Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, a consultative body that gives legal advice on issues that relate to religion, has decreed that Islam doesn’t prohibit underage marriage but consummation of marriage is allowed only when the couple, both bride and groom, attain puberty.
In another decree, the head of the council announced that the current laws in Pakistan regarding multiple marriages are against the principles of Shariah law.
CII members suggested while under-age marriage is allowed, after reaching puberty the child should have the right to undo the decision of their father and grandfather. Under the current marriage laws, a couple can defy their underage marriage if it is contracted by their relatives, but they cannot go against the decision of their fathers and maternal grandfathers.
Both announcements came at the end of a two-day meeting of the council this week.
While the rulings of the CII are not binding on parliament, the national assembly debates them and in some instances have been taken into account when modifying laws.
The other decree by the CII has created a storm in various quarters. CII chairman Maulana Shirani announced that there is no harm for a man to have more than one marriage according to Islam but the existing marriage laws have complicated this issue and need to be amended. Observers say that the CII has paved the way for making polygamy easier in Pakistan.