Pakistan’s top Islamic court has ruled that setting the minimum age limit for a girls’ marriage was not against the teachings of Islam as it dismissed a petition which challenged some sections of the Child Marriage Restraint Act.
This landmark verdict on child marriages may settle the controversy fuelled by the insistence of radical Muslims that Islam has not allowed to fix age for marriage.
A three-judge bench of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC), headed by Chief Justice Mohammad Noor Meskanzai, on Thursday heard the petition which challenged some sections of the Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) 1929.
Dawn newspaper reported that the apex Islamic court dismissed the petition and categorically declared that setting any minimum age limit for girls’ marriage by an Islamic state was not against Islam.
“After examining the petition, we are of the considerate view that the petition is misconceived, hence, it is dismissed in limine,” said the judgement authored by Justice Dr Syed Mohammad Anwer.
In the 10-page verdict, the FSC held that the sections in which the minimum age limit was prescribed by the act for both girls and boys for marriage was not un-Islamic.
The section 4 of the CMRA prescribes punishment for marrying a child to a simple imprisonment which may extend to six months and a fine of 50,000 Pakistani Rupees. Whereas Section 5 and 6 explain the punishment for solemnising nikah of a child and permitting or promoting child marriage.
The judgement described that the importance of education as "self-explanatory" and said that the need for education is "equally important for everybody, irrespective of gender".
“That is why Islam has made the acquisition of education mandatory for every Muslim as mentioned in a Hadith stating ‘Acquisition of knowledge is mandatory upon every Muslim’,” the verdict says.
For a healthy marriage, it says, not only physical health and economic stability but mental health and intellectual development are also equally important factors, which are achievable through education.
Education is fundamental for women's empowerment as it is the key for the development of an individual and consequently for the future generation of any nation, it says.
One of the purposes of marriage in Islam is protection and promotion of genealogy and generation of a person, the verdict observes, adding that this concept comes under the topic of Hifz-un-Nasal, which is one of the goals of Shariat according to the concept of Maqasid-us-Shariah as narrated by Ibrahim Bin Musa Bin Mohammad Shatbi.
There are many Islamic countries wherein the minimum age for marriage for male and female is fixed, like in Jordan, Malaysia, Egypt and Tunisia, etc, the verdict points out, according to the report.