The Bible and Society

How God’s Word is True

Yemen: Fatwa condemns new law setting minimum age for marriage

Posted by Mats on 27/02/2009

A predictable response, in an update on this story. “A ‘ fatwa’ against Yemeni law setting minimum age for marriage,” from Asia News, February 26:

Sana’a (AsiaNews) – Some Yemeni religious figures have launched a “fatwa” against the law recently approved by Parliament that sets the minimum age for marriage at 17. The statement, signed by the rector of Al-Eman University, Sheikh Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, and by representatives of the party Islamic Islah, is aimed at eliminating the minimum age limit.

The question of the minimum age for marriage in Yemen was brought to the attention of world public opinion last April, following the case of Nojud Mohammed Ali, an 8-year-old girl who requested and obtained a divorce after being forced to marry a 30-year-old man.

News Yemen reports that the 17 signers of the “fatwa” claim that the law has no Islamic foundation and violates Sharia, the Islamic law, which the Constitution of the country affirms as the basis of all of its laws. “The marriage age,” says the assistant secretary general of the Islah party, Mohammad Assadi, “is an Islamic rule, and political parties cannot intervene in such affairs.”

And that rule, after all, is based on Muhammad’s own example in marrying Aisha when she was six and consummating the marriage when she was nine — a “beautiful pattern of conduct,” per Qur’an 33:21.

But there are also some who are asking that the minimum age be raised to 18. One researcher on Islamic questions, AbdulAziz alAsali, also a member of Islah, maintains that girls need to be given time to complete high school, and that “at 18 years they are mentally and physically ready for marriage.”

For its part, the National Women’s Committee has asked Parliament not to respond to the lawmakers who are asking for the marriage age limit to be lowered to 12.

If that were to happen, there would likely be sudden wave of suspiciously young looking “12-year-old” brides. As things stand now, the same could happen with alleged 17-year-olds, but it would be slightly harder to fake for very young girls like Nojud Ali. Of course, the law, as described in earlier story linked above, provides its own ample loopholes for child marriage with respect to the supposed “best interests [!] of the child.”

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