4 April, 2020

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Unfinished MMDA Battle

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The Joint Cabinet Memorandum signed by the Minister of Justice Thalatha Atukorale and the Minister of Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs M. H. A. Haleem, is more a political exercise in trying to protect the Muslim vote bank than a serious measure to reform an injudicious act, which has victimised Muslim women over half a century. Moreover, the memorandum is only instructing the legal draftsman to draw up the necessary law to be presented to the cabinet. Whether this will be accomplished during the term of this government, which is already in disarray and pre-occupied with choosing a candidate for the Presidential Elections is not at all certain. In all probability, the matter will be shelved for another round of discussion and compromise when a new government comes to power. The battle for reform is not over yet. 

Be that as it may, there are three issues in the memorandum that declares a victory for the machinations of the conservatives led by ACJU, the so called apex body of Muslim religious functionaries. One is regarding the minimum age of marriage, the second is in respect of women Qazis, and the third refers to custody and maintenance of children. On minimum age, the memorandum has made an exception for those between 16 and 18, to be married “with the approval of the Qazi”. This is a provision that not only satisfies ACJU but also provides an opportunity for dishonest Qazis to earn more money by accepting bribes for their consent. Although there is a provision that states, “1-2 years imprisonment and Rs. 100,000”, as punishment for under age marriage without approval of a Qazi, it is not clear who will be punished, the parents of the couple or the couple themselves. There is also no punishment for corrupt Qazis who would give approval for a monetary reward. With money, even birth certificates could be falsified for marriage purposes. Given the fact that under age marriage is quite common among Muslims, this provision, without specifying how it would be implemented has virtually legalised it.  

The total omission of women Qazis is the most blatant surrender of the government and its Muslim parliamentarians at the feet of ACJU. This is one area on which the Muslim Personal Law Reform Action Group (MPLRAG) has been agitating for a long time, and its members have ample evidence to justify their concern, because of the male bias prevailing in the current men only Qazi court system. Muslim women are appointed as Qazis in several other Sunni Muslim countries with Shafi School of jurisprudence, such as Malaysia, Pakistan and Indonesia, just to name only those in Sri Lanka’s neighbourhood. It appears that ACJU has a mortal fear of Muslim women taking up leadership positions in public, in spite of the fact that there is nothing stated in the Quran preventing women from doing so. This fear of the conservatives is historic in this country. For example, when Ayesha Rauf unsuccessfully contested for a parliamentary seat in 1947, and when Ferial Ashraf successfully did it in 2001 there were malicious campaigns spread against them particularly by the mullahs. A women’s leadership according to them brings ruin to the family, community and country. This was also one of the reasons why many conservative Muslims did not support the SLFP under Sirimavo’s leadership.  When it comes to officiating as judges in particular, mullahs feel that women are too emotional and soft hearted, and they would not be able to make hard decisions. This argument holds no water in this day and age when women are even excelling some of their male colleagues in the field of law and justice, let alone in other areas. Without provision for women Qazis, the joint memorandum is a sell out to a collective of misogynists.

Muslim parliamentarians previously agreed to remove the issue of child custody and maintenance from Qazi court jurisdiction and bring it under the District Court. In this memorandum that has been left out. These parliamentarians for political reasons are clearly in bed with ACJU. 

It is now ten years since Justice Saleem Marsoof and his committee started working on MMDA before submitting its report in January 2018. Since then there had been several setbacks to get its recommendations legislated, because of behind the scene pressures from and manipulations by ACJU and its bed fellows. After another year and more the government has made a half-hearted attempt to implement some of Marsoof’s recommendations but without the most crucial ones. How can a woman minister of justice permit her own kind to suffer inferiority and injustice in matters of matrimony? Is it because they are Muslims?  MPLRAG and its supporters have to continue battling for a better deal. Time is on their side.           

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Latest comments

  • 8
    1

    muslims cannot trust their politicians in women’s issues until muslim women come out of their comfort or to be precise discomfort zones and start to contest elections and get into parliament.

    • 10
      0

      Mr. Ameer Ali, this MMD debate is part of the politics of distraction- to distract form the role of Corrupt Muslim Politicians who puppets of the Saudi-US alliance to de-stablize Sri Lanka with religious riots, land grab and set up military bases.
      Instead of focusing on women and MMD SL Muslims should be asking for an investigation into the foreign hands involved in the staging of the Easter Sunday attacks for which the whole Muslim community is blamed, and now being attacked by Buddhist fundamentalist.
      Saudi-funded Hizbullah in Kathankudi and Rishad Bahtudeen in Mannar are supporting the USA and its Special Operations Forces (SOF) which own and operate Islamic State and the IS narrative and Master-minded the Easter Carnage to weaponize Islam and Buddhism and create religious riots in Sri Lanka.
      The Muslim community must stop distracting itself with women and focus on identifying the corrupt politicians who work with the US and Saudi to stage the Easter attacks and land grab for the American Military Base project in Trincomalee and Mannar Island and WIllpattu
      Rishad Bathudeen is working with the MCC project to land grab and control transportation in Sri Lanka for its military base and Colombo BIA Trinco servicing, that is gathering steam and this time.
      Muslims could do a big favor to Sri Lanka by pointing to the the single biggest Terrorism and national Security threat that Sri Lanka faces at this time –US terrorism and MCC and SOFA project to turn Lanka into a military base and land grab, and the need to hold corrupt Muslim MPs who are the US cats paw in the MCC land-grab project accountable. If this is not done, innocent Muslims are being attacked by Buddhist fundamentalists and the US project to weaponize ethnic and religious identity politics in Sri Lanka and get SOFA signed.. continues

      • 8
        2

        Well said Don Stanley. You got it spot on.

        It is Impossible for so-called Muslim intellectuals like Ameer Ali to read between the lines and Understand the REAL situation. Ameer Ali knows Only to blast the ACJU and Muslim politicians. The Bigger Scene, which is the role of the International game players like Uncle Sam is Too Much for Ameer Ali to grasp. What a pity. The so-called Muslim Intellectuals are as much a Failure for the Muslim community as the Muslim Politicians

        • 0
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          Muhandiram
          Muslim intellectuals? You are insulting Muslims or intellectuals?

          Soma

    • 5
      1

      Dr Ali,

      Indeed the Sri Lankan Muslim women and girls are between the rock and the hard place, the Muslim politicians and the Horny Ulama.

      Is this Islam or just the Ulama hegemony?

  • 4
    2

    Dr. Ameer Ali,

    Thanks for the essay. This is what Amarasiri suspected. What you say is precisely what the Govt, the Muslim MPs and the ACJU are doing- all bedfellows. Their reward the Muslim vote, that is influenced by the Ulama who constant brainwash the Muslims.

    So we have the Muslim MPs who are puppets of ACJU, and the Govt. the puppets of the Muslim MPs, and the Govt. the indirect puppets of the ACJU, the Ulama mean IQ 79, pulling the strings.

    Is this democracy or Ulama hegemony, just like the Monk hegemony?

    Will the Mustafa Kamel Ataturk moment ever come to the Land of Native Veddah Aethho and adopt separation of Religion and State?

  • 3
    0

    Mr. Ameer Ali
    Until very recently I was ignorant of the fact that Sri Lanka has a different legal system for people of the Islamic faith . I thank you for bringing this up for debate thereby hopefully paving the way for the enforcement one legal system for all Sri Lankans without discrimination on the basis of caste , creed or religion.

  • 2
    2

    Dear Doc. Ameer Ali,

    There is a misunderstanding I suppose, please check the provision on the question of Quazis’ appointment. The intended amendment is there indirectly paving way for appointing female Quazis, i.e. the word “male” in the provision has been crossed out, I heard, reflecting a gender neutral stance. Therefore one could argue that the amendment allows female Quazis. Is it right?

  • 1
    0

    Dear Dr. Ameer Ali,
    .
    Thanks for so unflinchingly facing upto the truth and the reality. I have just looked at the comments made by Seyyed Quraish Moulana, here:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/cabinet-nod-for-muslim-marriage-law-amendments-puts-marriageable-age-at-18/comment-page-1/?unapproved=2296867&moderation-hash=5733702be3cfc46b9ff554dc9370c031#comment-2296867
    .
    What can we hope for but do all that we can to ensure that the people who are elected at all the many elections that must take place during the next 12 months? Starting with the Presidential Elections. There it is imperative that the message be got across to all that voting for a so-called unrecognised party is not a “wasted vote”. That applies to each of us individuals, even if others don’t follow our lead.
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-birth-of-a-movement/
    .
    It’s just not the author, Kumar David, who has explained the system and the reasons why the sensible thing to do is to vote strategically for three different persons, carefully arranging them just before the elections.
    .
    As non-Muslims we can do that much for you – not much more.

    .

    • 2
      4

      i hate singala man like you. you attack muslims. you attack tamils. we will distroy all singala mans and make bangla2. Allah willing.

      • 1
        0

        You think that a clever comment, do you?
        .
        I have made many comments. Try to substantiate what you say.

      • 0
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        Mohommad,

        where did you see SM attacking Muslims and tamils.
        :
        We will offer you thousands of dollars if you find it and get back to you.
        :
        Thank you.
        Please be decent before the decent people. Dont mix it up the way Rajapakshes have been doing it. None or many of us on CT platform would stand against Minorities for sure.

  • 6
    0

    By continuing to follow a strategy of confrontation, the proponents of change are only strengthening the hands of the opponents.
    A change of strategy is required. Circumvent the road-blocks on the path to progress. Marginalize the opponents.

    The moment is opportune for Muslim Sri Lankans to assert their National Identity as Sri Lankans over their Global Identity as Muslims. As a minority group in Sri Lankan, the female Muslims must demand that the State recognize and grant them their basic rights as female Sri Lankans. The State must grant female Muslims the same rights as every other female Sri Lankan to marry according to the General Marriage Ordinance. Let female Muslims have the freedom of choosing under which law (Civil or Muslim) they would like to marry as long as they are fully aware of the religious, social and cultural consequences of their decision. No Scholar, Presidents Council or Politician should have the power to compel a female Muslim to marry under any specific law. No Scholar, Presidents Council or Politician will be held accountable by the Almighty on the Day of Judgement if Muslim Sri Lankans decide to marry under the GMO.
    To overcome any compunctions they may have about not getting married in compliance with Islamic Fiqh, the Muslims should also insist that the Department of Muslim Affairs maintain a Nikah Register so that any Muslim desirous of having a Nikah Ceremony following their ‘civil marriage’ could do so. The couple could enter into a Nikah Namah (Marriage Contract) to ensure that post-marital issues such as inheritance and divorce are in accordance with Islamic rules.

    This is the case in the United Kingdom.

    The struggle for emancipation must be re-framed. The female Muslims must fight against being discriminated against not as Muslims, but as female Sri Lankans.

    • 2
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      Thanks, ekelbroom.
      .
      And now you are a Muslim man saying this. It is very important that it is people like you who are allowed to reform other Muslims. If we interfere, we’ll make things much worse.
      .
      How different you are from the horror, Mohommad Taufeeq Zuhair, who ought to be promptly deported to the moon, from where he can start figuring out in which direction Mecca is!
      .
      Why, oh why, can’t we get our priorities right?

      • 1
        0

        Mr Sinnhala Man,

        I saw you in that video lately.
        That was great. We will all support you but being out of the country.
        :
        I have no doubt, your nominee for the upcoming PE will win the game.
        :
        This time as no times before, people are nervous and will do their best at voting.
        :
        We need to block Rajapakshes returning to loot from what stopped it in 2014.
        :
        The day Rajapakshes are brought before courts announcing their convictions for all various, high maganatude crimes, there we can join and together and have our nektar.
        :
        I always respect you SINHALA man or the like good men in my home country. Next time, I will not miss my chance to come and visit you. I failed to meet u up in the late visit made to lanka last july. But you did not answer to me Emails either.
        You said, you would be living somewhere in Maharagama. But I did not have time to check it repeatedly either. I also had some gifts to you from Europe and US. Next time, when meeting we can pass them to you.
        Thanks and once again, I am very proud of you and your endeavours.

    • 0
      0

      ekelbroom ,

      The Ulama emphasize memorizing the Quran.

      Reason over Revelation.

      Why Did Muhammad Want You To Memorize The Quran? How many Sri Lankan Muslim Children memorize the Quran in Arabic, a language they do not underhand? How may hours were lost , that could have been used for other pursuits?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAIuXI7ZLuE

      Why is there so much emphasis on Quran memorization? Is it a miracle that so many have memorized the entire book?

      The five major world religions – John Bellaimey

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6dCxo7t_aE

      It’s perfectly human to grapple with questions, like ‘Where do we come from?’ and ‘How do I live a life of meaning?’ These existential questions are central to the five major world religions — and that’s not all that connects these faiths. John Bellaimey explains the intertwined histories and cultures of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.

  • 3
    1

    How can the Muslims get the support and help they badly need in the country, when their own politicians, say nothing when they are attacked, businesses attacked and boycotted, or Mosques are burnt, and seems to be missing in action when the Muslim people are unfairly attacked. Maybe they should take a hard look at the Sinhala Buddhist leaders, who stand by their people through thick and thin, even when they behave like thugs and attack the minority.
    Without these Muslim politicians, Muslim citizens will never be able to feel secure, or know their interests are looked after. They have to get their act together, before they lose too much, and make sure their women have the same rights as all other women in the country. We have a bunch of do nothing, say nothing, cowards.

  • 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

  • 4
    3

    Sinhala stupid politicians should be held responsible for all this humbug. After British left, Sinhala politicians should have told Demalu who were brought by colonial rulers and Muslims who got the opportunity to live in Sinhale because of the compassion, tolerance and generosity of Sinhala Buddhists that they cannot have special rules brought from Malabar or Arabia.
    When marriageable age was raised to 18, an idiot put a loophole by putting ‘Not applicable to Muslims’. Why the hell they gave an exception to Muslims.

    Even now, it looks like Muslims are trying to take our dumb Sinhala politicians for a ride. Muslims have agreed to amendments to marriage laws with lot of loopholes. I do not think the Cabinet who gave green light checked these loopholes carefully. According to a newspaper report, even with amendments women under 18 can marry with the approval from Kathi. For polygamy also there is an exception. Why should there be such exceptions. This is Muslim Taqiyah. Muslims will use these loopholes and go on with their business as usual.

    Sinhala politicians, please wake up. Scrap all special status and privileges given to Demalu and Muslims. While complaining that they do not have equal status, Demalu and Muslims enjoy more than equal status.

    • 3
      0

      Eagle Eye – “Even now, it looks like Muslims are trying to take our dumb Sinhala politicians for a ride”

      You asked for reforms, so here are the reforms. You didn’t ask for abolishment of MMDA for your own selfishness that you wouldn’t want to lose Kandyan law & Thesawalamai. Polygamy is maintaining multiple families (not just a woman) life long equally but you people get it wrong when compare that with keeping mistresses or visiting prostitutes.

    • 0
      0

      Not just politicians only, but you guys that have been rotten in the mindset, calling the minorities as Demalu and Thambi… you as octoagenarian today, yet to learn how to address your fellow citizens, regardless of their race and religion.
      I am sinhalaya born to a southern family but I had the luck to move out of the country for my Education and stayed back in Europe.
      But each time, I visit my country also very lately ( few weeks ago ) I feel, our people, sinhalayas just suffer from a HIINAMANAYA…. as Rajapakse ballige puthas would do.
      They just feel like that they shoudl always be put above.
      No matter sinhalayas have been the majority, why should they need tofeel like supremicist ?
      We are all the same if we were born to SLankens soils. Even plantation tamils should now be treated as SRILANKENS regardless of their migration.
      Just imagine, the ballige puthas of your nature are being treated well in Australia, regardless of your ulatra racist genetc composition, if the host nation would have been srilankens, they would surely crucify you…. not being able to tolerate your ultra racial nature.
      Why our people find it hard to realize this ?
      We can become good or bad just because we inherit sinhala genes right ?
      One becomes a fulfiled manner the manner you behave before the others.
      I wish if any contagious disease could take away Rajapakshes forever so that ultra extremists could not have any more support in that part of the country.

  • 7
    0

    My friend, the biggest MMD debate should be this scourge of dowry, these inhuman and terrible men, their parents and families are demanding money, gold, house, car, sun, moon etc, from the girls parents. This totally against Islam, and teaching of our holy prophet (PBU). It’s pure Haram. In the Muslim countries, it’s the boy who gives mahar to the girl where as in SL, they practice this demeaning and despicable practice. It’s a real shame and cruel as these men are letting themselves being bought by the parents of the girls. High time the entire society, especially the women should work hard to put a stop to this terrible practice for there are thousands of Muslims girls suffering, and unable to offered this cruel thing.

    • 3
      0

      Zain – This is worst among Muslims in Dr. Ameer Ali’s native place. It starts at this price for a bridegroom, a laborer in the middle-east at 1.5 mn rupees with a house, and you can imagine for other professionals. I wonder what price Dr. Ameer Ali himself was sold at that time :-)

  • 5
    3

    Sri Lanka must come under one common law for the entire country by,

    1) no complete body cover by black ghost colour.
    2) No niqab or burkha.
    3) No underage marriages.
    4) No halal food.
    5) No sharia law
    6) No Madrasa
    7) No Arabic Language in public.
    8) No killing of animals for religious festivals.
    9) No loudespeakers to call for prayers.

    Most of the things practise by Muslims listed above are of tribal practises in the Arabian Peninsula and nothing to do with Islam.

    Besides, Sri Lanka must get rid of Thesawalamai and remnants of Kandyan law as well to become one law to all Sri Lankans.

    • 3
      1

      Nimal Tissa Wije:

      There is no. 5) in Sri Lanka, and I am laughing on it. They are going to stop no. 3) which is good. Your no. 9) is a good suggestion & that has to happen for all religious places. Sri Lanka is a country with good set of laws where every one has the right to enjoy or keep away from rest of your points – So why complicate things?

      • 1
        0

        nimal

        you have missed something very important,polygamy and muslim courts for divorce etc..out of the points given by you i can only agree with you on 1,3,5 only.

      • 1
        0

        mohdi

        stopping no 3 has a loophole in it.They have allowed a muslim priest to say okay if the age is between 16-18.There will be rampant use of it and corruption.

    • 1
      1

      Nimal Tissa Wijetunga,

      No religion outside the home.

      Complete separation of religion and state.

      Everybody wears a standard dress, appropriate for the environment.

      No Saffron clad Monks, no priests and no Ulama, who have been misleading the people for thousands of years claiming unproven Nirvana, Nibbana, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Limbo, etc., the cause of all evil, as they have been brainwashing the ignorant and gullible populace.

      “Religion is the opium of the masses,” said the Philosopher, lover of wisdom , Karl Marx.

    • 1
      0

      nimal

      you have missed something very important,polygamy and muslim courts for divorce etc..out of the points given by you i can only agree with you on 1,3,5 only.

    • 0
      0

      How about

      No child monks, Pikku (say under 16)
      No sending children away from parent and home to live with Bikku, monks or any other religious persons and/or instition.

      or
      it is all oksy under primacy of Buddism?

  • 1
    1

    We can’t read and understand Quarn leave alone interpret it. All we can see from outside is either ACJU is interpreting in correctly OR those who demanding reform are interpring it correctly. May be Saudi Arabia is interpreting it correctly OR Iran is interpreting it correctly. There is also the possibility that both parties are interpreting it incorrectly or may be only Wahabis are interpreting it correctly. W E D O N ‘T K N O W.
    .
    Business of the government is to protect OUR life and limb from all these groups.

    Soma

    • 0
      0

      Soma.
      No “body” is interpreting the Quran and the government protects itself.
      It’s all a game; survival of the fittest as Darwin postulated.
      Sadly it’s all about making money; it’s a human failing.

  • 1
    0

    Dr. A A, as usual, has hit the nail on the head. The ACJU should be barred from any discussion or involvement in the MMDA; Period!
    The ACJU is a political stunt organization which has nothing to do with bettering the lives of young Muslim Women but catering to pickpocket Muslim politicians; it is a sad state of affairs.
    The learned Justice Marsoof after a very lengthy study and discussions have produced a report to rectify the sad state of affairs affecting the marriages of young Muslim women and men to make life more palatable and to get rid of the ancient desert tribal culture which has nothing to do with Islam; this was very long overdue.
    With elections looming and drafting of laws taking too much a long time the whole exercise seems to be an exercise in futility.

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