The raging controversy on child marriage as it affects the review of the Nigerian constitution has been on the floor of the National Assembly for days. It has also occupied a prime of place in cyberspace as the Nigerian social media has fully gone to town over it. Feminists and other activists acting under the guise of protecting the Muslim female child have also exploited the scenario to lampoon Muslims and their institution of marriage.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) will like to put the records straight before too much damage is done to the polity. Islam is a complete way of life and its institutions (including that of marriage) are based on divinely ordained and well documented rules. Whoever wishes to legislate constructively or comment objectively on any aspect of Islam must therefore arm himself with the divine and documentary evidence. Anything short of this will earn lawmakers and commentators disrespect and contempt of Islamdom.
The conditions of marriage in Islam are four, namely, proposal and acceptance (al-Ijaab wa alqubuul), approval by both parents (ridaa alwaalidayn), payment of a dowry by the groom (al-mihr) and the presence of at least two male witnesses at the ceremony (shaahidayn ‘aadilayn).
Age is therefore not part of the conditions which must be met before marriage can be solemnized in Islam. Where the bride is a ‘minor’, Islam prescribes protective solemnization of marriage without consummation. This means that the girl who is deemed to be of tender age is left untouched by the man until she attains puberty. Another major condition for child marriage is that the girl herself has the right to repudiate the marriage when she attains maturity if she does not like her ‘spouse’.
MURIC believes that honourable and dignifying child marriage is better than child prostitution which is rampant in Nigerian cities and red light zones. In comparison, the globalization and promotion of homosexualism, lesbianism and same sex marriage is a direct challenge of the Creator’s divine order. Whereas child marriage involves two proud and happy families, same sex marriage drives families of the two parties underground, embarrassed and emotionally devastated.
The notion of a secular Nigeria is an unmitigated farce. We challenge those behind this monumental deceit to produce the word ‘secular’ from the Nigerian constitution. How can you say Nigeria is a secular nation when the word ‘secular’ is not in our constitution? It does not exist. It is a mirage. The fact of the matter is that Nigeria is a multi-religious country. It is when some people want to rob Muslims of their Allah-given and fundamental rights that they label Nigeria ‘secular’.
We therefore appeal to our lawmakers not to allow self-acclaimed constitutional ideologues to railroad them into tampering with the Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims. Nigeria’s constitution must take into consideration the various ethnic and religious groups in order to create a symphony. Any constitution that does not take the people’s cultures and religions into consideration is not only draconian but designed to fail from the onset.
For instance, the Nigerian matrimonial law which stipulates marriage to only one woman is designed to cater for Christians. Legislators must leave alone those clauses which cater for Muslim marriage otherwise they will be unfair to Muslims. We must all remember that Justice is the Soul of Peace.
MURIC appeals to Nigerians to learn the art of tolerance. We must learn to live with one another without attempting to bend any particular group towards a particular mindset. Let us learn to respect our differences. There can be no social cohesion unless we learn to accept Muslims as Muslims and respect their way of life. In the interest of peaceful coexistence, we advise Nigerians to resist further attempt to stereotype and stigmatize Muslims.
It is paradoxical that some feminists and activists now claim to be defending the rights of the Muslim girl-child. Where were they when millions of Muslim women were disallowed from registering for votes in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Oshun, Ondo and other states in the South on account of their wearing of hijab during the 2007 and 2011 general elections? Why have they remained silent since the Lagos female pupil was given 43 lashes of the cane by a heartless school principal? Is that not child abuse? Why did they leave the Muslims alone to clamour for redress?
Parasites, pretenders and interlopers should stop poking their noses in the affairs of Muslims. Who wants his own daughter to suffer. These people should stop shedding crocodile tears. Nobody can love our daughters, our wives and our mothers more than us. Why are they crying more than the bereaved? We know that the rat should be careful when the cat starts performing ablution.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), 0818-211-9714