Johor Islamic law provides adequate safeguards against child marriages, says leader

Last week, Malaysians were shocked when they learnt that a child marriage had taken place on June 18 across the border in Thailand. — AFP pic
Last week, Malaysians were shocked when they learnt that a child marriage had taken place on June 18 across the border in Thailand. — AFP pic

JOHOR BARU, July 3 — There is no need to amend Johor’s Islamic law against child marriages as there are already safeguards in place, said the state Islamic Affairs and Education Committee chairman Aminolhuda Hassan.

He said there are stringent criteria and processes to go through before a Muslim couple can marry in the state.

“For Johor, it isn’t easy for Muslims to get married as the process involves not only getting the consent of both families, but there is also the approval needed from the village headman (ketua kampung) or the kadi, and also the interview for the pre-marriage course.

“The Islamic Family Law (State of Johor) Enactment 2003 is thorough on Muslim marriages and specifically lists the minimum age of 16 for a female to be eligible for marriage,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail today.

Aminolhuda, who is also Parit Yaani assemblyman, said other states in Malaysia also follow such a ruling when it comes to Muslim marriages.

He was commenting on whether the state government will amend the enactment governing Muslim marriages in light of the marriage of a 41-year-old Malaysian man to an 11-year-old Thai girl.

Aminolhuda stressed that there was no need to make any amendment to the said enactment as the system is quite clear that child marriages are not encouraged.

“Even though the marriage was in Thailand, I don’t think the marriage will be consented by our Syariah Courts as the girl was under the minimum legal age of 16 for marriage,” he said.

Another state executive committee chairman Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali agreed that Malaysian Syariah laws concerning child marriages were adequate for Johor and also Malaysia as a whole.

“Islam itself permits the marriage if a girl reaches puberty. But as Muslims, we must look into the Syariah laws as a whole and must take into consideration her emotional and mental readiness to be married,” he said to Malay Mail.

Sheikh Umar, who is Johor Information, Entrepreneurship Development, Cooperatives and Creative Economy Committee chairman, said his view on child marriages is that such unions are wrong as there are many factors to consider first.

“Islam itself considers many factors before marriage can take place and is not only one aspect such as for the bride-to-be to have reached puberty (akilbaligh).

“We have to look at the bigger picture of how society will view the marriage, the consequences and mental anguish, if any, on the child bride,” he said.

The 33-year-old Paloh assemblyman, who has a background in Islamic education and is also a graduate in principles of Usuluddin, said child marriage definitely is a controversial issue in the modern age.

“We have to consider the many aspects involved, such as the right intentions, which must be applicable according to the prescribed manner, if not it can open the floodgates to exploitation and injustice towards innocent children,” he said.

Last week, Malaysians were shocked when they learnt that a child marriage had taken place on June 18 across the border in Thailand.

The husband, who already has two wives, is a Malaysian residing in Kelantan.

His story went viral on social media last Friday after it was shared by his second wife, who lodged a police report at the Gua Musang police station in Kelantan on Saturday.