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Islam, Women and Feminism (13 Oct 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Child Marriage among Indian Muslims: The Mullahs Have Brought Shame to the Muslim Community, Yet Again

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

13 October 2017

It is astounding. No sooner had the Supreme Court said that sex with a minor wife would amount to rape, Hashtags began to run on prominent news channels that Muslim clerics were opposing the verdict. It must have taken an hour or two for any Muslim mullah to actually come on camera and give his opinion. Right from the very beginning therefore, prominent media outlets had read the judgment in a particular way and consequently decided to make it into a debating point. That’s the not so subtle politics which the media is indulging in these days. The verdict actually does not single out any religion or community for special mention, the media houses polarised the debate as they wanted to give a particular spin to it. Of course they could not have done so without the special assistance received from our Mullahs who were more than willing to play the game for grabbing some eyeballs on prime time or for the simple reason that they really thought they would be doing good to community which they claim to represent.

The objections raised by the Mullahs on the verdict fulfilled the objectives for which the media had put a spin on the story. Mullah after Mullah after Mullah opined that the judgment was in contravention of the Muslim personal law which flows from the Shariat. They contended that the Shariat proclaims that Muslim girls can get married as soon as they reach puberty. The language was hardly civil and one Mullah actually said that if a girl reached puberty at the age of 10, then she is allowed to marry. It defies logic that these Mullahs would still be stuck in the medieval morass of tribal Arabia despite living in a democratic country like India in the 21st century. The Mullahs have another arsenal: they shout you down if they cannot reason out with you. Thus the saner voices from within the Muslim community who were welcoming the judgment were shouted into silence by these Mullahs who kept repeating their age old nonsense that this was a conspiracy to malign Islam.

Actually it is the custodians of Islam like the Mullahs who are maligning Islam today. Defending sex with underage girls and that too under the cloak of religion is nothing but some sort of depravity. It is delusional to think that the codes which were operating in the 7th century Arabia would be applicable to all Muslims today located in very different contexts. Just yesterday, Egypt has proposed a bill to criminalize all marriages below the age of 18. Now al Azhar, located in Egypt has been the source of intellectual fountainhead for so many of our Mullahs. The obvious question to be asked is that if Egypt can do it without any debate on whether it is contravening the Sharia or not, why can’t Indian Muslims also come forward and voluntarily raise the age of marriage for girls? But then here, we have the opposite trend: the Jamat e Islami in Kerala is actually campaigning for lowering the age of Muslim girls! What is wrong with such people and organization is the complete non-realization that the world and society has moved ahead and that if Islamic laws do not keep pace with them then this religion would be called as medievalist and far worse.

Indeed the number of child marriages amongst Muslims is also far less as compared to Hindus. I am of the firm belief that no Indian Mullah would want to marry their own daughters just after they reach puberty. So are they arguing that the rest of the Muslim community should follow one set of norms while they (the Mullahs) should have their own set of norms? Why is there a deep reluctance on the part of the Mullah community to acknowledge that theologically there seems to be a problem with Islam with regards to age of marriage of Muslim girls? And this is perhaps a problem which is symptomatic of a deeper malaise within the Muslim community itself.

This malaise is the stark refusal of the community and the religious figures to look itself in the mirror and see the horrors of the theology of silence which they have practising for centuries. There should be no beating around the bush. Let’s accept that Islamic theology permits marriage with minor girls and that centuries of Islamic scholarship and practice have upheld it. If the Mullah is afraid that questioning such a tradition will amount to weakening it, then let it weaken. After all, traditions are meant to be broken. And if the tradition subjugates a section of the population, then it should be broken with a vengeance. Secondly, the Mullahs also have a problem in abrogating such practices like marriage with minors because it is said that the Prophet himself married Ayesha when she was merely nine years old.

Now, rather than questioning whether this actually happened, the Mullahs have taken this as a fact because it forms a part of the hallowed tradition. They should perhaps take inspiration from the Pakistani theologian Javed Ahmed Ghamidi who has argued that the material on which we know that the age of Prophet’s wife Ayesha is itself doubtful. He argues that it does not make sense to marry a minor when in fact the tradition describes that the Prophet was looking for someone who could take care of his household. It defies common sense that a minor would be able to fulfil this particular need of the Prophet. Ghamidi is therefore right in asserting that due to the various contradictions in the Hadith traditions, he suspends his judgment on the age of Prophet’s wife. Why a similar exercise cannot be done by Indian Mullahs is simply baffling.

Even if we come to the conclusion that Prophet did in fact marry a minor, then a historical and contextual reading of this decision can always be done. What was right during the Prophet’s time is no longer valid. What was Sharia (the path) at the time of the Prophet is no longer the Sharia of the present. Contextualising the actions of the Prophet in its time is perhaps the only way out of the morass which we find ourselves in today. Rather than shying away from the problem, we must first have the courage to recognise it and then throw it open for debate. Pretending that everything is fine with Islam only obfuscates the problem and has already done irreparable harm to the community and the religion. Obfuscation of the problem also leads to a belligerent and senseless defence of something which is clearly wrong and unethical.

Arshad Alam is a columnist with www.NewAgeIslam.com

 URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/child-marriage-among-indian-muslims--the-mullahs-have-brought-shame-to-the-muslim-community,-yet-again/d/112871


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  • Mr.Serajuddin Khurram
    get the advice  of a qualified allopathic doctor regarding the correct age for marriage ,sex and managing family.21 is the best age for a girl for marriage.For a boy/Girl to get a pass in Hr.Sec.Examinations, It would take 18 yrs. She has to bear the brunt of  pregnacy and family life.
    21 yrs old is good for a Girl and 24 for a boys if he is earning.

    By Dr.A.Anburaj - 12/6/2017 5:20:09 AM

  • You have taken up a good subject Arshad and your critical analysis is good.  Without criticism there can be no improvement. I am glad you have recognised that the greatest defect of Islam, and the main reason that Muslims are behind the West, is the treatment of women. Think of a child that grows up in a Muslim household, where the mother is uneducated and married at a young age of 13 or 14, who would be detrimental to her children’s all round growth and education. At this age girls are not mature physically, emotionally and psychologically to assume the responsibility of running a beautiful home.

    In the West teenage pregnancies are rampant, yet these girls have access to higher education and employment. In the East or West all sex between a man and his wife which is not consensual is rape.  Similarly, all sex between man and an underage girl or underage wife is rape.

    “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer, and all the sexually immoral”. (Hebrews 13:4).

    By Royalj - 10/29/2017 9:31:16 PM

  • The issue is the Supreme Court judgment on child marriage. The problem or the issue is in present context. It is in present context that majority is of the opinion that it should not be there. Why unnecessarily bring things 2000 or 5000 old into discussion. There was a time when marriages between brother and sisters were taking place. Any comment on it now is meaningless. Polygamy was there in India as evedent from history. But now it is discouraged. Occasionally it does happen now.. Dharmendra marrying Hemamalini. 
    Discussion and comments should remain contextual.. a that is present time.

    By Syed Z Haider - 10/23/2017 10:45:47 AM

  • Things should always be seen in some context. Yes there will 
    be things that are independent of time and space. For example, in his last sermon Prophet sos said ' A humanbeing will not kill another humanbeing ' ( exception.. Legally) . This should always be followed at all times. What will be the circumstances in future.. 300 yrs, 500 yrs, 2000 yrs from.. If the world servives and there are people living then they will have to take decisions depending on the circumstances.

    By Syed Z Haider - 10/23/2017 10:43:51 AM

  • @ Mohammed Ishaque Foujdar Sometimes marrying early may be a dire necessity. Does the law provide for this contingency? What sort of law is this then ?
    By Manzurul Haque - 10/21/2017 8:07:30 AM

  • Brother Khurram logically presented the truth. one more point i wish to add. as per court orders sex with a wife whose is under 18 years of age is punishable. but sex by mutual consent conducted by minors under 18 years is not punishable. point to reflect .
    By Iqbal Husain - 10/21/2017 8:06:14 AM

  • New Age Islam, there are other pressing and important works for the Muslims to do than to criticise child marriage which is more prevalent among Hindus in certain part of the country. If this is compared, one finds that it is almost nil or very minuscule among Muslims. Meanwhile, what is the right marriage for a Muslim girl according to New Age Islam? The writer is ignorant that the prophet advocated not to delay a girl's on reaching puberty. Taking this spirit into consideration, one should not try to become a hero by criticising those who marry off their girls at an early age, although these days it seldom happens due to various compulsions. To criticise Islam and the Sharia seems to be a favourite past time for New Age Islam.
    By Serajuddin Khurram - 10/21/2017 8:05:30 AM

  • As a society, we need to critically reflect on our practices that deny basic human rights to some individuals. Likewise, not even religion should be allowed to dictate terms and reforms that advocate welfare should be acceptable. 
    By Meera - 10/18/2017 10:55:56 AM

  •  At the time of marriage Ayesha radiallah was 19 and not 9
    By Ruquaiya Rukhsana Rizvi - 10/16/2017 8:32:58 AM

  • Majority of girls are marrying at 20 + age. In rural India child marriage is still going, which is against the already prevailing law. Since Govt finding it difficult to enforce the law. So many articles were written analysing the problem arising as a result of the current judgement of SC. This is a judgement applicable to all Indians,. Why mullas are jumping and hopping against it. I think they get money from media and opportunity to be on TV CHANNELS that they dance on the set tune.
    By Syed Z Haider - 10/16/2017 8:32:18 AM

  • Rajastan's Girls Stare at a hopeless situation

    By Syed Qamar Anwar - 10/15/2017 11:03:40 AM

  • 18 the Bottomline

    By Syed Qamar Anwar - 10/15/2017 11:03:10 AM

  • Can you identify ,'New Age Islam ' from this pack .

    By Syed Qamar Anwar - 10/15/2017 10:50:51 AM

  • Ha ha ha Darkness is elusive when in the name of a God
    By Muleshwar Anjan - 10/15/2017 10:50:18 AM

  • @Mohammed Ishaque Foujdar There is no logic except - Only place & time are constant everything else will be historical construct.
    By Deep Bhatnagar - 10/15/2017 10:49:55 AM

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