Misyar marriages have become increasingly common in the Kingdom. Usually clandestine in nature, misyar marriages are unions in which women waive most of the rights they would otherwise enjoy in a normal marriage. Men who enter such unions are often already married and keep their misyar marriages a secret from their first wives.
Scholars, psychologists and legal experts remain divided on the issue with the former saying the marriages are legal as long as the necessary conditions have been met.
Psychologists and legal experts, however, say the unions are a form of exploitation and insist that such marriages should not be allowed to take place unless steps have been taken to protect the rights of women, Al-Riyadh daily reports.
Dr. Hassan Thani, associate professor of psychology at Taibah University in Madinah, said misyar marriages are simply a legal way to get around the marriage conditions outlined in the Shariah.
“These type of marriages do not achieve the main purpose of regular marriages, which is to build a family and a home based on love and affection. How is love going to be felt in such an unstable relationship which is doomed to fail from the beginning?” he asked.
“Misyar is strictly a physical relationship. I think it is very important for every member of society to think about the dire consequences of such marriages. It is a marriage that results in nothing but social disintegration. Besides, women are the weaker link in this relationship and end up paying a hefty price for it,” he added.
Legal consultant Dr. Omar Al-Khouli said while misyar marriages are legal because they satisfy all the conditions of a legal marriage, they are held in complete secrecy and might cause the woman involved in this relationship to lose her inheritance rights and other rights if her husband dies.
“These marriages mainly benefit men who want a second wife without the knowledge of the first wife. As far as I know, there are countless young women who do not mind getting involved in a misyar relationship, especially those who are divorced or widowed,” he noted.
“Misyar does not force a woman to forfeit her rights; she does so on her own accord. There is an argument to be made about misyar protecting young women from going astray and engaging in illicit relationships outside of marriage,” he added.
Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Radadi, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence, Islamic University of Madinah, said the basic conditions of any marriage are: presence of the wife’s guardian, consent of bride and groom, presence of two witnesses and non-existence of any other legal prohibitions. Misyar is called as such because the wife forfeits her right to maintenance and accommodation and agrees to let the husband come and see her at her house.
“If the Shariah conditions have been met, the marriage is valid. It must be noted that the husband should recognize the woman as his wife and any children he has with her as his children,” he said while adding that misyar marriages do not offer the sense of security that traditional marriages do.