Islamic NGOs, muftis back Perlis fatwa for wives as progressive

A woman prays at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur. ― Reuters pic
A woman prays at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur. ― Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 ― The Perlis Fatwa Committee has been lauded for its recent edict allowing Muslim wives to leave their marital home without their husbands’ permission if their lives are in danger.

Muslim rights advocates and muftis expressed support for the fatwa, but stopped short of saying it should be replicated by the other states in the country.

“I strongly support the edict because women are not a property of men, they should not be treated as a property, they have their own mind, soul and body, they should not be treated as slaves,” Islamic Renaissance Front founder Ahmad Farouk Musa told Malay Mail Online when contacted yesterday.

He added that the fatwa was necessary as some people still treated and viewed women as property.

“It’s fair and wise, it’s good for the women to know their rights,” he added.

Issued last December, the fatwa stated that if Muslim wives strongly feel that there is no way out of a threatening situation, including those that affect their religious status, physical self, honour, family or possessions, they are allowed to leave without getting permission from the husbands.

Ikram president Mohd Parid Sheikh Ahmad said the edict would act as a catalyst to awareness efforts in providing knowledge to Muslim women about their rights.

“Marriage is about sharing, not oppressing, husband and wife complement each other, not one person becomes a dictator and nothing can be discussed,” he said.

He added that many people nowadays get married without knowing their responsibility and obligation.

Kedah Mufti Datuk Syeikh Muhamad Baderudin Ahmad also expressed support for the Perlis fatwa, saying it is compulsory for Muslims to keep themselves from any harm.

“Generally, it is harus [neither forbidden nor recommended] for a wife to leave her marital home and go to a safe place, like a father’s house or brother’s.

“But people cannot misuse it, and a husband also needs to understand that marriage is not about mistreating people. It’s also not only about providing a place to live in and nafkah [alimony], you cannot abuse your wife and vice-versa,” he said.

He said the state does not have an edict on the matter as it will usually be issued if there are queries raised by the public.

Penang Mufti Datuk Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor meanwhile said the department usually advises people on the matter as edicts will only be gazetted if it involves a big issue.

“But we explain the matter to Islamic centres, mosques and in lectures,” he said adding that the state’s fatwa committee also agreed with the fatwa issued by Perlis.

The edict by Perlis added that Muslim wives would also not be considered as to have committed nusyuz (unreasonable disobedience) under the circumstances until the husbands fulfil their responsibilities.

Perlis Mufti Datuk Asri Zainul Abidin reportedly said the edict was to protect Muslim wives who had been ill-treated by their husbands.

He also listed several other examples of situations where the Muslim wife could leave her husband’s house without permission.

They include situations in which the husband was involved in drugs, had sexual diseases or even borrowed money from loan sharks and left their wives to suffer the consequences. 

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