Colombo Telegraph

Sri Lankan Muslim Clerics Say Women Are Not Equal To Men, Defend Marriage Before Puberty

In an alarming submission made to several parliamentarians and other conservative groups with regard to proposed amendments to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA), the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulama (ACJU) has said that they agree with the Hadith “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 (judge).

Rizvi Mufthi

The ACJU is the main body of theologians of Muslims in Sri Lanka.

In a brief document dated March 2017 of which the Colombo Telegraph possesses a copy, the clerics have said that therefore they oppose the appointing of female judges (Qazis).

The Hadiths, which was compiled at least 230 years after the death of the Prophet quotes Muhammad the Prophet of Islam as making the statement, the veracity of which has been questioned throughout the Islamic intellectual tradition.

The submission also includes the fact of the marriage of the Prophet to Aisha, of which the contract of marriage was said to have taken place when she was 6 years of age.

It uses the story as a justification for the marriage of girls who have not attained puberty.

Again quoting a Hadith the document says “A father giving in marriage his daughter before attaining puberty is possible and this is the evidence that Abu Bakr (RA) gave Aisha (RA) on marriage to the Prophet (PBUH) when she was 6”.

However, the narration is also a construct of later day scholars although documented in Bukhari, one of the most voluminous of the compilers and considered to be a Sahih (truthful) Hadith.

There has been no other evidence to the effect that Aisha was in fact 6 and that the marriage was consummated when she was 9 except for Hadith, which according to academics was compilation though hearsay. Muhammad is said to have been 53 years at the time.

The ACJU accordingly has made a sweeping conclusion saying they are against any female judge sitting in as a Qazi and that her edicts will be not binding as per the Sharia and will therefore be null and void. Instead the ACJU has sought to confine the female in a consultative capacity.

Adding insult to injury, the ACJU has justified its view using the same justification of Saudi Arabia- saying “It is to protect the rights, honour and modesty of women”.

The head cleric of the ACJU Mufthi Rizwe was yesterday on record saying that the MMDA is “perfect in the present state”.

Several organizations including Muslim led civil society groups and the media have highlighted and documented many issues of rural Muslim women suffering as a result of the MMDA, including many instances of child marriage.

Click here to read the full submission

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