Setting minimum age for girls to marry is not against Islam, Pakistan’s highest Islamic court says

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Pakistan’s highest Islamic court ruled that setting a minimum age limit for girls’ marriage was not against the teachings of Islam, as it dismissed a petition that challenged certain sections of the law on the restriction of child marriage.

This landmark verdict on child marriage could settle the controversy fueled by the insistence of radical Muslims that Islam has not allowed a marriage age to be set.

A three-judge bench of the Federal Sharia Court (FSC), led by Chief Justice Mohammad Noor Meskanzai, heard the petition on Thursday that challenged sections of the Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) 1929.

The Dawn newspaper reported that the Supreme Islamic Court dismissed the petition and categorically declared that the setting of a minimum age limit for the marriage of girls by an Islamic state was not against Islam.

“After considering the petition, we are of the opinion that the petition is ill-conceived, therefore, it is dismissed in limine,” said the judgment drafted by Judge Dr Syed Mohammad Anwer.

In the 10-page verdict, the FSC ruled that the sections in which the minimum age limit was prescribed by law for girls and boys for marriage were not contrary to Islam.

Article 4 of the CMRA provides for a simple prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of 50,000 Pakistani rupees for the marriage of a child. Whereas Articles 5 and 6 explain the punishment for celebrating the nikah of a child and permitting or encouraging child marriage.

The judgment described the importance of education as “explicit” and said the need for education is “of equal importance to everyone, regardless of gender”.

“This is why Islam has made the acquisition of education compulsory for every Muslim, as mentioned in a hadith stating that” The acquisition of knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim “,” reads the verdict.

For a healthy marriage, he says, not only physical health and economic stability, but also mental health and intellectual development are equally important factors, which are achievable through education.

Education is fundamental for the empowerment of women because it is the key to the development of an individual and, therefore, of the future generation of any nation, he says.

One of the purposes of marriage in Islam is the protection and promotion of a person’s genealogy and generation, the verdict observed, adding that this concept falls under the theme of Hifz-un-Nasal, which is one objectives of Sharia according to the concept of Maqasid-us-Shariah as told by Ibrahim Bin Musa Bin Mohammad Shatbi.

There are many Islamic countries where the minimum age of marriage for men and women is set, such as Jordan, Malaysia, Egypt and Tunisia etc., the verdict said, according to the report.


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