Pakistan: Mullahs endorse underage marriage

Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani

ISLAMABAD: Amid criticism from various quarters, including some of its own members, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), on Wednesday endorsed its earlier ruling that girls as young as nine years old were eligible to be married, “if the signs of puberty are visible”.

The CII meeting, chaired by Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), also said that most of the clauses of the existing Muslim Marriage Law, 1961, were un-Islamic.
Clarifying the decision, Sheerani said that a nikah [marriage contract] could be performed at any age, but the bride could only start living with the groom after reaching puberty.

He said laws that defined a minimum age for marriage were not Islamic and should be repealed, adding that the council would recommend that parliament amend these laws to bring them in accordance with Islamic principles.

Sheerani also said that section 6 of the Muslim Marriage Law, 1961, which required men to seek permission from their wives before contracting another marriage – was not in accordance with Islamic principles.
In the same meeting, the council called for a complete ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages in the country. “Since alcohol is prohibited even by other religions, it should be banned for other religious minorities too,” Sheerani said.