Hyderabad, Jan 6 (IANS) The Central government’s move of raising the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 years has led to an unprecedented rush for marriages in the Muslim community in Hyderabad and other towns of Telangana.
Hundreds of marriages are being solemnised in the state every day due to the panic which has set in ever since the Child Marriage Amendment Bill 2021 was tabled in Parliament last month.
Though the Bill was referred to the Select Committee following objections raised by the opposition parties, the fears of the Bill getting Parliament’s approval in the next session of Parliament are driving parents to advance the marriages originally fixed for later this year or next year.
Fearing that the legislation will delay the marriages of their daughters by three years, parents are convincing the parents of bridegrooms to advance the marriages. In many cases, only the legal formalities are being completed with both sides agreeing to have reception, Valima and other rituals as per the original schedule.
Several qazis are performing 10-20 nikah each every day. Nikahs are not just being solemnised in mosques and function halls but also at homes. Qazis, who are appointed by the State Waqf Board, are seen rushing from one place to other to complete the legal formalities.
Nikahs are usually held in mosques in the evenings but due to the huge demand nikahs are also being performed in the afternoon. On normal days, mosques see one to two nikahs each every day but now this number has gone up to eight-ten.
Qazis say they have never seen a situation like this in the past. Even at the peak of the marriage season, they used to perform 3-4 nikahs. “This is unprecedented. Parents are very worried and they want the nikah to be solemnized as early as possible,” a qazi said.
Parents are in a hurry to complete the entire process by obtaining the marriage certificates from Wakf Board, Some unscrupulous elements are cashing on the situation by offering anxious parents to help them complete the formalities and documentation.
Appeals by Muslim leaders and organisations to parents not to panic are apparently not having much impact. The parents fear that if the Bill is passed they not only have to wait for a couple of more years but may even lead to cancellation.
The situation has forced Telangana State Waqf Board to step in. Its chairman Mohammed Saleem held a meeting with qazis and advises them to help allay the apprehensions among parents.
“I have urged qazis to counsel both sides not to panic as the Bill has not yet passed and the legal age of marriage for women continues to be 18. We are appealing to parents not to take wrong decisions in a hurry,” said Saleem
A leader of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Saleem hopes that the Bill will not be passed as several parties were against the move to enhance the legal age of marriage of women.
He claimed that 90 per cent of parents in all the communities marry off their daughters at the age of 18-20 and only 10 per cent give them higher education.
The Waqf Board chairman said even if the Central government pushes through the Bill it is not likely to be passed early. He pointed out that the Bill has already been referred to the Select Committee. The panel will have consultation with members of different parties and this process itself will take a few months.
He said TRS and other parties would oppose the Bill in Parliament. Since the Bill has to be passed by both the houses and the President has to give his assent to make it a law, he believes that the entire process may take two years.
United Muslim Forum, an apex body of various Muslim socio-religious organisations, has also appealed to the community not to rush through the marriages as the Bill has still not passed by Parliament.
The Bill has already drawn flak from several Muslim groups, who see this as an interference in Muslim Personal Law. They say Islam permit marriage of a girl once she attains puberty.