Friday, April 07, 2006

Syariah Court's YES-then & NO-now to Hi-Tech Talaq

I am not sure why the divorce-by-SMS issue has been dragged out again as it’s an old event?

Or, perhaps Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the minister for women and family affairs, wanted to take a covert pot-shot at the new Islamic Family Laws (IFL) which she had originally opposed but was whipped (excuse the pun) into supporting. She had lost much ‘face’ with women groups by her 180 degrees about turn.

Actually 3 years ago Malaysia’s Syariah court had ruled that Muslim men could divorce their wives via SMS. That pronouncement outraged women's groups. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, then PM, who had been the nation’s greatest advocate of high technology was appalled by the idea of divorce through SMS. He stated:

"I am not so keen on that but they [Syariah court] say it is perfectly legal, perfectly Islamic. I think that if people want to divorce their wife, they should resort to a much more personal approach than that."

"We hope of course that instead of sending messages, you should look at the beautiful wife that you're going to divorce... maybe she would cry a bit and you would change your mind."

my underlining above - well, the old man sure knew the art of crying to change hardened hears and minds ;-)

Women's groups had stronger words for the SMS decision by the Syariah as ‘distant, cowardly, undignified and rude.’

The furore then led the DPM at that time, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to look into the issue. The following day, Dr Mahathir announced that cabinet had nixed the hi-tech avenue for ball-less husbands - OK, I admit he didn't mention anything about the physical anatomy of husbands.

Today, the Syariah court has adopted a different stand. But it hasn’t stopped minister Shahrizat from saying that Muslim husbands who (attempt to) divorce their wives with a SMS text message are cruel – though I obtained the feeling she might have wanted to say ‘they have no balls’ - because for a woman to be divorced by an electronic process is humiliating and disrespectful, as well as an abuse of technology.

She said: "While a husband has the right to divorce his wife, this should be done in a courteous and dignified manner, befitting the manner they had got married. New technologies including the SMS should not be misused to send out a divorce declaration."

As we have learnt in an earlier posting 40 winks, 3 words, & a hope-for free bonk!, under Islamic law, a man can divorce his wife with 3 repeated verbal pronouncements of ‘I release you’, a process known as ‘talaq’.

I am waiting for the next 'cowardly' husband to claim he has divorced his wife with a telepathic ‘talaq’. Now, would that be misuse of technology or science?

Or should the Syariah court go beyond the mere invalidation of the divorce, by declaring such 'cowardly' evasion of nuptial responsibility as indecent behaviour that carries a fine of RM2000 or imprisonment for up to a year or both?

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