CAIRO – Breaking family restrictions, hundreds of Malaysian couples are eloping to tie the knot in Thailand, tapping into lenient marriage conditions in the Southeast Asian country.
“The marriage procedures are more lenient in Thailand, compared with Malaysia.” Zaleha, working for one of Kelantan's marriage agents, told the Daily Express on Monday, January 6.
Several agents in the north-east Malaysian state of Kelantan have been offering Muslim couples a rare service which allows them to elope and get married in Thailand.
Thailand choice was more related to lenient marriage rules in the country, much different from the Malaysian which conditions the approval of their families for females, and the consent of the first wife for males.
With more than 100 marriage certificates, marriage in Thailand coasts Malaysia's eloping couples about RM9M ($2,740,000) per month, according to one of the marriage agents.
Each couple pays nearly RM3000 to the agent to help them to certify their marriage. The payments include coordination with the Islamic councils in provinces like Narathiwat in southern.
“Our expenses to take a couple to Thailand come up to about RM450 and this includes the fee to obtain the official marriage certificate from the council,” Zaleha said.
“We ensure receiving marriage certificates on the same day, which is frequently demanded by my clients,” Zaleha said.
Zaliha has also asserted the efficiency of the agents services claiming that she has a close ties with Tai officials at the council.
The agents' marriage program includes returning trips for the couples.
“Besides, most couples do not want to stay longer than required after tying the knot, otherwise they would have to spend more on hotel and food bills.” Zaliha explained.
Taking advantage of the service, a former divorced woman, Hailijah, said the she had married in Narathiwat a year ago through the agents.
The 48-year-old Halijah said that she had eloped with her second husband after his failure in getting permission to register his first wife into polygamy.
“After my first husband died, I met my new husband who was my first love 30 years ago,” Halijah said.
Officials at Narathiwat Islamic council confirmed that the council has maintained legal and Islamic standards to make sure that the brides are divorced or haven't been married before.
“We ask for their original divorce certificates and valid travel documents with immigration proof of entry into Thailand, before marrying them,” said Abdul Aziz Che Mamat, the deputy president of Narathiwat Islamic Council.
According to Mamat, widows bring along the death certificates of their husbands as a proof of their eligibility to re-marry under Shari`ah.
“It is easy for men, as we will marry them to the women they bring to our office even if they do not get permission from their first wives or religious authorities in Malaysia,” Mamat said.
“It is my duty to facilitate the marriages of Muslim couples without permission from their families, to prevent them from committing zina (illicit sex).”
Malays, mostly Muslims, make up nearly 60 percent of the South Asian nation’s 26 million population.
Ethnic Chinese and Indians - most of them Buddhists, Hindus and Christians - make up about 35 percent. The rest are indigenous people and Eurasians.
In Islam, a virgin girl cannot get married without a guardian.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned, “A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her, and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.”
As long as the girl is in her father's house, the father is her guardian and she has to obey his commands and follow his directions. However, once she gets married, then the responsibility over her moves to her husband.
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