'Allowing muftis to perform marriages to lead a chaos in legal system'

The Turkish parliament approved a legal regulation allowing the Islamic clerics to perform civil marriages. Yet, this step towards a 'dual legal system' will create chaos in Turkey’s judicial system, according to the experts
Friday, 20 October 2017 16:00

A legal regulation granting the Islamic clerics authority to perform civil marriages was approved at the parliament on Oct. 18.

The second paragraph of the Article 22 of the Law on the Civil Registration Services has been amended as following with the approval of the bill on muftis’ authority to officiate at civil marriages:

"Marriage officer: the mayor of a municipality that has a mayor or the civil servant assigned to the task, or the village head in villages. The Ministry can assign the marriage officer authority and tasks to provincial civil registration and citizenship directorates, civil registration directorates, foreign representative offices, and provincial and district muftis offices."

Thus, the provincial and district muftis [Islamic clerics], and imams [Islamic prayer leaders] and other religious officials assigned by these muftis will have the authority to perform official marriage ceremonies.

With the new regulation, the Turkish government has taken a step towards the "dual legal system".


Chairperson of the Association of Left Stance in Law and the Former Reporter of the Constitutional Court of Turkey, Ali Rıza Aydın said that the wedding authority granting to Islamic clerics will create a chaotic environment in society.

Underlining that the regulation approved at the parliament will not only turn the issue of civil marriages upside-down but also will lead a chaos in the family institution of the civil code with its content, Aydın stated that one of the most important steps in the transition to secular constitutional state is civil code and family law in it, which actually means a transition from pan-Islamism to modern citizenship.

Noting that the legislation passed by the parliament reverses the family law, Aydın pointed out that legal assurance of civil rights has been lifted, assignments have been changed.

"Religious officials entrusted with religious activities have also been assigned to the sphere of Civil Code with this regulation. This situation will pave the way for a dual legal system. Wedding contract, which is a legal transaction, will get stuck between the Civil Code and religious rules", Aydın said.

Emphasising that there can be no religiosity and arbitrariness in a secular constitutional state, Aydın noted, "Family institution cannot be confined to the sphere of ‘religious freedom’. The government has violated the law with this regulation and the marriage procedures were handed over to the religious sphere."

"From now on, certain religious rituals and rules will prevail in marriage procedure which is an issue of law. The government has taken the first critical step to remove marriage procedures from being a subject of the Civil Code. There may have chaotic and unsolvable problems in this context", he also stated.


Reminding that 'marriage by proxy' comes into question in the procedures called "religious marriage ceremony", the Former Commissioner of Auditor Kadir Sev said, "Who may give a guarantee that marriage by proxy will not be performed for women in the future? The authority, which allows the muftis, imams and religious officials to perform civil marriages, also has the potential to make ‘marriage by proxy’ a current issue after a short time, claiming it is appropriate to Islamic values."  

"It is incongruous with the principle of secularism to be performed a marriage ceremony, which is a legal transaction, by a religious official," Sev also said.