Pakistan Ulemas Reject Marriage Age Amendment

LAHORE – A proposal to increase marriage age in Pakistan has been blocked after scholars branded it “blasphemous” and against Islam.

“Parliament cannot create legislation that is against the teachings of the Holy Quran or Sunnah,” Mohammad Khan Sheerani, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), was quoted by Russia Today on Friday, January 15.

The proposal to raise the marriage age from 16 to 18 was presented by Marvi Memon, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

The CII scuttled the law, dubbing the amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill 2014 as “anti-Islamic” and “blasphemous” during the committee meeting.

The original law stipulates the age of marriage at 16 for women and 18 for men but Pakistani religious scholars believe it is not in accordance with Islamic teachings.

The recommendations has drawn widespread criticism in the past for other rulings, when it suggested making DNA inadmissible evidence in rape cases, instead calling for the revival of an Islamic law that makes it mandatory for a survivor to provide four witnesses to back their claims.

“Marvi wanted deletion of the word ‘simple’ punishment for those involved in arranging child marriages to ‘rigorous’ or ‘two-year’ punishment in the actual legislation,” a parliamentary source who is familiar with the development, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Agence France Presse (AFP).

“Marvi also wanted the age for girls’ marriage to be raised from 16 years to 18 years, which does not in any way violate the teachings of Islam,” the source said.

Rights activists strongly criticized the rejection of bill, branding the decision “absurd”.

“It is a pity that the committee came under the pressure of the council’s unjust ruling,” leading rights activist IA Rehman told AFP.

Islam highly appreciates marriage and gives it due care stating detailed rules and ruling in every single and small matter.

Islam doesn’t impose a specific age for eligibility for marriage and leaves it for the legal authorities to decide the proper age for marriage in order to maintain interests of both husbands and wives.

This, of course, changes from one country or community to anther depending on many considerable factors.

In Islam also it is not permissible for the guardian to compel the one under his guardianship to marry someone she does not desire to marry.

Rather, it is necessary to seek her consent and permission.