A professor of Islamic Eschatology and Director of Muslim Rights Concern, Ishaq Akintola, speaks with BAYO AKINLOYE about the abduction saga of Ese Oruru
Is child marriage permitted in Islam, looking beyond the case of Ese Oruru?
Islam is a complete way of life. As a religion, non-Muslims will have to take Muslims as they are, not as they want them to be. Neither Muslims nor their religion should be judged according to other standards. There will never be any inter-religious understanding so long as non-Muslims continue to measure Muslims and their way of life by Christian, Buddhist or Confucianist yardsticks. The simple truth is: Islam has no age barrier in marriage and Muslims have no apology for those who refuse to accept this, particularly since 99.99 per cent of such marriages are conducted among Muslims themselves. If the man is a Muslim and the girl is also a Muslim and the girl’s parents give their approval, what is the business of any non-Muslim in that? It is sheer interference in the affair of Muslims and an attempt to exert undue influence on them. More often than not, those who interfere in this manner have ulterior motives. It is either for the purpose of smearing the image of Islam or to gain a comparative advantage and score a religious point (for their own faith of course).
That means your organisation, Muslim Right Concern, supports child marriage?
I am a Muslim and I support all truly Muslim practices. Our organisation, MURIC, is an Islamic human rights outfit. So naturally we should support all principles of Islam. It promotes Allah-given fundamental human rights as well as Allah-given fundamental rights of all creatures, animals – mammals, invertebrates, birds in the sky, the environment and all natural entities. Everything created by Allah has a right. We promote their rights. MURIC believes in all Shariah-compliant marriages, regardless of the age of the girl. The sensationalisation of intra-Muslim marriages to the so-called minors is uncalled for and, more often than not, done with hidden malice. For your information, we don’t have what you call ‘child marriage’. We have nikah (Islamic marriage). I affirm clearly, emphatically and unequivocally, that what happens among Muslims is strictly a Muslim affair and should remain so as long as it is Shariah-compliant. Non-Muslims have no right to poke their noses into any religious action taken by Muslims for Muslims. Nikah is a marriage of the Muslims conducted by the Muslims for the Muslims. How the Muslims do it is nobody’s business. Do we come into the church to criticise the way marriages are conducted? Have Muslims said anything about gay marriages inside churches? That is the Christian way of life and they should stop attempts to impose their lifestyle on Muslims. We will never allow that. It is an attempt to subject Muslims to public ridicule.
You cannot hold us in contempt and talk about love. It is sheer deceit. It is hypocrisy. Even Jesus (peace be upon him) called those who ignore their own faults to interfere in other people’s matters, hypocrites. He said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” So, instead of paying attention to marriages conducted among Muslims, Christians should do something about gay marriages inside churches.