Several rights activists condemned a report of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) declaring the law requiring consent from first [second or third] wife for another marriage un-Islamic. The CII had said that Sharia did not bind a husband to seek permission from any of his wives before contracting another marriage.
Aurat Foundation manager Mumtaz Mughal said, “The CII is acting as a supra-state body it has nullified the little constitutional and legal gains working classes, women and non-Muslims had made so far. It nullified land reforms of the 1970s, it dismissed tests as evidence of criminal violence against women and now it is attacking the civil rights of women in Pakistan.”
Mughal said the CII should be abolished as it was a threat to the democratic system, the constitution and the legislature.
“We reject polygamy as it is demeaning and oppressive for women,” she said.
Civil Society Association of Pakistan Chairperson Beenish Toor said, “Islam is a religion of equality. How does it hurt religious sentiments if our family law binds a man to seek permission from his wife before contracting another marriage?” she asked.
She said the government should take steps to improve education opportunities for women.
Sociologist Nuzhat Sadia Siddiqi said, “The Council of Islamic Ideology, as the name suggests, is interpreting Islamic teachings according to their idea of Islam.
The law pertaining to second marriages has been formulated by lawmakers keeping in mind social norms of the country, which take into account cultural roots of people.”
Siddiqi said by declare these laws as unIslamic, was tantamount to belittling the judicial and legal expertise of eminent lawmakers.
She said, “Islam teaches us to be fair, equitable and empathic when making decisions that involve drastic changes to more than one person involved.”
Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, member of the Council of Islamic Ideology said, “It is a decision of Islam and not of the council. Islam permits husband to marry four times and he does not need permission for it.
Islam clearly says that a man can marry more than once if he treated all his wives fairly.”
“No other religion in the world protects the rights of women the way Islam does,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2014.