Syariah Lawyer: Sabah's Minimum Age Of Marriage Should Be Lowered To 15 Years Old

He also called for stricter guidelines for Syariah judges in assessing underage marriages.

Cover image via Borneo News

Sabah Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) head of legal unit, Hamid Ismail, told Free Malaysia Today that the minimum age of marriage should be set at 15 for Muslim girls in the state

Sabah PAS legal chief Hamid Ismail

Image via Free Malaysia Today

He also opposed to the recent calls for raising minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18.

"I am of the opinion that the minimum age (of marriage) should be fixed at 15 but permission from a Syariah judge is still required," the Syariah lawyer was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today (FMT).

In addition, Hamid suggested that Syariah courts should be given written guidelines to adhere to when they decide on underage marriages in Sabah

The guidelines, which Hamid said Syariah judges must strictly follow, are crucial in assessing applications for underage marriage.

"Essentially, the guidelines would protect the girls from entering a marriage that they should not enter," he said. 

Judges also may "make mistakes" in granting underage marriage without such guidelines in place, as it would be completely up to their intuition. 

"Their common sense (when judging an underage marriage) may be different to the common sense of others," Hamid added.

Furthermore, Hamid said the guidelines must also make sure Syariah judges assess the mental and physical state of an underage girl before allowing her to be married

A Syariah Court in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Image via Husnun Haldi Arifin

According to Hamid, a Syariah judge should examine an underage girl in the absence of her parents to find out if she "understands the effect and consequences of a marriage and responsibilities of a wife". 

Judges should also be empowered to study the reason a girl's parents would allow their daughter to be married at a tender age. 

Hamid's proposal for lowering the minimum age of marriage to 15 contradicts with what had been stipulated in the Syariah law

Previously, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr. Mujahid Yusof Rawa was reported by New Straits Times as saying that it is evident under the Syariah law that the minimum age of marriage for Muslims was 18 for males, and 16 for females.

The current minimum ages of marriage are listed under the Islamic Family Law Enactment, which has been in enforcement across Malaysia. 

What do you think about Hamid's suggestion? Let us know in the comments below.

Hamid's comments came after an 11-year-old Thai girl got married to a man 30 years older than her. Here's a recap of the case:

Last month, Batu Kawan Member of Parliament called for the minimum age of marriage to be raised to 18: