Marvi Memon is a vigorous promoter and defender of the child and woman rights, but she apparently fails to fathom the reality of living in an Ideological Republic where Islam remains the state religion. She also needs to do sweating homework before trying to suggest laws, ostensibly designed to furnish some solace to marginalized sections of our society.
Around some weeks ago, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) had seriously questioned various clauses of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 that we continue to follow. The founder of Pakistan had aggressively supported this law as an active member of the legislative forums of those days. Yet Maulanas sitting in the CII these days strongly believe that the minimum age for a woman to marry, as prescribed in the said law, is against the tenets of Islam.
With the sincere intent of protecting the same law, however, Marvi Memon tried to inject some amendments in it Tuesday. Ms Asiya Naz Tanoli, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik and Ms Shaista Pervez joined her in pushing these amendments on a day reserved for private initiatives in legislation.
Like Ms Memon, Mr and Mrs Pervaiz Malik of Lahore are diehard loyalists of Nawaz Sharif. Yet they seemingly had not consulted their leaders before moving the proposed amendments. They cannot blame the minister of religious affairs, therefore, as he stood to remind the house, firmly, that the Council of Islamic Ideology should vet all marriage related laws in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The National Assembly could just not consider the proposed amendments unless the CII expressed its opinion on them.
Thanks to her love for party discipline, Ms Memon instantly got the message and preferred not to push hard that helped the Speaker to pass on the proposed amendments to the standing committee on law and justice without much ado. Maulana Khan Ahmad Sheerani was present in the house, however. As an hyperactive Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, he forced the Speaker to let him deliver a comprehensive lecture for shredding the “un-Islamic clauses” of the Child Marriage Restraint Act.
Sheerani, lest you forget, is not just an average Maulana. Besides being politically savvy, he also is fully conversant with all ropes of the legislative work. After quoting various articles of our constitution that clearly declare Islam as the state religion, he finally came to prolific quotations from the Quran and Sunnah for stressing the point that Islam did not prohibit what the “modern/liberal mind perceive as child marriage.”
Even before reaching the age of puberty a girl child can be married off to a male by his Wali (the legitimate guardian), although she should switch to start living with her husband only after reaching adulthood. To prove his point, Maulana cited the most convincing and binding example from the life of our Prophet (PBUH) and firmly claimed that Hazrat Ayesha (RA) was six-year-old when she was married off to him via Nikah and later moved to live with him (PBUH) after reaching puberty at the age of nine. All Muslims, Maulana concluded, were enjoined to emulate practices set by our Prophet (PBUH) and that’s about it.
Not one member sitting in the House was competent enough to counter Maulana Sheerani with equally forceful arguments. Movers of the proposed amendments rather looked visibly guilty and embarrassed.
Marvi Memon and the rest of “modern/liberal types” sitting on the PML-N benches must realize at their earliest that Nawaz Sharif desperately wants to prove it to the world that he is fully committed to “enforce real Islam.” But he wants to reach there by taking routes that our constitution has prescribed. It is a long journey indeed and requires passing through the tedious legislative process. With the same message, his government has now engaged those who want to enforce Islam via violent means in protracted negotiations. The Council of Islamic Ideology and its recommendations are crucially relevant for selling his message. Marvi Memons of his party must succumb to them and should stop appeasing and pleasing the “modern/liberal lobby.”