By: GUL BUKHARI
Truly, the C needs changing too. It has been eminently clear for some time now that the Muslim ‘clergy’ of Pakistan is mostly preoccupied with thoughts of sex and women, and spends most of its energy on figuring out innovative means of controlling women. This obsession with sex appears to be at the root of all its efforts to control women in whichever way possible – whether it is resistance to outlaw marital rape, or to enact laws against sexual harassment, or to require impossible evidence to prove rape. What is new, however, is that the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a body that fully represents and intimately illustrates the Mullah mindset, would now like to also legalize underage marriage; indeed, to have no minimum legal age for marriage at all.
The CII members ‘ruled’ this week that Pakistani laws related to the minimum age of marriage were ‘un-Islamic’; that non-pubescent children (which includes babies) could be entered into the contract of marriage by their parents and/or guardians; and that said marriages could be consummated upon reaching puberty by said children – according to ‘Islam.’ Fascinatingly, these geniuses had to look up various ‘historic references related to marriage’ to conclude that the age at which a girl reaches puberty varies. Make no mistake, this entire ‘ruling’ is targeted at girls, not children, given the focus of discussion of puberty. Frankly, for octogenarians to be ‘researching historical references’ to figure out when little girls start to menstruate is perverted. I shudder to think what might have instigated this line of inquiry, or this deliberation on how fast a little girl can be bedded. Perhaps they can also ‘rule’ on whether it is ‘Islamic’ to fondle her before puberty?
Without, at this stage going into the (de)merits of this recommendation to our law making bodies, or into the claims of such drivel being ‘Islamic’, I’d like to question even the sense in having such a body to advise on matters of jurisprudence. And without arguing the hows and whys or the origins of the CII’s unfortunate existence, I’d like to ask all those parliamentarians who balk at such inhuman and lecherous suggestions, why they cannot steal up the courage to amend the constitution of Pakistan to get rid of this nuisance? Has the IIC ever done anything other than make a nuisance of itself? To answer that rhetorical question myself, actually yes, it has. It has become a clear and present danger to this society. The fact that a constitutional body can even suggest such lunacy, which lunacy then has to be lent the dignity of being seriously debated nationally, is sufficient basis to scrap it altogether.
It is not enough to argue that the CII is not a legislative body, only an advisory one. With its recommendations, the CII is managing to control the national narrative and take it into the realm of insanity and idiocy, with the rest of the nation trying desperately to defend common decency, morality and humanity. And the farce is, that the argument is being done on the Mullah’s turf: Islam.
Why is it that no one, no one, has the courage to say outright that religion, even if it did indeed prescribe taking away the human right of a one year old girl to not be ‘married’, cannot be allowed to impose such unreasonable, utterly mad injunctions? Unfortunately, the most liberal of liberals are found looking for justifications of their viewpoints in Islam itself so as not to be labeled apostates, or to avoid accusations of having committed blasphemy. And invariably, they end up losing the argument, mostly because, and there is no shame in saying so, they are not well versed enough in religion to counter complete nonsense from the clerics. At other times, clerics quote from commonly accepted guidance like Hadith, which can only be countered with reason and not with aaen baaen shaaen (beating about the bush). Hence the importance of removing debate into the realm of the rational, out of reach of the Unreasonables. If they then choose to argue with logic, rather than with their unshakeable ‘belief’ in the right to rape women and molest children with impunity, that would be welcomed.
As many of us fumed in front of our televisions last night, looking for hard objects to bang our heads against, Shahbaz Sandhu tweeted, “CII controversy reveals that here, religion is countered with more religion. Instead, we must always rely on its arch-enemy: reason.” Fayyazul Hassan Chohan of the PTI (predictably) had just asked a female co-panelist on a talk show to recite Dua-e-Qunoot before opining on matters of minimum age of marriage, or before claiming that she was capable enough to interpret her religion for herself. This is what comes of having CIIs.
One of the first duties of our parliamentarians to us is to amend the constitution of Pakistan and make it completely secular, exculpating all references to religion including the infamous Articles 62, 63 and 295 and the Objectives Resolution. Have they forgotten the circus of their disqualifications by returning officers in the 2013 general elections for lack of knowledge of the minutiae of their supposed religion?
Just as these clerics want girls to be literally born into marriages, they hold the rest of the country hostage to being ‘born’ into a religion, thereby holding the sword of apostasy or blasphemy over anyone daring to say, ‘So?’ to the last word of religion. However, just like marriage is a choice, so is religion. While marriage is a civil contract between two people recognized by the state, religion is the belief of an individual, which has nothing to do with the state. The state intervenes to provide justice or protection if the contract of marriage is broken. How can a state intervene if a man’s belief is broken? Lawmakers must contemplate these questions and gather the courage to rid this nation of the scourge of the Mullah’s sword.
The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org