ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has ruled that laws setting the minimum age of marriage are un-Islamic and said that an adolescent of any age can be married on attaining puberty.

The council’s chairman, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani, also ruled at the conclusion of the CII’s two-day meeting here on Tuesday that the laws were unfair because no age could be set for marriage.

“Nikah of even minors can be solemnised, but only with the consent of their guardians and ‘rukhsati’ can take place only after the minors attain puberty,” he said.

The age of puberty, he said, varied from person to person and it was the responsibility of guardians to arrange rukhsati soon after minors attained puberty. “Laws limiting the age of marriage for both bride and groom are un-Islamic and should be rectified,” he added.

Officials told Dawn that members of the council had cited historical references and said that girls reached puberty at different ages.

When asked if the CII ruling would violate international conventions signed by Pakistan, the officials said the conventions could not be violative of the Constitution or Islam and some clauses did not apply to Pakistan.

The CII called upon the government to prescribe some qualification mandatory for registrars solemnising nikah.

“Not everyone should be allowed to become a nikah registrar,” Maulana Sheerani said. He called for doing away with the fee for registration of nikahnama.

The CII, in its previous day’s meeting, had asked the government to change a provision in the Muslim marriage laws requiring Muslim men to seek permission of their wives for contracting another marriage.

Meanwhile, the PPP Human Rights Cell has expressed concern over the CII rulings.

“Why is the council concerned with men’s four marriages and why have they done nothing to ensure that women get their property as enshrined in the Islamic Law? Or why have they failed to stop practices such as vani, swara and karo kari? Or stop rape, and acid crimes against women?” wondered Dr Nafisa Shah, coordinator of the PPP Human Rights Cell.

“Unfortunately Islam has been misinterpreted over time by a mindset and a particular school of thought. Islam and modernism are compatible provided progressive scholars interpret the religion.” she added.

The PPP’s cell called upon the government to include progressive Islamic scholars in the council so that women’s rights and the rights of everyone were protected.

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