Monday, April 27, 2009

Nikah mesyar is legitimate according to Egypt's Grand Mufti

Says they are legitimate unless banned by the state
Egypt's Mufti sanctions travelers marriage


Egypt's Grand Mufti Dr. Ali Gomaa (File)

CAIRO (Ahmed al-Sayed)

Egypt's Grand Mufti announced that "travelers marriages,” known as nikah mesyar in Arabic, are legitimate unless banned by the state.

Nikah mesyar is a Sunni Muslim marriage contract in which the woman gives up many of the rights she would be afforded under a traditional marriage contract. Although the marriage is official, the couple does not live in the same house and the husband is not required to provide for the wife or for any children they may have.

Such marriages are considered an alternative for people who wish to get married but cannot afford a traditional marriage. It is called the “travelers marriage” since it often takes place when men are away from their wives and wish to have relations with another woman.


On the contrary, this type of marriage proves the flexibility of Islamic laws in catering to a wide scope of needs and circumstances by offering religiously valid solutions that protect Muslims from committing sins


Dr. Ali Gomaa

A study by the Dar al-Iftaa, the institution in charge of issuing fatwas or religious decrees in Egypt, concluded that such marriages are valid as long as they meet the necessary religious conditions, said Dr. Ali Gomaa in an official statement.

"As long as both agreed to the conditions of the marriage and the wife accepts that the husband doesn't live with her, it is a valid marriage," the statement said.

The study argued that if the woman chooses to give up several of her rights by her own free will -- such as living with the husband or financial support -- this does not invalidate the marriage.

According to Gomaa, the Mesyar marriages are neither degrading to women nor a violation of human rights since they are based on mutual consent.

"On the contrary, this type of marriage proves the flexibility of Islamic laws in catering to a wide scope of needs and circumstances by offering religiously valid solutions that protect Muslims from committing sins,” he explained. “This shows Islam's capability to adapt to social changes."


Now the divorce rates are higher than the marriage rate. This makes us wonder how people live. And what do youths do to face the circumstances they are subjected to


Dr. Soheir Abdul-Aziz, Dean of the al-Azhar School of Humanities

Right to ban

However, the study acknowledged that individual countries have the right to ban this type of marriage. Some fear travelers marriages could become a regular alternative to traditional marriage and potentially lead to societal instability.

But considering the difficult economic and societal conditions that prompt some young people to resort to these types of marriages, nikah mesyar offers a route to marriage that may be out of reach for many, said Dr. Soheir Abdul-Aziz, Dean of al-Azhar's School of Humanities in Cairo.

"They are unemployed and don't have homes for when they get married," she told AlArabiya.net. "Now the divorce rates are higher than the marriage rate. This makes us wonder how people live. And what do youths do to face the circumstances they are subjected to?"

Some traits of the mesyar marriage are reminiscent of the nikah mutah, practiced by Shiite Muslims. The differences are that the mutah is based on a contract with a fixed date of expiry and it does not require witnesses while a mesyar is open-ended and requires two witnesses to be present.


(Translated by Sonia Farid, written by Sara Ghasemilee)



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