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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Islamic Law in Indonesia 1

The Compilation of Islamic Law produced by the New Regime Era under Soeharto is proven biased gender by Kelompok Kerja Pengarusutamaan Gender (The Teamwork on Gender Mainstream) coordinated by Siti Musdah Mulia. This article of mine will focus on two things:
  1. A woman needs to be accompanied by a male relative legally responsible for a bride on her wedding ceremony. This male relative is mostly the father; if the father cannot attend it, he can be substituted by the brother, or the grandfather from the father, or uncles from the father; but not her mother, or any relative from the mother’s side. A woman is viewed as incapable to represent herself. She will always needs the presence of one male relative. (The Compilation of Islamic Law chapters 19-23, 25)
  2. A Muslim woman cannot marry a non Muslim man, while a Muslim man can marry a non Muslim woman. (The Compilation of Islamic Law chapter 40).
The answer of these gender-biased chapters is simply that women are considered as the weaker sex. Women are considered as the weaker sex not only physically but also intellectually. And in this case, women are considered intellectually weaker than men so that they are not capable to represent themselves in the wedding ceremony. Marriage is one big decision to make in someone’s life and a woman as less intelligent creature is viewed as not able to make a good decision for it.

Many centuries ago when women were not allowed to pursue education to be knowledgeable, it was perhaps logical. At that time women were imprisoned in their homes, didn’t get chance to know life beyond their confines. Therefore, the fiqh writers made gender-biased Islamic Law. To protect (or to imprison?) women, the fiqh writers from the middle centuries interpreted Alquran using their point of view belittling women’s existence.

In this era where many women—especially in Indonesia, because I am talking about law in Indonesia—have good chances to pursue their education, to be knowledgeable in all disciplines, they are supposed to be able to make their own decision, to represent themselves so that they no longer need a male relative to represent them on their own wedding ceremony. Women are not less intelligent than men anymore now.

How about mixed marriage? I remember when I was little, my teacher gave a reason why a Muslim woman is not allowed by marry a non Muslim man is because men are considered superior to women. It is okay then if in one marriage the husband is a Muslim while the wife is a non Muslim. The husband is expected to be able to show the superiority by trying to make the wife convert to Muslim. If not, this superior man will not easily convert to the wife’s religion. NOTE: it is simply because hr is considered superior than the wife. On the contrary, people are worried if a Muslim wife will be forced by her (superior) non Muslim husband to convert.

Again in this era where women can pursue their education as high as possible, and become knowledgeable, women are supposed to be considered as equal to men, no longer inferior. The knowledgeable women will not easily give in to the (superior) non Muslim husband to convert religion.

Besides, in a marriage, men and women are supposed to have the same rights and position. They must respect each other, including respect the respective religion. No one is supposed to try intimidating the other party to convert the religion.

In conclusion, the Islamic Law stating that a woman needs a male relative to be responsible for her on her wedding ceremony and that a Muslim woman cannot marry a non Muslim man is no longer valid.

PT56 21.18 160107

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