Questions from BBC about some inappropriate practices, and the responses to them
The office of his eminence Al-Sayyed Al-Sistani received on the 25th of September 2019 several questions from the BBC Special Correspondent Nawal al-Maghafi. Following is a summary of these questions:
1. We have recorded footage that two religious clerics in Iraq, who describe themselves as followers of the Grand Ayatollah Al-Sayyed Ali Al-Sistani, are in contravention to Iraqi law, through providing or offering to provide women for temporary marriage. They charge money for this “service”, which is considered sex trade.
Does the office of his eminence condemn these practices that we have demonstrated?
2. We have recordings showing religious clerics giving religious advice that it is permissible to conduct marriages with children under the legal age in Iraq, which is 15 years old. Some of those religious clerics refer to girls who are very young, and they specify the sexual activities which they claim to be permissible.
Does the office of his eminence condemn such advice given from religious clerics?
3. In previous editions of the book “Minhaj Al-Saliheen -Transactions”, his eminence wrote that it is permissible to engage in sexual activity, other than intercourse, with a wife who has not reached the age of puberty. We are aware that this advice was not included in the most recently available edition.
Could his eminence clarify his religious advice in this regard?
The Office of Al-Sayyed Al-Sistani
Holy Najaf - Iraq
In the name of Allah the most compassionate the most merciful
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.
1. Such practices, if they exist as you have mentioned, are surely condemned and denounced. Those who are truly followers of the Marjiya (Religious Authority) would not commit such acts. In fact temporary marriage, which is allowed in the Shia Imamiya school of thought, and similarly the permanent marriage, which can be based on relinquishing all rights but the right of copulation, cannot be used as a means for sex trade as stated, as that would disgrace the dignity of a woman and her humanity. Hence, those who follow such practices are corrupted individuals, and they are abusing religion to fulfil their illicit objectives.
The pure Islamic religion and in particular the belief of the followers of Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) upholds the virtues of decency, chastity and respect of dignity for both men and women equally, and it cares about the conservation and protection of family as an integral unit for a healthy society without overlooking the natural needs of the human. And it is not permissible to distort and pervert any religious edicts in a way which would violate these lofty aims and principal values.
Hence, it is incumbent upon the relevant official authorities to take deterrent legal action against such disgraceful behaviour, wherever that may be. However, what is noticeable unfortunately is the weakness of the rule of law in this country, which has allowed some to carry out a range of illegitimate practices, until it reached the point of running brothels and promoting them.
2. This is also condemned and the same applies as described above. We emphasise on the necessity for the relevant official authorities to prosecute those who appear with religious attire, and yet conduct such acts, or promote such practices which entail extremely bad effects on society, and the status of religion in the minds of people.
3. Marriage of the young - of a male who has not reached puberty to a female who has not reached puberty - was until recently very common in many Eastern societies, and hence the book of religious rulings included some of its rules in its previous versions, but it was observed that it had receded at current times, and that was removed in the latest versions. What we wish to emphasise is that the parent of a girl cannot give permission for her marriage unless it is in her interest, and most often there is no interest in her marriage until she reaches physical maturity and mental preparedness for sexual activity, as it is also not in her interest to marry in contravention to law which would make her liable for unnecessary repercussions and problems.
26 Muharram 1441
26 September 2019