Minimum age of 18 for marriage ideal for Islam: Diyanet head

Minimum age of 18 for marriage ideal for Islam: Diyanet head

Hande Fırat - ANKARA
Minimum age of 18 for marriage ideal for Islam: Diyanet head

The law imposing the minimum age of 18 years for marriage is ideal in terms of Islam, says Türkiye’s top religious official amid a controversial child abuse case where the victim’s father forced her into marriage at the age of 6.

“All kinds of abuse, reflected to the public as ‘child bride’ cases and should actually be considered as ‘child abuse,’ has no legitimacy in terms of Islam,” said Ali Erbaş, the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

The allegations came to the country’s agenda and caused a bombardment of cursing posts on social media platforms when a daily published the story on Dec. 3.

The woman, identified only by the initials H.K.G., accused her father, Yusuf Ziya Gümüşel, the head of the Hiranur Foundation affiliated with İsmailağa Jamia, of forcibly marrying her to a 29-year-old sect member, Kadir İstekli, in 2004 when she was just 6.

According to Islam, it is out of question for men and women to get married before they reach both physical and spiritual maturity, and “rushd,” the maturity of mind, and they come of age and understand the meaning and responsibility of starting a family, Erbaş said.

The age of puberty should not be confused with the age of marriage, as adolescence is a biological development process, while what is sought in marriage is rushd, he warned.

“Therefore, the age limit of 18 for marriage in our laws is an ideal practice in terms of the rushd age required by our religion,” he noted.

“It is regrettable that our young girls are forced into marriage at such an early age that they can be considered children and that this practice is tried to be based on religion. This approach has no scientific or religious basis.”

Erbaş announced that a sermon prepared on the mistake of marrying minors was to be read in all mosques in Friday prayer on Dec. 16.

Meanwhile, he also warned that all Muslims should not be accused of associating these “treacherous and cruelty” with Islam.

The prosecutor asked for a prison sentence of over 67 years for İstekli with charges of “child abuse” and “sexual assault.” Another 22-and-a-half-year prison sentence was asked for each of H.K.G.’s parents on the charge of “sexual harassment of children.”

İstekli and Gümüşel, who were taken into custody, were referred to the courthouse after their procedures at the police station and were arrested.

The first hearing of the lawsuit, first scheduled on May 22, 2023, was moved up by four months to Jan 30, 2023.