When family stands in the face of justice
MANY people find themselves in the predicament of being wronged by a relative and are left with no other choice to restore their rights, even after trying to settle the matter in a friendly manner, but take the matter to court. Society regards such actions against blood relatives an affront to the family. According to a commonly-held view in Saudi society, one must never stir up any antagonism against family. To take a family member to court is considered to be a shameful act regardless of who is in the right, Al-Riyadh daily reported.
Lamia Jassim said Saudi society prevents many from claiming their rights. Most people, who place great importance in individual rights, are criticized by a society that has prioritized a system could wrong an innocent person and deny his/her due rights.
“The problem is that our society defines our needs, wants, relationships and how to build them. Sometimes justice is sacrificed in the pursuit of conforming to society’s wishes. Many of the critics and cynical minds might have known a simpler age when brothers stuck together and relatives valued love and affinity. Our age is different and that is what the critics do not take into consideration. Where will this blind following of what society dictates lead us? What should a person who is being mistreated and wronged by a brother or a cousin do? Please society or demand his rights regardless of the price?”
Osama Mohammad had a falling out with his business partner who also happened to be his cousin. After he suspected his cousin of misusing their company’s finances, he filed a lawsuit against him, much to the dismay of his family. Mohammad said people must be able to take decisions on their own and in order for this to happen, the law must protect everyone and guarantee individual rights.
“After trying to reclaim my rights by all means possible, including consulting elderly family members, I decided to sue my cousin because I feared he would break our partnership and get away with the crime of stealing our money. My entire family was very upset at this decision and my aunts and uncles severed all ties and accused me of being a backstabber,” he said.
“I value family ties to a great degree but ignoring my rights will not bring me justice and a peace of mind. People must understand that justice is the basis of a happy life, especially in critical matters such as money and family,” he added.
Nora Yousef is married to her first cousin, a man she says is abusive and controlling. When she tried complaining about her husband’s behavior to her family, they told her to tolerate him as he is her cousin. When things took a turn for the worse and Yousef noticed her children were being affected by their father’s behavior, she decided to file for divorce.
“My family was enraged and refused to welcome me back home. In their opinion, I should return to my husband and try to make amends. After many failed attempts in convincing my family, I had no other choice but to return to my husband with the disappointing realization that society values tradition over justice,” she said.
Family counselor Salwa Alaidhan said many people are reluctant to claim their rights when it involves members of the family despite the fact that Islam says justice must be applied to all.
“The Prophet (peace be upon him) personally said that if his own daughter, Fatima, stole something, he would have amputated her hand. This is proof that no matter who you are, there is no arguing against justice. Therefore, the concept that one should forgive a relative for their wrong doing is faulty,” she said.
“What should a daughter wronged by her own father who prevented her from getting married and having a family for whatever reason do? Claim her right or keep quiet? What good does following what society has to say have in such situations? Most of the crimes happening in our society today are due to pent up grudges. Therefore, there is no good in blindly following what society thinks. One must prioritize justice above all and in turn, family ties will strengthen,” she added.