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Zahra Zaraa Danejo @tinkizee2
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It is important to clarify that what is advocated for in this instance is not that the permitted should be rendered prohibited. In the development of the Shari’ah, it is permissible for the State to adopt a policy to prevent harm
the Doctrine of public interest (maslaha) or that of encouraging good and preventing harm (hisbah). Consequently, what is being advocated is that the State should weigh the advantages of a practice against its disadvantages, in order to identify its usefulness or otherwise,
thus legitimately arriving at the inevitable conclusion that such a practice, if found harmful, could be prohibited (or restricted) in the overall interests of the society.
Pegging the age of marriage for a girl appears to offend the culture which prevails in many communities of Northern Nigeria under which young girls are married off at ages between 9 and 16 years. Upon a careful perusal of the position under Islamic Law, however,
it is clear that this culture is one of the many inconsistencies that abound. There is certainly no categorical statement under the Sharia that a female must be married off even after the attainment of puberty.
It should be noted that in the determination of a girl’s preparedness for marriage in our jurisdictions, only the physical aspect of puberty is considered the major consideration, even though the Sharia also makes the fact of mental preparedness
Sharia also makes the fact of mental maturity an important factor. Advocates of early marriage in our communities believe that a girl who appears to be physically mature is ripe for marriage, with no thought given to her mental capacity or appreciation for marriage
Any honest observer would be fully conscious of the injury done to the girl-child’s future when she is removed from school at a tender age for the sole purpose of being given away in marriage. Not only is she mentally unprepared to take on onerous marital duties
she has no education, skill or knowledge of family planning and is under pressure, almost immediately from family and friends, to become pregnant. The extraordinarily high maternal and child mortality indices
in the jurisidictions where child marriage is prevalent demonstrate unequivocally just how dangerous the practice is to their health and to their lives. Indeed, statistics disclose that a girl giving birth at 15 years or below is 5 times as likely to lose her child
statistics disclose that a girl giving birth at 15 years or below is 5 times as likely to lose her child or her own life, than if she were 18 years or older.
The requirement of consent in the contract of marriage is an important condition under Islamic Law, despite the prevailing notion of the power of ‘ijbar’ (that only the consent of the guardian of the female, irrespective of her own wishes, is sufficient)
widely practiced in Northern Nigeria, as a fall out from the teachings of Imam Malik. While ‘ijbar’ may have been exercised legitimately for a period such as the lifetime of Imam Malik, when girls in Medina were usually married off when they were relatively quite young
(thus requiring a guardian’s consent), several Hadith demonstrate the Prophet’s insistence, even in his own lifetime, on the requirement of the consent of the female in a marriage, and in a particular tradition where it was reported that a girl came to the Prophet to complain
that her father gave her in marriage against her will, he gave her the option of annulment. It is on the basis of this Hadith that in many jurisdictions in the world that apply Islamic Law, a girl forced into marriage before adulthood (thus considered incapable of taking
such an important decision in her life) retains the option to revoke such a marriage upon reaching maturity.
It is also an authentic fact, however, that Holy Prophet (SAW) declined that his daughter, Fatima, should marry Ali Ibn Talib, her suitor, until she had attained the age of eighteen. Thus, when the Prophet chose to exercise his own discretion on a girl-child that was within
authority and control, he gave her away in marriage at an age that was more suited with the mental and physical maturity approach of the Qur’an, rather than at a very young age, considering all the circumstances. This regretful approach that has become the norm in our culture
in being selective of what Hadith to highlight and therefore emulate, and which one to downplay, only portrays the customary, patriarchal tendencies that are common in most societies, irrespective of religious inclinations.
Morocco has fixed eighteen for male, and fifteen for female. Yemen makes the legal minimum age for marriage for both female and male, 16, while The Philippines pegs this minimum age at 20, again with no gender distinction. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Tunisia also make
minimum age for boys and girls between sixteen and twenty one. It is therefore clearly not un-Islamic for a government to fix a minimum marriageable age in the public interest, even under the Sharia.
the pervasive rate of abuse of the facility of divorce in many Northern States, whereby the girls lives are disrupted resulting in them being ‘persuaded’ into one marriage after the other, leaving their uncared children behind due to the fact that they cannot afford to
keep or maintain them. Most of the street children (almajirai) that abound in the region are products of broken homes, whereby their mothers are no longer living with their father’s, and consequently, there is nobody in particular, watching out for their welfare and welbeing.
This practice is harmful and unsustainable in a world that has left us behind.
Per Maryam Uwais MFR (2013) from IWEI
These are the facts.
Those numbers are from imagine how terrible things could be for our women and young children now
Again from IWEI Maryam Uwais MFR (2013)
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