A seminar on religious, social & cultural perspective of Forced Marriages
Minhaj Reconciliation Council and Minhaj-ul-Quran Women League co-hosted a seminar on the issue of forced marriages in the social, cultural and religious contexts in its central secretariat in Lahore on May 6, 2010. The chief guest on the occasion, Robert Kvile, Norwegian ambassador to Pakistan, said that Norway enjoys very cordial relations with Minhaj-ul-Quran International and we are working together for the resolution of issues faced by the civil society and people at large. Muslims are 3% of the total expatriate community living in Norway and Minhaj-ul-Quran International is playing important role in bridging gaps between Muslims and non-Muslims by removing misunderstandings about Islam.
He said that the issue of the forced marriages of girls created problems for the Norwegian society as well and there is a need to work out a collective plan of action to deal with the problem in a comprehensive manner. He said that MQI is playing an important role in Norway and is working to reform the social disorder collaboratively and we need to strengthen this relationship for the benefit of society. He said that the Muslims living in Norway are enjoying complete religious freedom. Robert Kvile said that he held meeting with the leaders of the Pakistani government and impressed upon them the need to legislate on the issue of forced marriages because this obnoxious custom in Pakistan has its domino effect on the Muslim girls living in Norway. He said that interfaith dialogue needs to be promoted and given an institutional character to find solution to our mutual problems.
Thanking the administration for inviting him, he said that MQI is playing important role in fostering positive and constructive attitudes in Norway and we hold the contributions of Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri in high esteem.
Speaking on the occasion, Nazim-e-Ala Dr Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi said that a religion, which does not allow the use of coercion to convert people, how can it recommend compulsion and coercion for forced marriages? Faith in all the Prophets is part of our Iman. The Holy Quran has given equal choice to both man and woman with regard to their marriage. There is no space for coercion in any aspect of life in the teachings of our religion. Islam gives complete religious freedom and equality. The other name of human freedom is Islam and Minhaj-ul-Quran is the way of Islam. He said that Islam fully bans forced marriages whether girl is Muslim or non-Muslim. Dr Raheeq Abbasi said that there is ban on the forced marriages and it is in accordance with Islamic requirement. He regretted that certain misunderstandings are found in the western world which have nothing to do with reality. He said that the Muslims enjoy greater freedom in some countries of the West than is the case in Pakistan where guards are deputed in front of the Mosques for the security of the faithful. He said that 99% of Muslims are against extremism and terrorism while only 1% people are bent on bringing Islam into disrepute.
Special Advisor to the Norwegian Embassy said that we needed to work more for emancipation of women and conferral of their rights on them besides improving their economic lot. She said that she was pleased to visit the secretariat of MQI and centre of Minhaj Reconciliation Council in Kharian. She also praised MQI for taking a forthright stand on the issue of the forced marriages. She said that no society regarded the forced marriages as a good thing.
Dr MAjed Abel, pastor of Noulakha Church, said that people of Minhaj-ul-Quran have lofty vision and services rendered by Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri for promotion of peace and interfaith dialogue are praiseworthy. He said that no religion allowed coercion for marrying off girls against their consent. There is a huge need to work on this count in Pakistan and MQI has taken a timely initiative in this regard.
Chairman of International Human Rights Society said that he has greatly been impressed by the philosophy of non-violence and love espoused by MQI. The contributions of Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri for peace are historic in nature. The conduct of seminar on forced marriages is a case in point, which is aimed at removing confusions and building bridges.
Those who spoke on the occasion included Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, president of Minhaj Reconciliation Council, G.M. Malik, Sumaira Rafaqat Advocate, Jamil Ahmad Ajmal and Sohail Raza.