July 26, 2003
Malaysian Muslims and divorcing by SMS in the news again
According to an article in Yahoo News, Malaysian Muslim men are able to divorce their wives by SMS, quoting a religious adviser to the government in the New Straits Times.
The article continues: "Hamid Othman, adviser to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, said divorce via SMS or short messaging service was in accordance with sharia law if it was clear and unambiguous, SMS is just another form of writing".
Islamic law permits a man to divorce his wife by declaring "I divorce you" three times.
Muslim divorce by text message came up in 2001 and was widely written up. The BBC reported on this same Hamid Othman -- then already adviser to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad -- condemning this, saying that government would not accept such a practise, as such text messages would be "an irresponsible act, dangerous and should not be tolerated. We have adequate laws to curb rash moves by Muslim men to divorce their wives without justification".
According to CNet, Gulf News reported 16 cases of divorce by SMS in Dubai between April and June 2001. In one case, a man sent his wife a message reading: "Why are you late? You are divorced."
Update 07/27: "The manner of pronouncing divorce through short messaging system (SMS) is an insult to women although the Syariah Court has ruled that it is permissible, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil said", reports The Star. The same outcry followed this issue when it came up in 2001.
Is all this really news or old news being mistakenly picked up by other papers? Why would Hamid Othman, the officiel who is quoted, not mention that this issue came up two years ago?
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