South Asia

Christian women fight lawsuit against Muslim convert husband

Shakeela Bibi, a Christian from the Arifwala Tehsil southwest of Pakpattan District in the Punjab province of Pakistan has filed a petition in the court for dissolution of her marriage with her husband Muhammad Aslam.

Shakeela whose marriage was arranged with a Christian Aslam Masih four years ago by her family, filed a divorce petition in the court as Aslam and his parents converted to Islam. They were the the only Christian family in the Muslim majority town.

The Muslim Judge who heard Shakeela’s case, instead of dealing with the case according to the law, advised Shakeela that she should also convert to Islam and continue living with her husband.

“Shakeela Bibi insisted that while she could abandon her husband, she could not abandon her Christian faith,” reported Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK).

After embracing Islam, Aslam Masih whose new name is Muhammad Aslam, filed two lawsuits against Shakeela Bibi regarding ‘Restitution of conjugal rights’ and ‘suit for declaration that Shakeela is a Muslim’.

Shakeela in her petition stated that her husband has changed his religion without her consent and thus she cannot live with him anymore.

Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK stated that Shakeela’s case should be dealt according to the law of the land, and not according to Shariah law, as she still is a Christian.

“This is not the only case, but there are several examples where the courts apply Shariah law despite it, not being applicable to non-Muslims,” said Saeed to Global Christian News.

“However, unfortunately there is not much help available in such cases. It is a difficult situation for Shakeela Bibi as Pakistan has a dual justice system (secular and Islamic law) and unfortunately it is up to the police and the courts to decide under which law a case should be dealt,” he added.

Pakistan said Saeed considers minorities as second class citizens of the country and they suffer in all walks of life despite having equal supported Quaid-e-Azam for the independence of Pakistan.