Sri Lankan Muslim Clerics Revert Stance On MMDA Reform; But No Mention Of Child Marriage

Sri Lankan Muslim Clerics Revert Stance On MMDA Reform; But No Mention Of Child Marriage

Colombo Telegraph

April 3, 2017
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.

Responding to the assertion of the head of the ACJU Mufthi Rizwi, that the MMDA is “perfect in its present state ” the ACJU said the statement had been misinterpreted.
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.
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