Please allow me to share through your medium my views on girl-child marriage with regard to Islam. For about a decade or two, the raging controversy over the issue as it affects our religion, Islam, has been a topic of debate among the masses. This issue has occupied a prime place in their daily lives. Feminist and other activists acting under the guise of protecting the girl-child have been as active as ever in a bid to stem the practice. I must quickly state here that girl-child marriage is common in Islam. Nonetheless, Islam is a complete way of life and its institutions (marriage inclusive) are based on divinely ordained and well documented rules; for Islam remains the only religion with unadulterated scripture in the world. As such, whoever wishes to legislate or is given the opportunity to legislate must, while trying to do it, objectively arm himself/herself with adequate knowledge and documentary evidence. Anything short of this will earn such legislators and commentators disrespect and contempt of Islamdom. Islamically, there are four pre-requisites for marriage which are as follows; proposal and acceptance, approval by both parents, payment of dowry by the groom and the presence of at least two male witnesses at the ceremony. Being a complete way of life, Islam has its rigid as well as its flexible parts, depending on the circumstance as the case may be. As explained above, age is therefore not part of the conditions which must be met before marriage can be solemnised in Islam. Where the bride is a “Minor” Islam prescribes protective solemnising of marriage without consummation. This means that the girl who is deemed to be of tender age is left untouched until she attains puberty. Another condition for child marriage is that the girl has the right to repudiate the marriage when she attains maturity and don’t like her spouse. Also, with all due respect to other religions, I don’t know if they accept pre-marital sex, but in Islam sex is synonymous to marriage and by implication it is abomination and absolutely unacceptable for any Muslim. Going by Westerner definition, at the age of 12, a girl can go to any pharmacy to purchase contraceptives, which implies having sex; what they don’t accept is child birth. At this point, we as Muslims believe that honourable and dignifying child marriage is better than child prostitution which is rampant in our society. In comparison, the globalisation and promotion of homosexualism, lesbianism and same-sex marriage is a direct challenge of the creators divine order. The local as well the global campaign to end the girl-child marriage is expected to go on deep into the future. However, what is important is that any attempt to stop the practice must be attended with responsibility.
Mugabe’s ascension and Africa’s future
The campaign for African leaders to boycott the International Criminal Court has started heating up after the rather surprising ascension of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as the new chair of the African Union. This came over the weekend during the 24th extraordinary summit of the continent’s heads of state and government. African leaders underlined the urgency of the need to pull of the ICC by operationalising the so-called proposed Africa Court of Justice. According to them, it is a bold step towards ‘providing African solutions to African problems’.
But the heating up of the status quo in many ways has been a consequence of the ICC debacle in the Uhuru Kenyatta case. The ICC’s failure to prove beyond doubt that the Kenyan president was in fact behind the post-election violence in the 2007 presidential election in that country is now seen as a victory to many of these African leaders. President Uhuru himself, who thanked the AU for supporting his efforts to get the ICC drop charges against him, was quick to announce that his country would commit one million dollars to the establishment of the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
He said: “Observe closely, and you will see that the court has unfortunately become ever more vulnerable to blatantly politicised designs. This new ICC poses a grave risk to peace and security not only in Africa, but to the whole world. Our experience underscores the necessity of amendments to the Rome Statute and serious reforms to the court. It must be able to live up to the expectations of its founders. Since 2010, Kenya has made strong efforts to spur reforms. But these efforts, just like the proposals made by the African Union, have been resisted.”
Meanwhile, I must say that Africa future is at a dangerous place. Robert Mugabe, the new chair of the African Union who at 90 is also the oldest president on the continent is entrusted to shape that future. There are those who believe that he and his pan-African counterparts will do their homework positively. Others are sceptical and think Africa’s future remains deeply uncertain. It remains to be seen though, what intention they hold for the future progress of the countinent.