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Pakistan Islamic council sparks marriage row

Council says men do not need wife's permission to wed again

Pakistan Islamic council sparks marriage row

The Council of Islamic Ideology building in Islamabad. (Photo: CII) reporter, Islamabad

March 11, 2014

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A key clause in Pakistan’s family laws regarding polygamy is in direct conflict with sharia, the constitutional body which gives advice to the government on religious matters said on Monday.

Pakistan’s Muslim family laws make it mandatory for a man to get the written consent of his existing wife to marry again. Violators face imprisonment of up to one year if convicted.

However, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) said sharia law allows a man to marry again without his existing wife’s permission.

"Sharia allows men to have more than one wife and we demand that the government amend the [family] law," council chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani said.

He was speaking to reporters following a CII meeting in Islamabad on Monday.

"We urge the government to formulate sharia-compliant laws related to nikah (divorce) and other matters,” he added.

The call was immediately slammed by rights groups.

Dr Farzana Bari, a prominent Pakistan rights activist, denounced the CII demand as a shameful and irrational act.

“In principle, there is no need to have a parallel body like the CII…. Those who head the council misrepresent Islam and have no understanding of the religion at all,” she told

“We demand that the government disband the council and  remove its members. They are not Islamic scholars. Most of these people want to propagate their political agendas through the platform of the council.”

Dr Bari further said the council’s demand was an attack on woman rights.

“It’s time to decide whether we want to make Pakistan a theocratic state or a progressive welfare country,” she said.

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