Giving Thanks for the Blessing of Reason: Reconstructing the Meaning of Wilayah (Guardianship) to Prevent the Practice of Child Marriage

Report on Discussion of the Book Fikih on Guardianship: Re-reading the Right of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Child Marriage and Forced Marriage

In Bekasi, on 20 October 2019, Rumah KitaB, in cooperation with Yayasan Perguruan Islam el-Nur el-Kasysyaf (YAPINK) and Institut Agama Islam Shalahuddin Al-Ayyubi (INISA), conducted a discussion of the book Fikih on Guardianship: Re-reading the Right of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Child Marriage and Forced Marriage. This event was attended by 194 participants (44 men and 150 women), comprising the Board of Pesantren Caretakers of YAPINK, the leadership of INISA, lecturers, teachers, and students, and invited Ulil Abshar Abdalla (PBNU), KH. Ali Anwar (YAPINK Board of Pesantren Caretakers), and Ahmad Hilmi, (member of the book writing team) as the resource persons. The discussion took place at the Lecture Hall of YAPINK’s Faculty of Culture, and acting as the moderator was Jamaluddin Muhammad (Researcher from Rumah KitaB).

Before the event started, KH. Khalid Dawam (Chairman of the YAPINK Board of Pesantren Caretakers) provided welcoming remarks conveying his appreciation for the intellectual work that has been done by persons who are willing and courageous enough to explore matters that are often considered final, such as fikih. This intellectual work to respond to what is happening in society, according to KH. Khalid Dawam, is not intended to ignore, negate, or disrespect the fuqaha who have set forth their thinking in the studies on fikih as presented in various books, but is instead a form of intellectual responsibility to address problems in society.

Al-Qur’an and the hadith are indeed one, but clearly their interpretations are not singular, KH. Khalid Dawam stated. Hence, he continued, it is still possible to discuss matters that are of a furuiyyah[1] nature.

If to date the community has believed that akil baligh [maturity] is one indication that a person is allowed to marry, now we must reexamine what exactly akil baligh is, and what its consequences are – particularly if biological maturity is used as a basis for allowing child marriage. This is because there are certain individuals who use this basis to commit actions that are not beneficial for all, thereby often giving rise to negative views about Islam. Observing this, KH. Khalid Dawam said, quoting the noted Egyptian Muslim intellectual, Muhammad Abduh: “Al Islamu mahjubun bil muslimin” (the glory of Islam is concealed by (the actions of certain) Muslims themselves).

The book Fikih on Guardianship prepared by the team from Rumah KitaB, according to KH. Khalid Dawam, is part of an expression of gratitude for our being given common sense, by using it as well as possible so that rigidity of thinking does not occur.

Ulil Abshar Abdalla stated that the book that is being discussed came about as a response to the widespread practice of child marriage in Indonesia. Following on from this, Ahmad Hilmi mentioned that Indonesia is among the countries with a high rate of child marriage.

This problem of child marriage has become so serious not solely because of legal issues, but also because it is intertwined with religious and cultural perspectives. Hence, according to Ulil, the book makes a significant contribution to resolving the problem of child marriage.

For example, the religious arguments that have up to now been used as a justification to allow child marriage are reconstructed in the study (in this book) and given a new meaning that is friendlier to females, particularly those who are likely to become victims of child marriage. As an example, the concept of ijbar in fikih differs from the concept of ikrah (coercion). Ijbar is the realm of protection by the father (guardian) to his daughter in order to protect her from all possibilities by choosing a proper partner for her. And clearly, a requirement for ijbar is the willingness of the daughter who is to be married. The power and authority to protect the rights and dignity of a child that are held by a guardian in ijbar cannot simply be reduced to the idea of coercion (ikrah).

[1] Furuiyyah literally means branch. But in this context, it can mean multidimensional.

 

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