PETALING JAYA: Moderation advocates have condemned the statement by preacher Azhar Idrus, who said that Muslim girls are marriageable at age 15 and Muslim women should not take photos in non-Muslim owned photo studios.
In a Harakah Daily reader question-and-answer section, Azhar answered a query about the boundaries between men and women by saying that women are marriageable at 15 after they have reached puberty.
He said, however, girls are getting married at a later age due to education, adding that they are about 28 years old by the time they are finished with university.
"But at 28 years old, no one would want to marry them and even if there were, the woman's value has dropped," he said in the article published on Monday (Dec 25).
He added that women are "only worth RM15 or RM16" at the age of 28.
Azhar added it is haram (prohibited) for teenagers of a marriageable age to befriend men unless the intention is to marry the man.
"Even after finishing school, it is haram to befriend men in any way at all," he said.
In a question about men keeping photos of other women, Azhar said that Muslim women should not take photos at photo studios owned by non-Muslims.
"Do not take photos at non-Muslim establishments because it is shameful if your children or wife's photos fall into the hands of non-Muslims," he said.
Azhar added that the photos may be misused.
When contacted Thursday, Group of 25 Eminent Malays (G25) spokesman Datuk Noor Farida said Azhar should be investigated for sedition over his statement.
She said Azhar and his archaic views are dangerous to Malaysia's multiracial society as he has a big following and has the potential to influence others, especially in a country where people have a tendency to blindly follow their ustaz's word.
"In Islam, our Prophets honoured women. Women had many rights, were given properties and even the Prophet's wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid was a businesswoman," said Noor Farida.
She added that women have careers and choices, adding it is deplorable to say that older women are not marriageable.
Sisters in Islam said Azhar's statement is harmful as it perpetuates child marriages and promotes a culture that objectifies and sexualises women.
"To say that women should marry at 15 is encouraging child marriage," it said.
Meanwhile, moderation advocate Mohamed Tawfik Ismail said Azhar's responses are his personal opinion, as opposed to being based on the Quran.
"The Prophet married Khadijah when she was over 40 years old and yet the ustaz can flippantly place the value of a 28 year old at RM15. What verse is he quoting," said Tawfik.
He adds that Azhar's comments about Muslim women only patronising Muslim photographers are illogical and prejudiced.
"Muslim and non-Muslim photographers use non-Muslim photographic equipment and both can misuse the photographs they've taken," he argued.