Jul 24, 2013


The post Arab-Spring scenario has created more street protests and heated debates in parliaments of some Muslim countries including Pakistan and Malaysia. The calls to review or to repeal the earlier Bills that were found inadequate to address the growing despair among the well-articulated and highly wired population is generating healthy debates that aimed at reviewing some erstwhile Muslim understanding of their Shari'ah.

In Malaysia the recent outcry to give both parents the right over their children without one parent deciding to convert his children to Islam is seen as injustice and has painted Islam in a bad light. The fact of the matter is that Islam demands that the children be given the choice of conversion when they reach their age of discretion. In the case of children below this age they are required to follow the father, given the fact that the child bears his name as such he is held responsible for the well-being of his children, including the religion his children follows. This does not mean the mother has no access to them. What has happened recently is the sudden surge in the empowerment of women who feel that they have been on the receiving side of male dominated patriarchal society where women are placed at the periphery of the society with no equality. This may be true in respect of other religion, but is not the case with Islam. Sadly some muslims have unwittingly fallen into the same pit by denying their women their basic rights placing the blame squarely on the faultless religion. Examining the case closely I found that in many cases conversion has been taken as a convenient escapade from responsibility and to break away from their family life. There is no doubt the bill must be given a new reading to reflect justice.

In the case of Pakistan I welcome the decision to make use of DNA test to confirm rape and to take appropriate punitive action against the perpetrators of such disgusting act. I can understand the ulama objection on its usage. If they insist on bringing four witnesses, such conformation could be done four times by four different agencies instead. I was wondering why four and who on earth will commit such an act in public. But then given the modern day perversion there are people who will do it consensually on camera in the presence of world audience. However, the usage of such scientific method should be considered sufficient to take action against those rapists. Ulamas should not stand in the way for the effective use of modern technology to decide on shari'ah violation. Shari'ah should not be misused as a tool of oppression that denies basic justice.  But the call to interpret shara'i provision in the light of UN convention on conversion is unacceptable. That should not be the yardstick to judge matters Islamic. There are ample provisions in shari'ah that meet all these exigencies, but then the interpretation of it need to be revisited in the spirit of justice and not in the spirit of any UN dictates.


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