The Family Court is looking for twenty marriage registrars. The conditions are that they be graduate followers of Sunni Islam, in possession of a sound mind, lacking a criminal record and, male.
Article 142 of the Constitution states that judges should consider Islamic Shari’ah when deciding on matters on which the Constitution or the law is silent.
On the issue of discrimination, the Constitution is clear. Article 17 prohibits discrimination against anyone on the basis of their gender while Article 20 states that ‘every individual is equal before and under the law’.
Hassan Saeed, Chief Judge of the Family Court, and his deputy, Hassan Shafeeu were both unavailable for comment throughout the day.
Deputy Minister of Islamic Affairs Ahmed Shaheem, an expert on Shar’iah, told Minivan that he would need more time to study the issue before commenting.
Shaheem also stated that he was unaware of a woman having been appointed as a registrar of Muslim marriages in any Islamic country.
The first Muslim female marriage registrar (maazouna) in the Islamic world was appointed in Egypt in October 2008, where the Constitution also enshrines the equality of men and women.
The then 34-year-old Master’s graduate in law, Amal Suleiman Afifi, was the first female marriage registrar in the Middle East, and as suggested by Egyptian press at the time, possibly the first in the Islamic world.
Despite the qualifications of Afifi, whose educational background was far superior to all other applicants, her appointment as a registrar was a contentious issue.
After a long legal battle and a religious edict (fatwa) from Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, one of the world’s most recognised Islamic scholars, the issue was finally resolved in Afifi’s favour.
Gomaa’s fatwa declared there are no restrictions in Islam on women to act as marriage registrars.
Speaking to Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram Weekly, Gomaa said that in Islam a marriage registrar is a mere administrator, whose role was developed by the state to manage records and guarantee the legitimate rights of the parties concerned.
The maazoun, as he explained, has nothing to do with the pillars of the Islamic marriage. Therefore a woman’s signature on the contract does not violate Sharia.
Most of the objections to the appointment of a woman to the job of a marriage registrar were centred around the fact that in Islam, not one woman but two are required for the role of one witness.
Grand Mufti Gomaa’s ruling was that in executing the role of a marriage registrar, Afifi should not be considered a witness, but rather an official. As such, her signature on the contract does not in any way contravene the rules of Islam.