Are we barking up the wrong tree – Part 2 – Female Qazis
Posted on August 27th, 2018

Letter to the editor:  by Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai, Dehiwela

Another subject hotly debated in the two submissions of MMDA is the case of appointing female qazis. Back again we are missing the basic reason for the feeling that male qazis are inadequate.

The function of a  qazi  is a  sacred duty prescribed by Islam. But  in Srilanka, it  is the most despicable, neglected and mismanaged system to say the least. There are no control over the function of  qazis either in election, function, office space, shariah knowledge or abuse of their posts whatsoever. No specific qualifications are specified  for  their appointments and their utter lack  or contempt of shariah knowledge, blatant abuse of power and mishandling of cases  are legend. Theoretically they can be reported but the parties concerned are always wary of complaining, lest there will be bias in the judgement given to them.  Until all these anomalies are rectified appointing males or females is not going to make any difference in the outcome of the divorce cases. The following measures are necessary to bring about any positive changes:

  1. Selecting them on the basis of qualification in shariah and  known factors regarding their honesty and thaqwa, and their standing in the society
  2. A proper office to be allocated to  them which  should not be  their homes, for then  there is no privacy; a place for the grieved parties to be inquired privately  in seclusion from prying eyes  and an atmosphere conducive for reconciliation to the maximum
  3. Proper salary to be paid for them so that they will do the job sincerely and will not resort to be biased towards the ones who give bribes; extracting a reasonable amount of payment from the applicant for divorce may  achieve double profits – one to increase the payment of the qazi  and the other to act as a deterrent from requesting divorce for flimsy reasons
  4. Regular in –service – training given to them,  at least once a year by a knowledgeable body
  5. Monthly reporting of the cases handled by them to a higher authority which  is well known and easily accessible  to  the public.
  6. Very stern action against those who proved to have acted against shariah rules

The qazis are in a way the guardians of justice and fair play in the society,  handling one of the most important aspect, namely the family system.  Unless and until the system is rectified we will be just jumping form the frying pans into the fire  by appointing the women to be qazis.

In this case the headache certainly exists and the causes are well known. Without treating the causes, just giving Panadol instead of Aspirin is not going to solve the problem.

Sent by:

Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai,

Dehiwela

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