A handful of issues of popped up which draw attention to Saudi Arabia’s laws and approach(es) to marriage.

The one attracting most attention was the refusal of a Saudi court in Onaiza to permit an eight-year-old girl to divorce her 47-year-old husband. The case, which had been remanded to the court by an appeals court for reconsideration, reached the same result. Also similar are the reactions, both foreign and domestic, over the verdict.

CNN reported:

Saudi judge refuses to annul 8-year-old’s marriage

(CNN) — A Saudi judge has refused for a second time to annul a marriage between an 8-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man, a relative of the girl told CNN.

The most recent ruling, in which the judge upheld his original verdict, was handed down Saturday in the Saudi city of Onaiza, where late last year the same judge rejected a petition from the girl’s mother, who was seeking a divorce for her daughter.

The relative said the judge, Sheikh Habib Al-Habib, “stuck by his earlier verdict and insisted that the girl could petition the court for a divorce once she reached puberty.” The family member, who requested anonymity, added that the mother will continue to pursue a divorce for her daughter.

Saudi Gazette/Okaz reported on the case as well. Commenters find the verdict to be un-Islamic:

Onaiza girl’s divorce put off
Sulaiman An-Nahhabi

ONAIZA – A court here has upheld its earlier verdict in the case of the marriage of underage girl to an elderly man.

The earlier verdict by Judge Habib Abdullah Al-Habib stipulated that the girl must reach the age of puberty before determining whether she would continue her marriage solemnized in June 2007.

The judge tried to convince the girl’s husband to nullify the marriage contract in lieu of returning the dowry he paid, but he refused.

The papers note that the appeals court is going to get involved again, but this time putting the case in the hands of another judge.

The Arabic daily Al-Watan runs a piece (here translated by Arab News) about how it is a scandal that fathers are, in effect, selling their daughters. Perhaps even worse—because more widespread—are fathers refusing their daughters the right to marry because the fathers have become dependent on their daughters’ incomes. Often, the father’s will insist that even though a daughter marries, her income will stay with him.

Hearts made of stone
Qenan Al-Ghamdi | Al-Watan, qenan@alwatan.com.sa

Judge Khalifa Al-Tamimi of the General Court in the city of Onaizah in the central province of Qassim recently allowed two young Saudi women to marry — one a Saudi man and the other a foreigner. He took the action after their guardians refused to allow them to marry. The lawyer for the two girls, Mansour Al-Jitaili, said the two girls were facing spinsterhood because their fathers had prevented them from marrying. He attributed the fathers’ attitude to “greed and avarice.”

The lawyer urged all preachers and imams of mosques to explain the dangers of preventing girls from getting married. He said these people are doing a grave injustice to their daughters and are depriving them of their dignity.

I thought about the “greed and avarice” spoken of by the lawyer and understood it as taking the girls’ salaries. The girls may have been employed, whether as teachers or in other jobs I do not know. A father often finds in his daughter a source of income that he is loath to relinquish. He looks at his daughter as one of his personal assets, which he can use as he wishes.

Clearly, something has gone very wrong in the Kingdom. Codification of law, putting it into black and white, will help avoid the bizarre and barbaric verdicts we’re seeing come from certain courts.

April:14:2009 - 11:33 | Comments & Trackbacks (5) | Permalink
5 Responses to “Saudi Marriages; Saudi Laws”
  1. 1
    swedish Said:
    April:14:2009 - 21:21 

    I have come across articles from time to time about the increasing number of Saudi women remaining single and in most cases it all derives because of monetary reasons.
    Perhaps in KSA the government can make an incentive if one marries, and an ethical incentive.

  2. 2
    DW Said:
    April:15:2009 - 13:09 

    Incentives won’t work.. and too inefficient.. The only way is to change a lot of minds about a lot of ideas. First they can start with how Saudis view careers and job security, how they are too Dependant on the Government to provide jobs and also about crack-pot riff raff becoming teachers and preachers because they failed at science subjects in high school. They can start with changing the standard for building houses and zoning, they can also start taxing wealthy monopoly cartels for hogging all of the residential areas without any development. They can start with asking the Saudi Men who run out of Saudi Arabia at every chance they got about whats wrong in Saudi.. they will find many answers to a single question.. if they can solve the root of the problem,the symptoms will go away.

  3. 3
    swedish Said:
    April:15:2009 - 16:26 

    DW: You are correct about the reliance of government had-outs as this not plagues KSA but some, and mean some not all GCC states. As I said before, and “ethical incentive” with conditions only.
    I think in the Kingdom it matter of small steps rather a quantum leap that will work. Maybe? Any thoughts?

  4. 4
    DW Said:
    April:15:2009 - 22:23 

    The issue is the young people are too insecure to get married, Jobs cannot be secured from the government for the next generation which is close to half of the population. Why I said incentives (especially financial) won’t work was because it only escalates the problem for example if you give them more house loans everybody involved in building/acquiring the property will simply raise their prices to get a share of those aids.

    I realize what you mean about a quantum leap. But what I wish for is that they start looking at the root of the problem instead of the symptom.

    For example, when they are trying to solve the housing problem, what I see in my local city now.. My city, Al Ahsa, used to have a lot of areas withheld by the local governer office because of security reasons.. The National Guard base to the North, Aramco Oil Company to west and south west, Agriculture land to the east, only way to develop was south. So with the new directions and change of the Municipal deputy, a lot of red tape was removed from a lot of restricted area land. But the problem is that they allowed the wealthy merchants to withhold these lands without taxing them for it. Now you see empty residential land clearing with services installed, but no houses built.. with those merchants hogging all the space..those residential clearing areas became now a weekend spot for some people.

  5. 5
    anonymous Said:
    April:16:2009 - 10:20 

    What Saudi does in this regard is bad for the Ummah, because it encourages the media to write lines like this into their stories:

    “Saudi Arabia implements an austere form of Sunni Islam that . . . gives fathers the right to wed their children to whomever they deem fit.”


    I’m not a Muslim. Much of what Islam says I disagree with (especially 4:24, which is pretty clear within or without “context”).

    However this line in the BBC story (by far not the only such lines that appear in the international press regarding Islam) is factually incorrect.

    The father has “veto” power on a daughter’s choice (which in itself is a violation of a woman’s autonomy, IMO, but not as bad as what is stated above:) but the BBC story says that Sunni fathers select whom their children marry. Wrong.

    The problem in Saudi Arabia is that it constantly cop-opts Islam and melds it with its deplorable tribal practices, as if what the hillbillies in Qassim do is “proper Islamic conduct” when in fact what they do is sacrilegious and anti-Islamic and in a different world they would be excommunicated from the faith for subverting it with these stupid, backward, tribal, primitive behaviors.

    And because the royals are too afraid of these folks to crack down on these idiotic and superstitious practices, know-it-all journalists (many of whom are anti-Muslim bigots) in Britain and the US get to imply that Islam condones arranged marriages.

    Conclusion: Every time Saudi Arabia allows something like this to happen, it engages in what Islam could categorize as infidel behavior. I say that because Islam basically came about to stop stupid, backward, murderous, orphan-creating primitive tribal customs in the western region of Saudi Arabia at a time when every city had a “Kabaa” (there was a Red Kabaa near Taif) and there were all sorts of inter-tribal fighting going on. Some Saudi tribal traditions are anathema to Islam and pre-date the religion, ergo they are sacrilegious behavior.

    I wish more Imams would declare war on the subversion of Islam by the tribes. That would be refreshing.

    So Muslims should begin playing a larger role in pressuring Saudi to clean up its act, because it’s not our (non-Muslims’) job to do that and everytime we try we get accused of being “Islamophobic.”

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