The lengths to which Pakistan will go to tolerate the likes of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) are mindboggling indeed. After the initial verdict passed by the CII in late March this year on how setting the minimum age for marriage is un-Islamic and how men need not take the permission of their existing wife to remarry, as stated in the Family Law Ordinance of 1961, the advisory body is back to endorse these two positions in fresh statements, reiterating that it has not forgotten about these matters. Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, chairing the latest meeting of the CII has once again stated that Islam does not prohibit child marriages and that polygamy does not require the permission of one’s first wife. He has asked for a repeal of the country’s marriage laws, bringing into the spotlight once again just how ridiculous the CII’s obsession has become with issues of little worth in today’s world.
The CII has always worked in an advisory capacity and does not have any legislative powers — thank the Lord for small mercies. However, by repeating these issues time and again, it seems the CII is hell bent on amassing more power for itself. That is why it is so very important to disband this body, which has now become a council deliberating on matters that hold little relevance in this day and age. We are a country mired in terrorism, sectarian warfare and, now, a polio emergency. Instead of talking about such fundamental issues, the CII has found it indispensible to talk about marrying off young children and making life easier for those men who choose to indulge in more than one marriage at a time. Child marriages have been proved as being detrimental to female reproductive health as well as being one of the main reasons behind extreme psychological harm. What are the maulana and his band of merry brothers trying to do? Send us back to the Stone Age? The world has come so far now in moving beyond these issues that to hear of our religious advisory council speak of them only serves to remind us that this antediluvian body must be done away with. We have too much intolerance and ideology-based hate in our society already. We hardly need to add to the plethora of religion-based ‘edicts’. The government must not allow the CII to carry on with its campaign against the country’s laws, laws that protect the family structure and keep us from becoming a laughing stock the world over. *