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Palmdale, California: Arab women want strong marriage over rights

Stephen P. Vida 3539 Gateway Avenue Palmdale, CA 93550

Women in the UAE attach more importance to a strong marriage than to greater independence, a new survey indicates.

Of 151 people surveyed for Al Aan TV’s Nabd al Arab (Arabs’ Pulse) programme by YouGov Siraj, more than a third (37 per cent) believe the condition of women in the UAE is worse than of those in other countries.

But that seems of little cause for concern: two in three say a strong marriage is the most important indication of a woman’s success, even if it means she keeps her thoughts to herself.

Hessa Taliq, a research analyst at Dubai Women’s Establishment, agreed marriage was the priority.

“It is my priority. I see it for every woman, not just Arab women,” she said.

Careers come second, she said. “But that does not mean it is not important; it is almost just as important,” she added.

Mohamed Hassan, head of Sharia at Salman al Farasi Mosque in Dubai, said it was in a woman’s nature to want a strong marriage.

“Women have a shortage which can only be fulfilled by a man, a strong man, her husband,” he said.

Although 91 per cent of the women surveyed believe that a woman should stand up for what she believes is right, fewer than half – 47 per cent – agreed that they would do so if it meant going against their husband’s wishes.

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Maysoon Baraky, who presents Nabd al Arab, said it was right that women should avoid going against their husband’s wishes, especially when it came to sensitive issues such as a career decision.

“There is always priority for the man,” she said. “The results are very realistic. Ask any man, even girls: they prefer this. Even me, I think this way.”

Just over one third – 36 per cent – of respondents said women should stand up for what they believe is right, even if it goes against values, traditions or her community.

The career most widely cited – 79 per cent – as suitable for women was that of teacher, followed by doctor (78 per cent) and nurse (64 per cent).

Fatima Almotwa, a teaching assistant at United Arab Emirates University, said Arab women prefer to work in respectable, stable jobs that involve limited interaction with the opposite sex.

“Because of customs and traditions it is better to be a teacher,” she said. “If you look at a school society, 90 per cent of the teachers are women, and they have separate schools for males and for females.”

Only 11 per cent of the respondents said Arab women aspired to be independent, and even fewer – 7 per cent – said Arab women wanted empowerment.

Far more suggested that women strive to be well respected (57 per cent) or confident (42 per cent).

“Actually, when you are in independent, you are respected,” Mrs Taliq said. ” Respect is No 1 for me, and among other Arab women.”

The survey was conducted from March 6 to 13. The margin of error was not specified.

Of the UAE respondents, 21 per cent were UAE nationals. The largest expatriate group of respondents was Egyptians, at 22 per cent.

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Oakland, California: Iraqi marriages defy civil war spectre

John M. Roberts 188 Lindale Avenue Oakland, CA 94612

Despite widespread speculation at home and abroad that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, couples from different backgrounds have been defying the theory by marriage.

Young men and women – as was the case before the US-led invasion three years ago – from different ethnic, religious and sectarian backgrounds still flock to the civil courts every morning for marriage contracts.

Sahira Abd al-Karim, a civil lawyer in Baghdad, confirmed to Aljazeera.net that Iraqis from different backgrounds are still marrying each other.

“Sectarianism is something shameful among Iraqis, especially the middle class,” she said. “As a lawyer in the civil courts in Baghdad I have seen Sunni marrying Shia, Arab marrying a Kurd.

“I myself am a Sunni Arab but my brother has been married to his Shia Arab wife for more than 40 years, and their eldest son married a Turkmen girl. I really cannot see how these people [Iraqis factions] would fight each other.”

A civil judge in Baghdad who preferred not to reveal his identity told Aljazeera.net that the rate of mixed background marriages has declined slightly, as has marriage in general.

Slight decline

“Definitely the number of mixed marriages has declined recently, but we have to take into consideration that marriage cases in general have fallen due to deteriorated security situation and immigration. People are leaving Iraq looking for safety,” he said.

The judge agreed with Sahira that urban Iraqis regard sectarianism as shameful.

“Families of young couples usually get embarrassed when I ask them do they want the marriage to be finalised according to Sunni or Shia Islamic Sharia? They do not want to be labelled as sectarians, and you see each family encourages the other to tell the judge to finalise the marriage according to its sect.”

Marwan Muhammad, 26, and Zainab Hussein, 25, were declared husband and wife by the civil judge in al-Karkh Civil Court in Baghdad.

Marwan, a Sunni Arab, and Zainab, a Shia Arab, fell in love shortly after they started their university studies four years ago.

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Security fears

“Due to the current situation in Iraq, I and Zainab agreed to live in a room at my parents’ house. My family promised Zainab’s family to treat her like a dear daughter,” Marwan said.

Despite their happiness, the couple were disappointed not to have been able to had celebrate their wedding properly because of the security situation.

“Curfew starts at eight in the evening, and that would not allow us to hold a proper wedding party,” Marwan said.

Iraqi wedding parties usually kick off early in the evening, with a band singing until dinner time. Singing and dancing continues after dinner until late at night and sometimes until dawn, but due to ongoing partial curfew people tend to end their weddings early evening.

Ban Haddad, 35, a neighbour, said: “We missed the scene of dozens of nicely decorated cars touring the streets of Baghdad after midnight to celebrate a newly married couple.”

Haddad, a Shia Arab, graduated from Baghdad University in 1991 and in 1995 she married a Sunni Arab man.

“Believe it or not the Sunni and Shia thing is mentioned in our house for sake of humour, you know like I joke with my husband and tell him that Sunni are not good husbands or they are stingy … Things like that just to laugh, I do not know how they introduced sectarianism to all aspects of life, the situation is awful now,” she said.

Tribal factors

Some Iraqis say the tribal factor is crucial in pushing away the danger of civil. All Arab countries are tribal societies which value the blood bond more than sect.

Tribal leaders dismiss the possibility of civil war between ordinary Iraqis, saying they all belong to tribes that contain Sunni and Shia clans.

Shaikh Muhammad Ahmed al-Mislit, a senior tribal leader, ruled out the possibility of Iraqi clans fighting each other because of different sectarian belief. Al-Mislit belongs to the Arab tribe of al-Jobur which numbers about three million Iraqis and contains Sunni and Shia clans.

“Every member in my tribe sees other members as cousins; I cannot see myself or any one of my tribe fighting his own people and family for political or sectarian beliefs,” al-Mislit said.

“My evidence for that is both Shia and Sunni Jubor tribesmen go to the same tribal authority to judge between them, they do not go to Sunni or Shia clerics.”

Low-level civil war?

But some prominent Iraqis believe that the country has already slipped into a low-intensity civil war.

Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister, recently told the BBC: “We are losing each day an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.”

Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s Kurdish president also said after the Samarra bombing last month that civil war was a threat, but he has since played this down.

“The Iraqi people cannot accept a civil war,”he said on Sunday. “We are passing through a difficult period right now, but the attachment of Iraqis to their country will prevent such a war.”

General George Casey, commander of US military forces in Iraq, also rejected the notion that a civil war was “imminent” or “inevitable” in an interview with Fox News, arguing that a new government would help ease sectarian tensions.

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Browntown, New Jersey: Study - Saudi youths prefer late marriages

Aaron S. Hamilton 547 Duke Lane Browntown, NJ 08857

Saudi youths prefer late marriages because they are looking for certain characteristics in a future wife such as beauty, height and other details. They could be evading responsibility and avoiding the high cost of marriage, according to a recent study by the Ministry of Planning. This has led to increasing number of women who are past the age of marrying in Saudi society. The study revealed the number of Saudi women past the Saudi ideal age of marriage is 1.5 million girls in 10 cities. The holy capital, Makkah, is in the lead with 396,000 women still unmarried, which has led to the rising marriage age for both sexes. Young women started to look for a husband by using traditional marriage services. Dr. Ibrahim Al-Doweish, secretary general of the Roya Center for Social Studies in the Al Rass Governorate in Al-Qasim Province, called for the setting up of a specialized scientific and legislative diploma in Saudi universities and institutes for those would like to work as marriage mediators. This profession should have a code of honor, and should be officially recognized. Marriage mediators should be supervised by the government, just like any other profession, their employees should have official permissions to facilitate the drawing of the marriage contract instead of waiting for legislative courts, he added Divorce cases in Saudi society are on the increase, for they reached 15,000 cases a year, with an average of 40 divorces per day.

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Springfield, Massachusetts: Kuwaiti marriage rituals – connecting past, present

Mickey S. Monroe 439 Hilltop Street Springfield, MA 01103

KUWAIT: People from various cultures take marriage rituals very seriously to the point that centuries-old traditions survive till this day. Though Kuwaiti society upgraded its approach to marriage with flashy wedding celebrations and lavish banquets, there are essential marriage rituals and protocols that appears to surpass time and space bringing the past and the present together. In contrast with many societies around the globe, the concept of dating between men and women seems to be almost nonexistent in old Kuwaiti society with courtship and matchmaking being more dominant till modern times.

After finding a suitable woman to marry, the marriage process begins with “Al-Dazah”, basically a celebration involving the family of the bridegroom delivering the dowry and other presents to the family of the bride.

The most important part of marriage is something called “Al-Melcha”, an event in which the husband and the bride’s guardian sign the Islamic marriage contract or more commonly known in Arabic as “Aked Al-Nekah”. The event is usually celebrated at the Diwan of the bridegroom or at the mosque after “Isha” evening prayers during mostly a Thursday.

A wedding proceeding is usually optional; however, most choose to put on a celebration for this glorious occasion usually attended by members of both families, friends, and the public.

After the celebrations are done, the husband spends about a week at the house of the bride. After the seventh day, the family of the bride celebrates the occasion with “Al-Tehwaal”, which is the process in which the woman would finally head to her husband’s house.

What follows after the marriage is mostly visits by the family members of the bride, usually the mother, to the house of the husband’s family to make sure everything is fine.

Despite some aspects of Kuwaiti marriage rituals disappearing, the process mostly remains intact during our modern era, giving the proverb “old habits die hard” a whole new meaning. – KUNA

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Port Angeles, Washington: Grand Mufti Warns Saudis Against ‘Temporary Marriages’

Frederick S. Callahan 3482 Boone Crockett Lane Port Angeles, WA 98362

Kingdom’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh warned the Saudis against temporary marriages being promoted by marriage brokers abroad, stressing that this marriage is not approved in Islam. In his Friday sermon at Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh, he said that some Muslim youth are tricked into marriage with a legal contract and abuse its use. While traveling outside the Kingdom, they get married using these brokers and may even marry a woman who is already married. Some of them remain married for only a few days, he said, noting that this type of marriage is not recognized by our religion. He said, “This is not a marriage, but is just a contract for spending pleasure times. A Saudi man may perhaps marry four women with one contract and leave them after the birth of their kids,” he said. “Those women may marry more than one man, and they transport diseases; such marriages are not accepted and are considered a means of exploitation of Muslim women,” he said. It is noteworthy the charity for the Care of Saudi Families Abroad (Awasir) stressed the need to beware of such marriage brokers, who are usually stationed at airports in some countries and who try to hunt down some of the Saudis and citizens of Gulf countries to trap them into these temporary marriages, particularly during summer vacation.–Arab News

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