Laws meant to pro­tect wives, chil­dren

New Straits Times - - News -

the Ke­lan­tan gov­ern­ment to make it eas­ier for Malaysian men to take a sec­ond wife.

Other states like Perlis are plan­ning to sim­plify mar­riage reg­is­tra­tion pro­ce­dures for cou­ples who had tied the knot abroad.

Perlis Is­lamic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee chair­man Khairi Has­san said the move was aimed at en­cour­ag­ing Mus­lims who had solem­nised their mar­riage over­seas, es­pe­cially in south­ern Thai­land, to reg­is­ter with lo­cal re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties.

“If it is ap­proved by the au­thor­i­ties, we will im­ple­ment the new pro­ce­dure ear­li­est by next year,” he said.

In Perak, a “mass polygamy wedding pack­age” has been pro­posed to deal with cases of polyg­a­mous mar­riages that were solem­nised abroad.

Is­lamic Re­li­gious Af­fairs, Is­lamic Ed­u­ca­tion and Per­son­al­ity De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee chair­man Datuk Dr Mohd Nizar Zakaria said some Malaysian cou­ples opted to marry abroad be­cause the

(cus­to­dian) dis­ap­proved of their union.

to the Perlis Is­lamic Re­li­gious Depart­ment, cou­ples who solem­nise their mar­riages out­side the coun­try are re­quired to in­form the Malaysian con­sulate or em­bassy.

“Then, the cou­ple should reg­is­ter the mar­riage at their re­spec­tive state, us­ing doc­u­ments pro­vided by the con­sulate or em­bassy, so that the mar­riage is le­gal un­der Malaysian law,” said a depart­ment spokesman.

How­ever, he said, many cou­ples failed to do so.

“For ex­am­ple, many cou­ples wish to keep their mar­riage a se­cret, hop­ing that the man’s first wife wouldn’t find out.

“This may go on for years. Some cou­ples also claim that they can’t af­ford to pay the fine for get­ting mar­ried abroad.”

There have also been cases where the cou­ple’s chil­dren were un­able to en­rol in pub­lic schools as they did not have birth cer­tifi­cates, since their par­ents’ mar­riages were not reg­is­tered in the coun­try.

“When the cou­ple ap­ply to reg­is­ter their mar­riage here, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be car­ried out to ver­ify that the solem­ni­sa­tion cer­e­mony was made by an au­tho­rised body.

“It is im­por­tant that the process com­plies with the cri­te­ria to al­low cou­ples to get mar­ried out­side the coun­try.”

He said the depart­ment’s of­fi­cers would also scru­ti­nise a video record­ing of the mar­riage to en­sure that the process was car­ried out ac­cord­ing to Is­lamic law.

“Once we are sat­is­fied that the mar­riage was con­ducted ac­cord­ing to only then can the mar­riage be reg­is­tered,” he added.

Those who fail to reg­is­ter their mar­riages af­ter six months of their re­turn to the coun­try, can be fined not more than RM1,000 or jailed up to six months or both, if found guilty.

In Kedah, the process is a bit dif­fer­ent.

“First of all, he will have to de­clare their in­come and the num­ber of peo­ple he is sup­port­ing from the cur­rent mar­riage.

“He will also be re­quired to dis­close in­for­ma­tion about the woman he plans to marry and other new fam­ily mem­bers, if any,” said a spokesman of the Kedah Is­lamic Re­li­gious Depart­ment.

He said the depart­ment would also sum­mon the cur­rent wife or wives, and the new bride-to-be to give state­ments to sup­port the mar­riage ap­pli­ca­tion.

“The Syariah Court will then re­view the ap­pli­ca­tion and if the court is sat­is­fied with the ap­pli­ca­tion based on the Kedah Is­lamic Fam­ily Law En­act­ment 2008, ap­proval will be given.

“A mar­riage that oc­curs with­out the con­sent of the au­thor­i­ties is against the law, whether it is a sin­gle mar­riage or polyg­a­mous mar­riage,” said the spokesman.

In­di­vid­u­als found guilty of such an of­fence face a fine of RM1,000 or six months’ jail.

He added that cou­ples who had lived abroad had six months to in­form the em­bassy or con­sulate of­fice be­fore reg­is­ter­ing their mar­riages with the near­est state re­li­gious depart­ment.

He said the laws were put in place to safe­guard the in­ter­ests of the chil­dren at a later time.

“The law is not meant to make things dif­fi­cult for men to take more than one wife, but rather to pro­tect the fam­ily and avoid prob­lems that might oc­cur in fu­ture, es­pe­cially to their chil­dren,” he said.

He said mar­ried men should be hon­est about whether they were ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing more than one fam­ily be­fore de­cid­ing to take an­other wife.

“Yes, it is true that Is­lam al­lows Mus­lim men to take up to four wives, but not many are aware or choose to ig­nore the fact that in Is­lam, jus­tice is the fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment of a polyg­a­mous mar­riage.

“If the hus­band is not even ca­pa­ble of sup­port­ing his ex­ist­ing fam­ily, how could he con­vince oth­ers that he is ca­pa­ble of tak­ing care of an ex­tended fam­ily?” he said.

“That is why Is­lam has made it very clear that if you can­not be just in a polyg­a­mous mar­riage, stick to one wife,” he said.

Kedah Women De­vel­op­ment and Com­mu­nity Wel­fare Com­mit­tee chair­man Datuk Su­raya Yaa­cob urged women to find out about their rights be­fore agree­ing to tie the knot with a mar­ried man.

She said it was para­mount for women to un­der­stand their rights so that they would not end up as vic­tims.

“Is­lam does not pro­hibit men from tak­ing more than one wife. But first and fore­most, they have to make sure that the wel­fare of his fu­ture and cur­rent wives and chil­dren will be pro­tected.”

Imam Su­rachai Karam Sor of

Masjid Pekan Baru Sun­gai Golok, Thai­land, solem­nis­ing

the ‘akad nikah’ of a Malaysian Mus­lim cou­ple


Is­lam al­lows Mus­lim men to take up to four wives.

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