(RNS) -- Muslim religious leaders in southeast Asia have backed away
from a fellow cleric's statement that Muslim men could divorce their
wives through e-mail or text messages sent via mobile telephones.
Leaders disagreed with comments reported in the media made by Hashim
Yahya, the mufti of the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, who
reportedly said that Muslim husbands could start divorce proceedings
through electronic messages. Under Islamic law, a husband can leave his
wife under certain conditions if he says "I divorce you" three times.
"A person who utters divorce declarations outside a courthouse and
not before (an Islamic) court judge will be fined for the offense," said
Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin, a representative of the office of Malaysia's
prime minister, according to Bernama news agency.
The leader of Indonesia's North Jakarta Religious Court said,
"Divorce needs witnesses and has to be delivered clearly, not only by
voice or written messages which can be easily manipulated."
In a letter to the Straits Times newspaper, the registrar of
Singapore's Islamic court insisted that "no right-thinking Muslim man
should even consider such an unethical act."
"Although divorces via (short messaging service) may be allowed, the
Sharia court strongly discourages the practice of pronouncing the talaq
out of court, regardless of the manner of communicating it," Shaiffudin
Saruwan wrote, according to Reuters news agency.