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Darul Arqam disputes sexist allegations

Posted on Nov 5, 2012 4:55 PM Updated: Nov 22, 2012 4:06 PM

The Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore, Darul Arqam has hit back against an online report that claims its marriage courses advocate violent and sexist behaviour.

The report, which appeared on Sunday on the Egypt-based news website Bikya Masr, said that several attendees of Darul Arqam’s pre-marriage courses were told that husbands should beat wives who refuse to have sex with them, and that these wives would be cursed by angels or Allah.

It also said course materials quote an English translation of the Quran, stating “as to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, first admonish them, next refuse to share their bed, and last beat them”.

The report said that Darul Arqam has already started an investigation after attendees voiced concerns, and that women’s rights organisation Aware (Association of Women for Action and Research) and a government ministry have been alerted.

But Darul Arqam’s deputy general manager Iskandar Abdullah said the Bikya Masr report was the first time they had heard about such allegations.

Speaking to Singapolitics on Monday, he said they had not received any feedback or complaints about such an issue, prior to the article’s publication.

“This is our first time hearing about this,” he said, adding that the organisation had not been contacted by Bikya Masr, nor by Aware or ministry officials.

Mr Iskandar said, however, that Darul Arqam started an investigation this morning because of the article.

So far, they have reviewed course materials and did not find the Quranic verse.

“We have looked through our materials, we have found nothing controversial. It doesn’t contain this quote,” he said.

He also said that they would be speaking to their head religious counselor, Sister Rusmini Komzani.

“We will be clarifying with her, and ask her if she did the things reported on the website,” he said.

Bikya Masr said that it sent an undercover reporter to meet with Sister Rusmini.

He posed as a husband whose wife refused to have sex with him. Sister Rusmini allegedly told him that his wife’s behaviour contradicted the Quran, and passed him photocopies of the Quranic verse.

Bikya Masr also said that Madam Halimah Yacob, the former Minister of State for the now-defunct Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports was alerted by Aware.

Madam Halimah confirmed with Singapolitics that this was true, and that she met with Aware about a month ago.

She said: “As part of my general visits with women’s groups, I had met with Aware where they raised this issue with me, among many other issues.”

She said the Registry of Muslim Marriages is conducting a review of all Muslim marriage counselling courses across several providers, including Darul Arqam.