ISLAMABAD - Already facing a severe criticism for issuing a decree to allow second marriage to a Muslim male without his wife’s consent, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has now decreed to permit the marriage of young children.

The apparently strange decree cites religious provisions to state that Islam does not forbid marriage of young children. The CII has decided to evolve consensus among various stakeholders for making it possible to prevent minimum age of marriage. “However, the consummation of marriage is only allowed when both male and female have reached puberty,” the council said Tuesday.

In an apparent bid to radicalise the Pakistani society, the CII, comprising orthodox clerics from religious parties, ruled that Pakistani laws prohibiting marriage of underage children were ‘un-Islamic’. At the end of its two-day session, the CII felt that there was no minimum age of marriage according to Islam.  An official of CII said the council had summoned a consultative meeting of ulema to which officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs had also been invited.

The CII’s ruling came a day after its chairman, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani, became a subject of criticism following his statement coupled with a decree that the laws regarding second marriage of a man with the permission of the first wife were against religious principles. “Sharia allows men to have more than one wife and we demand the government amend the law,” he told media people after a CII meeting.

Pakistani law requires a man to seek a written approval from his existing wife or wives for another marriage. Sheerani urged the government to formulate Sharia-compliant laws related to marriage, divorce, adulthood and will.  According to the Constitution of Pakistan, the CII is a recommendatory body that advises the Parliament on the law-making process, but it cannot enact laws on its own. The CII also passed recommendations recently for introducing amendments contrary to the interests of women. The council forwarded several recommendations for eliminating and amending anti-women laws.  The meeting was attended by the CII members, Mufti Ghulam Mustafa Rizvi, Justice (r) Nazir Akhtar, Justice (r) Mushtaq Ahmed Memon, Dr Muhammad Idrees Soomro, Allama Syed Iftikhar Hussain Naqvi, Syed Saeed Ahmed Shah Gujrati, Allama Muhammad Yousuf Awan, Maulana Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, Dr Muhammad Mushtaq Kalota, Maulana Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari, Mufti Muhammad Ibrahim Qadri, Maulana Fazl Ali Haqqani, Pir Mian Abdul Baqi, Hafiz Zubair Ahmed Zaheer and Syed Feroze Jamal Shah.


Pakistan Peoples Party on Tuesday criticised the recent recommendations of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), saying that this interpretation was against the spirit of equality, which was the basic tenet of Islam.

The PPP Human Rights Cell has expressed concern over the reversal of the 1961 particularly on the second marriage of males. “Why is CII concerned with men’s four marriages and why have they done nothing to ensure that women get their property as enshrined in Islamic Law? why have they failed to stop practices such as Vani, Swara, Karo Kari, rape and acid crimes against women?” asked PPP lawmaker Dr Nafisa Shah. Unfortunately Islam has been misinterpreted over a period of time by a mindset and a particular school of thought, she said, adding that Islam and modernism are compatible provided progressive scholars interpret the religion.

 The Human Rights Cell Coordinator called upon the government to include progressive Islamic scholars in the Council of Common Ideology so that women rights and the rights of all are protected.