Fikih Kawin Anak: Membaca Ulang Teks Keagamaan Perkawinan Usia Anak-Anak (Fiqh on Child Marriage: Rereading Religious Texts on Marriage in Childhood) book was launched on Thursday, October 8, 2015. The event was opened by the Director General of Islamic Community Guidance, Ministry of Religious Affairs, (Dirjen Bimas Islam) Prof. Dr. H. M. Machasin, M.A. with remarks by the Chairperson of the Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board (PBNU), K.H. Sulthon Fathoni, M.Si. Present were senior women’s activists, such as Ibu Saparinah Sadli, Ibu Syamsiah Ahmad, Ibu Tini Hadad, and Ibu Zumrotin K. Susilo, and also male activists, such as K. H. Husein Muhammad, a former commissioner of National Commission for Women (Komnas Perempuan). The event was also covered by Kompas in its Friday, 9 October 2015 edition.
The event was attended by a wide range of participants, not just activists, with a good balance of males and females. Rumah KitaB distributed 237 copies of the book at the launch, and interestingly, the chairperson of NU’s tanfiziyah (board) Prof. Makruf Amin, asked for 20 copies, because PBNU will be holding a fatwa session to support the government’s effort to raise the marriage age.
There was quite a dynamic discussion on how to interpret the texts on child marriage in the launch of the book “Fiqh on Child Marriage: Re-reading Religious Texts on Marriage in Childhood”.
In the introduction, the Director of Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama, Ibu Lies Marcoes, M.A., explained that the purpose of this study is to complement social studies on child marriage, in which there is always a religious element used in justifying the practice. In the Constitutional Court’s rejection of the judicial review proposed by women’s activists seeking to raise the marriage age, and in other social/ political experiences that seek fulfillment of women’s reproductive health rights, it is always the case that religious arguments are used as an important foundation by both those supporting these efforts and those opposing them.
Thus, it was no exaggeration when Ibu Badriyah Fayumi, Lc, M.A., one of the resource persons, a female ulama who is highly respected for her excellent mastery of the classical religious text, said that if only the Constitutional Court justices had read the book Fiqh on Child Marriage, their opinions could well have been different and they would have understood and agreed that the marriage age needs to be changed in line with the needs of the current era. First, because the book has very strong religious references; second, because the book also contains data on the dire social and health consequences of child marriage; and equally important, the book examines the political practices of progressive efforts to raise the marriage age in Muslim countries elsewhere in the world.
At the book launch, the Director General of Islamic Community Guidance, Prof. Dr. H. M. Machasin, M.A. said that normatively, it is almost impossible for child marriage to satisfy the requirements for building a strong, healthy family with a proper vision. Fiqh cannot be applied as static law, because from the very beginning it has always been useful to seek solutions to social/religious problems relating to religious law, with a wide range of opinions. The problem is that it is always difficult for fiqh to resolve this diversity of opinions, and therefore the presence of the state is needed to build legal unification. Many efforts have been undertaken by the state, including the Marriage Law and the Compilation of Islamic Law (KHI). Both of these are political products and represent a compromise between fiqh and efforts to moderate Islamic law. Logically, both of these (the Marriage Law and KHI) can be reexamined when a new compromise is needed, for example with regard to raising the marriage age. And in his opinion, this book is an effort to provide a reference as a basis for why child marriage needs to be reexamined.
At the book launch, Rumah KitaB presented three resource persons, all of whom hold important positions, in MUI, PBNU and Muhammadiyah. Dr. Moqsith Ghazali, M.A. is from NU’s reconciliation commission and also a member of MUI; Ibu Badriyah Fayumi, Lc, M.A. is in a very strategic commission in MUI, the fatwa commission; and Ustadz Dr. Fahmi Salim, Lc, M.A., is in MUI’s dakwah (outreach) commission, and also holds a position in Muhammadiyah, with a very conservative and textualist perspective. Nevertheless, with their respective approaches, they appreciated and agreed with the efforts made by Rumah KitaB in offering to reexamine the texts related to child marriage.
Their suggestion was to prepare a very short version of the book, like a policy brief, as a handy reference for judges and decision makers, such as KUA (Religious Affairs Offices), in rejecting the practice of child marriage.