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Datuk Ismail Yahya speaks at the Sisters in Islam forum on underage marriage at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur in this file picture taken on October 8, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy MayDatuk Ismail Yahya speaks at the Sisters in Islam forum on underage marriage at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur in this file picture taken on October 8, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Islam does not suggest that it is OK to have sex and then marry minors, the former mufti of Terengganu said today.

At a public forum on child marriages here, Datuk Ismail Yahya chided Muslims who have been misusing the name of their last prophet, Muhammad, to justify their lust and as a form of “escapism”.

“That is not right. The religion does not suggest that,” said Ismail who is also a former Terengganu Shariah court judge.

He noted there were Muslims who had cited Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha, often portrayed as a nine-year old girl in the Quran, but said there have been many Islamic scholars who have questioned the calculation of her age.

He then said there were other considerations for a Shariah judge before approving marriage applications to minors.

“To me, how far the marriage can make the child happy is subjective. It’s to do with how she is treated and nafkah,” he said, using an Arabic word meaning subsistence for living.

“But, just because he has raped the girl, that is not a reason for a Shariah Court judge to approve the marriage application,” he added.

Ismail warned those seeking to legitimise statutory rape and marriage with their victims behind the cloak of religion that Islam had dire penalties for rapists.

“For men like these, according to Islamic laws, it is the death penalty. Death by stoning. Not marriage.

“So if we want to apply the law, we apply it together and not in parts,” he said.

Also at the same forum was Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) Youth leader Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who said he shared the same view.

“To the majority of Malay Muslims out there, you are not Prophet Muhammad. Stop pretending you are Prophet Muhammad,” the former national debater said to applause from the audience.

Syed Saddiq urged religious leaders and those who propagate the idea of a moderate Islam to speak out against child marriages.

“As of now, there is no legitimate religious voice to speak up against child marriages,” he said, claiming this to be the reason why many Muslims were afraid to voice their opinions.

Both Ismail and Syed Saddiq were speaking at the forum titled “Child marriage: Setting our children up to fail”.

The subject had sparked a national uproar last month after the Umno MP for Tasek Gelugor Datuk Shabudin Yahaya suggested in Parliament that marriage might be a solution for statutory rape. 

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