02/19/2009, 00.00
INDIA
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For Muslim clerics conversion to Islam to remarry is unacceptable

Mullahs speak out after Haryana Chief Minister converts to marry again. The practice is widespread as people try to escape legal complications by converting to Islam.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Conversion to Islam to escape the legal complications of a second marriage as "un-Islamic" and "unacceptable,” this according to Muslim scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, who has waded straight into the controversial waters of conversions of convenience by people who want to bypass the law in order to remarry.

The practice is not new, but has acquired greater visibility after Haryana Deputy Chief Minister and Congress Party (I) leader Chander Mohan announced on 17 December 2008 his intention to marry former law officer Anuradha Bali after both convert to Islam.

Called the Chand and Fiza affair in the Indian press, the story generated so much controversy that the head of Haryana’s Panchkula district, home to the state capital, warned the wannabe second time groom not to show his face in his district for causing the scandal and bringing discredit to the Congress Party and the state government.

For Mullah Wahiduddin Khan, changing religion for utilitarian reasons is a no-no. Conversion can come “only after in-depth study and discussions about the religion.”

For him conversion on such grounds should be prevented through education “about the sanctity of the institution of marriage.” Would-be converts should “not take it as fun.”

Other Muslim scholars agree, including Mufti Muqarram Ahmad, leader of Delhi’s Muslim community, who slammed the practice. Islam “should not be used for hidden personal motives,” he said.

Qari Usman, an expert on hadith at the highly revered Darul Uloom or seminary in Deoband town in Uttar Pradesh, is equally critical of the practice.

“Adopting Islam with the intention to have a second wife is un-Islamic, incorrect and not justifiable,” he said.

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