Recently ran an article about a possible new law that, if passed, would legalize divorce in the Philippines which will soon be the only country in the world without such legislation. However, I discovered that divorce already does exist in the Philippines.In the June 5, 2011 edition of The Philippine STAR, an editorial “Postscript” column by Federico D. Pascual Jr pointed out that divorce is allowed in the Philippines under the Shariah law among Muslims who comprise around five percent of the of this island nation.
The columnist was advised in a Twitter message by Adel Tamano, a respected attorney in the Philippines, that “It is incorrect to say that the Philippines has no divorce law. The Code of Muslim Personal Laws specifically recognizes Islamic divorce.”
Sharīʿa (the “way” or “path”) is the code of conduct or religious law of Islam, according to Wikipedia. Most Muslims believe Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Qur’an, and the example set by the Islamic Prophet Muhammed in the Sunnah (which literally means a clear, well trodden, busy and plain surfaced road.)
Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they differ as to what exactly it entails. Modernists, traditionalists and fundamentalists all hold different views of Sharia, as do adherents to different schools of Islamic thought. Different countries and cultures have varying interpretations of Sharia as well.
The article states that “this special law, discriminatory to non-Muslims, permits qualified men to maintain many wives (as many as four) and later divorce those they have ceased to love/like/tolerate.”
Mr. Pascaul goes on to state the following in his editorial: “No wonder some prominent politicians, movie stars, and other VIPs ‘convert’ to Islam and take advantage of what looks like legalized polygamy.”
Notice there is no provision stated in that portion of the Shairah law which I see that allows divorce for women. Also, one of my faithful readers of this website has emailed me in the past to inform me that conversions to Islam are also on the increase in nearby Iloilo. I cannot be the judge of the reasons for such conversions, but it would seem that the editorial’s reasoning that some of these converts may be simply taking advantage of “legalized polygamy” is a distinct possibility.
But yet those women or men in the Philippines trapped in marriages with unfaithful or abusive spouses are only left with a costly annulment process which only the rich can afford. And those that choose a legal separation are forbidden to legally remarry. Does it appear to anyone reading about this legalization of divorce and polygamy for a small minority smacks of a double standard? While I will respect any religion’s rights and the concept of civil disobedience, to a point, when that religion’s laws directly conflict with any nation’s current laws and undermines them and discriminates against the majority, it seems that religion may hold the trump card in the Philippines.