ACJU and the MMDA - A Statement of Clarification
2017.04.03 / 1438.07.05
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم - In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) ever since its establishment has always taken a very flexible and moderate approach, within the framework of Shari’ah and the greater public interest, when consulting on any issue. Such facilitation is based on the Quranic verse where it says:
“Allah intends (to provide) ease for you and does not intend (to create) hardships for you.“ (Chapter 2 Verse 185).
In addition, Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) has said : "Make things easy and do not make them difficult, cheer the people up by conveying glad tidings to them and do not repulse (them)."
In another instance the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed, this religion is easy”.
It becomes the duty of the Ulama (religious scholars) to ensure that matters pertaining to the religion are not made difficult to the people. Especially, because it has been mentioned that Ulama are the inheritors of the prophets.
Yet another instance by which the ACJU and Ulama are limited by the Quran is where it mentions : “Oh you who believe do not hold as unlawful the good things Allah has made lawful for you” (Chapter 5, Verse 87).
It is clear from the above verse that the ACJU neither has the power to make what is unlawful lawful nor the power to make what is lawful unlawful.
Unfortunately, the statement made by the President of the ACJU that the “Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) is perfect in its present state”, has been subjected to misinterpretation.
In fact, what he wanted to express was that our predecessors who were involved in formulating the MMDA had taken great efforts to make it near perfect. Of course, given the circumstances of that period. This does not imply that there need not be any reforms today to the Act, mainly in the administration of Quazi court system.
There has also been an unfair allegation against ACJU that it is not ready to listen to the grievances of the women. There is no truth at all in this allegation. ACJU wishes to highlight that it will be a gross violation of Islamic religious teachings to ignore the women or not to give them the honour and respect that Islam has bestowed on them. ACJU is therefore, bound by these religious teachings.
See the examples elucidated below, where the Almighty Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and the Righteous Caliphs were ready to listen to the women.
The Quran states: “Allah has heard the talk of the woman who was debating with you about her husband” (Chapter 58 Verse 1).
During the incident of Hudaibiya, it is recorded that Prophet (ﷺ) listened to his wife Umme Salma’s advice.
Also, it has been recorded that the Caliph, Umar bin Kattab while he was in the pulpit, a woman questioned him and he was listening to her and willing to accept her clarification.
When Quran and the Prophetic teachings guide us so clearly, how can one conclude that ACJU is acting contrary to such teachings. As has always been the case, ACJU is willing and ready to listen to the grievances of women. Our doors are always open not only for the women but, for anybody who is willing to have a dialogue.
These misconceptions and the communication gap that is dominating events today need to be removed. We strongly believe that it is through dialogue that we can sort out all our problems. The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, is a topic which has been spoken widely in many circles and forums these days. In this regard, ACJU believes without doubt, the MMDA as it stands today definitely needs reforms.
ACJU as a responsible institution has to look into various aspects, inter alia :
(1) matters of relevance to the religious teachings;
(2) finding solutions to the grievances of the women;
(3) ensuring the acceptance and acknowledgement of the larger Muslim community;
(4) establishing justice to each and everyone to the best possible extent.
In doing so, we as Religious Scholars are willing to be flexible and accommodative to the fullest extent. In the same vein, it is the bounden religious duty of the Scholars to alert the Committee in the area of Shariah principles, as relevant.
From its inception, the ACJU has been very careful in handling the MMDA matter and it has always given its fullest support to the committee. In this long journey, the committee has moved forward unitedly and as a team. We believe that InshaAllah we can conclude the committee proceedings in a manner that is satisfactory to all.
The comprehensive report which we have submitted to the reform committee has provided detailed explanation to all the key topics of the MMDA reforms. If someone goes through this report he/she will understand the stand of ACJU and the rationale behind its suggestions.
Finally, the correct understanding of the statement, “Islam is a religion of equality”, is that, “Islam is a religion of justice”. This means being ‘just’ in treating equally those who are equal and, being ‘just’ when differentiating between those who are different. The ACJU invites all to join hands in this noble work to reform the MMDA and to protect the rights of oppressed women and the rights of every individual.
Ash-Shaikh Mufti M.I.M. Rizwe
President – ACJU
Ash-Shaikh M.M.A. Mubarak
General Secretary - ACJU
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