Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have urged Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to study the module implementation methods thoroughly before proposing its mandatory post-marriage course for Muslim couples.

The department had proposed that Muslim couples, who had been married between one and 20 years, must attend a post-marriage course, held in four phases, aimed at strengthening the family institution in a bid to reduce the divorce rate in the country.

Sisters In Islam (SIS) programme manager Suri Kempe questioned the lack of transparency in the department’s statistics on divorce rates and preferred the modules to be based on factors contributing to the divorce.

“When it comes to divorce, there are various factors involved and to study this, thorough research has to be conducted with interviews held with marriage counsellors and couples themselves before the module is implemented,” she said, adding that among the factors contributing to the rates are domestic violence, infidelity and oral divorce.

“What are the statistics they’ve attained? What are the reasons behind the rise in divorce rates?” she asked, demanding Jakim to reveal their studies.

Suri said the “jumping the gun” tactics, along with making the course mandatory, would not serve as a solution.

“If I believe that my marriage is going well, why should I want to waste my time and money attending the course?” she asked, adding that parents would also have difficulty in taking care of their children when they are away for the courses.

“Would Jakim provide babysitter services? This is why the course has to be studied very diligently before it is implemented.”

Negeri Sembilan Muslim Coalition’s secretary Shamsul Azhar Yahya also echoed Suri’s sentiment, suggesting that the course should instead be added as a module for the already mandatory pre-marriage course and a trial run should be conducted on civil servants under their required course pre-requisites.

“Civil servants usually have some 10 hours allocated to attend courses for a year. The majority of the time, departments would send the employees to undergo the same repetitive courses every year.

“It is high time the courses be balanced with two-hours allocated for couples to attend this course.”

However, he also asked Jakim to study the implementation method, questioning what action would be taken if the couples chose not to attend the course.

“What are you going to do if the couples feel they don’t require to undergo the course?” he asked.

The proposal for the course, targeted at Muslim couples who had been married for one to five years, six to 10 years, and 11 to 20 years and above, is currently undergoing a trial run to obtain feedback on the present module.

Jakim’s Family, Social and Community Development director Zakuan Sawai said efforts to develop the course, which differ vastly from the pre-marriage course as it dwells more liberally on marital issues, including husband-wife health and relationships, were initiated in 2012 and a pilot project is being held to obtain feedback on the module.

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