WARARKA BARAAWEPOST Saturday 23 january 2010 




Saudi cleric: no religious justification for child marriage) 

Friday, January 22, 2010


RIYADH: A senior Saudi cleric said that the Prophet Mohammad’s marriage to a 9-year-old girl some 14 centuries ago cannot be used to justify child marriages today, a Saudi newspaper reported on Thursday. 

The comments by Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie, a member of the Council of Senior Ulema (scholars), followed the marriage of a 12-year-old girl to a man 68 years her senior. 

Manie told Okaz newspaper that circumstances are different today from when Islam’s Prophet Mohammad married young Aisha. 

Aisha’s marriage “cannot be equated with child marriages today because the conditions and circumstances are not the same,” Manie said. 

The senior Saudi cleric spoke as the case of a girl in the city of Buraidah, in Al-Qasim Province, marrying a man estimated to be 80 years old, sparked new criticism of Saudi Arabia not having a law banning child marriages. 

According to a report last week in Al-Riyadh newspaper, the girl was given in marriage by her father against both her and her mother’s wishes. The newspaper reported that the marriage was sealed by a dowry payment and had been consummated. 
Saudi Arabia’s legal system is based on Islamic Sharia law, which is defined by the Koran and other Islamic texts. Judges are all Islamic scholars and, instead of adhering to a modern written body of laws, base their decisions on their own interpretations of these texts. 

The case of Aisha, known to Muslims as “The Mother of Believers,” is often used by Saudi judges and clerics to justify child marriages. 

The government’s Human Rights Commission said it was following the Buraidah case, which is currently being weighed by a local court. 

“The mother of the Buraidah girl asked for our help, requesting that we become involved to help her daughter in getting a divorce,” commission head Bandar al-Aiban told AFP. 

“The case is now in the hands of the legal authority, and I do not want to say anything before they make their decision, but I hope they will reach a decision very soon,” Aiban said. 

Aiban said in June that Riyadh was working on new regulations to impose a minimum age for marrying that could range from 16 to 18 years old.

Source: Agence France Presse (AFP



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