Islamic law is open for discussion and should not be confined to just a few, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said.
“Islamic law is so open anybody can discuss it,” she said yesterday in response to press reports quoting Perlis mufti Datuk Mat Jahya Husein who called on critics of the state’s decision to relax the requirements of polygamy to “hold their tongue” because they were denying the right to polygamy.
Shahrizat was speaking to reporters at the Hari Raya open house of the Persatuan Anak Melayu Pulau Pinang di Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor held at the Malaysian Tourism Centre here.
The minister has been publicly critical of the recent announcement by the mufti that Muslim men who wanted to marry for the second time need not seek the consent of their first wives to do so in Perlis.
She also accused Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who was quoted as saying that any criticism of the decision was tantamount to criticising the state Islamic council and its chairman, the Regent of Perlis, as “hitting below the belt”.
“I have the greatest respect for the Regent. He is a highly educated and intelligent man who has great respect for women. I suspect that the decision was done administratively and maybe the Regent was not advised according to the facts,” Shahrizat said.
“It is not fair to put the blame on the Regent,” she said.
Shahidan had also said Perlis had to ease regulations on polygamy to deter married Muslims from flocking to southern Thailand to marry again.
Shahrizat said the move was making a mockery of syariah law, adding that there was no basis for polygamy to take place in Malaysia according to Islamic law. “The ministry is not refuting the privilege given to men to practise polygamy if they fulfil the conditions under the syariah, but we are against promoting it (in this way),” she stressed.
Sisters in Islam said in a statement the state should instead be examining and tightening the conditions for polygamy to ensure no party was exploited.
“We should return to the actual aim of polygamy which is to protect women and children, and not for lustful satisfaction,'' it said.
National Council of Women’s Organisations president Prof Datuk Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin said NCWO would be holding a meeting today to discuss the issue.
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