Wrong to say Islam against banning child marriage, says preacher

    (Updated )

    Preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin has spoken out against parties rejecting the government's move to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18.

    In a statement posted on Facebook, the PKR Youth executive councillor in charge of religion said Muslim scholars have differing opinions on the age of puberty and age of maturit

    "There are certain groups of Muslims in Malaysia who are against setting the minimum age to marry at 18. They claim the move to set a minimum age has no basis in Islamic traditions.

    "The fact is, their excuse of there being 'no such traditions in Islam' is completely untrue," he said.

    "This is because within discussions among Islamic scholars, there are (differing) views on two issues, the age of puberty and age of maturity," he explained.

    He pointed out that there are also differing views on the age at which Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisyah was wed to him, which is an oft-cited example to back child marriages.

    Wan Ji said that a child's age of maturity had been addressed in the Quran through a verse on how orphans are not allowed to manage their inheritance until they reach the appropriate age. 

    In this instance, the age of maturity is defined as the age at which one possesses the mental capability to manage any inheritance.

    "Therefore, by looking at the need to reach the age of maturity before being allowed to manage wealth, the same consideration should be given for permission to marry.

    "Further, there are way more complexities involved in managing a household than managing wealth," he argued.

    On the role of Malaysian syariah courts in regulating child marriages, Wan Ji claimed that not all of its decisions are in line with Islamic teachings. 

    As an example, he pointed to the need for preachers to obtain a license from the state Islamic religious departments.

    Wan Ji argued that the license requirement restricted a Muslim's freedom to preach the word of God. 

    At present, the Malaysian syariah courts have set 18 as the minimum age of marriage for boys, and 16 for girls.

    However, those who are below the minimum age can apply for permission to marry from the syariah courts, as well as obtaining consent of their parents.

    Objections to raising minimum age 

    Meanwhile, the New Straits Times today quoted Sabah mufti Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar as saying that people should be allowed to get married early.

    He had also claimed that syariah law states the age of marriage was set at 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

    "These (marriages) are valid as long as they follow proper procedures and obtain the required permission.

    "The reason why they are allowed to get married early is because some of these children can already be considered mature," he said in response to Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who had announced the government’s initiative to increase the minimum marriage age to 18.

    Others who previously spoke against Putrajaya's plans to ban child marriages include PAS vice-president Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah.

    The Kelantan deputy menteri besar was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who said that Putrajaya was formulating a standard operating procedure (SOP) to tighten syariah court provisions on child marriages, before imposing an outright ban.

    Wan Azizah, who is also minister of women, family and community development, previously came under fire for her previous statement that the 15-year-old girl made to marry a 44-year-old divorcee in Kelantan had "consented" to the marriage.

    This had been the second such case to be reported out of Kelantan in recent months.

    In the first case, an 11-year-old Thai girl living in Gua Musang became the third wife to a 41-year-old man after marrying the latter in June this year.

    The case drew similar criticism from rights activists, politicians and members of the public.

    Earlier this month, Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah decreed that the marriageable age for Muslim males and females would be raised from 16 to 18 years.

    Following that, the Selangor state assembly on Sept 6 unanimously passed the Islamic Family Enactment (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 (Amendment 2018) which, among others, regulates the minimum age for a Muslim marriage in the state.

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