A cleric who said a man forcing his wife to have sex was not rape has maintained his stance on the issue, accusing the media of falsely reporting a statement of apology.
Dr Muhammad Iyaz Abdul Latheef, a state-licensed scholar who runs an Islamic question-and-answer group on the messaging app Viber, said he apologised as his comment may create confusion.
The apology was “not in support of groups which claim that what happens between husband and wife can be rape”, he wrote on his Facebook page which has about 84,000 followers.
He was criticised on Monday for saying that it cannot be considered rape if a husband forcefully has sex with his wife and, in a statement issued Tuesday, Iyaz apologised for the confusion and said “Islam promotes love between husband and wife”.
“The sexual connection between husband and wife should not be a form of abuse to each other. Neither of the partners have the right to deny sex if they do not have a reasonable excuse,” he said.
Former Islamic minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed said it is against the Sunnah (teachings of the prophet) to have non-consensual sex with wives.
“It is against the principles of Islam to brutally force one’s wife to have sex without considering her physical, medical and emotional state! It goes against the Sunnah. A good, loving husband will never do that,” he tweeted.
The Penal Code states that while marital rape exists, the burden of proof rests on the victim, as the judge is asked to presume that consent exists unless it is proved otherwise.
The Sexual Offences Act specifies circumstances that could be considered marital rape including death threats, during divorce proceedings or one partner having a sexually transmitted disease.
Iyaz has previously condemned the Sexual Offences Act for conditional recognition of marital rape as a crime, and advised MPs who voted for the bill to repent. He has also endorsed female genital mutilation.
His public Viber page ‘Islamic Knowledge Q&A’ has more than 7,000 followers.