Around 1999 the South African Law Reform Commission began considering the recognition of Muslim Marriages. The first issue paper was published in May 2000, with the full report issued in July 2003.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the South African Law Reform Commission received a number of objections and concerns around the draft bill. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development did not take the draft Muslim Marriages Bill (“MMB”) any further due to these objections and the lack of consensus within the Muslim Community.
On 18th August 2009 the Women’s Legal Centre Trust made an Application before the Constitutional Court for direct access. In essence what they sought from the Constitutional Court was to compel the executive arm of the government to enact legislation recognising Muslim Marriages. The legislation could take the form of the MMB or a similar act. The Constitutional Court declined direct access to the Applicant.
In December 2014 the Women’s Legal Centre Trust launched an Application before the Cape Town High Court, in which it sought similar relief to its Application before the Constitutional Court. The WLC Trust seeks to compel the cabinet and parliament to pass legislation, either in the form of the MMB or a similar act.
The MMB, which is also referred to MPL (Muslim Personal Law) has a long history. From its very outset many Ulama have raised Shariah concerns regarding the entire process.
The Jamiatul Ulama KwaZulu-Natal has taken the position that it is not in the interest of the Muslim community to support the MMB. This stance is shared by many senior Ulama within the country. By way of example, a letter of objection against the MMB was sent to the President and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. It was supported by many prominent Ulama. Click here to view.
We are also cognisant of the fact that some Ulama have given the MMB conditional support.
The Application before the Cape Town High Court will be heard from the 28th of August until the 8th of September 2017.
The Jamiatul Ulama KwaZulu-Natal has been admitted as an Amicus Curiae (a friend of the court). We are the only Ulama body who are before the court and represent the concerns of the Ulama opposed to the MMB.
A copy of the Affidavit filed by the Jamiatul Ulama KwaZulu-Natal may be viewed here.
An Application of this nature does require significant funds. The written record before the court is itself about 6000 pages. Oral argument is expected to run over 2 weeks. Our legal team will be travelling from Durban to attend the hearings in Cape Town.
We humbly appeal to you to financially contribute towards this cause. What is at stake here is the protection of the Shariah. The present draft bill is formulated in a manner which already significantly compromises the rules of the Shariah. It will further place the interpretation and application of the Shariah in the hands of secular Judges who, with due respect, do not have the requisite knowledge to interpret the Shariah.
Contributions can be made to the following account:
Bank: Nedbank – Argyle Rd. (131426)
Acc Name: Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Acc No.: 1304 141950