Liberal Grace

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Iran Minister promotes temporary marriages for lusty 15 year olds.

Islam seems to have two streaks: one absolutist and the other morally accommodating.



This is a follow-up to another of my blog entries: Marriage gangs rip-off Arab youths

Minister backs brief marriages to curb illicit sex

Tehran: Iran's interior minister faced criticism from women activists on Saturday after advocating the practice of temporary marriage as a way to meet the needs of young people in the Islamic state, which bans extramarital sex.

"Is it possible that Islam is indifferent to a 15-year-old youth into whom God has put lust?" newspapers quoted Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who is also a cleric, as telling a religious seminar this week.

Temporary marriage, or sigha, is an agreement between a manand a women to get married for a specified time, even for just afew days. It has long been practised by Shiite Muslims, who are dominant in Iran, even though it is unclear how common it is.

Sunni Muslims say it is illegal and akin to prostitution, but some Shiites scholars say it reflects the reality of human nature and provides for the rights and responsibilities of both the man and the woman.

[...]

"Islam is a comprehensive and complete religion and has a solution for every behaviour and need and temporary marriage is one of its solutions for the needs of the youth," Pourmohammadi said according to the Sharq daily.

"For fulfilling the sexual desires of the youth who do not have the possibility to get married a decision should be taken."

A temporary marriage is easy to arrange. A couple will agree on how long they will get married - it's usually anywhere from a day to months - and on financial matters.

Couples often go to a Shiite cleric for approval of the contract. The practice is believed to have pre-dated Islam among the tribes of the Arabian peninsula.
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I wasn't aware that this was strictly a Shiite thing because I've seen earlier articles about Gulf Arabs (mostly Sunni) going to India for these marriages, drawing the ire of some locals who feel it's just prostitution legal only because of easy divorce laws in Islam. external link

This article raises a theological issue that I've found interesting ever since I first noticed it.

Clearly, one of the appeals of Islam is its absolutism.

As a former fundamentalist, I can understand why people are attracted to a clear set of beliefs and rules.

But there is another side to Islam -- a moral accommodation for the human condition as expressed by Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, "Is it possible that Islam is indifferent to a 15-year-old youth into whom God has put lust?"

This really conflicts with my American evangelical moral absolutism which demands total abstinence before marriage.

As I see it, this principle of moral accommodation has been used to justify petty transgressions (like stealing bread when you're hungry) or horrific acts (like blowing up a buses of Jewish children when you're politically oppressed.)

It should be said that we American Christians are also glaringly guilty of moral double standards. Our moral anchors seem to lose their grip when moral decisions go from personal to political. We'd generously help the Iranian family next door but we support a political candidate who'd bomb that same family if they were still living in Tehran.

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