Sunday, February 18, 2018 04:53:54 PM

MMDA reform is an issue for the government not clergy, and action is needed now

By Dr. Farah Mihlar - Fri Mar 31, 11:06 am

Photo by Aamina Nizar

Thanks largely to conservative Muslim clergy and the failure of successive governments to uphold the rights of its people, the reform of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) has become a public circus. For months now, and much to the embarrassment of Muslims, this issue has been debated in the public realm making a mockery of both Islam and human rights. This has to end now and doing so is largely in the hands of this government.

The reform of the MMDA, which amongst other things enables polygamy and marriage to child brides, is not strictly a religious issue. The debates around the reform are more about patriarchal politics  than Islam. Those fighting to keep this law, primarily the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulemma (ACJU), or the leading body of theologians, are not defending Islam so much as an archaic male interpretation of Islam. I do not wish to get into the theological arguments on underage marriage and polygamy as these have already been expertly made by a number of Muslim feminists in Sri Lanka and overseas and are popularly available to read on internet sites. There are two points I want to make on the Muslim religious leadership’s position on this issue: first to challenge their role vs….

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