Syrians at Risk in Secret Marriages to Foreigners: Sharia Judge

Sharia court has informed people about the risk of marrying their daughters to Egyptians and the families of young men of marrying Egyptian women

First Sharia Judge of Damascus Mohammad al-Maarawi revealed that the Syrian embassy in Egypt has noted the presence of a number of cases of phony marriages between Egyptian men and Syrian women and Syrian men and Egyptian women through broker offices.

In statements to Al-Watan, Maarawi said that the Syrian embassy informed the Foreign Ministry and in turn it informed the Justice Ministry to clarify the reality of the situation. He said the court does not prevent verifying any marriage as long as all conditions are provided without looking at the intention, but it had informed people about the risk of marrying their daughters to Egyptians and the families of young men of marrying Egyptian women.

He said that most cases occurred to obtain a visa and residency in Egypt so that the Egyptian girl or young man after the marriage requests reunification. He said that the marriage could be verified in Egypt or in Syria, so the young man or woman can send an agency to represent them in the marriage whether to Egypt or to Syria.

Maarawi said that this type of marriage often leads to blackmail, especially if the wife is Syrian, because the Egyptian husband can threaten not to divorce her unless she pays him a sum of money.

The judge said that the appearance of new cases of marriage were secret marriages which are done in a customary fashion, that is, outside the court, but without the knowledge of the family. He said that this marriage is correct and is verified in court as long as there are witnesses to the contract present.

He said: "If woman is divorced or a widow, the contract does not depend on the guardian’s consent if she was married secretly, whereas if it is a first marriage the contract depends on the consent of the guardian, even after consummation, and they have the right to annul if pregnancy has not occurred."

The judge said that the court had received a number of cases in this respect, adding that there were some fatwas issued by people who did not understand sharia correctly, and had made their decision in the Maliki school, which permits marriages without witnesses. He added: This is half correct but the other half of the fatwa from Imam Malik stipulated witnesses and even announcement upon consummation and so he emphasized much in the issue of marriage.

Maarawi said: "They are issuing decisions without familiarity with the Maliki school because the Malikis, it is true, they do not make witnesses a condition at the contract but they make this a condition at the proclaimed consummation, therefore this marriage is considered invalid before consummation and corrupted after consummation."

He said that the corrupted marriage entailed some effects, including several after the death of the man, the son is credited to his father while she has no right to demand alimony, just as she would take the smallest stated or standard dowry. For example, if her dowry was a million in the first stage and likewise in the second, she would get the standard amount which is between 150,000 and 200,000 Syrian pounds. If her dowry was 20,000, she would get this amount.

Maarawi said that secret marriages had caused major social problems including those that could lead to the crime of murder and for that reason it was a big risk. He stressed the need to look out for such dangerous cases which affect society negatively.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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