Pre-marriage course proposed for Muslims under 21

The Registry of Marriages and the Registry of Muslim Marriages
PHOTO: Wanbao

Muslim couples where at least one party is under 21 must attend a marriage preparation course before getting hitched under proposed changes to the law governing Muslim affairs in Singapore.

The Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth (MCCY) yesterday said this requirement is one of several proposed changes to the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Amla), for which the Government is seeking public feedback.

The pre-marriage education, aimed at helping couples to navigate marital issues, will have to be approved by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Read also: Woman rejects man's marriage proposal, shouts: 'Your family doesn't even have a toilet'

Replying to queries by The New Paper, an MCCY spokesman said: "Through the mandatory marriage preparation programme, minor couples would be able to make informed decisions about the marriage and be better prepared for the adjustments and challenges that they will face in the next stage of their journey."

Ustaz Ali Mohd of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) called the proposed change "beneficial" for minor couples.

"It will benefit the community, teach them about responsibility, encourage them to manage their finances," he said.

"The course will prepare them to have a good life and for the future."

Read also: Key to marriage: 'The plural of spouse is spice'

Under the proposed changes, such couples must also get their parents' consent to get married.

Currently, minors in a Muslim marriage are not required by law to get parental consent, said MCCY.

"Support from the extended family, including parents and guardian, especially in the crucial first years of their marriage is critical to help younger couples build a strong marriage foundation for a lifetime of commitment," said its spokesman.

Top marriage myths debunked

  • Certain qualities in a person can be changed, but for those that cannot be changed, try to be patient and tolerant towards each other. After all, no one is perfect.
  • While it is definitely good to have things in common, having everything in common could make things dull.
  • Differences are common and arguments are inevitable. Instead of raising your voice, try to sit down and calmly discuss the issues you're facing, and be as rational as you can.
  • More often than not, parenthood drives spouses apart due to the lack of time for anything other than caring for the child. Try to work together and support each other during trying times.
  • ...of affection, and it's all downhill from there. Your wedding day is just the start of the rest of your life with your spouse, so be optimistic about it!
  • Your in-laws may sometimes seem difficult, but they may also be able to offer support in times of need, so do try to maintain a healthy relationship with them.
  • No one can think straight when it's late. Go to bed and talk about it the next day when you're both more alert and able to be rational and logical about your issues.
  • If you have a serious argument and need some time apart, sleeping on separate beds might really help.
  • Sex is an act of intimacy that maintains the connection between a couple. Do it to keep the connection. Besides, it also helps you de-stress.
  • Try out new things in the bedroom and spice things up with your partner to make things interesting. Explore new things instead of sticking to the usual routine.
  • There may not always be sparks, but companionship and deep mutual understanding will keep it going.
  • Some time apart will be good since both of you see each other everyday. Take a vacation with your best friend to recharge! It will be helpful for your marriage too.
  • While you should be as open as possible with your spouse, it is better to have someone else to confide in should there be issues from your marriage.

The MCCY also proposed to enshrine a current requirement for parties filing for divorce to be referred to a support programme at any stage during the proceedings.

This is aimed at instilling a more "child-centric" approach during the divorce process.

Read also: Marriages up slightly, but fewer babies born last year

Other proposed changes to Amla aim to give the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) greater say over the appointment of trustees of endowment properties.

These include steps like requiring Muis' approval in writing before a new trustee can be appointed to a wakaf (an endowment of property bequeathed by Muslims) and obtaining Muis' consent before any proceedings on the removal or appointment of wakaf trustees.

A draft of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Amendment) Bill is available on the websites of MCCY and Reach.

The public has until 6pm on April 13 to submit their feedback by e-mail or post to MCCY.

This article was first published on Mar 15, 2017.
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