Misyar now ‘a widespread reality’

In this file photo, dozens of men are shown during a mass wedding sponsored by Al-Bir Charitable Society in Shuqaiq. At this time when marrying in the Kingdom has become too costly, mass weddings are seen as a logical way to avoid miser marriages. (SPA)

In this file photo, dozens of men are shown during a mass wedding sponsored by Al-Bir Charitable Society in Shuqaiq. At this time when marrying in the Kingdom has become too costly, mass weddings are seen as a logical way to avoid miser marriages. (SPA)

Misyar marriage has become a social reality and, as such, a solution to some problems and a cause of others, said a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh.

“Misyar is widespread because many need to keep their marriages a secret, either due to the objection of the first wife or other family pressures,” Ali Al-Bakr, faculty member at KSU, told a local daily.

Getting married in the Kingdom is no longer easy, according to one report, thanks to countless social and economic obstacles, including extortionate dowries, costly wedding extravaganzas and lack of housing.

Some people believe that these factors have led to the widespread practice of misyar, which has flexible conditions compared with traditional marriages, as a last resort. “It remains an option, albeit a temporary one, which is, nevertheless, seen as unfair to women in many cases,” said a national.

Saeed Al-Omari, a Saudi lawyer, said that such marriages have been legally recognized since conditions, including the presence of guardians and witnesses, are in place within their framework.

He said the Misyar practice is in line with Ministry of Justice regulations requiring the husband to sign contract documents that have to be ratified by local courts in accordance with Article 22 of the Saudi Marriage Act.

Despite there being consensus among a large segment of religious scholars about the legality of the Misyar model or marriage, not least because it stops youth from having illicit relations outside of wedlock, the practice is still considered taboo among many communities.

“The practice has been exploited by many, leading to negative stereotypes among several communities, which consider Misyar an insult to women,” he said.

For Al-Omar, this type of marriage could, nonetheless, reduce spinsterhood and protect divorcees and widows. It also comes to the rescue of youth, many of whom cannot afford either the short-term and long-term costs of regular marriages.

 
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