Child marriage is legal for Sri Lankan Muslims.
“[The Muslim child-wife] faced serious physical abuse and psychological trauma after the marriage and had reached out to a colleague a month ago asking for information in obtaining a divorce ….
Later it was learnt that she also went to the police who mediated and reconciled she and her husband and sent her back to him, despite grave danger of further abuse.
As numerous scholars on Islam have made clear: Few things are more abundantly attested in Islamic law than the permissibility of child marriage. Islamic tradition records that Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, was six when Muhammad wedded her and nine when he consummated the marriage. Robert Spencer elucidates here:
“The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death)” (Bukhari 7.62.88).
Another tradition has Aisha herself recount the scene:
The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became all right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age. (Bukhari 5.58.234).
Muhammad was at this time fifty-four years old.
Marrying young girls was not all that unusual for its time, but because in Islam Muhammad is the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21), he is considered exemplary in this unto today. And so in April 2011, the Bangladesh Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini declared that those trying to pass a law banning child marriage in that country were putting Muhammad in a bad light: “Banning child marriage will cause challenging the marriage of the holy prophet of Islam, [putting] the moral character of the prophet into controversy and challenge.” He added a threat: “Islam permits child marriage and it will not be tolerated if any ruler will ever try to touch this issue in the name of giving more rights to women.” The Mufti said that 200,000 jihadists were ready to sacrifice their lives for any law restricting child marriage.
Likewise the influential website Islamonline.com in December 2010 justified child marriage by invoking not only Muhammad’s example, but the Qur’an as well:
The Noble Qur’an has also mentioned the waiting period [i.e. for a divorced wife to remarry] for the wife who has not yet menstruated, saying: “And those who no longer expect menstruation among your women, if you doubt, then their period is three months, and [also for] those who have not menstruated” [Qur’an 65:4]. Since this is not negated later, we can take from this verse that it is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a prepubescent girl. The Qur’an is not like the books of jurisprudence which mention what the implications of things are, even if they are prohibited. It is true that the prophet entered into a marriage contract with A’isha when she was six years old, however he did not have sex with her until she was nine years old, according to al-Bukhari.
Other countries make Muhammad’s example the basis of their laws regarding the legal marriageable age for girls. Article 1041 of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran states that girls can be engaged before the age of nine, and married at nine: “Marriage before puberty (nine full lunar years for girls) is prohibited. Marriage contracted before reaching puberty with the permission of the guardian is valid provided that the interests of the ward are duly observed.”
According to Amir Taheri in The Spirit of Allah: Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution (pp. 90-91), Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini himself married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight. Khomeini called marriage to a prepubescent girl “a divine blessing,” and advised the faithful to give their own daughters away accordingly: “Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house.” When he took power in Iran, he lowered the legal marriageable age of girls to nine, in accord with Muhammad’s example.
TORTURED SRI LANKAN MUSLIM CHILD MARRIAGE VICTIM DIES, POLICE SOFT-PEDALS CAPTURE OF MURDEROUS HUSBAND
By Colombo Telegraph, May 21, 2017 (thanks to Religion of Peace):
SRI LANKAN MUSLIM CHILD MARRIAGE VICTIM, THAMEEM FATHEEMA SHARMILA HAS DIED LAST NIGHT AFTER BEING TIED TO A CHAIR, POURED OIL AND SET ON FIRE BY HER ABUSIVE HUSBAND LAST FRIDAY.
Activist had been calling the husband to be arrested so he can face justice in courts.
“The police is yet to arrest the husband who is accused of burning a 4 months pregnant teenager alive. It is actually a double homicide.” a spokeswoman of Women’s Action Network today told Colombo Telegraph.
Sharmila a young 18 year old Muslim girl was four months pregnant and lost her baby. She is also the young mother of a 7-month old baby.
She is also a victim of forced child marriage, which is legal for Sri Lankan Muslims. She was 16 years old when was taken to the Nallanthaluwa Kodi Palli Mosque in Munthal, Puttalam and forced to marry Mohamed Imran who was 22 years old. Marrying against her will, Sharmila did not know that Imran was already married twice before and she was his third wife. She never received a marriage certificate as the nikah was not registered by the men officiating the marriage ceremony.
Writing to Colombo Telegraph yesterday, Shreen Abdul Saroor, founder member of Mannar Women’s Development Federation and Women’s Action Network said: “She faced serious physical abuse and psychological trauma after the marriage and had reached out to a colleague a month ago asking for information in obtaining a divorce via the Quazi courts, but never came back again. Later it was learnt that she also went to the police who mediated and reconciled she and her husband and sent her back to him, despite grave danger of further abuse.
“After the attempted murder of his wife, Mohamed Imran took away their 7 month-old baby threatening her that if she reported the incident as being his fault that he would harm the baby as well. Sharmila in her moments of waking consciousness was concerned only about her baby. Fortunately the baby is now safe with other family members but Mohamed Imran is on the run from the police.”
“It is unbearable to see the young lives of Sri Lankan Muslim women being destroyed because of the lack of legal protection of their rights. Sharmila was both a victim of her husband but also a victim of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) and the Constitution, which does not (yet) protect her rights. What did this child do to deserve this fate? Was it her fault that she was born Muslim in Sri Lanka?” Shreen questioned.
“This happened because of the flawed and inadequate laws in the country specially Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act and Domestic Violence Act, growing religious fundamentalism and structures like mosques and Quazi courts playing with women’s rights and of course negligence of the police. Let’s see what the court will do?”, Shreen Abdul Saroor told Colombo Telegraph.
Her funeral will be held today morning in Thillaiyady, Puttalam.
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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Geller Report.