Religious affairs ministry opposes restricting religious conversion before 18 years of age

Published July 14, 2021
Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said that the matter related to setting the minimum age limit for marriage had been sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan/File
Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said that the matter related to setting the minimum age limit for marriage had been sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII). — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan/File

The Ministry of Religious Affairs on Wednesday opposed a restriction on converting religion before the age of 18 years, saying that if someone aged 14 years wished to convert to some other religion, they could "not be stopped".

The comments were made by Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri during a meeting of the Senate parliamentary committee on minorities' rights. "We do not support a restriction on religious conversion before 18 years of age," Qadri, who is also a member of the committee, told the meeting.

"There are several incidents where someone expresses the wish to convert their religion out of their own choice before the age of 18. There are several examples in Islam of religious conversion before 18," he said.

If someone wished to change their religion before reaching the age of 18, it was their choice, Qadri insisted, adding that a nikkah or marriage before 18 was "another discussion".

The minister said that the matter related to setting the minimum age limit for marriage had been sent to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

Qadri said that if someone was "forcefully converting [others] in Sindh", then it would be investigated.

He said that Mian Mithu, the pir of Bharchundi Sharif who is blamed for alleged forced conversions of Hindu girls in rural Sindh, should be called by the committee and informed that what he was doing was "damaging Islam and Pakistan".

Read: The strange case of the silent Hindu women in Sindh

'New way of conversion'

Meanwhile, Senator Danesh Kumar told the committee that a new "tradition" of converting people had started in Balochistan.

"There is a religious leader in Dalbandin. Sweepers are being told that they [will not have to do] cleaning work if they convert to Islam," he claimed.

Earlier this year, the committee had recommended that only a mature person may be allowed to change their religion and that too after appearing before an additional sessions judge of the area.

Opinion

Big win, bigger challenges
19 Sep 2021

Big win, bigger challenges

Pakistan should be smug. It is not. There are a number of likely scenarios that must be the source of its unease.
Power of stays
19 Sep 2021

Power of stays

Great power means no one dare ask you questions.
Local decay
18 Sep 2021

Local decay

The set-up in Sindh exercises total control over LG functions.

Editorial

Talking to the Taliban
Updated 19 Sep 2021

Talking to the Taliban

PRIME Minister Imran Khan has announced that he has started a dialogue with the Taliban for the formation of a...
19 Sep 2021

New Zealand’s departure

THERE was chaos and despair when New Zealand decided to call off their tour of Pakistan barely minutes before the...
19 Sep 2021

Crucial polio campaign

THE national vaccination campaign that kicked off in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday is being described by experts as...
Blinken’s remarks
Updated 18 Sep 2021

Blinken’s remarks

The US establishment cannot scapegoat Pakistan for two decades of bad policy in Afghanistan.
18 Sep 2021

Worrying survey

THE findings of the Labour Force Survey 2018-19 indicate that some important headline trends have already taken or...
18 Sep 2021

Special needs

THE fact that only 3,653 children with special needs, out of some 300,000 in Sindh, are registered with the...