Recently, the South African Justice Ministry opened the latest draft of the Muslim Marriages Bill (MMB) up for public comment and called for submissions on the bill’s contents.
Along with this came the media furor over the Muslim community’s reaction to the idea of the government recognizing Muslim marriages as Muslim marriages and providing legislation for Muslims according to both constitutional gender equality and the dynamism of fiqh. The point of this post is not to assess the Shar’iah compliance of the bill, but to highlight the voices in the media that have spoken out against blatant dismissal of the bill and called for critical engagement, especially since most of the issues deal with gender equality and women’s rights within marriages.
Why, you may be wondering, would some Muslims be averse to a bill which would, if passed, help against the abuse and violation of women’s rights in marriages, with measures such the setting of a minimum marriage age to the requirement of the court’s permission to enter into a polygamous union?
The answer is that some Muslim organizations have been using emotional incitement tactics to stir up the ignorant amongst the Muslim community with campaigns such as “MMB is anti-Shariah” or “Don’t support the Kufr MMB.”