Marriage contract issue on BBC’s “Sunday”

Radio 4’s programme Sunday, its weekly religious affairs programme broadcast at 7am on Sunday mornings, today featured the “Islamic” marriage contract issue. You can listen to it here until next Sunday when the next programme is broadcast (it’s a Flash application, no Real/Windows Media necessary); it starts at 30m 8s. Readers in London who listen to the BBC London station should listen out to see if Jumoke Fashola covers this issue on her late night show, which often deals with religious/spiritual matters; Vanessa Feltz (9am-noon weekdays) might cover it as well.

The programme interviews Mufti Barkatullah and Cassandra Balchin, both of whom are associated with the document. The programme seems to seek out stereotypical male and female Muslim opinion, such as the guy with a heavy foreign accent who said that he would not give up his right to polygamy in case his wife got ill (I can think of such eventualities myself, but the first wife “getting ill” is not one of them). The presenter, Roger Bolton, repeated a claim that four years’ work had gone into the document, and Mufti Barkatullah alleged that the MCB were backtracking on their earlier support because of pressure from “some minority big-mouth”. I must say that I don’t think the document represents four years’ work; it is five pages long and could have been done in that number of hours.

They also interviewed Shaikh Ibrahim Mogra (whom they presented as “the MCB’s Ibrahim Mogra” rather than as a shaikh or scholar), who made the point that the aspects of Islamic law challenged by this contract were the law, whether it matches with British custom or not; Cassandra Balchin of the so-called Muslim Women’s Network UK (although her role in Women Living Under Muslim Laws is better known) alleged that the sky hadn’t fallen when the role of the wali had been abandoned elsewhere.

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