environment should also undergo change. Fiqh is manmade even in its literal sense and therefore changeable, and not divine and eternal. In the case of Muslim societies and particularly in Muslim minority societies, fiqh has become an instrument of control in the hands of the clergy. When reading the report one can clearly see a running confrontation between members of ACJU and their sympathisers on the one hand and the women and progressive thinkers on the other, which has deterred JSM from going further in making its recommendations more forceful, substantive and progressive. It is unfortunate that the committee, which was heavily stacked with legal brains, did not include at least a couple of experts from other disciplines such as sociology and history. After all, marriage is not a religious but social institution. It is the rules of religious orthodoxy indoctrinated and imposed by the clergy that had kept this institution so male biased and made Muslim women suffer and remain oppressed. Only the women can fight for their liberation and win the battle against an oppressive male conservatism.    

For the moment, with all the shortcomings in the report, JSM committee, especially its chairperson, deserves congratulations for taking some bold steps in the right direction. The women in that committee deserve a special word of praise for their indomitable stand against the reactionary views of a couple of lawyers, an educationist and members of the ACJU. The problem now is its implementation. Muslim parliamentarians as usual will sit on the fence watching which side the wind will blow to support or reject the recommendations. Muslim women forums and other human rights organizations should rally in front of the parliament urging the government to bring legislation, incorporating at least the more progressive of the recommendations, without further delay. If they miss this opportunity they will have to wait for another committee and another report, and the agony will continue.

It is appropriate and admirable that the report has included a provision that if its recommendations were to be rejected, then, as a last resort, an option be given to Muslim women to marry under the General Marriage Ordinance. 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    MMDA1950 reached the use-by date in 1950 but other issues refracted attention. Time have changed and emphasis on human rights has emerged as prime concern of the world. MMDA has all to do with human rights. It needs a through revision.
    All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulama or ACJU has a vicious hold on the destiny of Lankan Muslims. The office bearers have a vested interest and are powerful enough to influence what Muslim MPs say in Parliament. The ACJU official view is “MMDA1950 is good as is where is”. This is crudity at its worst!
    But ACJU cannot corral the activists much longer.
    Thank you Ameer Ali for promoting revision of MMDA.

    • 2
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      Dr. Ameer Ali

      RE: Long Awaited MMDA Report Dusting

      “After nine years of mental perseverance amidst the death of two of its members, the Justice Saleem Marsoof (JSM) committee appointed to consider amendments to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) lodged its report on 22nd January 2018 with the Justice minister Thalatha Athukorala. Although the report not released to the public, a copy of it reached me from an anonymous source.”

      Thanks. Europeans came to the age of reason and enlightenment several centuries ago. Muslims cannot get to the age of resaon and enlightenment because of the Ulema and theit hegemony. See what happened to the greatest Islamic Scholar Ibn Rushd, Averroes, in the 12th century, Andalusia ( Spain).

      . Are the Ulema working behind closed doors to delay as much as possible and make the recommendations disappear, so that they can keep their power and hegemony, and hide under religion?

      “When environment changes, laws governing that environment should also undergo change. Fiqh is manmade even in its literal sense and therefore changeable, and not divine and eternal. In the case of Muslim societies and particularly in Muslim minority societies, fiqh has become an instrument of control in the hands of the clergy. “
      Ibn Rushd is the most capable rationalist philosopher in the history of Arab civilization, and the best versed on the achievements of his age and the ages before him.

      https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/artsandculture/2015/4/9/ibn-rushd-in-his-darkest-hour

      A final reason offered was Ibn Rushd’s book The Incoherence of the Incoherence, in which he responded to the fallacies of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s The Incoherence of Philosophers. He did this despite knowing Ghazali was the master of the Almohad dynasty who were in power, and believed the earth was located between the horns of a bull.

      • 0
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        Amarasiri

        What Ibn Rusd philosophy has got to do with Sri Lankan MMDA. If you know anything about reforms, amendments to then prevailing Muslims Marriage and Divorce Law brought by Ibn Rushd please enlighten us with that, never mind even if bad Muslims in power those days did not allow those.

        • 2
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          Ralli Ameen,

          “What Ibn Rusd philosophy has got to do with Sri Lankan MMDA.”

          Everything! Reason and Religion.

          It has everything to do with the power and hegemony of the Orthodoxy, represented by the Ulema, so that they can give their own interpretations, that is in their best self-interest. They will selectively interpret the Quran, Hadith and Sunnah to their own advantage. This is where the Ulema got Ibn Rushd’s works burned, just like the Catholic Church’s prosecution of Galileo and others.

          If one applies Ibn Rushd’s writings on Reason and Religion and the connection between Religion and Philosophy ( Love of Wisdom), it becomes clear that the Ulema love hegemony, orthodoxy, self-interest over reason and wisdom. Some of his points.

          1. For every Muslim the law has provided a way to the truth suitable to his nature, through demonstrative, dialectical, or rhetorical methods.

          2. Demonstrative truth and scriptural truth cannot conflict.

          3. If the apparent meaning of Scripture conflicts with demonstrative conclusions, then it must be interpreted allegorically, that is metaphorically.

          4. All Muslims accept the principle of allegorical interpretation; they only disagree about the extent of its application.

          5. The double meaning has been given to suit peoples’s diverse intelligence. The apparent contradictions are meant to stimulate the learned to deeper study.

          The Ulema are not the learned, only the philosophers.

          From the book of decision of the discourse… connection between religion and philosophy by Ibn, Rushd

          By the way, there was an International conference on Ibn Rushd, ( Averroes) and the Enlightenment held on Dec 10, 1998 at Cairo on the 800th death anniversary of Ibn Rushd . Guess no Ulema, Iman or Moulavi from Sri Lanka attended.

          Ref; ISBN 1-57392-084-3

          .

        • 2
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          Ralli Ameen,,

          “What Ibn Rusd philosophy has got to do with Sri Lankan MMDA.”

          Everything.! Reason vs. Revelation and allegory.

          The grandfather of the European Enlightenment was Muslim

          https://medium.com/@koertdebeuf/the-grandfather-of-the-european-enlightenment-was-muslim-49c1342946f1

          What is the Muslim philosopher Averroes doing in the famous fresco “The School of Athens” of the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael? The painter brought together all thinkers and scientists that influenced the West. So, it’s no surprise that Plato and Aristotle are in the centre of this 16th century painting. More surprising is that two ‘Eastern’ persons are made part of the school: Zoroaster and Averroes. A similar surprise might occur to the readers of the Divina Commedia of Dante Alighieri. In this 14th century Renaissance masterpiece Dante gave his description of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell, with a special chapter on Limbo where good non-Christians were allowed to have a decent afterlife. In Limbo we not only find ancient Greeks and Romans, but also three Muslims: Averroes, Avicenna and Saladin.

          The fact that two Renaissance masterpieces dealing with the fundaments of Western civilization are putting a Muslim in the centre of it, is odd to say the least.
          This historical narrative is simply wrong. Even though Roman books were indeed rediscovered, this is not true for the Greek texts. The most important Greek philosophers and scientists came to Europe because they were translated from Arabic, a translation movement that was initiated by the Caliphs of Baghdad in the 8th century. At the epicentre were Ptolemy’s astronomy, Euclid’s geometrics, and Galen’s medicine. At the same time, Indian and Persian scientific texts were translated. In turn, Muslim scientists wove these ideas together, both elevating them and creating new fields of science, such as chemistry and algebra. Their calculations were the basis of the discoveries of Copernic and Newton.

    • 3
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      The ACJU is a cult and has no place in Islam. There is no such thing as Sharia Law in Islam. Period. The practice of Islam in SL is a farce; it is an idolatry advocated by an ignorant clan.
      The female justice minister is a joke. The so called gullible Muslims have been taken for a ride.
      It’s time that all Sri Lankans practice one marriage law without any exception; time for real progress.

  • 4
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    Institutions have vested interests.
    Without mass agitation and pressure nothing is achieved.

    • 3
      8

      You had written about MMDA few times before. MMDA follows Islamic Sharia Law not the western law. This act was not established after independent but during colonial time too. This act will applies only for Marriage and Divorce under Islamic law and Registrar General have general control, supervision of registration of such marriages. If cases are unresolved or parties are aggrieved by the decision of Quazis, the case can be taken to appeal court (civil). Now say if a Quazi give permission to give a 12 year or less in marriage, one of their parent or kith and kin can take the matter to court and stop such marriage if they have enough proof and reasons to do so. If the girl, parents and their kith and kin like the marriage it is justifiable because a girl after puberty no more a child and the law safeguard her future. You will see non-Muslims crying child marriage, child marriage but if you ask them how many of their girls 12 or below and 13-15 years get pregnant illegally they have to shut up. These girls future is destroyed. Although MMDA is there I am sure 95% of Muslims do not follow it and present social conditions of society makes a negative impacts on these laws. If you carry out a survey you will see those Muslim girls married at 12 years will be zero or just a negligible fraction and those married below 15 will also be a very, very minute percentage. So Mr Ameer instead of writing shit here educate our Muslim women of their rights and what actions are open for them to go to civil court if they.

      • 6
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        Ralli ameen: Is another dishonest Wahabi who is trying to protect your cult at the expense of innocent women. What statistics you have to prove that muslim women were not abused because of your barbaric marraige laws.

        • 2
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          Jim Softy, any Muslims or I do not have to go for statistic to prove Muslim women are not abused apart from family quarrel or divorces which are natural occurrences whether Muslims or non-Muslims. It is you anti-Muslims who cry on top of their voices that Muslim women are abused should bring statistical proof. If you go for women abuse in general the percentage of Muslim women will be a mere fraction to hundred and in non_Muslim women the percentage will be more that 20%.

      • 4
        4

        Ralli bin Balli, the Islamic infidel, we are not interested in Shariya. This is a Buddhist country where laws and practices should be according to Dhammapada. Buddhism teaches compassion, benevolence and equanimity, which is contradictory to the barbaric, irrational and outdated Shariya laws. Buddha said that man is the master of his own destiny. On that principle Buddhists are the masters of this country and not any other unknown entity that you may have in mind.

        • 2
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          Al-fukker

          If Buddha said man is the master of his own that applies to every man and man has the right to do what is good for his family. If laws and practices should be according to Dhammapada why don’t you follow Buddha’s law for marriage instead white man’s. Since you all don’t follow Buddha there are so much racism, killing, rapes, clubs, parties etc. etc. First follow Buddhism. Remember Buddha’s teaching was more than 2500 years old so it has to be more outdated, irrational and barbaric.

          • 4
            2

            Ralli bin Balli, Islam though only 1600 years old is
            1. Barbaric – Kill non believers and destroy their properties. Cut off heads and limbs for offences committed. Kill animals by halal method.
            2. Irrational – Circumcision, Fasting, Burkha/Abhaya
            3. Outdated – World is flat.
            It is time you ditch Islam and embrace an enlightened religion like Buddhism.

            • 0
              5

              Al-fukker

              1. Prove where it was said, whether in Quran and Surah. We know you white man’s slave bastard copy these distorted views given by ant-Islam Jews and Christian in the media.
              2. Circumcision done even by many non-Muslims and majority of western royal families follow. We know you love your polkudu tip. Fasting is medically encouraged because it keep you healthy. Even some Christian, Hindu and Buddhist do fast although some differences are there. Burkha/Abaya keep away rapist like you.
              3. Prove with explanation where world is flat stated.
              It is time you ditch your 2500 old barbaric Buddhism or Hiduism or Christianity and embrace the enlighten religion where it say marry, have children and have a good family instead not marry or give up your wife and join the good for nothing hermits.

              • 0
                0

                Ralli Ameen:

                Please don’t waste your time with that peasant sounding worm out there. What does this Gandaya know about circumcision?

            • 2
              0

              Al-faqurlah:

              You listed most of what Muslims wrong did. Do you know that just because of one single low IQ father not using a condom or wiping it off the sarong, how much we suffer with a dumb and dirty worm like you?

        • 0
          0

          Al-faqurlah: I bet you can be bribed to become a Muslim easily for 5000 Rupees. Maybe no-one thought you’re worth a 100 rupees?

    • 0
      0

      SJ

      So what federal party did in the early 1960s was just about right and you agree what your favourite little Pol Pot did was wrong.

  • 2
    0

    All what they need to learn about this change in law is to read the rationale of law not mere letters of law ..
    The spirit of law should prevail.
    But these clerics no idea about this….
    I tell them to learn about this fiqh….

    • 1
      0

      Lankan No 1: when your daughter is married 12 years young and she is just a children rolling machine, she is divorced because she tried to be rebellious, then what does the ratanale of law. IS it what Allah wanted or Mohommad wanted or the Mullas, maulavis wanted. I DEFINITELY KNOW THAT IS not ALLAHS wanted. ALLAHS do not have religion – preference. they are sympathetic to every human being.

      • 1
        5

        Jim Softy, when your daughter is married at 19 or even 30, she is just children rolling machine irrespective of number, she is divorced because she tried to be rebellious (or the man rebellious), then what the rationale of law. I know you don’t have the brain to explain.

        • 1
          1

          Threr is no law preventing marrying at the adult age or rolling out children. The problem is marrying the school age children and making them children rolling out machines. IF I explain further why you people are dumb and selfish, then this comment will be deleted.

          • 0
            2

            Jim softy, you did not understand my question and what it is implying. So how can expect a good answer from a dumb. You only know to spill venom.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 6
    0

    Jammiyatul ullama should change Rizwi (hic) mufti first he is the obstacle for any decisions be it sighting of the moon, ordering Bayans in mosques who should give and what to say, who is Rizwi to the Muslim community of Sri Lanka ? He is a fraud and a Rajapaksa aid to stolen businesses.

    • 2
      1

      Recently Rizwi met Gota and assured him that Jammiyatul ullama will not demand anything that Buddhists do not like such as halal slaughter, wearing Islamic dress.
      On this aspect he is a genuine Sri Lanka patriot, to respect Sinhala wishes.

      • 1
        0

        Rizwi the hipocrite , who is he to give orders?
        ” he is a Sri Lanka patriot , to respect Sinhala wishes” quiet true .
        Muslims are back boneless to put Rizwi to the dustbins , e.g Faizer Mustafa , Fowzi all money guzzleing idiots who will turn towards the black money. Muslims in Srilanka are really helpless.

      • 2
        0

        Sorry Muslims don’t consider Jammiyatul ullama their Sangha. You forgot to mention Rizwi also said “I have 5, select anyone for a night”?

  • 5
    0

    [Quote] Therefore, as a responsible Community, the Muslims must accept that Child Marriage is very much a part of their socio-cultural patterns of behaviour. They cannot continue to be deaf, dumb and blind to the fact that at the time of the 2012 Census, nearly 6% of the estimated 117,048 Female Children, 12 – 17 years, were married / widowed / divorced / separated. [Unquote]
    Al Haj Ralli Ameen, the above is what a Muslim wrote in a blog article titled “Child Marriage in the Muslim Sri Lankan Community” recently based on FACTS and not on PERCEPTIONS.
    So stop trying to imitate an ostrich by burying your head in the sand when confronted with a difficult situation. You are in an acute state of denial.
    I know it is extremely embarassing and humiliating for you to admit that the paedophilic tendencies of around 7000 relatively older male Thambiyas were sufficiently aroused and realized by the year 2012 thanks to the existing MMDA. To shrug this off as being “… just a negligible fraction and those married below 15 will also be a very, very minute percentage”, is utterly irresponsible and shameful on your part. Every Sri Lankan Muslim girl-child has the right to expect the male adults of her community to protect her from such archaic practices which may have been the norm in some distant Arab land 1400 years ago.
    Wake up, man, and smell the coffee. This is Sri Lanka and the year is 2018.
    Make it possible for every girl-child in your community to realize her full potential bestowed on her by your Allah.
    Amend the MMDL.

    • 1
      7

      Kemo Sabey (It is considered those who write with pseudo names are fabricator, racist, coward, ruffian, scoundrel or follower of his own kind).
      “nearly 6% of the estimated 117,048 Female Children, 12 – 17 years, were married / widowed / divorced / separated”. So 6% of this figure is 7,023 of 12-17 years were married, widowed, divorced. Give exact figure of 12 years, also 13 to 17 years or give link to census department where it was published. If for you it is fact then you can give the figure of 12 years old married otherwise you are a false informer in a acute state of mental decay. I should inform you donkey that in India girls as young as 11 years old getting married not according to British rule but Hindu rules. In many state in America even 14 years can get married with parents consent. This is happening all over the world.
      Even 700,000 old Thambiyas get married to a younger girl no harm if it is legally done and with the consent of girl and parents. Or are you giving the figure of girls as young as 5 years raped by non-Thambiyas? We normally call you all “Akuras” so what can we do if you Akuras strictly follow your master’s law, even in Muslim bashing.
      Every Muslim child in our community using the potential without any hinder to achieve their goal, otherwise there won’t be a single Muslim women in all professional fields or even with GCE or diplomas. MMDL has nothing to do with it and it has no powers to stop parents following what is right and socially important.
      Yes, I am awoke this is 2018 Sri Lanka and I can smell you garbage lot.

      • 4
        0

        No man will ever entertain the idea of having sex with a girl-child unless he is sexually aroused by her. Such men are referred to rather derogatorily as paedophiles. Simply because Hindu girls as young as 11 years are given in marriage in your motherland, India, does not make it right by today’s moral standards.
        If merely discussing statistics of child marriages in your community makes you incoherent and flustered, which incidentally may be a Freudian slip on your part, then the question must be asked : Does the sight of a prepubescent female have a viagra-like effect on you too ?

        • 0
          4

          Kemo Sabey, no one will entertain the idea of sex with girl-child is true, so who is a child? So do you think a girl who had attained age is a child? Idiot, physically she is fit to bear children. This is one accepted truth by people from olden periods to present day. Not only in India but whole over the world it is happening. Do you think people did not have moral standard those days? Rather say, you are following the moral standard your white master set for you. Nothing make me incoherent or flustered because we are following our law. I have no fear to speak about statistic, that is why I am requesting for it. You asked, ‘Does the sight of a prepubescent female have a viagra-like effect on you too”. Why don’t you ask this question from child molesters abundant in Sri Lanka. Even priests and monks were got caught molesting children, even boys. God only knows what effect you will have if you are with a naked prepubescent female in a room. You buggers who cry on top of the voice about child molesting must be child molester yourselves.

  • 0
    0

    No man will ever entertain the idea of having sex with a girl-child unless he is sexually aroused by her. Such men are referred to rather derogatorily as paedophiles. Simply because Hindu girls as young as 11 years are given in marriage in your motherland, India, does not make it right by today’s moral standards.
    If merely discussing statistics of child marriages in your community makes you incoherent and flustered, which incidentally may be a Freudian slip on your part, then the question must be asked : Does the sight of a prepubescent female have a viagra-like effect on you too ?

    • 0
      0

      Hindus are primitive. So muslims follow it. Mohommad Married a young chuild in marraige. Was that too because Hindus did it or Mohommad married a child of 09 years old, So their his followers do the same. SO, it is a Religious ritual. Is it mentioned some where in a book ?

      • 0
        1

        Jim donkey, not only in India but world over it is happening and I gave this as an example because you people talk like only Muslims exclusively do it. You people follow your white masters law and that is the only law for you. We follow our Islamic Jurisprudence Law and it is law and legal.

  • 2
    0

    After all, marriage is not a religious but social institution. It is the rules of religious orthodoxy indoctrinated and imposed by the clergy that had kept this institution so male biased and made Muslim women suffer and remain oppressed. Only the women can fight for their liberation and win the battle against an oppressive male conservatism. ……………………………………………..
    ……………………………………………..
    The problem now is its implementation. Muslim parliamentarians as usual will sit on the fence watching which side the wind will blow to support or reject the recommendations.

    The Justice Saleem was not a reliable and balanced leader. But still the Commission submitted a report to Muslim-Sinhala Government’s Justice Minister. She too is a woman. One wouldn’t be able to tell that either Muslim women or other activists ever thought Muslim Ministers would deliver them Justice. But there was some hope when a woman was appointed as justice minister and EU came forward to talk on this. This time the honest cheater is EU. But, now EU seems to know wells that the Lankawe population feels ok when the Muslim-Sinhala government plays games, so they don’t wanted troubles. So they gave up on the Human Rights issue they insisted to Yahapalanaya to have GSP+ and now feels cozy to work with them. Especially after the successful game Ranil played on the LG election to keep the Western Nations under his control, no Western country would be prepared to go against Yahapalanaya, fearing that will bring back Chitanta Old Royals. After all Europeans too are human being; they have their interest too. They just can’t afford to oppose Yahapalanaya just for few Muslim women’s sufferings.

    • 0
      1

      Mallai-urine, why don’t you go to India including Tamilnadu and stop them having child marriage (of course those who reached puberty) and all sort of women abuse instead of croaking here. Tamils in Sri Lanka also not an exception.

      • 0
        0

        No-one can beat Tamils in alcohol, innocent killing and women abuse

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