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defection may lead to divorce in Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Nov 7 (IANS):
Published on 8 Nov. 2009 12:36 AM IST
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Change of loyalty to the party may require lawmakers belonging to the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) to divorce their wives. The move has caused outcry in political and legal circles. Confirmation and justification by some PAS lawmakers that they have indeed made the pledge has divided the clergy in Muslim majority Malaysia. PAS is also called Parti Islam Se-Malaysia. PAS MP from Shah Alam Khalid Samad confirmed what has been widely circulating in blogsphere. He contended that the oath was not against Islamic teachings as Prophet Muhammad and companions had done the same and were willing to sacrifice their families and belongings. But Perak state's Mufti Harussani Zakaria argued that the Prophet did not do so because of politics. The oath or bai'ah made by companions was to show their loyalty and to defend the Prophet. If we want to take an oath for the sake of the party, then divorcing wives should not come into the picture," Zakaria was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper. Zakaria said PAS lawmakers had turned "their marriage into a game and put their wives as a bet in politics". He said divorce was hated by god as marriage solemnisation was a big promise made by a couple towards Him and to the witnesses. "In Islam, even though divorce is halal, it is makruh (disliked or undesirable) because god detests the action. "Marriage solemnisation is not something playful," Zakaria said. Founded in 1956 on the eve of Malaysia's independence, PAS is part of the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR). It has strong support in some of the northern states and its chief, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, is the chief minister of Kelantan state. A survey quoted Saturday by The Star said the party's image has 'plunged' despite its electoral successes last year, particularly among younger Muslims. Criticism has come from political and legal circles. Karpal Singh, an ethnic Indian who is chief of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) that is a PAS ally, said he was taken aback when he heard the news. He asked: "Why must the wives become victims?" However, he said if the oath was allowed in Islam, then he would reserve his comments. DAP's organising secretary, an ethnic Chinese woman, Teresa Kok, said the news was "not something new" as she had heard about it a few months ago from PAS leaders. Asked whether the oath was the right thing to do, the newspaper said, she replied in jest: "Why not?" She added that the oath portrayed PAS elected representatives' loyalty to the party and that they took their "relationship with PAS as seriously as their relationship with their wives." "It means they will not simply leave the party or their wives. It shows their commitment to the party." Malaysian Muslim Lawyers' Association assistant secretary Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar described the oath as "morally wrong" if it really had taken place. The ruling alliance Barisan Nasional (BN) condemned the move. Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil condemned the party, describing it as "sheer evil" for belittling women. She said putting wives at stake must not be tolerated as it was not only an act of betrayal to the institution of marriage, but an emotional abuse of their life partners. "I cannot fathom how they could resort to something so degrading and mean. What happens when their wives are apolitical? It's just so sad," she said, demanding that PAS leaders retract that condition. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Jamil Khir Baharom called it "absurd and cruel". "Divorce is not a trivial matter that can be put at stake just to prove one's loyalty to a political party. This is an abuse and cruelty towards innocent parties. Islam abhors cruelty and abuse," he said.

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