Groundviews

A Podium to Spit Venom

Sri Lankan Muslim women leave after casting their votes at a polling station during the presidential elections in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. Voters went to the polls Thursday in Sri Lanka, where President Mahinda Rajapaksa faces a fierce political battle after Maithripala Sirisena, a onetime ally, suddenly defected from the ruling party to run against him. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Featured image courtesy Daily Mail

Two days ago a video was posted on YouTube where a man named Abdul Razik belonging to an extremist sect that calls itself ‘Sri Lanka Tawheed Jamath’ (SLTJ) makes a speech in Sinhala in a public venue about the Muslim marriage law of Sri Lanka. The short video clip is only 3 minutes and 14 seconds long, but long enough to stir a tsunami of violent emotions.

He stands there in front of what appears to be a crowd, surrounded by people, setting the stage.

He bellows, “The minimum age required for a girl to get married in the Muslim marriage act is not twelve. Nothing is mentioned about a minimum age. What is mentioned is that whoever wishes to marry a girl below the age of twelve should obtain the permission of the Quazi (Judge), who is responsible for the area in which the girl resides”.

What about the girl’s consent? He says nothing about that, nor is it mentioned in the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act. She will be given away, with the Quazi’s consent, just like you grab something off a shelf at Cargills food city – with the absolute consent of whoever is responsible for that outlet.

He argues that attaining puberty is good enough to get a girl married, for he says, “Marriage is to satisfy a human need”.

According to his logic, no matter the level of maturity, understanding, and psychological state of the girl, a simple natural discharge is enough to give her away in marriage to a strange man.

This could lead to abuse, and crimes against an entire generation. That girl might not be physically fit to give birth, she might be completely oblivious to parenting, she might want to continue her education, she might be a child herself, but none of that matters.

If these people can set up a stage in a public venue, and invite people to commit excesses and injustice against the innocent and vulnerable, and if the law of the land remains blind, it stands to reason that we as a nation are left at the mercy of a cruel destiny.

Ignorance begets ignorance. Marriage, he says, is a means to satisfy a basic human need. According to him, a lawful marriage contract is nothing but a license to relieve ourselves of carnal desires. In a community where men decide for women, marital rape could start right here.

I wonder where he got his facts from when he argues that children as young as seven are resorting to sex to satisfy their natural urges. What is appalling, and greatly disturbing is that he prescribes marriage as a solution to such social issues (if there are any, as he claims). I am not surprised that he does not realise that children brought up by children could only foster a generation of adult children.

Here is a man some have taken to be their leader; a man that a group of people listen to, believe, and follow. It’s a frightening reality, for the destruction he could cause to a future generation is insurmountable.

Guarded by his army of sheep, he dictates freely the means of gender abuse served with a coating of self-interpreted Islam. This is not Islam. They skew the facts, concoct the truth, and exploit the religious zeal of the masses to run their own political agendas.

He is not the only thing that calls for amusement. The process of selecting a Quazi (Judge), which is mentioned in section no.12 of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act of Srilanka is utterly vague. How qualified should that person be in whose hands the future of an entire community, and consequently a nation is entrusted?

“Good character and position and suitable attainments” is all that is needed.

Now the problem is, how do we measure good character? Unfortunately we are yet to invent a machine that could accurately read the rate of righteousness, and I wonder if we ever will.

And what do they mean by position, and how does position qualify one to be both the judge and the jury at the same time? It is not only the fact that two major burdens rest on one single person that sounds outrageous, but also the fact that adjudicating depends on a person who has neither theoretical nor has practical knowledge in the sciences of adjudicating.

Whatever it means by “suitable attainments to be a Quazi” is just vague.

What are these attainments?

Where are these mentioned?

But as you conduct an assessment on the current Quazis in office it begins to surface that whatever these suitable attainments are, they are clearly not related to law and jurisprudence.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people”.

It is time that the Muslim civil society stood up against its enemies within. It is time that it severely condemned the blatant abuse, and exploitation propagated, and perpetrated against a gender, and a class that is vulnerable by all means.

If you enjoyed this article, you may find “Muslim Personal Laws Reforms: On or Not?”  and “The View from Madinah” illuminating.