KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — The Federal Islamic Affairs Agency (Jakim) will not raise the legal marrying age for Muslims to 18 after most states rejected the proposition, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad told Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto during Question Time that the decision was reached in September this year after several rounds of dialogues held with state religious authorities.
“The federal government had studied the proposal to raise the legal marrying age for Muslim women from 16 to 18 and among the studies were the tabling the proposal at various forums that involved the states...considering the power to decide on marriage laws of Muslims is the purview of the state,” he said.
“Based on the response, most states in principle agreed to retain the current legal marrying age as provided under the Islamic Family Law in each respective state,” the minister added.
“As such... the government has taken the position that there is no necessity to raise the legal marrying age for Muslim women.”
The previous administration, led by Pakatan Harapan, had pledged to scrutinise proposals of legal amendments that will see the minimum age for marriage increased from 16 to 18 years’ old.
The attorney general at the time, Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, said the AG’s Chambers (AGC) was evaluating its options into the proposed amendments, as the government’s legislative branch looks at their best efforts to safeguard the welfare and interest of children.
The proposal met with resistance from religious conservatives on the grounds that some religions conditionally allowed child marriage.
Yet in a survey polled shortly after the controversy, most Muslim mothers supported the proposal to raise the legal marrying age.
Idris said Jakim has empowered Shariah court judges to strictly vet new applications as a way to “ensure justice is served to all parties”.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.