This week Your Advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is the head of the chambers of a renowned law firm, namely, 'Legal Counsel', which has expertise mainly in commercial law, corporate law, family law, employment and labor law, land law, banking law, constitutional law, criminal law, IPR and in conducting litigations before courts of different hierarchies.
I am a student in Bangladesh. I am Muslim. I have a girlfriend in Thailand. She is a Buddhist. We are willing to marry in Bangladesh. She wants to come in Bangladesh for 10 days' stay and marry me at the same time. So, how can we marry in my country?
Please sir, give me suggestion.
I would like to thank you for soliciting my legal opinion regarding the matter. I have understood from your particular query that you are a Bangladeshi Muslim male and your girlfriend is Thai Buddhist and both of you are desirous of getting married in Bangladesh. There are several avenues that are open for you to choose from, which I shall discuss in turn.
The concept of family law in Bangladesh is personal, i.e. such matters are governed by the religious laws of the individual concerned. Since you are Muslim, Muslim law will govern your marriage related issues. Under such law a Muslim male can marry any girl, who is a follower of any Kitaab, e.g. a Muslim, Christian or a Jewish girl. However, as you have already mentioned that your girlfriend is Buddhist, your marriage cannot be solemnized under the Muslim laws of marriage.
However, if your girlfriend decides to convert to Islam and provided there is no age barrier and further provided that both of you are unmarried at the time of solemnizing the marriage, the process of getting married in Bangladesh becomes much simpler. On such an event you can go to a 'Kazi Office' in order to get married and through the Nikhah Registrar/Kazi you can register your marriage under Muslim law.
If on the other hand, if she would not want to convert to Islam and keep practicing Buddhism then you can get married under the Special Marriage Act of 1872. When a marriage is solemnized under the Special Marriage Act of 1872, both the bride and the bridegroom have to sign a Declaration which reads as: “I do not profess the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Parsi, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina religion” or (as the case may be) “I profess the Hindu, or the Buddhist, or the Sikh or the Jaina religion”.
Construing the words of the aforementioned Declaration, it appears that you may either declare yourself a non-believer i.e. professing none of the religions or you may declare to profess any one of the religions listed there in. Marriage is only allowed between persons declaring to profess any one of the religions specifically mentioned in the second part of the Declaration. Hence, if you declare yourself as Muslim, it is not possible for you to marry a Buddhist girl, as Islam is not mentioned among the options. Therefore, you have the option to marry under this Act if you declare yourself as non-believer. In consequence, your girlfriend can marry you by declaring herself as a non-believer or as a Buddhist.
Nevertheless, irrespective of the type of marriage based on religions, since your girlfriend is a foreigner and will merely be a visitor in Bangladesh at the time of your intended marriage, it will be advisable to swear a declaration in the form of affidavit before the Notary Public in Thailand by her parents regarding their knowledge of her getting married during her visit to Bangladesh. Furthermore, it would be particularly wise for you to request her to provide Unmarried Certificate/Marital Status Certificate from concerned authority in Thailand and attested by the Thai Foreign Ministry.
I hope the aforesaid opinion sufficiently answers your queries.
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