Sisters in Islam expresses its deep concerns over the decision by the Malacca Islamic Religious Council to relax the conditions for Muslim girls under the age of 16 and Muslim boys under the age of 18 to marry with the permission of the Syariah court, and to encourage parents to allow their minor children to marry. We strongly urge the Council to reconsider its decision. Research conducted by UN agencies and women’s groups around the world point to the negative impact of child marriages on the wellbeing of minors and their educational and economic opportunities. Instead of encouraging child marriages, the State government should support the establishment of sexuality education and awareness-raising for students to empower them to make choices based on knowledge of their rights and mutual respect. Sisters in Islam reiterates its position that in the Qur’an, marriageable age is linked to “sound judgment” and “maturity of mind” (Surah An-Nisa, verse 6). Puberty alone is not sufficient. Furthermore, the decision by the Malacca Islamic Religious Council contradicts the letter and spirit of Child Act 2001, as well as human rights treaties ratified by Malaysia. Article 16(2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) prohibits child marriage. Child marriages also violate the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which affirms that a child has an inherent right to life, health and education. While we welcome the statement by Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil condemning child marriages as “morally and socially unacceptable”, we urge the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to work together with the Malaccan state government to sensitise policy makers and religious officials on the impact of child marriages. We further urge the Malaysian Federal Government to amend civil and Islamic family laws to set the absolute minimum age to marry at 18 years. Prof. Norani Othman On behalf of Board of Directors Sisters in Islam
Prophet Muhammad's wife A'isha: How Old was She at the Time of her Marriage?
With reference to questions about marriageable age, minor age marriages are justified quoting the precedent of A’isha marrying Prophet at the age of nine. In his book, Tahqiq Umar A’isha al-Siddiqa [(Truth about the age of A’isha the Truthful), Karachi: Mashkur Academy, No date of publication mentioned], Hakim Niyaz Ahmad, a scholar from Pakistan has examined all the report in almost all collections of Hadith and has come to the conclusion that A’isha married the Prophet when she was 19 years old.
His main findings are as follows:
1.The Hadith report about A'isha’s marriage at the age of nine is not reliable because:
a.All Hadith collections report this Hadith on the solitary authority of Hisham
b. Urwa.b.Hisham is generally accepted as a reliable person, but in his old age he had lost this prestige among the scholars in Medina. They do not accept his Hadith narrated in this period. Hisham narrated this story in around 145 AH when he was 84 years old. A’isha’s marriage took place in 2 AH, more than 140 years ago. It was the time when most of those who could verify the facts of his narration had died.
c.A’isha’s marriage was not an ordinary event that only one person would narrate it.
2.Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Sa’d, and other historical accounts of the life of the Prophet never fail to mention A’isha among the first group of people who embraced Islam. If A’isha were nine years old in 2 AH/624 AC she would be five years old in 610 AC, when Muhammad announced his Prohethood. It is rather more reasonable to assume that she was adult at that time, which means that she was certainly more than nine years old in the year she migrated to Medina.
3.Mishkat al-Masabih, Al-Bidaya wa’lNihaya, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, and al-Isti’ab, among the more well known sources clearly mention that A’isha was 10 years younger than her sister Asma.
4.Most sources, particularly Abu Na’im al-Isfahani suggests that Asma was 27 years old at the time of migration. It means A’isha was at least 17 years old at that time. The author disagrees with Isfahani, and calls it a miscalculation. This calculation is based on the assumption that Asma is usually reported to have died at the age of 100 years in 73 AH.
Calculating backward and subtracting the period of 13 years of Meccan (100-73-13) she would be 14 years when she accepted Islam. That would mean that A’isha was only four years old when she embraced Islam. It is so unreasonable. Both Aisha and Asma must be old enough to qualify for accepting Islam. Therefore, we have to believe either that Asma was older than 100 years at the time of her death, or that there was not difference in their ages. This is plausible because they were born of different mothers.
5.Asma gave birth to Abdullah b. Zubayr who was the first child born among Muslims at the time of Hijra. The event was celebrated with much happiness. The Prophet suggested A’isha to take the Kunya of Umm Abdullah (Abdullah’s mother). It would be odd for a minor girl to have that Kunya. It suggests that she was old enough to have that Kunya.
6.When the Prophet proposed, A’isha was already engaged to Jubayr b. Mut’am, whose father was the leader of the Quraysh. Jubayr’s family was not happy when A’isha’s family embraced Islam. Both families found it difficult to terminate that engagement. A’isha’s father Abu Bakr had to negotiate for divorce. He requested Jubayr’s family to conclude the marriage contract and take A’isha to Jubayr’s home, as was the custom.
Abu Bakr knew that Jubayr’s family would not agree to the contract and that then he could negotiate for divorce or disengagement. It was after her divorce that she could be engaged to the Prophet. The author argues that the fact Abu Bakr could negotiate for the conclusion of the contract or divorce is an evidence that A’isha was adult and of marriageable age.
7.The author concludes that Aisha was 19 years old at the time of marriage. There is a textual error 19 (tis’at ashar) was misread as nine (tis’ah). He gives several examples of such errors in the reporting in Hadith books.
القاهرة-أحمد عطية-إسلام أون لاين في الوقت الذي تتزايد فيه مطالبة النشطين في مجال العمل الأهلي والاجتماعي في مصر بتدعيم اتجاهات الشباب نحو الزواج المبكر في مصر حلا لمشكلة انحراف الشباب، وممارسة الجنس قبل الزواج ما زالت الجهات الحكومية ومراكز الأبحاث شبه الرسمية تواصل برامجها التي تهدف إلى محاربة هذا النوع من الزواج. وفي ذلك الإطار فقد دعت دراسة علمية أخيرة حول الزواج المبكر أعدتها الدكتورة إقبال الأمير السمالوطي الحكومة المصرية إلى وضع استراتيجية لمواجهة ظاهرة لزواج المبكر في المجتمع المصري، مشيرة إلى أن الزواج المبكر من الظواهر الاجتماعية التي تنتشر في مصر خاصة في المناطق الشعبية والريفية. واستندت الدراسة إلى إحصاءات رسمية تشير إلى أن نسبة 18.2% من الفتيات في الفترة من 1980 وحتى 1984 تزوجن في سن مبكرة في حين بلغت النسبة 40.3% في الفترة من 1960 وحتى 1964 وقالت إن نسبة الزواج المبكر في الحضر تصل إلى 9.5% في حين تمثل في الريف 26.3% وتصل النسبة في الوجه القبلي إلى 28.9% بينما تصل 16.9% في الوجه البحري. ودعت الباحثة إلى ضرورة أن تراعي استراتيجية المواجهة طبيعة وخصوصية المجتمع المصري وزيادة الوعي لدى المواطنين بالآثار السلبية للزواج المبكر، والاهتمام بالتوعية الدينية للفتيات المقبلات على الزواج وتعريفهن بحقوقهن الشرعية والقانونية لاختيار الزوج المناسب، وتعقيد الإجراءات الخاصة بالزواج المبكر، وتغليظ عقوبات التلاعب في عقود الزواج. ومضت الدراسة في تعديد أضرار الزواج المبكر مشيرة إلى أنه قد يؤدي إلى ارتفاع حالات الطلاق نتيجة لعدم التوافق الزواجي، وحرمان الفتيات من حقوقهن في اختيار أزواجهن، ووضع الفتاة في موقف المسئولية الاجتماعية قبل بلوغ مرحلة النضج، كما يؤدي إلى متاعب صحية للأم نتيجة الحمل والولادة المتكررة. وقالت الدراسة أن هذا الزواج يعتبر سمة من سمات المجتمعات الريفية إذ أن 36% من إجمالي عدد الزوجات في الأسر الريفية تزوجن في سن أقل من 16 سنة في حين تبلغ نسبة الإناث اللاتي تزوجن دون السن القانونية في الحضر 9.1%، وترجع الباحثة تزايد النسبة في الريف إلى رغبة الريفيين في الإكثار من الأولاد وقصر الفاصل الزمني بين الآباء والأبناء والخوف على الشرف والعرض ودعم الروابط الأسرية ورغبة الأباء في تزويج أولادهم مبكرا لإثبات الرجولة وتأكيد السيطرة. وقالت الدراسة أيضا إن العوامل الدينية تعد من أهم العوامل في شيوع الزواج المبكر في البلاد العربية والإسلامية، هذا بجانب أن بعض الأسر تزوج فتياتها الصغيرات اللاتي لم يبلغن السن القانونية من أزواج أثرياء مصريين أو عرب لديهم القدرة على تلبية الشروط التي تضعها أسرة الفتاة على الزوج وتخلص الباحثة إلى القول: إنه رغم السلبيات فإن الزواج المبكر يؤدي إلى تدعيم الروابط والعلاقات الأسرية وسيادة روح التكافل خاصة في المجتمعات الريفية، حيث يترتب على هذا الزواج نشأة حقوق وواجبات بين ذوي القربى، وتعاون في المجالات المختلفة من خلال علاقة المصاهرة. وفي مقابل وجهة النظر السابقة التي سجلتها الدراسة التي تأخذ بها المؤسسات الرسمية المصرية فإن هناك باحثين ونشطين في مجال العمل الأهلي والاجتماعي يعددون عددا من الآثار الضارة للزواج المتأخر في عصر شهد ثورة جنسية عن طريق الأطباق الفضائية والإنترنت بما تحويه هذه الوسائل من ثقافة جنسية غير منضبطة وبصورة متاحة للجميع، وهي العوامل التي أدت إلى انخفاض سن ممارسة الزواج في البلاد العربية وتورط العديد من الشباب في البلاد العربية في ممارسة الجنس قبل الزواج، ويقول هؤلاء إن الحد من الزواج المبكر لا يمكن أن تكون دعوة صحيحة في وقت تعاني فيه أعداد كبيرة من الفتيات العربيات من العنوسة لأسباب اقتصادية أو اجتماعية
Religious Doctrine, State Ideology, and Reproductive Options in Islam
This chapter assesses the compatibility of Islam with ideas of reproductive choice through an examination of Islam's doctrinal principles and their interpretations, and reviews available indicators of reproductive health in Countries of the Middle East as a measure of reproductive choice. It argues that while the doctrine has a degree of flexibility on issues of reproduction, the political context is a key factor for understanding the way in which religious doctrine is interpreted. The role of the state in shaping women's options through interpretations of religious doctrine is illustrated through a discussion of the dramatic reversals in Iran's population policy.
Reproductive Choice in the Islamic Doctrine
From a feminist "human rights" perspective, the notion of reproductive choice implies two basic principles. The first is autonomy, which means that a woman can make decisions in matters of reproduction, and that access to the information and services that make her choice possible; this autonomy in turn implies a set of other rights for her as an adult individual and as a citizen. The second principle is the notion that reproductive health is an integral part of a woman's life, and hence is shaped not only by medical conditions, but also by social forces and power relationships that range from the level of the family to that of international institutions (Freedman and Isaacs 1993). Before assessing the extent to which these preconditions can be fulfilled in the context of Islam, two points must be noted. First, there is a tension in Islamic doctrine between the egalitarian view that believers are judged solely according to merit, and the inegalitarian elements that define different roles for men and women. The second point that emerges from even a cursory examination of women's autonomy is the tremendous complexity and diversity that is found in the Muslim world. Given that in a Muslim countries different schools of jurisprudence coexist alongside civil codes derived from European legal systems, and even with customary laws that are often survivals of a pre-Islamic past, the legal dimension of women's status is shaped by elements that are sometimes contradictory. Moreover, the variability in levels of socio-economic development in Muslim countries generates great discrepancies in the social reality of women's autonomy, both between the countries and, within the same country, between different sectors of the population. The tension in the doctrine the variability in the social context are crucial for a balanced assessment of the situation, yet they are often ignored in discussions of women's status; the prevalent view is that Islam defines a subordinate role for women and hence is at the root of the unfavorable indicators of women's reproduction and health. It is argued here that the principles of Islam lend themselves to different interpretations and that the reality of reproductive choice in the region varies both between countries and over time. Islamic law (shari'a) is based on the Qur'an, the hadith (the collected sayings of the prophet Muhammad), and the sunna, (the prophet's biography). In deriving shari'a, the various schools of jurisprudence differ in two areas, the extent to which they allow ijtihad (the formulation of independent legal judgement) and the bases upon which such judgement can be developed. With respect to women's status, the ambiguity of the religious texts makes the process of interpretation crucial, but unlike Christianity, Islam does not have a hierarchically organized clergy. Thus, there is no central, authoritative interpretation of religious doctrine; instead, there are decentralized and sometimes dissimilar codes embodied in the various schools of law and religious sects. Islamic doctrine is ambivalent with regard to women's status because, while the sacred texts emphasize the equality of all believers before God, they also clearly differentiate between the rights and duties of men and women. As a result, the same texts can be used to legitimate divergent views. A literal interpretation could provide the basis for justifying women's subordinate position, while reformers have, at different periods in Islamic history, argued that the inegalitarian elements is Islam reflect the temporal context in which the religious emerged, were not intended to be immutable, and should be reinterpreted in light of contemporary conditions (Ahmed 1992). Traditional interpretations emphasize those passages in the Qur'an and hadith that give women a lower valuation than men, and use them to define a distinctly subordinate social role for women. The statements in the religious texts that grant women the right to manage their own property and to conduct their business receive little attention, compared to those that value female testimony in court as worth half that of a man, and allot her a share of inheritance half the size of that of a man. In this tradition, women's options are limited to their domestic role and they have little freedom of choice in matters of marriage, divorce, and the custody of their children. Marriage is contracted by a woman's legal guardian, her consent being inferred rather than formally sought, and therefore early marriage and forced unions are not regarded as necessarily unethical, as they would be from a women's rights perspective. Husbands are entitled to four wives and can repudiate their wives by uttering the divorce formula, whereas women must go through an often difficult procedure if they wish to obtain a divorce. Fathers have custody of their children after infancy, while women have no grounds for claiming custody. And although the religious sources provide no clear rules on the degree to which women should have access to equal education and employment, conservatives have favored sexual segregation in schools and opposed women's work outside the home (Rahman 1980). Reformists and feminists have contested this scriptural and "establishment" version of shari'a. Using the many instances in the Qur'an and hadith where no difference is made between believers, and the historical evidence on the status of women in the early decades of Islam, they argue that there is an egalitarian ethos in Islam that was historically distorted by patriarchal forces (Ahmed 1986, 1992). In their view, the religious texts can and should be interpreted in a more egalitarian manner. This perspective would be in harmony with the Western feminist notion of women's reproductive choice, and in fact, several aspects of Islamic doctrine are clearly compatible with such an interpretation. A number of statements in the scriptures stress the idea that God does not wish to burden man, and suggest that "quality" is as important as "quantity" in children. In addition, there is a generally positive attitude in Islam towards sex in marriage, and a clear recognition of a woman's right to sexual enjoyment. With respect to family planning in particular, the texts do not present a major obstacle: little mention is made of contraception, except in the famous hadith where the prophet condones the use of coitus interruptus (Omran 1992). By analogy, this permissive stance has been taken to apply to all non-terminal methods of contraception. The permissibility of abortion has been the subject of debate, because while most schools of law agree that abortion is acceptable before ensoulment and unacceptable afterwards the question of when ensoulment takes place has been as difficult to resolve as it has been in other theological traditions. With the exception of the Maliki school of jurisprudence, it is generally agreed that ensoulment, indicated by quickening happens near the end of the first trimester, and consequently abortions are allowed until that point. Sterilization poses a greater difficulty, because the finality of the method is seen as interfering with divine will, and therefore Muslim authorities have not condoned its use (Omran 1992). In sum, from the point of view of Islamic doctrine, it is possible to take two very different positions on reproductive choice; the more traditional one gives women very little freedom to make decisions that bear on reproduction; the second, increasingly espoused by Muslim reformists and feminists, argues that the constraints on reproductive choice that exist in Muslim countries are not inherently Islamic, and that the egalitarian elements in the sacred texts should be the guide to a reinterpretation of the doctrine that would be fully compatible with ideas of human rights and reproductive choice.
Reproductive Choice in Countries of the Middle East
To obtain a general view of reproductive choice in countries of the Middle East, I have summarized data on indicators of women's status and reproductive health in table 4-1. These data are imperfect proxies for choice; women's status indicators are a crude measure of women's ability to make informed decisions, and indicators of reproductive health provide a rough idea of the outcomes of such decisions (or lack thereof). Take together, they suggest that the constraints are considerable. Statistics showing a lower level of educational achievement for women compared to men, and figures showing low levels of labor force participation for women imply a low degree of autonomy. Indicators of reproductive behavior -- the high total fertility rate, and the relatively low percentage of women using contraceptive methods -- are consistent with available data on the high frequency of early marriage and the gap between stated fertility preferences and observed fertility levels (Farid 1987). They suggest that many women are not in a position to formulate and achieve clear reproductive goals. Measures of access to health care (percentage of the population with access to health care, percentage of births attended by trained personnel) show substantial gaps in coverage in some countries, and estimates of maternal mortality (Kane et al. 1991; Fortney et al. 1986) indicate that under conditions of difficult access, women are especially vulnerable. These adverse outcomes have been attributed to the ideology of male dominance and son preference in the culture,1 the limitations on the free mixing of the sexes,2 the custom of arranged marriages, the male privileges of repudiation and multiple wives,3 the pressures to bear children, and the low priority accorded to women's health and nutrition.4 In seeking a general explanation for these patterns, it is often argued that the association between Islam, women's status, and demographic outcomes is inevitably unfavorable, and this notion seems to fit with popular images of the plight of women in the Middle East (and also with the anxieties generated in the West by militant Islam). One of the major obstacles to a balanced assessment of reproductive choice and its health consequences has been the paucity of data on reproductive health in the Middle East. As in other regions of the world, a great deal of attention has been devoted to contraceptive surveys of attitudes and practices, but when we try to consider reproductive health in a comprehensive manner, the evidence is very sketchy, and we often have to make do with imperfect proxies. Although there have been some studies focusing on indicators of women's status and health outcomes (Tekce and Shorter 1984; Doan and Bisharat 1990), most have been limited to the topic of child survival, and we know very little about the state of reproductive health in relation to women's status.5 Statistics for the region as a whole are of limited use in linking women's health and fertility outcomes to the degree of reproductive choice in each Country context. Because they measure outcomes, these statistics do not tell us whether the source of change is a result of improvements in the reproductive options that are open to women, such as increased autonomy, or improved access to health services and to health information. Because they are aggregates at the state level, these measures cannot capture important variations within countries between the elites and the less privileged segments of the population. It is possible, however, to develop a broad view of the extent to which the situation has changed over the last few decades, and some of these trends have been included in Table 4-1.
Table 4-1 Selected Indicators of Reproductive Choice in the Middle East *
Primary School Enrollment
Secondary School Enrollment
Female labor force Participation (%)
Change in Preceding 25-30 Years (%)
Percent of Age Group
Females per 100 Males
Percent of Age Group
Females per 100 males
United Arab Emirates
Yemen YAR (North)
Yemen PDRY (South)
Total Fertility Rate
% Decline 1950-1990
Population with access to health care(%)
Births attended by medical personnel
Female life expectancy at birth*
Maternal mortality rate (estimates)
مخاطر الزواج المبكرمخاطر الزواج المبكر يعرف الزواج المبكر بأنه زواج الفتاة قبل سن الثامنة عشر ربيعا وطبيا نود أن نقسمه الى أولا:- زواج قبل سن خمسة عشر عاما. ثانيا: - زواج بين15-18سنة. دوافع الزواج المبكر:- 1- المجتمع المصرىيتميز بأنه مجتمع محافظيرفض تأخر سن الزواج بالفتاة و ذلك للمحافظة على الاخلاق و التقاليد و هيبة الأسرة الا أن المغالاة فى هذاالاتجاه أدى الى ظهور مشكلة الزواج المبكر بما لها من تداعيات صحية كثيرة. 2-الرغبة فى وجود أسرة كبيرة الحجم (العزوة) مازال فى أذهان البعض مما يدفعهم الى الزواج من الفتاة الصغيرة. 3-غياب حق الفتاة فىالمشاركة فى اتخاذ القرار و ذلك لصغر سنها . لماذا الآن:- قد يسأل سائل لماذا نتحدث الآن فى موضوع الزواج المبكر؟ أليس هذا الموضوع منذ زمن بعيد؟ ماذا جد حتى نتحدث عنه بحرارة هذه الأيام؟ الاجابة تكمن باختصار فى التقدم المذهل للطب فى ال50سنة الأخيرة مع وجود الاحصائيات و الدراسات التى أدت الى فهم عميق لأخطار الزواج المبكر و ما هى عوامل الخطر و كيفية تجنبها. هذه الوسائل لم تكن متوافرة من قبل فلم يكن أحد يتنبه لها. خطورة الزواج المبكر:- الزواج المبكر قضية اجتماعية ذات أبعاد طبية خطيرة فى المجتمع المصرى لمالها من انعكاسات على صحة المرأة والطفل و المجتمع عموما حيث تدل معظم الابحاث و الدراسات الطبية و البيئية على أن مضاعفات الحمل و الولادة تزداد بشدة فى حالات الزواج المبكر عنها فى حالات الزواج بعد سن18سنة و من أهمهذه المضاعفات تسمم الحمل و ضعف الجنين ممايؤدى الى ارتفاع حاد فى نسبة الوفيات فى الاطفال حديثى الولادة. مضاعفات صحية: اما نتيجة مباشرة لصغر السن وعدم نضج الفتاة أو نتيجة الاهمال و عدم متابعة الحمل مع الطبيب 1-تسمم الحمل:- هو ارتفاع ضغط الدم أثناء فترة الحمل مع تورم الساقين و نزول الزلال فى البول ممايؤدى الى تأخر نمو الجنين نتيجة انخفاض كمية الدم المغذية للرحم. و تسمم الحمل قد يؤدى الى مضاعفات كثيرة خاصة اذا لم تكن هناك زيارات متكررة للطبيب لمتابعة الحمل. ومن أهم هذه المضاعفات:- 1-حدوث تشنجات و غيبوبة نتيجة ارتفاع حاد فى ضغط الدم يؤدى الى نزيف فى أغشية المخ و نسبة وفيات الأمهات فى هذه الحالة عالية جدا. 2-اختناق الجنين فى بطن الأم وذلك للقصور الحاد فى الدورة الدموية المغذية للجنين. 3-تدخل الاطباء من أجل المحافظة على حياة الأم قد يؤدى الى حدوث الولادة المبكرة فى كثير من الاحيان 2-الولادة المبكرة:- ثانى أهم مضاعفات الحمل المبكر فى سن أقل من18سنة حيث تقل نسبة استعداد الرحم لتحمل الجنين فى كلا السن الصغير (أقل من18) و السن الكبير (أكثر من35). والولادة المبكرة لها تأثيرها المباشر على ازدياد نسبة الوفيات فى الأطفال حديثى الولادة. والجدير بالذكر أنه من بين16500حالة ولادة وجد أن1662حالة تعانى من تسمم الحمل و الولادة المبكرة وأكثر من50% من هذه الحالات يقل عمر الأم عن18سنة. 3-الاجهاض:- تزداد معدلات الاجهاض عن معدلاتها الطبيعية فى حالات الحمل المبكر وذلك اما لخلل فى الهرمونات الأنثوية (تفرز بمعدلات أقل من المفروض) أو لعدم تأقلم الرحم علىعملية حدوث الحمل ممايؤدى الى حدوث انقباضات رحمية متكررة من شأنها أن تحدث نزيف مهبلى وما يتبعه من التخلص من الجنين. 4-العدوى البكتيرية:- والتى تعرف باسم حمى النفاس وتزداد معدلاتها بشكل كبير فى حالات الحمل المبكر و ذلك لنقص مقاومة الجسموضعف التغذية من ناحية أو كنتيجة للمضاعفات السالفة الذكر. و حمى النفاس قد يتتبعها حدوث التهابات مزمنة فى الحوض- اضطرابات فى الدورة الشهرية و اخيرا العقم نتيجة لالتهاب الانابيب وانتشار الالتصاقات داخل البطن. 5- ارتفاع نسبة الوفيات:- نسبة الوفيات للامهات تتزايد بشكل خطير فى حالة حدوث الحمل المبكر أقل من18سنة كنتيجة للمضاعفات السالفة الذكرو تقدر هذه النسبة بوفاة واحدة فى كل70 حالة وهذه نسبة عالية جدا مقارنة بالدول المتقدمة (وفاة فى كل5000حالة تقريبا). تزداد فرصة حدوث هذه الأخطار فى حالة:- 1-حدوث الزواج فى سن أقل من15سنة 2-مستوى معيشى متدنى 3-ضعف الصحة العامة للفتاة نتيجة سوء التغذية مضاعفات اجتماعية 1-تأخر فى استكمال مسيرة التعليم 2- عدم القدرة على تنظيم عدد أفراد الأسرة 3- عدم القدرة على الارتفاع بمستوى المعيشة 4-عدم القدرة على العناية السليمة بالطفل الوليد. 5-ازدياد العبء على الدولة نتيجةازدياد تكلفة استخدام وسائل العلاج الحديثة و ازدياد الحاجة الى الحضانات للأطفال غير مكتملى النمو. كل هذا يؤدى الى التقليل من فرصة الحصول على مستوى معيشى كريم ويزيد من معاناة الفرد و المجتمع. دور المرأة فى التقليل من أخطار الحمل المبكر:- يمكن القول أن المرأة هى الضحية فى حالاتالزواج المبكر حيث تستهلك صحتها و نضارتها لماتتعرضه من تكرار فرصة الحمل فى السن الصغير وما قد يؤدى اليه من مضاعفات. دور الرجل فى التقليل من أخطار الحمل المبكر:- قد يتبادر الى الذهن: هل للرجال دور فى هذا الموضوع؟!! والجواب أن لهم دور أساسى اذ أن الرجل هو الأب و الاخ و الزوج فعن طريق الفهم الصحيح لهذه المشكلة يستطيع الرجل أن يوجه دفة الأسرة الى ماهو فى خيرها و لايخفى علينا أن الرجل فى مجتمعنا يعتبر هو الأساس فى قرار الزواج المبكر. دور المجتمع فى التقليل من أخطار الحمل المبكر:- عن طريق رموزه يستطيع أن يقدم التوعية الصحيحة و القدوة الحسنة لأفراد الشعب من مختلف طوائفه كما يستطيع المجتمع أن يقدم البرامج و الندوات التى تجمع الأطباء و رجالات الدين و المجتمع لتوضيح الحقيقة و تبسيط ماصعب فهمه. Edited by: Dr. Hesham G. Al-InanyAdded: 15/10/2002http://www.khosoba.com/archive/021015x04_sr_early_marriage.htm
[Proves that: The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Married Hazrat Aishah When She was 19 Years of Age and not When She Was 9.] by Ghulam Nabi Muslim Sahib, M.A. Translated by: Masud Akhtar, B.A., LL.B. The Light (Sep 24, 1981, pp. 13-17). [Note: Many anti-Islamic sites accuse our Beloved Holy Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, of , God Forbid, marrying a minor. We present here an article that will clear our Beloved Holy Prophet (pbuh) off this blasphemous charge. May Allah guide the opponents of Islam aright, Aameen!]
Most narrations carry misstatements about the age of Hazrat ‘Aishah Siddiqah at the time of her marriage to the Holy Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They place this marriage in the tenth year of the Call and state that Hazrat ‘Aishah was only 6 years old at that time. On proper sifting of the material facts, these statements turn out to be incorrect and it becomes evident that she, in fact, was about 19 or 20 years of age when she arrived in the house of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as his wife in 2 A.H.
It will be in the fitness of things to quote from the writings of two well-known Muslim scholars of the present century who are the main exponents of the view that Hazrat ‘Aishah Siddiqah was 6 years old at her Nikah and 9 years old at the time of the consummation of her marriage. Both Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi and Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi are well-known Muslim authors of Seerat (biography). Nadvi’s View: Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi writes on page 21 of his book 'Seerat-i-Aishah':
"Books of history and biography are generally silent about the birth date of Hazrat ‘Aishah. The historian Ibn Sa’d, whom many later biographers have followed, has written that Hazrat ‘Aishah was born in the fourth year of the Call, and was married at the age of 6 years in the tenth year of the Call. Apparently this cannot be correct, because if her birth in the fourth year of the Call be admitted as correct then her age at the time of her marriage in the tenth year of the Call works out to 7 and not 6 years.
The fact remains that some matters about the age of Hazrat ‘Aishah are admitted to be correct by most historians and biographers, and these are: She was married three years before Hijrah at the age of six years; the marriage was consummated in the month of Shawal in the year 1 A.H. when she was 9 years old, and she became a widow in Rabi-al-Awwal 11 A.H., at the age of 18 years. According to this account, the correct date of her birth works out to the end of the fifth year of the Call or 614 A.D. of the Christian calendar. For a proper comprehension of the events of history, one should bear in mind that out of a total period of 23 years of the Call, the first 13 years were passed in Mecca and the last 10 years in Madina. Thus, the fourth year of the Call had already been out before her birth and the fifth year was running." Maududi’s View:
In the article, "The Nikah Date of Sayedah ‘Aishah," published in the 'Tarjuman al-Quran'of September 1976, Maulana Abul Ala Maududi wrote:
"It is apparent from the detailed reports of Imam Ahmad Tibrani, Ibn Jareer and Baihaqi that the Nikah of Sayedah ‘Aishah was solemnised before the Nikah of Sayedah Saudah. It is also evident that her Nikah with the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was solemnised in the month of Shawal of the tenth year of the Call, three years before Hijrah, when she was 6 years old. Here a question arises, that if Sayedah ‘Aishah was 6 years of age in the Shawal of the tenth year of the Call, then she should have been 9 years of age at the time of Hijrah and should have been of 11 years in 2 A.H. at the time of consummation.
But all narrators agree that her Nikah was solemnised when she was 6 years old and the marriage was consummated when she was 9 years old. Some Ulema have tried to meet this discrepancy by saying that the marriage was consummated seven months after Hijrah. Hafiz Ibn Hajar has preferred this view. On the other hand, Imam Nauvi in his 'Tahzeeb al-Asma’a al-Lughat', Hafiz Ibn Katheer in his 'Al-Badaya' and Allama Qustalani in his 'Mawahib al-Deeniah' report consummation in 2 A.H. Hafiz Badr-ud-Din Aini has written in his Umdat al-Qari that the marriage of ‘Aishah Siddiqah was consummated in Shawal 2 A.H. after the return of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from the battle of Badr. Both Imam Nauvi and Allama Aini consider the above-quoted reports of consummation of marriage seven months after Hijrah as irresponsible and untrustworthy.
Thus we are faced with a question that if the marriage was consummated at the age of 9 years in Shawal 2 A.H., then what should be the date of Nikah which should tally with her age of 6 years? An answer to this question is found in Bukhari wherein it is reported from Urwah ibn Zubair, "Sayedah Khadijah died three years before Hijrah; the Holy Prophet solemnised Nikah with Sayedah ‘Aishah two years after that. Then it was consummated at the age of 9 years." This works out to be correct that Nikah was solemnised one year before Hijrah when she was 6 years old and consummation took place in 2 A.H. when she was 9 years." The above quotations amply bear out that both Syed Nadvi and Syed Maududi agree to the correctness of reports stating the age of Sayedah ‘Aishah at 6 years at Nikah and 9 years at the consummation. Their only worry seems to be the calculation of the correct year of the Call and the Hijrah for fixing these ages in those calendar years. Both of them start with a preconception that the age of 6 years for Nikah and 9 years for consummation are correct and true, and set out in search of the correct year of the Call and Hijrah in which these preconceived ages will fit in. This hardly can be called a scientific method of finding her correct age. This rather may be called an effort to find a correct date for a given age. The Other View: As far as my information goes the first voice against the common misconception about the age of Sayedah ‘Aishah at her marriage was raised by Maulana Muhammad Ali, M.A., LL.B., in 1924 in his 'Muhammad the Prophet', wherein he wrote:
"The popular misconception as to Aishah’s age may be removed here. That she had not attained majority is clear enough, but that she was not so young as six years of age is also true. In the first place, it is clear that she had reached an age when betrothal could take place in the ordinary course and must therefore have been approaching the age of majority. Again, the Isabah, speaking of the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah, says that she was about five years older than ‘Aishah.
It is a well-established fact that Fatimah was born when the Ka’bah was being rebuilt, i.e., five years before the Call or a little before it, and so ‘Aishah was certainly not below ten years at the time of her marriage with the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in the tenth year of the Call. This conclusion is borne out by the testimony of ‘Aishah herself who is reported to have related that when the chapter entitled ‘The Moon’ (the 54th chapter) was revealed she was a girl playing about and that she remembered certain verses then revealed. Now the fifty-fourth chapter could not have been revealed later than the fifth year of the Call, and therefore the report which states her to have been six years old in the tenth year of the Call when her marriage ceremony was gone through cannot be correct, because this would show her to have born about the time of the revelation of the 54th chapter.
All these considerations show her to have been not less than ten years old at the time of her marriage. And as the period between her marriage and its consummation was not less than five years, because the consummation took place in the second year of the Fight, it follows that she could not have been less than fifteen at that time. The popular account that she was six years at marriage and nine years at the time of consummation is decidedly not correct, because it supposes the period between the marriage and its consummation to be only three years, while this is historically wrong." Sulaiman Nadvi took Maulana Muhammad Ali to task (for his above-quoted view) in note 2 on page 26 of the third edition of his 'Seerat-i-Aishah' in the following words:
"Some irresponsible persons who think that the marriage with a girl of tender age was not befitting for the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) have tried to prove that the age of Hazrat ‘Aishah Siddiqah at her marriage was 16 years instead of 6 years. All such efforts are useless and all such claims are illogical. Not a single word is the Hadith and history can be found in their support." Nadvi Contradicts Himself: In spite of this severe criticism of Muhammad Ali’s view, Nadvi not only contradicts himself about the age of Hazrat ‘Aishah, but provides supporting evidence to Muhammad Ali’s views when, writing about the last days of the life of Hazrat ‘Aishah, he writes at page 111 of the same 'Seerat-i-Aishah': "Hazrat ‘Aishah was a widow and she passed 40 years of her life as a widow." Further, at page 153 he writes: "The last days of Khilafat (Caliphate) of Amir Muawiyya were the last days of the life of Hazrat ‘Aishah and her age at that time was 67 years."
Now if we deduct 40 years of her widowed life from 67 years then we find she was 27 years of age at the time of the passing away of the Holy Prophet in 11 A.H.and not 18 years as reported by Nadvi in the earlier pages of the same book. Since the total period of the Call is 23 years, therefore, according to this account she was born about four years before the Call and not in the fourth year of the Call as Nadvi tried to make us believe in his earlier pages quoted herein above. Consequently, her age at the time of the Nikah in the tenth year of the Call works out to 14-15 years and not 6 years, as Nadvi himself so assertively reported.
According to this account, Hazrat ‘Aishah’s age at the time of consummation of her marriage in 2 A.H. works out to 19-20 years and not 9 years as stated in earlier pages of Seerat-i-Aishah. A further enquiry is most naturally necessitated to find out which of the reports of Nadvi should be given credence.
Other Sources: There are other important events recorded in history which provide definite evidence about the age of Hazrat ‘Aishah. 1. The well-known historian Ibn Jareer al-Tabari writes at page 50 of volume 4 of his 'Book of History': "Abu Bakr married two ladies in the days of ignorance (pre-Call era). Fateelah daughter of Abd al-Aza was the first, from whom Abdullah and Asma were born. Umm-i-Rooman was the second, from whom Abd al-Rahman and ‘Aishah were born. All the four children of Abu Bakr were born in the days of ignorance (Jahiliyyah, i.e., pre-Islamic days) from the above-named two ladies. 2. It is a well-known fact of history, that Abu Bakr’s son Abd al-Rahman fought against the Muslims in the battle of Badr. His age at that time was 21-22 years, and although he was older than ‘Aishah, there is no evidence to show that the difference between their ages was more than three or four years. This fact lends support to the view that Hazrat ‘Aishah was born four or five years before the Call. 3. The well-known historian and scholar ‘Allama ‘Imad-ud-Deen Ibn Katheer writes in his 'Al-Badayah' about Sayedah Asma’ daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr’ (Allah be pleased with him) (and we hope Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maududi must have seen it as he referred to 'Al-Badaya' in his article): Asma’ died in 73 A.H. at the age of 100 years. She was ten years older than her sister ‘Aishah. Now according to this report ‘Asma’ would have been 27-28 years old at the time of Hijrah and since she was ten years older than Sayedah ‘Aishah, therefore the age of Sayedah ‘Aishah would have been 17 or 18 years at the time of Hijrah. Accordingly, her birth falls about four or five years before the Call, and her age at the time of the consummation of marriage in 2 A.H. will work out to 19-20 years. 4. The author of the well-known collection of Hadith 'Mishkat al-Masabeeh', Sheikh Waheed-ud-Deen, writes in his well-known book 'Ahmal fi Asma’ al-Rijjal': "At the time of the consummation of her marriage Sayedah ‘Aishah’s age was not less than 18-19 years." All the above quotations give ample refutation to the common misconception that Sayedah ‘Aishah’s age at the time of her Nikah was 6 years and at the time of consummation of marriage it was only 9 years. If Muslim scholars of the present era deem fit to make an objective research instead of beating the old track, they will find ample material in the pages of history to arrive at a correct age for Sayedah ‘Aishah. This indeed would be a great service to the cause of Islam. – Islamic Review, December 1980, U.S.A.
Violence Against Girl-Children in a Rights Paradigm: Deconstructing Child Marriage from Islamic Perspectives
The personal is often political, especially on matters where the stakes are made high both by vested interests that enjoy the status quo and those determined to subvert existing hierarchical authorities. I therefore start from the personal. My wife and I were married upon the completion of her law degree at the university. She was 26; I was two years older. Both of us were and are believing and practicing Muslims, decidedly not secular, yet both positive in our affirmation of personal and collective responsibility; of human dignity, and of the equal humanity of all – regardless of sex, ethnicity or class. It is such affirmation of the humanity of all that drives the conviction that the marriage of an 11-year old child on the excuse that she has commenced menstruation involves extreme violence: violence against a childhood interrupted, stolen and repudiated; violence against body and mind; and violence against the faith and path of al-Islam – for such violence is carried out as favoured by, when not done in the name of the Almighty. Yet, it is the same positive affirmation of the humanity of all that makes one permanently aware that one’s own experience is not necessarily a model for others to follow; that the full exercise of human dignity necessitates self-determination, at personal and collective levels – and that contexts and circumstances differ most widely across the diversity of the human condition. Marriage after all does not mean or symbolize the same everywhere; does not offer the same privileges everywhere; does not entail the same losses everywhere; does not receive the same protection everywhere; does not involve the same risks and gains everywhere; and is not sought for the same reasons everywhere. The very idea that one single culture, Western or other, represents the best life possible, a model for all humanity to follow – the idea that a universal minimum age of marriage can or should be set – is both ignorant and false, just as it is harmful. That idea must be set firmly in the same realm with all other hegemonies. At public and private levels, the denial of collective rights involved in such an imposition would entail violence that cumulatively would be comparable to the private violence of domestic hegemony that goes with child marriage itself. Islamic Law – what is commonly, if inappropriately called ‘Shari’ah’ – was codified from ’usool-ul-fiqh, the human jurisprudential interpretation of the principles derived during the first three centuries of Islam from the Qur’an (which Muslims believe is God’s message) and the sunnah, the sayings, teachings and examples ascribed with varying levels of authenticity to Prophet Muhammad. A major tragedy of Islamic history is that the process of continuous re-interpretation to derive new Islamic laws to fit new contexts – what is called ijtihaad – suffered a closure by which all further interpretation ceased. This closure introduced a lie into the claim by Muslims that Islam was a universal message for all time, because by this closure of ijtihaad, Islam, which was a process with fixed principles but dynamic applications became overall a frozen system. It is the legal components of this frozen system that many today commonly call ‘Shari’ah’. What is now called ‘Shari’ah’ is in actual fact no more than the frozen classical Islamic Law that was codified by the end of the third century of Islam. Classical Islamic Law – what is today popularly called Shari’ah – was sourced from ’usool-ul-fiqh, a term that did not conceptually exist until the time of the genius-jurist-theologian-imam Idrees M Shaafi‘ who was born 150 years after the Prophet had died. This historical fact, that Islam already existed for more than 150 years before the evolution of what we now know as Shari’ah and the principles (of ’usool-ul-fiqh) from which it was derived; is the clearest indication that Islam is not synonymous with Shari’ah.
That most Muslims, after centuries of the closure of ijtihaad, have come to see Islam as synonymous with Shari’ah encapsulates the ongoing tragedy that has to be overcome. It is necessary to overcome that constraint since large numbers of Muslims everywhere appear to remain tied to the idea of Islam playing a role, big or small, in the public sphere, in spite of two centuries of imperatives – sometimes violent – aimed at getting them to think differently. Now, under “Shari’ah” (actually classical Islamic Law), a child ceases to be a child at puberty. For boys, the onset of puberty was always fluid, for obvious reasons. For girls it was marked by the onset of menstruation, the point at which a girl was capable of conceiving a child. One day a girl was a girl. And the next day, she was a woman. Today, even though human beings and the world in which they live has changed tremendously in 1400 years, “Shari’ah” has not changed because reforming “Shari’ah” through ijtihaad is now widely seen as changing Islam, which for ordinary Muslims is tantamount to an admission that Islam is faulty. While re-interpretation remains closed, we are stuck with “Shari’ah”, as it is. This absence of reform is the greatest problem facing Muslims in today’s world. By the way, this absence of reform is caused partly by internal factors: authoritarian political cultures and regimes, poor governance and corrupt political and religious elites. It is also partly due to external factors. For example, world-leading ethicist Thomas Pogge points out that poor governance and corrupt regimes survive in many parts of the world because such a state of affairs is in the interest of rich powerful countries[i]. It is well known that ruling regimes in many Muslim countries, many of which have oil, are accountable more to foreign elites than to their own people. There is also the problem of colonialism, which prevented any further evolution of Islamic Law in the light of modern developments beyond the 18th century and turned Islamic Law into a domain of resistance.
Yet, colonialism, though violently hegemonic and deserving resistance, also brought the benefits of modernity at the time it occurred. Islamic Law thus became a form of resistance to colonialism (and thus modernity), and became even more frozen psychologically as a golden past to be retrieved. Up till 1800 when colonialism intensified, the Islamic Law system in Ottoman Turkey was considerably more advanced than the Western legal system in several spheres. With lack of use, lack of institutionalisation, and confinement into the unregulated private sphere, Islamic Law ceased all further evolution and became the domain of resistance to preserve Muslim values and cultures. Today, Islamic Law is understandably behind the times, to put it most mildly. The task facing Muslims is to institutionalize reform so that Muslims can live Shari’ah in the 21st century, and remain true both to their values and their times. As earlier stated, under classical Islamic Law, a child ceases to be a child and was considered mature (blgh in the Arabic root term) at puberty. 1400 years ago, the onset of menstruation would typically occur between the ages of 14 years and 17 years, and Muslim girls would typically become sexually active wives very soon after menses began (since they were usually married before or soon after[ii]). Today, children as young as 9 years old commence menstruation. In addition, the current state of human knowledge (of medical science) allows us to know that whereas the capacity to conceive a baby (marked by the onset of menstruation) is now achieved sometimes as early as 9 years old; the capacity to safely give birth to a baby comes years after. Universal medical evidence now shows that a moderately high level of first-birth safety is usually not attained until about the age of 17 years when the pelvis (hip bone) and the birth canal achieve their full size and stop further growth[iii].
On the basis of this biological and natural fact alone, which shows a gap of years between the ability to get pregnant and the ability to safely give birth, the idea of menstruation marking maturity / adulthood ought to see reform. This is aside from the social fact that what it took to parent a baby 1400 years ago – when carers in the extended family were plenty and life was simple – is not what it takes today (psychologically and emotionally) to competently parent another human being in the modern world. This is moreover a role which today has to be combined with the adult-role of wife – with all it psychological, economic and biological implications. It is not Islamic to insist in the 21st century that the onset of menstruation, say in a 9 or 10-year old marks maturity or adulthood. Islamic leaders, jurists and scholars have a duty to alter the definition of buloogh in the face of current truths. Their continuing failure not only constitutes violence against Muslims (especially poor Muslim girls); by such failures and silences, they do violence immense violence against their own souls. I will later address the often-cited argument related to the marriage between the Prophet of Islam and ‘Aisha, the only wife of the Prophet that was neither a widow nor a divorcee. Every intelligent person must know that children do sometimes menstruate, as early as the 9th, 10th or 11th year. Yet every sane person must accept that sexual intercourse is harmful to children. Those who ignorantly or immorally contest either reality are not only beyond persuasion or dialogue; they are unfit to speak anything in God’s name. Those who decide today to fix – permanently and for all eternity – the commencement of menstruation as the marker of maturity and the signifier of adulthood, are not only ignorant of physical truths, but also oblivious to God’s eternal message and wondrous ways. Essentially because marriage involves sexual intercourse and the potential for motherhood, it is violence to place any child in a situation where she is forced to play an adult role and bear a child. It should therefore be a matter of commitment to humanity that no child should be married when she is of an age at which she is too young to competently play the role of wife and potential mother. Yet such commitment must concede that beyond the basic biological determinants, the age at which such roles can be competently performed vary from culture to culture.
Beyond the physical and biological capacity to function sexually (not merely as a passive object but as a willing subject and co-participant) whether or not a 15 year old is competent to be wife will depend on a wide array of psychological, social, economic and cultural factors. Beyond the physical and biological capacity to bear a child with a decent level of safety to mother and child (at birth and thereafter); whether a 14 or 16-year old is fit to mother a child will depend on the widest array social and other factors, which of course include the type of family structure – nuclear or extended – that obtains in the culture in question; whether support structures are available; whether for example the care of the infant is solely dependent on the new mother or whether care is shared.
So in Sweden[iv], 18 years old is rightly set for the minimum age of marriage. Turkey[v] and South Africa[vi] rightly set 15 years. Egypt[vii] and the United Kingdom[viii] rightly set 16 years. Several states of the US allow the marriage of 14 year-olds under special circumstances[ix]. To ignore the diversity of the human condition entails a great deal of ignorance and arrogance. The equations even go beyond the diversity of culture: I for one would consider it harmful for a 14-year old to be married as fourth wife to a 55-year old man in 21st century society. This is because the Qur’an teaches me that marriage is based on mutuality[x]. When I read Qur’an 30: 21 taken together with Q 2:187 and other such verses, it is clear to me that sex is only correct when it is a mutual enterprise, not a an experience in which a man fulfils his needs through a woman who is passive or who lacks the status of being an active agent and co-beneficiary in a pleasurable encounter. How is this Qur’anic ethic to be fulfilled when men in their 30s and 40s thrust themselves upon 12 and 13 year-olds?! While mutuality is possible between two adults, even when age differences are substantial, the mutuality spoken of in the Qur’an is not possible between a 14-year old teenager and a 55-year old adult who has other adult wives, and possibly children in their 30s. The day-to-day realities of marriage obviously involve mostly subconscious but constant compromise, partnership and negotiation (and partnership and negotiation are meaningless when parties are so unequal). Yet I would see no wrong in the same 14-year old girl being married to a 15-year old boy to whom she consents where such practice is socially and culturally valid. In short, so complex and so tied to the diversity of culture, class and condition is human marriage that ignoring all these differences and nuances and going ahead to impose a universal age of marriage upon peoples with different cultures amounts to cultural violence. It is in the above context that one may raise concerns about the new/upcoming Children’s Bill, which was initially roundly rejected when put to the lower chamber of Nigeria’s legislature only to be dramatically endorsed almost without debate when later re-introduced. We too often count the success of human rights advocacy in terms of legal changes made. It is doubtful whether such a dramatic and embarrassing ‘success’ indicates real development, since they so vividly minimize the role of agency and choice by communities, a matter so important in any human rights discourse. In the long run, human rights are not advanced by deference to external imperatives and impositions – especially those that minimize and stifle democratic exchanges.
Without suggesting that vesico-vaginal-fistula (VVF) happens to every under-aged girl giving birth, or that it occurs only to mothers who are too young, or even that it is the only (physical, not to mention psychological) harm that child mothers face, I want to use it as an illustration because it is quite common with under-aged mothers. Causality is substantiated to the extent that there is overwhelming medical and statistical evidence showing that child marriage massively increases all the risks of maternal mortality (death) and morbidity (injury during birth)[xi]. One such common morbidity is VVF whereby due to childbirth difficulties, a woman suffers a rupture of tissues that leaves the vagina and the urinary passage to the bladder joined together, causing the loss of the ability to control urine. How can we as Muslims lay the claim to Justice if we make ‘Islamic’ claims to support the marriage of a 10 year-old, whose marriage is consummated after the eighth menstrual cycle at age 11, and who, while still a child slightly under 12 faces the prospect of giving birth to another child? Because the hole in her pelvic bone is still too small, she labours for 60 hours, the baby’s head being unable to pass through the pelvis. The baby eventually is a still-birth having been asphyxiated by too long being trapped in the cervix.
The girl-mother survives, but ends with fistula, no longer capable of controlling her urine. Labour leaves her battered in body and soul, her breasts are full and sore, her genitals damaged, her whole body in pain, and her baby is dead leaving her with nothing to show for the whole endeavour. Her mother-in-law and other members of the extended family tell her that she is a ‘weakling’ and is the first daughter-in-law who has ‘failed’ to successfully give birth and lost them a son at birth. Weeks after, because she is still “leaking urine, she is smelly, embarrassing and a source of shame”, she is cast out to live in a separate quarter within the compound, or even outside altogether. Her mental trauma worsens.
After being cast out for six months due to her condition, she is in due course divorced. Her husband who is typically at least double her age; joined by others; including the imam of the nearby mosque, explain to her that ‘chronic illness’ and ‘defects’ are a legitimate ground for divorce in Islam, and that one of the legitimate grounds for divorcing a woman according to (Maliki) law[xii] is ifda’ or urinary incontinence (leakage of urine), which she now suffers. She becomes ultimately convinced that she has been a multiple victim, but somehow, all those around her tell her that all that has befallen her is allowable in Islam: the marriage, the consequences, and the divorce. Her faith in Islam eventually departs her even if she doesn’t affirmatively renounce Islam. Now, how can we justify the marriage of this girl, all the consequences of that marriage, and ultimately her divorce? The above illustration, experienced in real life by thousands and thousands of girls around the Muslim world, demonstrates the tragedy of postponing the reform of Islamic Law. The foregoing and what follows are an attempt to deconstruct prevalent notions of ‘maturity’ in traditional understandings of ‘Islamic Law’ with the aim of fashioning a rights framework for ending Child Marriage in Muslim societies, especially Northern Nigeria. It is acknowledged that human rights legislation are not only useless but also counter-productive for overall human rights advocacy unless they have at least a chance of enforcement. Taking as point of departure the reality that laws that stand no chance of being accepted, much less made enforceable within the target populace are at the very least unhelpful to the extent they are not only ineffective, but also widen the gap between the lived realities of communities and the domain of formal laws – and thus people’s overall perception of Law. Because law is meaningless unless enforced by the threat of sanction, I think it counter-productive to human rights, especially the rights of those who most deserve protection, to fix 18 years as the minimum legal age of marriage in Nigeria. In arguing above that the use of the onset of menstruation as marker of maturity is un-Islamic today; I have deployed a largely biological argument from the moral framework of Islam. In contending that the marriage of children is wrong, I have argued along the lines of natural law. Under such arguments it would be a straightforward matter to describe as un-Islamic, harmful, wrong and evil, sexual intercourse with a 9, 10 or 12-year-old wife even if she has commenced menstruation.
The major aim of such arguments will be to show that the onset of menstruation cannot Islamically or rightly serve as the marker of buloogh (maturity or legal majority) today. The principle of maqaasid-al-Shari’ah, which emphasizes the intention or spirit of Shari’ah in the application of fiqh (and the interpretation of religious concepts and the derivation of religious laws), would be helpful in establishing such arguments. Islamic jurists have often demonstrated throughout history that the overall intent and spirit of Shari’ah is more important than specific legalisms, and that ijtihaad is required when there is a gap or contradiction between the maqaasid, the spirit or intent of Shari’ah on the one hand, and a formal adherence to legalism on the other. It is also possible to argue that the role of a mother in Islam is central, since Islam names the mother as the first teacher and the one who offers the first forms of guidance in life to children. Whether a 12, 13 or 14 year old is competent, psychologically and knowledge-wise, to fulfill the role of a Muslim mother in today’s complex world is anyone’s guess. It is now accepted worldwide that 8 years of formal education in school (roughly equivalent of Junior Secondary education) is the minimum education that anyone requires to competently cope as an adult with the challenges of the modern world.
Constitutional guarantees, several Nigerian laws and policies, including the national policy on education (NPE) thus make the minimum of Junior Secondary education (JS3) compulsory for all Nigerians. Very clearly, the nature of secondary education (unlike tertiary education), make it close to impossible to combine secondary education with the role of wife and mother. There is thus another moral basis for delaying marriage till after. Nigerian students complete their JS3 examinations usually between the ages of 13 and 16 years.
The Islamic Law principle of maslahah, by which regulations are applied on the basis of what is in the public interest of a Muslim community, can be very helpful in establishing the argument that Muslim women or Muslim mothers can only fulfill their Islamic role if they have the minimum education required to function as a competent adult citizen in the modern world. So can arguments based on the far-reaching public health, social and economic problems of under-aged marriage, all of which are contrary to the public interest of the Muslim community and require legislation to stop. Yet, it is important to engage with definitions in a matter that is this controversial. I address in this paper only child marriage: the marriage of children, specifically the marriage of girls to men. I am neither addressing “early marriage” nor am I addressing “forced marriage”.As for ‘forced marriage’, there is no controversy amongst Muslims as regards the status of ‘forced marriage’ whether of a young girl or a woman. Forced marriage is no marriage – null and void within the legal systems at issue. In Islamic Law, not only is a forced marriage void if consent was withheld or obtained with coercion, a forced marriage is either conceptually impossible or if possible under Shari’ah, not sustainable and prone to dissolution once the ‘bride’ declares that her consent was coerced[xiii]. Thus my discussion is not of forced marriage, but rather child marriage. I am also not discussing “early marriage”, because I find the term to be not only unhelpful, but loaded with a lot of ideological baggage. What is early marriage? Does early marriage suggest that some age might be late for marriage? Do women have the freedom to marry ‘late’ as do men? How does this feed into the sociocultural imperatives that coerce women to marry at certain ‘deadline’ ages? “Early marriage” is very relative. For example, average ages of marriage for women keeps going up (now over 28 years) in Japan.
And most Japanese women are facing first-birth after marriage. On the contrary, women’s ages of marriage or cohabitation in the US, after going up steadily for many decades have begun falling rapidly. Even falling very much faster is the average age of women at first-birth. Beyond the ages of childhood and early teen years, terms such as ‘early marriage’ tend to fit into the larger discourse of cultural imperialism in which some cultures are posed as possessing a universalizing power over and above other cultures, because they represent the ‘best life’.
I think it unacceptable to so many outside the West, and counter-productive for human rights advocacy everywhere. The term ‘early marriage’ comes across to many as being loaded with ethnocentrism. Purely from the perspective of social scholarship, the terms ‘early marriage’ is ambiguous, lacking in specificity and therefore not very useful in categorizing a specific typology. That explains the focus on child marriage. When traditional people hear ‘early marriage’, they ask quite validly, how early is ‘early’. Which leads to the question; “who is a child?”
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (which all countries have signed except the US and Somalia) establishes 18 years as threshold. But the convention itself recognizes that other laws may rightly exist which set an earlier age for legal majority on other issues. The minimum age of marriage is implicitly one of these issues. As shown in the earlier examples, different countries have always understood the CRC this way.
I advocate the age of 15 years to be set as minimum age of marriage under law for the needs of today’s Nigeria. I argue that this does not change Shari’ah; but rather changes a principle (the age of buloogh) that no longer applies today. I also argue that such a change is needed if Islam (and Islamic Law) is to validate popular Muslim claims that Islam offers guidance for all time. Most importantly, I am arguing that leaders, judges, jurists and Islamic public intellectuals, within the northern Nigerian states that have adopted Shari’ah-based legislations do have a duty under Islam to construct a new hermeneutic and do the ijtihaad necessary, or make the necessary change by collective ijmaa‘.
The marriage of girl-children can be shown to be counter to the fundamental Islamic principles of justice, and the duty of leaders to protect the weak, apart from representing a gross contradiction to the aggregate societal aims of any community of Muslim believers. The range of physical, medical, psychological, economic, social and even spiritual damage done to young girls, their children and even their husbands (if they knew it) by early marriage constitute gross avoidable social damage and destruction of lives, and flies in the face of Shari’ah.
Those who oversee the implementation of Shari’ah-based legislation have a duty to protect from harm. Of course, a minimum age fixed today would not become Shari’ah since Shari’ah itself was not intended to become frozen, except on matters of worship: legislation would always be open to change with varying contexts and circumstances. Laws concerning social relations defy being frozen.In arguing for 15 years to be set as minimum age of marriage instead of the 18 years being proposed by many within Nigeria’s human rights movement, I call attention to the fact that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) only employs a definitive threshold of 18 years for “childhood”.
The CRC itself envisages that other laws may rightly exist which set an earlier age of legal majority, while the age of 18-years remains fixed for legal majority especially with respect to liability for criminal punishments (such as the death penalty) and other related matters. The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCHR) itself fixes 15 years as the recommended minimum age of marriage[xiv], leaving States to set minimums according to their various socio-cultural and political contexts. As stated, different countries have set age ranges from 15 to 18 years. I have chosen the 15-year benchmark for my advocacy because I can honestly advocate to Muslims on a 15-year minimum age using Shari’ah principles and the medical evidence of Muslim doctors over the decades[xv]. Also, my commitment is the protection of the vulnerable – not necessarily the achievement of a legislation on paper, one that is unlikely to work on the ground.
Under the human rights law principle of margin of appreciation, it would be more in favour of human rights that a 15-year mark is established in order to provide protection to the most vulnerable – the poor girls in the age range of 9 to 14 years – than establishing an 18-year mark that ensures rejection by entire cultural communities and forsakes the possibility of implementation. Putting forward 18-years as the minimum age of marriage, as the new Children’s Bill in the pipeline proposes, even if zealous, is quite ill-informed and ultimately counter-productive to the advancement of the human rights of the most vulnerable. It is problematic for implementation with regards to the poor Muslim communities at which it is apparently targeted to bring about positive change. The employment of liberal frameworks that ignore cultural and socio-economic specificities and presuppose notions of Western cultural superiority are flawed, both in conception and in their consequences on advocacy efforts towards the acceptance of the universality of human rights. Obviously, the fixing the minimum age of marriage at 15 years (as has been done in numerous countries including South Africa) or at most 16 years (as obtains in Egypt or the United Kingdom) is not contradictory to the spirit of the CRC or the UN human rights commission and offers the best chance for acceptance and enforcement.
It also has better guarantees of protection for the most vulnerable girl children. Fixing the minimum age at 18 only ensures that the resulting legislation will be rejected in the very social spaces where it is most needed, and that the dire need of the most vulnerable for protection will be forfeited.One must also address the dominant claim that child-marriage cannot be Islamically prohibited “because the Prophet married ‘Aisha when she was 9 (or according to some other reports, when she was 6 years old)”.
It is interesting that the alleged marriage of ‘Aisha at age 9 has come to be accepted almost as a dogma. Several hadeeth collections seem to validate this claim. Yet, a closer study of isnaad shows that almost every report is credited to Hisham Ibn Urwah, grandson of Asma. Hisham’s claim has not been without controversy over the ages. This fact is made plain by studying the seerah (Islamic history). Contradictions have been reported in his claims of Aisha being 9 at the age of marriage, when chronologically compared with Aisha’s date of birth, and her known age at death – and these in comparison to Hisham’s claims concerning the age of his own grandmother, Asma and the difference between Asma’s age and that of Aisha. These controversies can always be pursued inconclusively.
Yet for me, even if ‘Aisha can be shown to have been married at age 9, 1400 years ago, two things collapse the argument that it can then be right to marry a 9-year old bride today.
Firstly, it is known that this ‘marriage’ was actually a betrothal, as was common practice in the middle ages, and it is known that Aisha’s marriage was not consummated for several years after she was betrothed. If at all it is possible to determine today the age at which ‘Aisha commenced menstruation from the maze of historical reports at our disposal (some of which directly contradict each other, and are nonetheless simultaneously reported in the same hadeeth books); it is close to impossible to prove today beyond reasonable doubt the exact age at which ‘Aisha’s marriage was consummated.
Secondly and most importantly, it is important to point out that the very same persons who insist that ‘Aisha was married at 9 years old totally ignore all the reports that the Prophet consistently declined to numerous suitors the hand of his daughter Fatimah in marriage, saying that she was “too young”. It is well known that Fatimah (the only offspring that survived the Prophet) was not married to ‘Ali until she was well into her teens.
Why then do Muslim men keep harping on ‘Aisha’s ‘marriage’ in Makkah, rather than on the Prophetic example in Madinah, where the message of Islam was fuller and more complete? Since when have serious Muslims begun accepting Makkan hujjah over that of Madinah? Why is the noise of Aisha’s age 9 so loud, and the latter Madinah example of the Prophet almost totally obscured? The only explanation is patriarchy: male supremacy. The interest of patriarchy is obviously better served by perpetuating the marriage of men to girls (instead of to women). There is hardly any other way to explain this attitude of Muslim men.
Child marriage is no doubt a public health issue. It has reached crisis proportions in some parts of northern Nigeria, and there is no doubt that those who sustain such practices that violate the health and well-being of girls make use of Islam. I saw this myself during my one-year stay in the North. States with Shari’ah-based laws have a duty to take up the challenge by enacting necessary legislating. Islam does not expect marriage to be celibate; so marriage opens the possibility that a girl faces sexual intercourse and thus the potential for facing pregnancy and birth. It is useless to suggest that girl-children can be ‘married’, but the marriage not consummated until full maturity. Such stipulations would be totally unenforceable.
Yet any discussion of child marriage that ignores poverty is incomplete. We must always highlight the inextricable link between poverty and child-marriage. What are the commonalities shared by the child bride for example in Nepal, or by the Hindu girl in rural India, the Buddhist girl in Burma or Sri Lanka, on the one hand; and on the other, that iconic Muslim child bride in Pakistan, Bangladesh or Northern Nigeria? Is it not the case that we associate the denial of sexual health and reproductive well-being to girl victims of marriage to one specific culture or religion? Why do we so often fail to critique those powerful images and icons that feed into global public opinion, which present or represent the child-bride as a Muslim girl, automatically – while at the same time failing to name extreme poverty as a causal factor and a commonality.
Only in 2003 did IPPF (planned parenthood federation) publish a comprehensive study on the inextricable link between child marriage and poverty[i]. Is our silence not complicity? Would there not be horror in ‘the West’ if civil/political rights and individual liberties were denied to the extent of the large-scale denial of socio-economic rights that we have seen in the global South?
Why do we accept and puppet frameworks that name as “second-class rights” those socio-economic and cultural rights which peoples of the global South, including Africans and Muslims find to be at least as equally important as civil/political rights and individual liberties? I interrogate the Women’s Movement’s claims of ‘global sisterhood’ in the face of its apparent acquiescence to unregulated capitalism, globalization and other imperatives that indirectly favour (women of) the global North while worsening extreme forms of poverty for women of colour – after all, the effects of poverty tells first and worst on women.
The global feminization of poverty impacts constantly on at least 1.5 billion women worldwide and forecloses all possibilities of their enjoying basic human rights or living worthy lives. What is the response to the accusation that Global Feminism, led, controlled and funded by Western women, who also set or drive most of the agendas, is not representative of the pains of women of the South, who after all also have agency, autonomy and choice, and should therefore have ownership with respect to these agendas? How do we explain the reality that the fight against the unregulated globalization and capitalism, that impoverishes women in our world in the worst ways, is being carried almost solely by Southern women such as the women of DAWN (Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era)?
Even though poverty is the biggest source of human rights violation to the largest majority of women (some 1.5 billion people), does the Global Feminist Movement prioritize poverty the same way it does ‘FGM’? What support against poverty comes from ‘sisters’ from the rich countries, who benefit from the status quo and are therefore complicit? Does the dehumanizing impoverishment of so many women and girls trigger the same calls for action that have been seen with FGC (Female Genital Cutting) especially given the unlimited opportunity offered by “female genital mutilation”[ii] to demonstrate the cultural savagery of “others”?
It is suggested that rights frameworks that ignore the role of poverty and the untenable denial of socio-economic rights in the sustenance of Child Marriage practices are negligently complicit and are a disservice to efforts to expand the rights of women and girls in an increasingly unequal globalising world.Perhaps, the task of saving hapless girls from the violence of child-marriage and child-motherhood are made even more difficult by the mixed messages we send. Sometimes we suggest that sex is unhealthy and harmful to children. At other times, we suggest it’s only bad if it happens to children within the context of marriage – or only if the husband is a man who is (much) older. The discourse ultimately becomes ideological, with the poor victims no longer at the core. Perhaps we don’t really mind 13-year olds having sex.
We only mind if they have such sex as wives. Yet, in our discourse of child-marriage, we place sexual and reproductive health at the core. If the real argument is between two options: whether girls might have their first sex at 13 with a boyfriend or whether such sex should be with a husband; then perhaps the discourse will expand beyond health and well-being, which though remaining focal, might get pushed to the secondary level by the broader issue of cultural politics, ethics, political ideology and religious philosophy: totally out of the control of people who work in the area of public health.
With such a discursive frame, there is one side saying that since sex is not good for children, and since we all agree abstinence is best, then children should not be taught anything about how their bodies function sexually, should not be taught how to resist peer pressure, or communicate dissent, should not be taught about sexual risks – in short should know nothing about sexuality.
Even in the face of evidence that some children continue to have sex in spite of all moral and religious teachings imparted on them at home and at the mosque/ church; and that the risks in which they thus place themselves include not only sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, but even death through HIV/AIDS, unsafe abortion or maternal mortality during childbirth.
The myth is thus perpetuated that ignorance promotes chastity. Or perhaps those children who go on to have sex against the rules deserve to face the risks, including death. On the other side are those who assume that all children are having sex anyway, even though we tell them not to. It is even sometimes claimed that ‘children of today’ can’t do without sex. We might as well distribute condoms to them so that they can avoid the risks involved in intercourse.
The mutual error of both sides prevents policies that really might help the so many children who are caught in between.These issues are only mentioned because they are always present, lurking underneath every discussion about sparing children from the ongoing tragedy of child-marriage: which not only forces children to be adults, but also makes children to have children. The overall intent of this paper presentation has been to stimulate discussion and reflection and to demonstrate that under Shari’ah, it is not only possible, but also necessary for authorities implementing Islamic Shari’ah Law to fix minimum a minimum age appropriate to their contexts (without fearing that they are making ‘new Shari’ah’ and with the knowledge that such minimum age will not become frozen law, but will remain open to future changes that society may go through).
The overriding issue is to protect the weak and vulnerable, and ensure social justice within the framework of the Shari’ah. And we should always remember the victim and her lived experiences and realities. In arguing for an enforced minimum of 15 years (as do countries such as South Africa, Turkey and Kuwait[i]) instead of 18 years, I speak with the certain knowledge that rights frameworks perceived in local communities as an imposition or importation from external hegemonies too often lack acceptance and are problematic for implementation.
Painting the right picture - The Star - Musings (20 June 2012)
When speaking about Malaysia abroad, we must bear in mind that the audience overseas is different from those at home.
IT always fascinates me that while we seem uninterested in what goes on elsewhere in the world, conversely the world is interested in us.
I have just returned from a dialogue session in Brussels where I was invited to speak on the role of religion in policymaking in our country to diplomats from the European Union.
Now you may wonder why they would ask me to speak on this instead of a government person.
I can’t really say why except that none of the other speakers, from Indonesia and from academia, were government people either.
I suppose the rationale is that, for the government point of view, these diplomats can easily go to our nearest embassy but for a more rounded picture, they need to ask non-government people.
In any case, our diplomats are also invited to these dialogues and they are free to provide their own input into the discussion.
When we go abroad to speak, there is always the issue of how to approach speaking about your own country.
On the one hand, you don’t want to do a straight public relations job where everything is rosy and nice.
On the other hand, you don’t want to do a hatchet job either, because, relatively speaking, we are better off than most countries.
The only way to approach it is to present facts and analyse them in a way that provides some meaning of their impact on people.
For example, we can talk about laws that we have as they are.
Or, we can talk about the effect they have on people, how, if they are punitive, they can circumscribe people’s behaviour, stifle creativity and sometimes cause even more misery than necessary.
We can look at them through a gender lens and see how laws might impact on men and women differently, simply because men and women experience life in different ways.
Or, we can show how marginalised people have very little access to justice due to poverty or lack of knowledge.
Some people think that when speaking in front of foreigners, we should only present a good image of our country and should never wash our dirty linen in public. I’m not sure talking about only the good things is necessarily presenting the rosiest image of the country.
For one thing, in these sorts of circles, foreigners often already know something about Malaysia and therefore know when you’re painting an overly rosy picture. If they ask you an awkward question, stumbling over the answer makes you look even worse.
It is really how you conduct yourself in dialogues like these and whether you are able to answer difficult questions with equanimity that really convinces people that you know your stuff.
They may not agree with you, but they can respect you.
Over the years I have seen both terrible and excellent speakers from our country overseas.
Some were from government and some from the non-government sector.
I understand how difficult it is to do public speaking but people in leadership positions should be used to it.
The only difference is to understand that speaking overseas requires a different style from that at home.
It’s not about giving different impressions abroad than at home, but it is important to know that very often you have to speak to a more sophisticated audience overseas than you do at home.
For instance, you simply cannot seriously tell an overseas crowd that water bottles and salt were proof of an attempted coup.
They would wonder about the level of Ministerial smarts we have.
Nor can we use unsubstantiated Malaysian logic to explain things overseas.
Or Malaysian particularism, that way we have of excusing everything we do just because we are Malaysian and are therefore somehow different.
Imagine telling the French, for example, that their laws are of minor importance to us.
Who on earth, they may rightly ask, do we think we are?
In these days of news that gets uploaded to a global audience instantly, it is difficult to pretend that there is an invisible border around our country that somehow demarcates the way we speak at home and abroad.
People interested in Malaysia on the other side of the world already know all about our triumphs and tragedies within seconds of them happening.
They are not obliged to agree with everything we do and we should not act as if they should.
After all we are not obliged to agree with them either.
But it would make life much easier if we did not have to hang our heads in shame at what our leaders say and do so often.
All of us want to be proud of our Malaysia. But sometimes it’s tough.
Kami dengan hormatnya merujuk kepada surat Kementerian Pembangunan Wanita dan Keluarga kepada kami bertarikh 1 Oktober 2002. Kami juga merujuk kepada Deraf kertas kajian mengenai wang caruman KWSP sebagai wang amanah yang dilampirkan bersama surat tersebut. Bagi makluman Y Bhg Datin, Kami akan menimbulkan beberapa perkara semasa perbincangan tersebut. Diantaranya adalah seperti berikut: 1. Wang KWSP tidak dijadikan sebagai harta pesaka si mati. Wang tersebut seharusnya di anggap sebagai wang tabungan atau wang pencen yang akan dibayar terus kepada waris terdekat sahaja. Konsep ini telah dipraktikkan di Negara Islam lain. 2. Pihak KWSP tidak perlu diberikan kuasa untuk pengagihan secara faraid. Sekiranya wang tersebut hendak ditafsirkan sebagai wang amanah maka akaun KWSP tersebut boleh diisytiharkan sebagai satu amanah bagi benefisiari yang telah ditentukan oleh pemegang akaun. Konsep 'hibah' boleh digunakan di sini. 3. Wang Harta Sepencarian hendaklah dibahagi terlebih dahulu kepada isterii sebelum apa-apa pembahagian ke atas wang KWSP dilakukan. Harta Sepencarian adalah harta yang terkumpul semasa perkahwinan dan ini adalah termasuk wang KWSP. Ia juga dianggap sebagai hutang ke atas isteri (Imam Syafie, Kitab Al Um, Jilid 10) 4. Penamaan KWSP hendaklah dilakukan dan hendaklah dinamakan 'orang tanggungan' (dependents). 5. Tidak sepatutnya terdapat kelewatan di dalam penerimaan Surat Kuasa Mentadbir atau Surat Probet. Sistem pemberian sijil faraid di Mahkamah Syariah telah sepatutnya dikomputerkan dan ini akan sepatutnya hanya mengambil masa tidak lebih satu hari bagi pengeluaran sijil faraid tersebut. Menerusi pengalaman kami pengeluaran Sijil Probet dari Mahkamah Sivil pula mengambil masa lebih kurang 2 bulan. Sekiranya terdapat kelewatan sistem Mahkamah haruslah diperbaiki bagi membolehkan pengeluaran Sijil Probet. Pihak KWSP tidak perlu menjadikan ia sebagai satu alasan untuk mentadbir harta. Di sini kami sertakan dokumen berikut bagi perhatian Datin: 1. Surat Kepada Pengarang, 9 September 2002; 2. Surat Kepada Pengarang, 27 September 2002; 3. Nota Pentadbiran Harta Pusaka dan Wasiat Mengikut Islam oleh Dato' Ismail Yahya, Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Syariah Terengganu; dan 4. Salinan surat kami kepada Y Bhg Datuk Dr Ismail Ibrahim bertarikh 9 Oktober 2002. Di atas perhatian dan keprihatinan Datin, kami ucapkan berbanyak terimakasih. Yang Benar, Nora Murat Penyelaras Projek (Undang-Undang)
Pindaan kepada Perkara 8(2) Perlembagaan Persekutuan melarang sebarang bentuk diskriminasi berdasarkan jantina (gender). Kami percaya bahawa tiada apa-apa jua dalam peruntukan ini yang bercanggah dengan Islam, suatu agama yang menegaskan prinsip kesaksamaan dan keadilan untuk semua. Ajaran agama tidak patut disalahgunakan bagi mendiskriminasi wanita Islam, dan menafikan perluasan hak yang kini dibenarkan bagi wanita bukan-Islam. Sungguh tidak munasabah sekiranya wanita Islam menduduki taraf yang lebih rendah di sisi undang-undang bukan sahaja berbanding dengan lelaki Islam tetapi juga berbanding dengan wanita bukan Islam, dan, tidak dibenarkan melaksanakan beberapa hak yang boleh dilaksanakan oleh kesemua warganegara lain. Konsep kesamarataan gender tidak patut disalahgunakan untuk menambahkan hak kaum lelaki dan beban kaum wanita. Penyalahgunaan akan berlaku sekiranya:
Hak tradisional lelaki dikekalkan serta ditambah hak baru, dan kewajipan tradisional dikurangkan.
Hak tradisional wanita dikurangkan dan kewajipan tradisional dikekalkan serta ditambah lagi kewajipan baru.
RANG UNDANG-UNDANG KELUARGA ISLAM Kesan pindaan memburukkan kedudukan wanita, contohnya: a. Syarat untuk poligami – seksyen 23 Perkahwinan yang dicadangkan itu hendaklah “patut dan perlu”. Pindaan -- kepada “patut atau perlu” -- hendak menolak dan mengetepikan penghakiman Jawatankuasa Rayuan Syariah dalam kes Aishah v. Wan Mohd Yusof (1990) 7 JH 152. yang menekankan bahawa kesemua syarat di bawah subseksyen ini adalah sama penting dan hendaklah dibuktikan berasingan. Jawatankuasa itu menegaskan bahawa sebagai suami Islam, dia patut boleh mengawal nafsunya dan mengelakkan diri dari melakukan zina dan perkara maksiat. b. Pembahagian harta sepencarian sebelum perkahwinan poligami. Cadangan kami bagi pembahagian harta adalah untuk memastikan kepentingan dan kebajikan kewangan isteri sedia ada terjamin dengan adilnya. Ini berlandaskan hukum Islam bahawa perkahwinan poligami yang membawa mudarat dan ketidakadilan kepada pihak isteri tidak dibenarkan oleh ayat suci al-Qur’an yang menekankan dan memelihara keadilan bagi wanita dan kanak-kanak (Surah an-Nisa’ 4 : 3 dan 4 : 129). Pindaan yang dibuat -- boleh disalahgunakan oleh pihak suami yang tidak bertanggungjawab kerana ia menyatakan “mana-mana pihak kepada perkahwinan itu” boleh membuat permohonan supaya apa-apa aset yang diperolehi dalam masa perkahwinan mereka dibahagi antara mereka. Implikasi -- suami yang tidak bertanggungjawab boleh menuntut harta isteri sedia ada atau atau memohon supaya rumah perkahwinan mereka dijual untuk mendapat wang bagi menyara isteri barunya. c. Perceraian fasakh – seksyen 52 Pindaan -- melanjutkan hak untuk menuntut fasakh pada amnya kepada pihak suami -- menambahkan hak suami tanpa menambahkan hak atau perlindungan untuk isteri. Terdapat percanggahan pendapat di kalangan ulama mazhab Sunni tentang sama ada hak fasakh diberi kepada suami -- mazhab Hanafi hanya memberi hak fasakh kepada pihak isteri. Mazhab lain yang memberi fasakh kepada kedua-dua pihak apabila alasannya ialah penyakit berjangkit atau penyakit yang menghalang persetubuhan. Pindaan ini memperluaskan alasan fasakh bagi suami. Mungkin faedah bagi pihak suami menuntut fasakh ialah supaya dia tidak perlu membayar nafkah iddah dan mut’ah kepada bekas isterinya. Mengapa apabila terdapat percanggahan pendapat ulama, terdapat kecenderungan menerima pendapat yang lebih memberi faedah kepada suami serta juga memperluaskan lagi faedah itu? Sebaliknya, apabila terdapat percanggahan pendapat ulama mengenai kaedah lain yang memberi faedah kepada isteri (contohnya yang memperluaskan hak ta’liq atau perceraian tafwid bagi isteri), pendapat yang memberi faedah kepada isteri diketepikan dan tidak diterima. d. Kuasa Mahkamah membatalkan dan menahan perpindahan harta. Peruntukan sedia ada membolehkan Mahkamah membatalkan atau menahan perpindahan harta oleh pihak suami yang bertujuan untuk mengurangkan kemampuannya membayar nafkah atau mut’ah atau untuk menghalang isterinya daripada harta itu. Pindaan -- Mahkamah boleh juga membatalkan atau menahan perpindahan harta oleh pihak isteri. Adakah ini dibuat atas alasan kesamarataan gender? Mengikut undang-undang Islam tradisional, suami tidak berhak menuntut nafkah daripada isterinya, dan tidak mempunyai apa-apa hak ke atas harta isterinya. Harta isteri adalah hartanya sendiri yang tidak boleh diganggu oleh sesiapa pun, tetapi isteri berhak kepada nafkah daripada suaminya, dan hak dan kewajipan yang berbeza mengenai harta dan nafkah ada kaitannya dengan pembahagian pusaka yang memberi bahagian yang lebih kepada lelaki daripada perempuan. Sekiranya ulama masakini hendak mentafsir semula hukum Islam atas alasan kesamarataan gender (jantina) dan peralihan zaman -- perlulah membuat pentafsiran semula secara menyeluruh dengan memastikan keseimbangan semula hak perempuan dan lelaki -- amat zalim dan tidak adil jika alasan kesamarataan gender digunakan untuk memperluaskan hak lelaki supaya lelaki juga menikmati hak dan keistimewaan yang pada tradisinya hanya dinikmati oleh wanita, tetapi pada masa yang sama mengekalkan hak dan keistimewaan tradisional lelaki -- ini akan memburukkan lagi dan menambah lagi penindasan ke atas wanita. Sekiranya hendak mengadakan kesamarataan gender -- peruntukan yang mengekalkan hak tradisional lelaki perlu dikaji semula untuk dibuat pindaan sewajarnya, contohnya soal nusyuz, poligami, proses perceraian talaq, penjagaan anak, dan pembahagian harta pusaka. e. Penalti Cadangan kami -- Penalti lebih berat bagi kesalahan poligami tanpa kebenaran Mahkamah dan lafaz talaq di luar Mahkamah. Pindaan: i. mengadakan penalti “Menganiayai isteri atau suami”. ii. mengadakan bayaran pampasan bagi harta isteri atau suami yang telah ditipu. Adalah ditegaskan bahawa mengikut hukum Islam tradisional, terdapat keadaan di mana isteri boleh mengambil harta suami tanpa pengetahuan suami, iaitu sekiranya suami gagal memberi nafkah yang mencukupi, seperti dalam Hadith Rasulullah (saw) mengenai Hendon dan suaminya Abu Suffian. iii. Seksyen 130 -- kesalahan “Menjadi murtad untuk membatalkan perkahwinan” – penalti dinaikkan. Walaupun bahasa yang digunakan ialah “suami atau isteri”, kesannya mendiskriminasi terhadap wanita kerana lelaki yang tidak sukakan isterinya tidak perlu berpura-pura menjadi murtad untuk membatalkan perkahwinannya; dia hanya perlu melafazkan talaq dan talaq boleh disahkan walaupun dilafaz di luar mahkamah. Persoalan – mengapakah proses perceraian begitu rumit bagi isteri hingga ada isteri yang sanggup murtad hanya untuk membatalkan perkahwinan? Dan mengapakah, apabila kesan penalti adalah terhadap isteri, penalti itu dijadikan lebih berat sedangkan cadangan kami bagi menambahkan penalti ke atas suami yang tidak bertanggungjawab dan tidak menghormati Mahkamah, yang berpoligami dan melafaz talaq tanpa kebenaran Mahkamah, tidak diambilkira? Kami juga banyak menerima aduan mengenai sikap prasangka terhadap wanita dalam soal guaman hal ehwal suami isteri. Mengikut aduan-aduan yang kami terima, sekiranya sesuatu hak diperuntukkan dalam undang-undang bagi lelaki, adalah begitu mudah untuk pihak suami memperolehi hak itu. Sebaliknya pula, walaupun sesuatu hak diperuntukkan bagi wanita, adalah begitu rumit untuk pihak isteri memperolehi hak itu, dan bukti-bukti yang berat sering dikehendaki daripadanya. Oleh itu, amatlah dikhuatiri sekiranya hak lelaki ditambah, dan hak wanita dikurangkan, pihak isteri akan mengalami kesan penindasan dan kezaliman yang begitu teruk sekali. Pendekatan imbangan hak dan kewajipan Cadangan kami ialah untuk mengimbangkan hak dan memberi perlindungan dalam keluarga berlandaskan prinsip-prinsip murni ajaran suci agama Islam, yang menegaskan kesaksamaan dan keseimbangan antara kedudukan, hak dan kewajipan kaum lelaki dan wanita. Sekiranya pendekatan pentafsiran semula ulama masakini adalah dengan ikhlas atas prinsip kesamarataan gender, maka perlulah diperseimbangkan hak dan kewajipan lelaki dan wanita supaya pelepasan sesuatu hak dan kewajipan tradisional sesuatu pihak disertai dengan imbangan hak dan kewajipan yang sewajarnya. Contohnya: a. Nusyuz Nusyuz sepatutnya dilihat, bukan hanya dari sudut keingkaran isteri terhadap suami, tetapi sebagai kerosakan keharmonian rumahtangga oleh sama ada suami atau isteri. Konsep nusyuz yang terpakai bagi kedua-dua suami isteri tidak bertentangan dengan prinsip Islam kerana al-Qur’an menggunakan istilah nusyuz bagi kedua-dua isteri (Surah an-Nisa’ 4 : 34) dan suami (Surah an-Nisa’ 4 : 128). b. Poligami Perkahwinan poligami tidak dibenarkan melalui tafsiran kerana adalah mustahil bagi lelaki zaman sekarang untuk berlaku adil kepada lebih dari seorang isteri (tafsiran ini dipakai di Tunisia). Poligami telah wujud dalam masyarakat sebelum Islam dan al-Qur’an telah menyekatnya, pertama dengan menghadkan jumlah maksimum isteri kepada empat orang, kedua dengan memerintahkan layanan yang adil, dan berikutnya dengan menyatakan adalah mustahil untuk melakukan keadilan. Walaupun poligami boleh dibenarkan dalam keadaan luarbiasa, syarat utamanya ialah persetujuan yang diberi dengan rela hati oleh isteri sedia ada, kerana jenis poligami yang disebut dalam al-Qur’an adalah demi kebajikan, dan, kepentingan wanita dan kanak-kanak, dan bukannya bagi memberi kesempatan kepada lelaki. c. Talaq (i) Lafaz talaq tanpa kebenaran Mahkamah sepatutnya tidak diiktiraf. Konsep ini tidak berlawanan dengan ayat al-Qur’an yang memperuntukkan prosedur hakam (Surah an-Nisa’ 4 : 35) dan tidak menggalakkan perceraian sewenang-wenangnya; atau (ii) Secara alternatif, sekiranya hak talaq suami tanpa kebenaran masih diiktiraf, maka hak ini perlu dilanjutkan kepada isteri juga -- ini boleh dilakukan melalui penerimapakaian hukum tradisional mazhab Hanbali yang membenarkan hak ini diberikan melalui isma’ kepada isteri dalam perjanjian perkahwinan. Sekiranya proses talaq diseimbangkan untuk memberi hak samarata kepada isteri, barulah suami patut dan wajar diberi hak sama rata dalam fasakh. d. Penjagaan anak Hak penjagaan bersama ibubapa terhadap anak mereka perlu diiktiraf, dan tidak memperuntukkan bapa sahaja sebagai penjaga yang sah. Islam memuliakan kedudukan para ibu. e. Harta Pusaka Pembahagian harta pusaka menurut konsep faraid perlu dikaji semula. Ini tidak bermakna menolak konsep faraid. Terdapat konsep lain bagi memastikan keadilan dalam pembahagian harta. Pemberian yang lebih kepada waris lelaki adalah berkaitan dengan kewajipan lelaki untuk menanggung wanita. Dalam keadaan lelaki yang tidak melaksanakan tanggungjawab tersebut, suatu kaedah bagi keseimbangan perlu diperuntukkan. Suatu cara ialah dengan menerimapakai pendapat ulama yang mengiktiraf bahawa wasiat boleh dibuat untuk mengubahsuai bahagian waris, selagi tujuannya ialah untuk menjamin keadilan mengikut hal keadaan keluarga itu, dan bukan untuk menganiayai mana-mana pihak yang terlibat. Perlu juga diingat bahawa ayat-ayat al-Qur’an mengenai harta pusaka diturunkan untuk memberi faedah kepada wanita – pada zaman sebelum itu, harta pusaka diwarisi oleh lelaki sahaja. Sekiranya syor-syor di atas mengenai kesaksamaan dan keseimbangan hak lelaki dan wanita diterima, maka barulah boleh diperuntukkan kesamarataan hak suami isteri ke atas harta masing-masing. Konsep kesamarataan gender sama sekali tidak patut disalahgunakan untuk menzalimi dan menambahkan lagi beban wanita dengan mengurangkan hak tradisional wanita dan memberi pula hak baru kepada lelaki. Disediakan oleh Sisters In Islam