While introducing a concept– temporary, misyar marriage– that would be unfamiliar to most Western readers, this article often leans annoyingly toward presenting the practice as somehow novel or cute– indeed, as “marriage-lite.”
From Reuters: “Misyar offers marriage-lite in strict Saudi society”
RIYADH (Reuters) – Khaled never thought a form of temporary marriage, described by some in Saudi Arabia as legal prostitution, would open the door to his happily-ever-after.
The 25-year-old Saudi security guard opted to marry Zeinab, also a Saudi, through a “misyar” contract — a kind of marriage-lite under which couples often live separately but get together regularly, sometimes just for sex.
Misyar also offers an alternative to cash-strapped men who want to avoid lavish weddings but would like a relationship, without incurring the wrath of the morality police.
Misyar is allowed under Sunni Islam and it is legal in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. But it is traditionally frowned upon and the fact that it leaves the wife financially vulnerable has angered many women’s activists and intellectuals.
“Misyar reduces marriage to sexual intercourse,” said Hatoun al-Fassi, a female Saudi historian. “For clerics to allow it is shameful for our religion.”
“A MAN’S MOODS”
In regular marriages in Saudi Arabia, men must pay for expensive ceremonies, huge dowries and a home. If the couple divorce, he must pay alimony and child support.
So misyar appeals to men of reduced means, as well as men looking for a flexible arrangement — the husband can walk away from a misyar and can marry other women without informing his first wife.
Wealthy Muslims sometimes contract misyar when on holiday to allow them to have sexual relations without breaching the tenets of their faith.
A misyar is often one of the only options for older spinsters, divorcees and widows who often struggle to find husbands in a society where they are stigmatised.
This vulnerability has sometimes encouraged abuses: women sometimes act as matchmakers for less than scrupulous men on the prowl for lonely and wealthy spinsters.
Suhaila Zein al-Abideen, of the International Union of Muslim Scholars in Medina, said almost 80 percent of misyar marriages end in divorce.
“A woman loses all her rights. Even how often she sees her husband is decided by his moods,” she said.