Friends’ Marriage in Western Countries
Friends or Misyar marriage under which the wife relinquishes some of her rights is permissible by some views as it fulfills the normal requirement of marriage. Still discouraged. Other views are discussed below.
Friends’ Marriage in Western Countries
· Marriage of convenience for Muslims in the West.
· The friends’ marriage.
This is a marriage under which the woman provisionally relinquishes her rights of home, financial support and staying with her husband until the couple’s circumstances improve. In this marriage, the young couple get married with a perfectly legitimate contract that fulfils all requirements, including the attendance of the woman’s guardian, two witnesses and the payment of a dowry by the husband. However, they do not have a place of residence. They consort together, but each of them stays with their own families. Thus it is not a mit'ah marriage, which is for a limited period, nor is it a marriage that does not fulfil the requirements. It is a marriage in which the husband makes a condition that his wife relinquishes specific rights of financial support, home, etc. The reason is that house prices are very high in Western countries.
The first view considers this marriage permissible if it fulfils the normal requirement of marriage and if it is free of restrictions that render it invalid. In its eighteenth session, the Islamic Fiqh Council approved it even though it considers such marriage discouraged. The Council’s decision reads:
In its eigthteenth session held in Makkah 10–14 Rabi' I 1427 AH, 8–12 April 2006, the Islamic Fiqh Council at the Muslim World League approved the following decision on the subject of ‘New Marriage Contracts:
To make a marriage contract in which the woman relinquishes her rights of home and financial support and equal treatment with other wives, or some of these, and under which she agrees that her husband comes to her home at any time of night or day; and to make a marriage contract under which the woman remains in her family’s home while she and her husband meet in her family’s home or any other place, because they do not have the means to have their own home and cannot support themselves; are valid if the essential requirements and conditions of marriage are fulfilled and there are no circumstances to prevent marriage between them. However, making such arrangements is discouraged.
The same fatwa is given by the late Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz when he was asked about the ruling for al-misyar marriage contract, which involves a man marrying a second, third or fourth wife who is required by her special circumstances to stay in her parents’ home and where her husband visits her at different times, as their circumstances allow. His answer was: ‘There is no harm in making such arrangements, provided that the contract fulfils the proper requirements, namely, the presence of the woman’s guardian, agreement by both parties, the presence of two witnesses of integrity and the freedom of both partners from anything that prevents marriage between them. This is allowed because of the general nature of the hadith that quotes
the Prophet as saying
The first condition that you must fulfil is a condition that makes your wife lawful to you.
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 2,721
He also says
Muslims abide by their conditions
Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 3,594
If the couple agree that the woman stays with her family, or that her share will be in the day, rather than the night, or on particular days or nights, they are free to do so, provided that the marriage is publicized, not kept secret.
Al-misyar marriage is in essence the same as the ‘friends’ marriage or the marriage of convenience in non-Muslim countries. A number of contemporary scholars have given the same view, as well as most Fiqh councils.
The second view, which is the view of some contemporary scholars, considers the marriage valid but the condition invalid if it is mentioned in the contract.
Indeed, some scholars of the Shafi[i and Hanbali schools of Islamic jurisprudence make clear that the marriage is valid but conditions are not. Ibn Qudamah, a leading Hanbali scholar says: ‘If the husband stipulates a condition that she is paid no dowry or is not looked after or that she gets a larger or lesser share than his other wife, such conditions are not valid, but the marriage is valid.’ This means that whenever the wife asks her husband to provide her with a home, or financial support or equal treatment, he must give her that or divorce her.
Imam al-Nawawi, a leading Shafi'i scholar says: ‘If the condition contradicts what the marriage entails but does not violate its primary purpose, such as a condition that the husband does not marry another wife, or that he gives her no financial support, the marriage is valid and the condition is ineffective.
The third view makes clear that if the condition is stipulated in the marriage contract the marriage is considered null and void unless it has been consummated. If it is consummated, the marriage remains in force but the condition is void and she is entitled to her dowry.
The Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence considers that if a condition is included in the contract that the woman is not entitled to financial support, the marriage is dissolved unless it has been consummated. If it is consummated, the marriage is in force and she is entitled to a dowry at the same level of women in her social status, but the condition is null and void.
Speaking about conditions in marriage, 'Ulaysh says in his annotation of Mukhtasar Khalil: ‘The second type includes conditions that are contrary to what the marriage entails, such as the husband makes a condition that he does not give her equal share with his other wife, or that he gives another wife favourable treatment, or that he does not look after her living needs or does not buy her any clothes. Such conditions may not be included in the marriage contract and if they are they make the marriage null and void. Scholars, however, differ, with some saying that the marriage is nullified before or after consummation while others saying that it is nullified if the condition is made before consummation of the marriage but remains in force if it is after consummation, but the condition itself is void. This is the best supported view.
If a wife relinquishes her rights to financial support, residence or fair treatment after the marriage, with full consent and under no pressure, this is appropriate. She may change her mind at any time.
Ibn Qudamah said in Al-Mughni: ‘If a woman fears ill-treatment or desertion by her husband, because he does not like her or because she is ill or old or lacking appeal, she may forego some of her rights to please him.
If a woman has reason to fear ill-treatment or desertion by her husband, it shall not be wrong for the two of them if they should try to set things peacefully to rights between them; for peace is best
· Fatawa by Scholars of Makkah.
· Collected rulings and articles by Shaikh Abd al-Azeez ibn Baz.
· The Islamic Network.
· Islam Question and Answer: www.islamQA.info.
· Decisions by the Islamic Fiqh Council.
- Fatawa [Ulama’ al-Balad al-Haram, pp. 450–1.