Accreditation of Muslim Marriage Officers Not Linked to Legal Recognition of Muslim Marriages
Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News, 2014-05-20
The recent accreditation of one hundred Muslim Marriage Officers has sent confusing signals to the Muslim community.
In a statement, The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) said some people have interpreted the accreditation as the long overdue legal recognition of Muslim marriages, whilst others view it as paving the way for the official recognition of the marriages of Muslim couples.
“The accreditation of Muslim Marriage Officers is not in any way linked to the legal recognition of Muslim marriages. It has simply made the registration of a CIVIL marriage that much easier since couples will have access to a hundred more marriage officers.”
According to the statement, a Marriage Officer is only able to register a civil marriage in terms of the Marriage Act of 1961, and not a Muslim marriage as was incorrectly reported in the media.
If couples opt to register their marriage as a civil union under the Marriage Act of 1961, it will mean that all the consequences of such a marriage will be governed by civil law and not by Islamic law.
In the case of divorce, the marriage will be dissolved in accordance with the Divorce Act, maintenance will be determined in accordance with the Maintenance Act, and the question of custody, guardianship and access will also be determined by the relevant civil law.
The recognition of Muslim marriages does not simply require the accreditation of Muslim Marriage Officers, but requires a Bill which is passed by parliament before it can be legally applied. The Muslim Marriage Bill has not being tabled in Parliament to date.
Couples who register their marriage with a Marriage Officer do so in accordance with CIVIL Law and not Islamic Law even if the Marriage Officer happens to be Muslim.