By V.M. Khaleelur Rahman
The internationally reputed Islamic seminary Darul Uloom, Deoband and other Islamic institutions have welcomed the recent judgment of the hon’ble Delhi high court upholding the right of a 15 year old Muslim girl to stay married and rejecting her mother’s claim that she was a minor girl who had been abducted against her will. One should understand that there is Muslim personal law in our country and Muslims are governed by it.
The hue and cry made by some activists’ against the judgment has no meaning. In fact the above judgment is a shining example of a very rational approach to a burning issue like marriage. The hon’ble judges actually saved the marriage and also the couple.
There have been child marriages taking place throughout the world. It depends upon socio-economic conditions. All the religions Hinduism, Christianity, Islam etc. are not opposed to the marriages of girls below 18 years. Many Sankaracharyas have said that girls should be married as soon as they attain puberty.
UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report says that 47% of India’s women aged 20-24 were married before the legal age of 18. Even in the United States laws regarding marriage vary in different states. Generally girls 16 and over may marry with parental consent although 18 is the minimum age in most states to marry without parental consent. The report also shows that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India.
Yet another report says that in 2010 the great majority of teenage births were to unmarried young women in the U.S. (99% for teens under age 15, and 88% for 15 to 19 year olds, compared with 63% of births to women ages 20 to 24, one-third for women ages 25 to 29 and 21% for women in their thirties.
Under these circumstances the judges had no option but to approve the marriage of the 15 year old Muslim girl. This should have made the couple heave a sigh of relief. Islamic laws are meant for the betterment of the society and not to make it go astray.
We cannot say that girls cannot be competent to enter into marital alliances on their own before the age of 18. The very fact that the girl married a boy of her choice and not her parents indicates that she is bold enough and capable of deciding things. There may be girls even at 25 lacking maturity and incapable of taking decisions about their marriage. It does not mean that Muslim girls are to be married before 18. The present day Muslim girls are interested in higher education. Now-a-days child marriages are not common among Muslims. Things have been changing fast. There is no need to make changes in the Muslim personal law about the age of marriage for Muslim girls as it will not serve any purpose but only create problems.