‘Un-Islamic’: Pakistani Senate body rejects bill seeking ban on child marriage

Because in Islam Muhammad is the supreme example of conduct (cf. Qur’an 33:21), he is considered exemplary in this unto today.

Oct 20, 2017
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One of the more challenging things for a person in a multicultural society to adjudicate is what constitutes a legitimate religious practice in a different religion, and what violates its own most basic tenets about personal rights and freedoms.

It is even more challenging when the stated policy of its Prime Minister is to be ‘postnational’, as if his nation’s identity were an empty set into which any practice might fit.

This challenge is particularly evident with Islam, which is why it is highly disturbing for many, including many Muslims, in Canada that the Federal government is considering a Motion (M-103) that will sanction ‘Islamophobia.’

How will the government decide what is Islamophobic, i.e. anti-Islamic and what practices committed by some Muslims ought be criticized (and forbidden to insure that human rights are safeguarded?)

Case #1

In Quebec, Canada, there has just been a ruling that bans all public workers and all those receiving any government service from wearing a face-covering.  That the law is targetting the wearing of a niqab or burka seems apparent, though the Bill does seek to avoid religious discrimination by citing the principle of expecting bared faces as a reflection of an open society.  One might add, human equality.

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, has taken up cudgels, however, regarding the matter as a matter of religious freedom.  It is heartening to see the Globe take such a strong stance on a matter which usually does not rise to their concern.  Hopefully there will be more such articles in days ahead.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not agree, since he has just declared that it is not up to the Federal government to challenge a provincial ruling – a cynic might add particularly if seats necessary for the success of the Federal Liberals in Quebec are in the balance…

But the Globe Editors’ knowledge of the Islamic religion seems to be rather questionable.  As the Huffington Post reported a few years back, the vast majority of Muslims in the world think that the traditional veil is a mark of separation, and consider it an element of the fanatical side of Islam.  Many in fact strongly support the right to ban the veil.

Case #2

Then there is the issue of female genital mutilation.  The official position of the Federal government is that the practice is ‘abhorrent’, thought not sufficiently abhorrent to seek to track, let alone stop in Canada, even when female Canadian citizens are being taken hostage to perform it.  This seems particularly odd given the Prime Minister’s self-description as a ‘feminist’, and international proclamations on the subject

The whole question of what constitutes Canadian values arises.

I would have thought that a women’s right to enjoy security of her person and equal protection under the law ought to be one of common assent.  Stated more baldly: Canadians don’t mutilate women.  The Editors of the Toronto Star, not usually taken to be Islamophobes, state that the practice is common around Canada’s largest city.

Not too long ago, a columnist called out the Prime Minister to prove his feminist credentials by protecting these women.

Case # 3

The first two instances are actually areas on which the law does not explicitly speak.

The third instance, polgamy, is a matter on which Canadian law is perfectly clear.  Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada explicitly bans polygamy and threatens offenders with a five-year prison term.

But Canada has only ever looked at this law in application to a little fundamentalist Mormon sect.

It has acted as if it weren’t a common practice in the Muslim community, whereas it is an open secret that not only is polygamy common there, so is claiming benefits for the children that come from them.

This will be even more likely with the Ontario government’s redefinition of a family to include multiple parents.

But here, unlike with the foregoing two cases, there seems to be a practice commonly regarded as an Islamic practice.

Even so, surely the thrust of the government’s case against the Mormon sect must also apply:

“In the hearings, the federal and provincial governments contended that allowing men to marry more than one woman leads to physical and sexual abuse, child brides and the subjugation of women.”

Or maybe it’s only if they are white and of European descent that they can do that.

Case #4

The final case, which must be the demonstration of that fact.  The situation is not in Canada, but in Pakistan, where that country’s Senate has just ruled that a ban on marriage would be an ‘un-Islamic practice’.   Islamic expert Robert Spencer explains why it has ruled so.

Here is the report from Pakistan.

The question that Canadians and other Western nations must answer is whether religious freedom will be granted to religions like Islam that act directly against its fundamental convictions about the equal human dignity of women.

Maybe, as a recent human rights lawyer has testified, some fears of Islam are justified.

Read the full article on Pakistan’s Senate ruling

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