Malay rulers can impose ban on child marriages, says Mujahid

De facto religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa and his deputy, Fuziah Salleh, meeting the media on the sidelines of the launch of Jakim’s ‘Rahmah’ book at a hotel in Butterworth today.

BUTTERWORTH: De facto religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa today said the question over child marriages among Muslims could be resolved by Malay rulers.

He said many states, while accepting the idea of banning child marriages, did not have the will to legalise the ban through state laws.

Mujahid said this was because some states held the view that it was “not something obligatory” and permission to marry a minor should depend on the situation.

He said the underpinning reason was the autonomy bestowed on all states to deal with Islamic laws.

“We have spoken to all state Islamic councils to limit underage marriages but there are some states that still do not want to implement it.

“It appears that some states do not have the will to do so, with the exception of Selangor, Penang, Melaka and a few others. Ultimately, the state governments have the authority to ban it to protect the larger interests of the people.

“If the Conference of Rulers decides on this (ban on child marriages), then the respective state Islamic religious affairs councils or Islamic departments will adhere to the decision,” he said on the sidelines of an event here today.

Mujahid said the other way to convince states to legalise the ban on child marriages was through the National Islamic Affairs Council, which convenes thrice a year.

He said the council, headed by the prime minister, could convince the respective menteris besar, Islamic affairs exco members and religious affairs council chiefs why the ban was necessary.

He said the ban on child marriages had been raised at these meetings before. He was responding to a question on why child marriages are yet to be banned in the country.

Separately, Mujahid said a call to ban the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks in public places was “not strange” and would do a whole lot of good, especially in preventing drink driving.

He said people must not see this call only from the religious angle and see whether it will benefit society.

Earlier, he and his deputy, Fuziah Salleh, launched a book titled Rahmah, a 10-booklet series on Islam which would be distributed to all government departments and educational institutions. It is produced by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).