Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The number of websites specializing in arranging al Misyar marriages is on the rise, especially in Saudi Arabia . An al Misyar marriage is one where the couple does not live together and the husband is not financially responsible for his wife. The phenomenon has also spread to western countries where internet sites usually run by Arab individuals have been recently set up to help with, Misyar and regular marriages. With names such as Zawaji, Zwajokum, Tazawuj, Al Moyasser, Al Hob, Al Habib and Inta Omri, these sites help users find a partner.
Sahl al Matbouli, who oversees a site in Canada, told Asharq al Awsat, “I am naturally a very sociable person. I have many friends and acquaintances and I have played matchmaker before, especially as we are immigrants and it is difficult to find a bride here. I was encouraged to set up the website after requests from my friends” for help finding partners. Sahl is not opposed to Misyar marriage and has devoted a section on his site for those seeking this type of union.
This support for al Misyar marriage is shared by Mohammed al Hazazi from Dammam who runs an internet site with the same name. He says this type of marriage is better than illicit relationships and helps young men and women find a partner. It is also popular with those aged between 22 and 30 and men aged between the ages of 38 to 55. “The website allows people to chat and is religiously sanctioned. I am only responsible for publishing the requests of individuals on the site. It is up to them to contact the person they are interested in.” Whilst acknowledging that many requests for an al Misyar marriage are submitted by young women, al Hazazi said it was not shameful for women to enter into such a union.
Licensed marriage notaries, or mazoun, are also finding themselves more in demand. Ahmad al Omari, a mazoun and a teachers of Islamic education at a night school in Jeddah, said, the al Misyar marriage “meets all the criteria and conditions of an Islamic marriage. It is permitted by law but disagreements occur about its name.” The majority of women who seek this type of marriage, he added, were divorced or widowed and close to 40.
On the other hand, Mohammed al Muabbi, a renowned mazoun, rejected the al Misyar marriage as inappropriate. “What I don’t approve of for my own daughters I definitely reject for other women, regardless of the need for such a marriage.” His concerns are based on the lack of security in an al Misyar marriage. “In legal marriages, the woman sets some conditions upon the man such as allowing her to work or finish her studies. In an al Misyar marriage, men set preconditions that include not being financially responsible for their wives and not living with them or even having children.”
Umm Mohammed, who now conducts her matchmaking in public, revealed she supports the al Misyar marriage. “I used to marry people in secret but now, after the Islamic Jurisprudence Academy sanctioned this type of marriage, I announce it.”