The All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulama today reverted its said position and admitted that the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act needs reforms, however with no reference to the need for reform of Child Marriage and the consent required from females when entering a contract of marriage among other key issues.
The ACJU did not deny the contents of an alarming submission it made to several parliamentarians in which it defended thee right to marry girls before attaining puberty.
Issuing a statement today the ACJU said the main area of reform needs to be on the Qazi court system instead. The statement made no mention of the initial submission in which the main theological arm of the Muslims insisted that a “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of their affairs” and “therefore a woman isn’t worthy of being appointed a Qazi” quoting Hadith ( narration of the Prophet ).
The statement which quotes the Quran and Hadith insists however in justice and equality to all genders.
“Finally, the correct understanding of the statement, “Islam is a religion of equality”, is that, “Islam is a religion of justice”. This means being ‘just’ in treating equally those who are equal and, being ‘just’ when differentiating between those who are different. The ACJU invites all to join hands in this noble work to reform the MMDA and to protect the rights of oppressed women and the rights of every individual” the statement says, without no mention of the agreement to appoint females as Qazis.
The statement insists that the ACJU had worked for reform with the committee “Unitedly” in stark contrast to reports and the statement made by the Chairman of the committee Justice Saleem Marsoof who said that the Ulamas were using all possible means to hamper the process.
The MMDA in its current form allows for child marriage and requires no consent from the bride. It also doesn’t permit females to sit as judges in the Qazi court.
The Colombo Telegraph is in possession of evidence in which the Ulamas and other conservative groups have been sending out forms to obtain signatures and add names of women against the MMDA reforms at the mosque during Friday sermon, attended by only men.
We publish below the abatement in full:
The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) ever since its establishment has always taken a very flexible and moderate approach, within the framework of Shari’ah and the greater public interest, when consulting on any issue.
Such facilitation is based on the Quranic verse where it says:
“Allah intends (to provide) ease for you and does not intend (to create) hardships for you.“ (Chapter 2 Verse 185).
In addition, Prophet Muhammed (May Peace and blessings be on him) has said :
“Make things easy and do not make them difficult, cheer the people up by conveying glad tidings to them and do not repulse (them).”
In another instance the Messenger of Allah said: “Indeed, this religion is easy”.
It becomes the duty of the Ulama (religious scholars) to ensure that matters pertaining to the religion are not made difficult to the people. Especially, because it has been mentioned that Ulama are the inheritors of the prophets.
Yet another instance by which the ACJU and Ulama are limited by the Quran is where it mentions :
“Oh you who believe do not hold as unlawful the good things Allah has made lawful for you” (Chapter 5, Verse 87).
It is clear from the above verse that the ACJU neither has the power to make what is unlawful lawful nor the power to make what is lawful unlawful.
Unfortunately, the statement made by the President of the ACJU that the “Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) is perfect in its present state”, has been subjected to misinterpretation.
In fact, what he wanted to express was that our predecessors who were involved in formulating the MMDA had taken great efforts to make it near perfect. Of course, given the circumstances of that period. This does not imply that there need not be any reforms today to the Act, mainly in the administration of Quazi court system.
There has also been an unfair allegation against ACJU that it is not ready to listen to the grievances of the women. There is no truth at all in this allegation. ACJU wishes to highlight that it will be a gross violation of Islamic religious teachings to ignore the women or not to give them the honour and respect that Islam has bestowed on them. ACJU is therefore, bound by these religious teachings.
See the examples elucidated below, where the Almighty Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Righteous Caliphs were ready to listen to the women.
The Quran states:
“Allah has heard the talk of the woman who was debating with you about her husband” (Chapter 58 Verse 1).
During the incident of Hudaibiya, it is recorded that Prophet (PBUH) listened to his wife Umme Salma’s advice.
Also, it has been recorded that the Caliph, Umar bin Kattab while he was in the pulpit, a woman questioned him and he was listening to her and willing to accept her clarification.
When Quran and the Prophetic teachings guide us so clearly, how can one conclude that ACJU is acting contrary to such teachings. As has always been the case, ACJU is willing and ready to listen to the grievances of women. Our doors are always open not only for the women but, for anybody who is willing to have a dialogue.
These misconceptions and the communication gap that is dominating events today need to be removed. We strongly believe that it is through dialogue that we can sort out all our problems. The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, is a topic which has been spoken widely in many circles and forums these days. In this regard, ACJU believes without doubt, the MMDA as it stands today definitely needs reforms.
ACJU as a responsible institution has to look into various aspects, inter alia :
(1) matters of relevance to the religious teachings;
(2) finding solutions to the grievances of the women;
(3) ensuring the acceptance and acknowledgement of the larger Muslim community;
(4) establishing justice to each and everyone to the best possible extent.
In doing so, we as Religious Scholars are willing to be flexible and accommodative to the fullest extent. In the same vein, it is the bounden religious duty of the Scholars to alert the Committee in the area of Shariah principles, as relevant.
From its inception, the ACJU has been very careful in handling the MMDA matter and it has always given its fullest support to the committee. In this long journey, the committee has moved forward unitedly and as a team. We believe that InshaAllah we can conclude the committee proceedings in a manner that is satisfactory to all.
The comprehensive report which we have submitted to the reform committee has provided detailed explanation to all the key topics of the MMDA reforms. If someone goes through this report he/she will understand the stand of ACJU and the rationale behind its suggestions.
Finally, the correct understanding of the statement, “Islam is a religion of equality”, is that, “Islam is a religion of justice”. This means being ‘just’ in treating equally those who are equal and, being ‘just’ when differentiating between those who are different. The ACJU invites all to join hands in this noble work to reform the MMDA and to protect the rights of oppressed women and the rights of every individual.
Ash-Sheikh Mufti M.I.M. Rizwe President – ACJU and Ash-Sheikh M.M.A. Mubarak General Secretary – ACJU