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Marriage Prep Program Mandatory for Singaporean Muslims

SINGAPORE – In a bid to strengthen Muslim families, Muslim couples preparing for marriage in Singapore will have to go for a marriage preparation program before tying the knot, after getting the parents’ consent.

“At the core of every review of the Act has been the impetus to uplift and strengthen our Muslim community, and better facilitate its socio-religious life,” Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim told Straits Times on Tuesday, August 1.

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Yaacob added that the amendments are aimed at reinforcing Muslim institutions and enhancing the management of Muslim assets.

“The amendments we are proposing today seek to better protect Muslim families because they are the very building blocks of a strong and resilient community.”

These are among the key changes proposed in the Bill to amend the Administration of Muslim Law, which was introduced in Parliament on Tuesday, August 1.

The number of Muslim marriages involving minors, where one person at least is aged below 21, has been steadily declining, but these marriages remain more vulnerable.

The specialized program for minor couples will include consultations to help them better understand, clarify and address any concerns that they and their families may have about marriage.

The program will also have marriage education workshops for the young couples to learn essential skills and knowledge to build a stable marriage and family.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development approved the program and will regularly review it, added Dr Yaacob.

Mandatory consent from parents also reinforces the importance of their support in marriages involving minors, “as their guidance, especially in the crucial initial years of the marriage, is critical to help younger couples build strong marriage foundations for a lifetime”, he said.

Another change proposed will also allow the Shari`ah Court to ensure that couples seeking a divorce first attend its marriage counselling program, to see if the marriage can be saved.

More than 33,000 couples have been counselled since 2004, and almost half these marriages have been saved, said Dr Yaacob.

“With this amendment, a husband who applies for divorce before uttering the talak can seek help with his marital woes, and the Court may try to save the marriage by directing the couple to attend counselling,” he said.

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