Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Marriage and Divorce in KSA

Photo Credit: http://premalanay.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/divorce-cakes/

Marriages and divorces in Saudi Arabia seem to crop up in the news on a regular basis here, mainly because of the controversies and bizarre natures surrounding many of them - and they are definitely not the norm in the West. In recent weeks three such unions have made headlines here.

But first, a little background on how marriages happen here. In Saudi Arabia, the marriage process differs from that in the West. In the West it is typical for a man and a woman to date for a while, get to know one another, become engaged for a period of time, and then get married. But in Saudi Arabia the process is completely different. Most often the man and woman do not really know each other when they marry. They likely had a nerve-wracking meeting once or twice in the woman’s home with other family members around and if they both liked what they saw, they agreed to marry, based on just those one or two awkward meetings. A marriage contract would then be drawn up and signed - and they are considered officially married. However, they will not actually live together as husband and wife for quite some time until the actual wedding, when the marriage is finally consummated. Most weddings here, by the way, are comprised of two entirely separate functions, one for men guests only and the other for women guests only because men and women are not allowed to mix socially in this country.

The first weird story about a divorce here in Saudi Arabia involved a young man from Qatif when he decided to divorce his young bride after only seven days of marriage. The reason? Because she had her appendix removed. No lie.

The second unusual case is about a young couple, Fatima and Mansoor, who had married happily and had a child together and one on the way. The wife’s half brothers, who had never had much to do with her all of her life, suddenly went to court to have her marriage annulled. On what grounds? Because in this tribal society here in Saudi Arabia, her "concerned" half brothers argued that she had married beneath her class. She was given the option of divorcing her husband or going to prison. Bravely Fatima opted for prison, where her second child was born, and they languished there for several years. Just recently the Supreme Judiciary Council finally ruled that Fatima and Mansoor could remain married. But don’t assume this is an automatic happy ending to this story. Her brothers may decide not to concede just because a judge ruled against them. The primitive and ignorant tribal mentality actually could place Fatima’s life in danger now so her brothers don’t lose face.

The third news article regarding odd marriages and divorces pertained to an 80 year old who had to be convinced by the court that allowing his 12 year old bride a divorce would be the proper thing to do. She's the same age as his GREAT-grandchildren! This case is similar to several that have been in the news here in the past few years. In many instances, the father will literally sell his daughter to pay a debt or to better his own family’s financial situation. But in an even more bizarre twist, just today this same 12 year old girl announced that she would accept her marriage to the 80 year old to show her obediance to her father! You've got to read this!

It comes as no surprise that three of the major causes of divorce in KSA are due to age differences, polygamy, and interference by family. Since men here are allowed up to four wives according to Islam, multiple wives spells trouble for most marriages as many women find the notion quite distasteful. In years past, the concept of love never really entered into the picture in this part of the world. Marriages were always considered a business deal. But times are a-changin’ here in that regard to marriage and the reasons for it. Women seem to be wanting more out of marriage than to just be baby-making machines and sexual objects for their husbands.

Photo Credit: http://www.shaneclapper.com/2007/11/27/one-ugly-bride-iraqi-soldiers-stop-insurgents-dressed-as-bride-and-groom/And to add just one last interesting tidbit regarding marriages in Saudi Arabia: as you know, most Saudi women veil their faces either completely or with just the eyes visible. So when a man wants to meet a woman about the possibility of marriage, he is allowed to see her one time with her face and hair uncovered. If he likes what he sees, and she approves, a marriage contract will be drawn up. But this can result in the old “Bait and Switch,” whereby if a family has a couple of daughters - one beautiful and the other not so beautiful - the potential mate is introduced to the beautiful daughter. Since he has not much else to go on but looks, he likes what he sees and agrees to marry her. But when the wedding night rolls around months later, the bride that is pawned off on him is actually her homely sister. He is miffed, but then again he only saw her once so he’s not really sure. This way the more beautiful daughter can command an even heftier dowry when she weds than the unattractive one ever could.

And that's how it's sometimes done in Saudi Arabia...


  1. It amazes me that the women in SA are not able to think as independent human beings. They are "captives." To think that in the year 2010 this sort of marriage nonsense goes on is incredible. The men can have up to 4 women and live their lives in such a liberal fashion compared to the women. Are the non expat women accepting of this or are they just bullied into it? To trade your child for a debt? What kind of a religion thinks that is good for the child? Must a woman do what her family says or can she say she does not want to marry? The more I read about the culture over there, the less I understand how it can go on.
    I give you a lot of credit for being able to give up so much in a country where women have little or not rights. I could not do it.

  2. I could be wrong, but it looks like the marriage of the 12 year old is continuing. Is this a different case?


  3. Hi Lori - Most often when a man takes another wife here, it is done secretly, without the first wife's knowledge or approval. She finds out after the fact, is very hurt, and has to weigh her options. Sometimes she feels backed up against a wall, that she has no other option but to accept it. Other women might be in a better situation financially or with familial support and might demand a divorce. This also happens to ex-pat wives of Saudis. These women have given up everything to move to KSA, have raised their children as Saudis, have invested many years of their lives in the marriage, and have no family close to help - and their husband has a mid-life crisis and gets a new young plaything to make more babies with! You are not alone in not understanding how these things can go on in this day and age.

    Hi MellyBrelly - OMG!!! Thank you for the link. I've updated my post. Unbelievable!!!

  4. Susie, I have been skimming your blog for a while and for some reason Ive started to get the feeling that:

    -you hate Islam And Saudi even though you don't spell it out in so many words, you do say it pretty clearly.
    -you tolerate life but its almost like you are going to combust.

    I feel like you need to find a useful hobby or something if you don't already in real life to keep you mentally healthy.

    I'm sorry if this is totaly off but I often feel like you are perhaps a lonely woman stuck at home in Saudi and hating Saudi for putting you in that situation. And you love your husband so you stay but you hate everything else.

    Well IF that is true, my feelings regarding your situation, I Hope you will make the best out of your situation and not let it get you down.

  5. No where in the Quran does it say thay you can marry your daughter off to settle a debt! Islam is a beautiful religion, unfortunately some people who call themselves muslim are not. A lot of what goes on in saudi has to do with culture and not religion!

  6. i think everyone is getting ahead of themselves in the religion deptartment....
    i dont think this has anything to do with religion...and more with whats acceptable in the culture or even just whats acceptable in ones family.

    i feel so bad for the girl and her appendix....sheesh!

    and the loving couple.... so sad..they are happy with children...and then soemone wants to interfere...so unfair...i hope they are able to be with each other and live without the stress of her family.

    and the little girl? OMG no child should be proving her obediance to her father...shes a baby.

  7. I agree with Anon. This is absolutely ludicrous. In Islam a women is not to be married against her consent.As Prophet Mohamed SAW said "A woman without a husband (or divorced or a widow) must not be married until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be married until her permission is sought. It all comes down to the girl. In KSA where you reside there is so much culture mixing with religion going on from what I reading on your blog... so I'm not suprised when a NonMuslim sees this and mesh the religion with the culture. Its unfortunate that this happens... when people incorporate the cultural practices into religion especially one that takes aways maritial rights.

  8. Hi Burgundy - I have never ever said that I hate Islam. I admit that there are aspects about it that I disagree with and this is why I find myself unable to embrace it, but I have never said that I hate it. I also have a distrust for religions where men have twisted the beliefs and interpretations in their favor to control women. The only part about this post is where I mention that in Islam men are allowed 4 wives - a simple fact. You are assuming something about me that is not true.
    I do have hobbies and one of them is writing - it is a way for me to get out my frustrations, and you ar reading about them here. It is a form of therapy for me as is my art. I have said repeatedly that this is not really where I want to live, but that I am not miserable here. Most of the things that I dislike about living here have to do with women's suppression and I have written at length about this topic.
    Life here can be very lonely, but I have made some lovely friends, and they all pretty much have the same feelings as I do. We support each other as friends should. I am trying to make the best out of the situation I am in, but just because I may complain about things does not mean that I hate Saudi Arabia or Islam. This is an inaccurate assumption on your part.

  9. Hi Anon @12:41AM - It is true that culture and religion are deeply intertwined here in KSA. I did not say that Islam says that it's ok to marry off your daughter to pay a debt. Where are you getting that from?

    Hi Angie - Thanks for your comment. I feel the same way about all three cases!

    Hi Anon @ 619AM - Thank you for clarifying what Islam says about marriage, however there really does need to be an age limit set where a girl can give her permission. I do not think a 12 y/o should be pressured into giving her consent by her father - it's just plain wrong.

  10. Here in the West it is Very difficult to understand this cultural betrayal to women. I appreciate your candor.

  11. When I told the news about 80 yrs vs. 12 yrs to my husband and asked his opinion I was positively surprised of his answer.
    He's so heavily against that kind of behaviour that he'd be ready to punish both dad and groom really, really hard way. (Not printable)

    12 yrs old under pressure, fear and maybe knowing nothing about life outside home is totally manipulated, brainwashed if she says 'respect' of his father. Yak! Disgusting, both men!!!

    So sad, so sad....

  12. Hello Susie,

    I've been working full-time and very busy recently, so not keeping up with your blog. I just read this recent post though.

    I'm sure the bulk of reasonable people in the world, including even a society so restrictive towards women as Saudi Arabia must surely agree that a 12 year old girl is simply not capable of consenting in any manner to any sort of sexual, let alone a marriage type relationship.

    The minimum age of consent laws which exist in most countries are designed to protect children from anything like the sort of coercion you have described in the post. Most countries set a bare minimum age limit of at least 16 years for sexual activity and often 18 years for marriage, recognizing that a decision to engage in such relationships requires a certain level of maturity, which a 12 year old does not possess.

    Such a "marriage" scenario would not only attract severe criminal penalties in many other countries but also be invalid as a child cannot give her consent.

    Unfortunately, abuse towards children happens apparently in every country of the world, which is sickening. But what I find really disturbing about what you've highlighted is the absence of any mechanisms to protect this child's best interests in KSA's judicial system once the mother and child withdrew from their case.

    Does this mean that no-one in the judiciary or social services in KSA can protect this child? Where to from here for her?

    I hope that the powers that be can be shamed into doing something for her.

    It is worth noting that this has been reported on in the media as far away as where I live, in Australia:

    Maybe if a group of lawyers petitioned the King/Princesses interested in children's rights - indicating that KSA faces world-wide indignation about the matter and given that the child cannot consent, the marriage should be declared annulled as invalid? I thought the King could step in and make legal decisions in various cases. Isn't it worth a shot this time? I wonder what the case lawyers are doing?

    Surely something could be done and possibly such action could assist to protect other children in future by prompting changes to laws and development of policies, programs, refuges etc to protect children.

    Wishing you well Susie


  13. Susie,

    You've been very candid in your blog about your life and I have a question I hope you can answer.If you had your own finical resources in US, would you still want to stay in Saudi Arabia? Meaning, if you knew you had a career in US you can go back to and you could be financially well off without your husband, would it have changed your current situation? especially after your son turns 18 and might leave to study in US.

    I'm sorry if that's too private a question but as I said you've been very honest it makes me feel it's ok to ask.

  14. Hi!
    I haven't read your blog so long, but I understood that you have also daughter? Why she is not living with you and don't you miss her? Sorry about my bad English!

  15. Women's situation there seems rather pathetic eventhough with the kind of luxury they live in.But what have educated women activists done so far? Do you think they can actually produce any positive outcome in the political and social sphere? Because without any active participation such undesirable elements will continue to haunt women's lives.

  16. Hi Susie!
    I hae been reading your blog for a while now..
    Re Burgundy's comments I do not find your posts anti-Islamic or anti-arab at all - merely with the aspects that you disagree with, and certainly these stories are beyond defense - but highlighting these abuses does not mean you are condemning Islam or even Saudi. Your posts also highlight positive aspects of Saudi/arab culture such as your post on Comparing Arab and Western youth..
    AS for your frustrations I find them candid, honest and refreshing - not many people are willing to bare their soul, and for that I thank you. Secondly many people can identify with your situation, or aspects thereof and I think many women are helped by your posts, which is an honest view of the difficulties of interfaith and intercultural marriage etc - without the rose coloured glasses. It offers advice to those who have questions, and encourages people who have in similiar situation to know that others are in the same boat!
    well done :)

  17. I got married at age 15 in Canada.It was in 1974. at that time the legal age for marriage was 12 years old for a girl and 14 for a boy with parental consent.in several provinces.(research it if you don't believe it)
    It is young, but not even 50 years ago it was also legal in the west....


  18. Excellent round-up of related stories Susie. I saw the update of the Fatima-Mansour story in the Arab News last week and am still scratching my head over a couple points (and believe me, this head doesn't need any more scratching):

    1) Why was the wife sent to prison?

    2) I had heard, casually from a colleague, that it wasn't a prison per se but rather a "woman's shelter" of some kind -- though perhaps that's just a definitional point. The articles do not say anything further about this.

    3) The articles also do not say what the tribes are. I suppose that could be journalistic etiquette so as not to disparage the putative lower tribe, but I'm still curious if anyone knows.

    I must also say that I feel a little sorry that Burgundy felt the need to patronize you with an uncalled for "get a hobby" remark, even though I'm sure she meant it in a kindly way. Still, that's the sort of presumptuous high-hatting that one associates with a way-bygone era when women were supposed to simply accept their lot in life and keep their minds occupied with knitting and charity work.

  19. Thanks, Gaelyn! It's pretty darn hard to understand when you are right in the middle of it too!

    Hi Blogitse - A 12 y/o girl married to an octogenarian is simply disgusting. I think if actions were taken against the men involved, then maybe this sort of manipulation would finally end. There should be zero tolerance for it.

    Hi Anon/Kristina - Nice to hear from you! It would be nice if someone with power would go to bat for these young girls who are routinely married off to old geezers. Unfortunately KSA just doesn't seem to care about their image to the rest of the world...

    Hi Anon @2:09AM - I cannot envision myself living here long term at this point. My son plans to leave KSA to study in the US. Since finances was one of the major reasons we moved here in the first place, and my husband insists that he will live here to take care of his mom until she is gone, I really do feel that I am stuck. I'm 58 now and the economy in the states is still hurting. Realistically I can't see that I would land a good paying job that would support my son and me with health insurance, etc.
    I would definitely prefer to live in the states, but I'm tired of just getting by and worrying about finances - so there's no simple answer to your question because it is an unlikely scenario. If I had sufficient income to live on, I would probably choose to live in the USA. I don't want to live the rest of my life feeling like I am in a gilded cage.

  20. Hi Anon @ 4:31AM - I do have a married daughter who resides in Arizona with her husband and two children. And I do miss her very much.

    Hi MissChatterbox - Thank you so much for your comment. I don't feel that my writing is against Islam or Sandi Arabia, but there are people who take offense easily and who do see it that way. Many women have gotten involved with Saudi men, and a few have found happiness living here. But most of the women I know here would rather be living elsewhere if they had the choice. Young women in love don't realize the hardships and the sacrifices one must make to live here - and if my writing can help one of them make a better informed decision about her own life, then it's worth it.
    Thanks so much for your comment.

    Hi Anon/Lise - Consider how very old this civilisation is compared to the West. Also consider how far behind in social and women's rights SaudiArabia is from the rest of the world. The country is not advancing in these areas and in fact seems backward.

    Hi Veeds - Women here can be thrown in prison easily at the behest of men family members. That's one reason why so many women will not stand up for their own rights or their fellow sisters'rights. What brother who loves his sister would rather see her spend several years in prison than happily married to a man the brother finds unsuitable? It's not normal. I want my family to be happy and I think most normal people do too. This story is just so sick! Thanks for your great comment!

  21. Hi Susie!!! I apologize for not writing you sooner! I miss you much! Thank you for your comments on my blog....I loved how you have glasses so similar to my mom's.! Things are very busy but all is well. I so wish you were here so we could go to Nando's again and catch up on sooooo much! Just know that I love you, admire you greatly, miss you even more and wish you blessings and peace, dear, sweet friend! : ))) xoxox

  22. Susie,

    Yes, the USA economy is still struggling, but you love to write, and you are a good writer.

    You can do what I do.... I work at home 90% - 100% of the time, with a few trips to visit clients.

    I write. I create online training programs. I write.

    You can earn a living, even in this economy, as a virtual worker. The Internet has widened our options.

    Yes, I do live frugally due to these current economic times.

    But, I'd encourage you to become a virtual worker by using your writing talent, your photography, and whatever artistic skills you have of which I am unaware.

    Result? You could have the best of both worlds: Spend some time in the USA with Adam while he's in school (and your daughter and other family members), AND spend some time in the KSA with DH and his mom.

    It is important for him to be there at this time in his mom's life (and especially after what you two experienced after 9/11).

    When you are a virtual worker, you have more freedom.

    And (sadly) after your mother-in-law passes away one year in the future, then maybe you and DH could have a second honeymoon!

    Travel anywhere, and you could work whenever and wherever you want.

    Dream it. Believe it. Make it happen.

    I know you can! With this blog, you are already on your way.

    ~Another Anonymous.

  23. Following up on my question about Fatima's prison sentence: I'm supposing that it could be that the prison (or shelter) was more like "protective custody" (as abominable as that sounds).

    As a divorced woman with a child and possibly no job or job skills, she would be in a poor position to support herself, particularly since returning to her family would not have been especially palatable.

    I'm totally guessing, open to more informed opinions.

    As a side note, what I've been finding about Saudi culture is that there's a temptation among us expats to fall back on what I call the "go figure!" explanation when we don't understand why something happened. Even my veteran colleagues often fall back on non-explanations, as though things in KSA happen for no particular rhyme or reason. As one of my esteemed old anthroplogy professors used to say, "When you're not smart enough or diligent enough to track down the answer, just attribute it to randomness." He'd say we need a place to store or hide all the things we don't understand, so we put them in a garbage can called "random variation."

    Well enough ranting...I should save that for my own blog :>)

  24. I'm confused! Why would she have to go to prison because she married beneath her class? So basically what you are saying is that her brothers told her that she either got divorced or went to prison. Now what if her husband did not want a divorce. Is this another one of those cases where it just makes absolutely no sense like a lot of things in Saudi Arabia?

  25. As I was saying, it's too pat to attempt to write something off by saying -- as so many do -- that something makes no sense "like a lot of things in Saudi Arabia." That doesn't help get to the heart of the matter; it only helps us avoid the hard work of thinking about it and figuring out why.

    Things do make sense (except for certain things related to my iPod). Those who care to burrow down will eventually find the sense, even if the reason is abhorrent.

    I'm sure one of Susie's readers knows why woman was sent to prison...or a shelter.

  26. Susie,

    Thank you for answering my question.

    I just wanted to tell you that if your son got a scholarship to study in US from Saudi government you can accompany him , and according to what I've heard you can be included in his medical insurance and might even got your own monthly stipend. I'm not sure about the procedure but I know few Saudis who were ables to take their mothers with them abroad . They just had to prove they were the only male supporter or something. Think about it and ask the Saudi Consulate when the time comes.

    Another Anonymous suggestion about virtual work is a great idea too.

    I'm sure there are others options to your situation as well , you just need to figure them out. I wish you the best of luck.

    - The same 2:09AM Anonymous :) -

  27. Hi VelvetBrick - Hopefully we can have another evening at Nando's this coming summer!

    Hi AnotherAnon @ 8:13AM - Thank you for all the food for thought and the words of support and encouragement! Your comment is a big confidence booster for me. Thanks so much for the ideas.

    Hi Veeds - From what I read, Fatima was in a woman's prison - and the facilities here are deplorable. It is very hard to figure out the mentality here at times...

    Hi SanAntCicily - Fatime's hubby did not want a divorce. They were married long enough for her to have had a child already and another on the way before she was given the ultimatum to either divorce her husband or go to jail. I cannot make sense of what happened to this young couple.

    Hi Again Veeds! If someone would care to explain WHY she had to go to jail and if it was a prison or shelter, that would be great! Many times getting to the real truth of the matter in this country is next to impossible though...

    Hi Anon @ 11:30pm - I am learning about the scholarship program but didn't know about the stipend for the students' mom. Thanks so much for the info!

  28. O Susie, how funny! I am writing about the same subject today!

    I would say that the guy who divorced his wife was dissappointed with her looks or something. And just used the silly excuse of her having had a minor but life saving operation to construct a reason to divorce her. That way he saves his ''honour'' while tarnishing hers. Besides she is now ''used goods''. Her marketvalue practically nil and she now has not much of a future to look forward too.

    As far as the twelve year old girl is concerned who was sold to an 80 year old pedophile: I bet they got something really big to blackmail her and her mother with. They probably told her they would kill her mother or something atrocious like that.

  29. O Susie, how funny! I am writing about the same subject today!

    I would say that the guy who divorced his wife was dissappointed with her looks or something. And just used the silly excuse of her having had a minor but life saving operation to construct a reason to divorce her. That way he saves his ''honour'' while tarnishing hers. Besides she is now ''used goods''. Her marketvalue practically nil and she now has not much of a future to look forward too.

    As far as the twelve year old girl is concerned who was sold to an 80 year old pedophile: I bet they got something really big to blackmail her and her mother with. They probably told her they would kill her mother or something atrocious like that.

  30. The woman whose husband divorced her because of her 'defective' appendix really dodged a bullet!

    Didn't that woman who was forced to divorce have to go to jail because she refused to live with the brothers and it would be illegal for her to stay and live with her EX husband out of wedlock. Did you also know that her father had approved of the marriage when she got married and when he died years later was when the brothers ordered her divorced.

  31. Anonn at 12:41 said A lot of what goes on in saudi has to do with culture and not religion! and others also make comments basically saying "Don't blame Islam for these things happening" BUT Saudi Arabia has Shariah law - law based on Islam, so Shariah law should protect people from the horrors that the culture perpetrates in the name of Islam. (This marriage case was not hidden in a Bedouin tent but brought before the law) but it appears the law supports the culture such as allowing this marriage to continue; such as allowing honor killers to go unpunished etc. So Islam is not standing for justice and is bowing to disfunctional and misogynistic culture. Until Shariah law addresses these "cultural" issues with justice for everyone then Islam will be responsible for these atrocities.

  32. Anonymous said...
    I got married at age 15 in Canada.It was in 1974. at that time the legal age for marriage was 12 years old for a girl and 14 for a boy with parental consent.

    there is a is a big difference here. Presumably you and your spouse wanted to get married and the parents all consented to your will with no self interest, conversely to this girl having to consent to her father's will to marry a geezer for father's financial gain.

  33. All I have to say to the person who said all you write about is negative things about living in Saudi Arabia obviously has not visited your photo blog, Jeddah Daily Photo, where you capture beautiful images of the kingdom and make wonderful remarks. Great post once again!

  34. I love your blog. Thank you for writing about this, it kinda made me laugh and sad in a way. Ugghh, sometimes i think when the world is involving and changing with time. Saudi is still stuck in time.

  35. After reading several of your posts about ex-pat marriages in the kingdom, I began to wonder if the women ever consider the lives their sons and daughters will be forced to live. The women seem to be concerned with their own thoughts and feelings ahead of anything else.

    Things might not seems so bad for the sons if you don't consider having your thoughts filtered through SA ideas of what is correct and growing up with a very narrow understanding of what the world offers. (Let alone that I have read that part Saudi children are not fully accepted by other Saudies.) But their daughters? How could a woman condemn their daughters to a life that has very little to no opportunities to become a whole person. They might think they could protect their daughter, but the man has the final say in any decision.

    I repeat how could a Western woman do that to their daughters? Susie, would you have brought your daughter to SA if she was not married? Even if she wanted to come?

  36. Thank you to Everyone for your much appreciated comments.

    To Callie - I have said this before - that had my teenage son been a girl, I would not have agreed to move here. I have spoken to a young woman whose mother is American and dad is Saudi, and she told me that sadly she feels like she doesn't really "belong" to either society, that she feels like she doesn't fit in. I can't speak for all mixed children. It seems that Saudis tend to disregard the mother's heritage altogether and consider the children only Saudi, while at the same time there remains that stigma of having a mother from elsewhere.

  37. hi susie, i just discovered your blog and you have quite an interesting story! it's hard to believe some of the things that go on in KSA. i'm very fascinated by what i've read so far and i look forward to reading about more of your adventures. cheers.

  38. Susie--I have to give you respect because you did what real women do.You followed your husband to a place you really didn't want to follow him too. Its a shame that you cant see Islam in your life. You may find Saudi a better place to live in if you felt less combative to the values that Islam imposes...such as plural marriage which is a beautiful concept and not true that many women find it distasteful.
    How many Saudis are you actually around out of interest in a daily basis?
    Islam is perfect. The way that some of us may practice Islam is not perfect.
    For the Judge to separate man and wife based on tribal issues is very far from Islam. The Judge may have ordered it but that didn't make it valid. There is no obedience to the creation over the creator. (Hadeeth)
    The man who divorced his wife because of an operation. Yes thats harsh but its not haram in Islam. I guess the thing is in Islam we dont date. We dont spend time walking in parks, going to movies or stealing kisses before we wed. You marry based on other things. Yes even medical conditions. Love comes after marriage in Islam. Not generally before.
    Anyways thanks for your blog. Ill definitely be a better lurker from now on.
    PS. Your song selection seems to be very maudlin!

  39. To SaveTheWomen!, The Queen, and Nautalus - Great points. Thanks!

    Hi Angel - Thanks so much for your comment.

    Hi GypsyHeart - Saudi is definitely stuck in a time warp in many areas, but very modern in others - it's ironic. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Hi Reuben - Thank you & Cheers! to you!

    Hi Aaishah - I haven't met one woman here yet who likes the idea of plural marriage. I do know a couple of women who are first wives - the man didn't have the consideration to tell them or their kids, and they were all very hurt by the situation when they found out.
    Sorry you don't like the music - you can mute it if you want. I find it easier to read or write with softer music so that's why. I love rock from the 60s!!!

  40. Hi Susie..Living there I met 4 families that were living polygynous marriages. One was a Saudi who had 3 Saudi wives. He owned a 4 level apartment building and had each wife living on each floor. Another was a sudani who had 2 wives. Then there was was the Saudi who had 2 wives. And myself(I was in polygynous mariage). I met with them and ate with them(All the wives) They may not have initially liked it but they were comfortable in their lives.
    Its a shame that some men hide it. Seems to me that a man who wants to practice this Sunnah should be strong enough to inform his wife. After all it IS from our religion and Islam isnt a western way of life. When practiced correctly acknowledging the different aspects such as being kind to ones wife etc...I believe that it is the ONLY life to lead.
    Actually I dont mind the music..Its just very sad music, Poignant.
    Again I love your writing :)

  41. For the person who said that plural marriage is sunnah... the man has to get consent from his wife, not just inform her!!
    And if she is not comfortable with the idea, she shouldn't have to live that way!

    Here's a great post from a Muslim law student born and raised in the states, her blog is pretty funny and it also touches on some Islamic issues.


    There's also interesting information on stealing in Islam. The polygamy part is in the part on charity


    btw- susie, love your blog, haven't been here in months and it's so addictive!! As a Muslim woman in Canada, it's so great to hear your objective point of view, despite how some commenters are so easily offended.

  42. I hope my reponse will answer query abt polygamy in Islam:-

    Polygamy has become so mythical in the minds of many people that they assume being Muslim means having four wives. This is a false notion, of course. A very renowned anthropologist, Edward Westenmark, in his two-volume work, "History of Human Marriage," notes that there has been polygamy in virtually every culture and religion, including Judaism and Christianity. It doesnt mention Hinduism but there is no limit of number of wives in Hinduism as well. But the point here is not to say, "Why blame Islam?" Actually, Islam is the only religion even among Abrahamic faiths, that specifically limited the practice of polygamy(maximum of four wives) that existed before Islam and established very strict conditions for guidance. The question, "How could any man have two wives? That's terrible!" reflects ethnocentrism. How can u treat all wives equally? In what situation, condition a man can marry more than 1 wife? These rules and terms and conditions arementioned in Islam only. We assume that because we're living in the West or Asia and it seems strange, and we assume it must apply to all cultures, all times, under all circumstances. This simply isn't true. Let me give you one example. In the savage attack on Afghanistan, genocide was committed on the Afghani people. It is estimated that 1-1.5 million people lost their lives, a great majority of whom were men of a marriageable age. In Russia, there are 10 million more women than men. See the life of unmarried women in

    Now, with a great shortage of men, what will happen to their widows, their orphans and their daughters of marriageable age? Is it better to leave them in a camp, with a handout? Or better a man is willing to take care of his fallen comrade's wife and children?

    It is obvious that monogamy is the norm for Muslims. If we assume that having four wives is the norm, then we assume a population of 80% female and 20% male, which is an impossibility on the aggregate level. The only verse in the Quran that speaks about polygamy, speaks about limiting not instituting polygamy. The verse was revealed after the Battle of Uhud in which many Muslims were martyred, leaving behind wives and children in need of support. This verse shows the spirit and reason of the revelation (where polygamy is allowed).

    Similar case was happened in Indian state Mizoram in a decade long abolition of terrorism by Indian Army in 1980s. Thousands of men were burnt, killed.
    Population of men sharply decreased. Number of unmarried women and widows increased. Society became pollutted. Girls, women started standing in bus stand,market. Prostitution case increased. Sexually transmitted disease increased.

  43. In such situation, how will u give dignity and protect women?

    So, there are certain terms and conditions for polygamy(plz dont ask those terms and conditions again. I dont like to do another reaserch in this big topic again. Plz ask to some other Islamic community.). Polygamy is to give dignity to woman and save society from being pollutted. Terms and conditions, limitation to 4 wives and strict rules for poloygamy is to restrict the sex manic men from marying any number of wives as per his whims without considering certain terms and conditions. Thus, u can think that Islam gives solution of all problems. But, problem is that people fail to use correct verses from Quran by ignorance or just to misuse to justify crappy activities.

    Leave polygamy, Islam doesnt make marriage compulsory if u are not harming and polluting society.

    Big example, is our India's former president APJ KALAM is an unmarried guy.
    He is still Muslim even if he doesnt marry.

    Islam is applicable in each and every sitaution, place, condition. And so Quran has not been changed and will never change. We have to take out appropriate verses from Quran which is applicable from time to time in context not out of ocntext.
    So, providing solution for a problem should not be taken as chance/opportunity to bash/misuse a religion. Rather, it should be appreciated. It is pathetic that people know only rule but not the condition and situation to apply that rule. Arab constitues only 18% of world´s Muslims. There is no polygamy in world´s largest Muslim populous countrris like - Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh. India has 175 million Muslims but polygamy is dream here even though law allows for Muslims. A muslim wife can restrict husband from polygamy by mentioning it in her Nikah contract.

    See the Painful Life of Unmarried Russian women!!!


    A corrupted mind will do what he wants irrespective of what relgion he follows. So see the relgious scripture in context not the follower to understand a relgion. I personally feel that what many men are doing in saudi is not what Islam suggests and what Allah likes.

  44. I understand you Susie - you write to stay sane. I run to stay sane and I don't live in the KSA. And if I did, I couldn't run outdoors freely in the street. I'd be confined to my home and I'd write like a mad woman (you aren't, I am)...

    Keep it going girl and hang in there.