CAIRO – Allegations that Muslim imams have offered to officiate the marriage of a 12-year-old girl are shocking the sizable community in Britain, with Muslims investigating the scandal.
“To be honest I was truly shocked and distressed to hear about [the allegations],” Ansar Ali, the former secretary at the Ghousia Mosque, told the Peterborough Telegraph.
Allegations have spiraled that an imam at the Husaini Islamic Center in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, has offered to officiate the marriage of a 12-year-old girl to a main in his 20s.
|Status of Woman in Islam|
Imam Mohamed Kassamali reportedly told an undercover reporter posing as a father that he could marry his school-aged daughter.
“If it (the marriage) was not possible, I would have told you straight away,” Kassamali reportedly told the Sunday Times reporter.
“I would love the girl to go to her husband’s houses (sic) as soon as possible, the younger the better.”
The imam reportedly said that there was no problem in marrying the young girl under Islamic Shari`ah.
“The problem is that we cannot explain such things (the marriage) if the girl went tomorrow (to the authorities).”
Media reports also alleged that a second imam at Shoreditch mosque in East London also offered to officiate the girl’s wedding.
“Tell people it is an engagement but it will be a marriage,” imam Abul Haque allegedly said.
“In Islam, once the girl reaches puberty the father has the right, the parents have the right,” he said.
But under the laws of this country if the girl complains and says her marriage has been arranged and she wasn’t of marriageable age, then the person who performed the marriage will be jailed as well as the mother and father.”
Under British law, a man and woman can marry at the age of 16.
Those who are 16 and 17 must have the consent of at least one of their parents.
British Muslims have reiterated respect of British laws on marriage.
“We are strongly opposed to it on the basis that it is illegal under the law of the land where we are living and even under Shari`ah it is highly debatable,” said Farooq Murad, of the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain.
In Islam it is not permissible for the guardian to compel the one under his guardianship to marry someone she does not desire to marry.
Rather, it is necessary to seek her consent and permission.
Angered by the allegations, mosque leaders have launched an investigation into the scandal.
“In line with our practice, we are in the process of carrying out a full independent inquiry on this matter,” the Husaini Islamic Center said in a statement.
“The imam has temporarily stepped aside by mutual consent with the centre while an investigation takes place.”
The mosque leaders said that they do not officiate marriage without British civil marriage certificates.
“We respect the law of the land and since the establishment of the Husaini Islamic Center, no under legal age marriages have been conducted at the centre, nor will it be allowed,” the center said.
“We find the practice of forced marriages to be abhorrent, reprehensible and totally un-Islamic and we support the Forced Marriage Unit, established by the Government, in its attempts to tackle this issue.”
British Muslims have also thrown their support behind the mosque probe into the allegations.
“I have spoken to a number of people in the community and we all welcome the inquiry,” said Ali, the former secretary of the Ghousia Mosque, who is also an independent candidate for Police and Commissioner elections.“That is absolutely the right thing to do. I would encourage that once the mosque has finished its inquiry it reveals the findings in public.”
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