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Women cannot demand divorce in Islam, says JI Sindh chief

Karachi: Women have not been given the right to demand divorce in Islam; it is only the right of men to divorce women, Jamaat-e-Islami Sindh Amir Asad Ullah Bhutto said. He disagreed with recommendations made by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and said that these were against the Qura’an and Sunnah. He also lambasted the media, claiming it was preaching obscenity.

He was speaking at a seminar organized by Aurat Foundation to discuss the recommendations of the CII pertaining to divorce, custody of children and maintenance allowance for women after divorce, etc.

“The CII has made recommendations on this sensitive issue when many of our friends have resigned from the assembly,” Bhutto said, adding that the CII should work under the Constitution and in accordance with the Objective Resolution.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto also emphasized the “Islamic way of life,” he said, adding, that was why there was a consensus among different parties on the 1973 Constitution.

He said there were many interpretations of Qura’an and Sunnah but only those acceptable by the majority were applicable and that was the reason that the concept of “Ijmah” became important.

Bhutto further said when President Ayub Khan introduced the Muslim Family Laws in 1961, religious parties opposed the move and there was no need of any new law pertaining to divorce, custody of children and maintenance allowance since several laws already exist to address these problems.

He regretted that despite these laws there were tragedies such as Tasleem Solangi case, while women were buried alive in Balochistan.

Justice (Retd) Shaiq Usmani, however, had a differing point of view. Marriage in Islam, unlike Christianity, is a “contract” and, therefore, there is no harm in making a written agreement if the “contract” is broken and a woman opts for divorce, he said. “The relationship between men and women is a human affair; it’s not a religious problem,” Justice Usmani said. “Nobody benefits from an unhappy home.”

He said that the CII recommendations needed to be discussed and debated but should not be made a war between Islam and infidelity.

“It’s the greatness of Islam that it made marriage a contract,” he said. Had anybody been absolute, there would have been no development in law, he added.

He said Islam was a “dynamic religion” and it was but natural that law changes with the change in time.

He said people in Pakistan were still following the laws made by colonial masters. Muslim Family Laws were made in 1961 during the era of the then president Ayub Khan and many developments have occurred since then.

He said constituent assemblies were made to make law but unfortunately they were not allowed to function for decades in Pakistan.

Eminent philosopher and CII Member Prof. Manzoor Uddin Ahmed said debate was necessary for law-making. People sitting in the CII were enlightened people and would welcome difference of opinion.

He said that the CII did not function under the directives of a government official or a ministry and was only answerable to the parliament.

He said from time to time, the parliament used to ask CII about its opinion on a law and the former was not against Qura’an and Sunnah.

However, CII has recommended certain changes in “Nikahnama” and was in favour of registration of divorce because just as marriage was a “contract” amongst two beings in Islam, and was registered, dissolution of marriage should also be registered.

Dr. Shakeel Auoh, Professor at the University of Karachi, said the word “Khula” was not in Qura’an, adding, even religious people did not follow the directives of Qura’an when they were divorcing their wives.

He said divorce from a woman (Khula) was only acceptable when she was clean, and instead of 90 days the timeframe for “Khula” should be 120 days since there was possibility of reconciliation between husband and wife.

He, however, expressed surprise that why certain people were critical on the registration of divorce.

Earlier, Aurat Foundation Executive Director Anis Haroon said the CII had made certain recommendations that would provide some relief to women but a thorough debate has not taken place on these recommendations as yet.
Source: The News
Date:12/31/2008

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