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Nikah Al-Misyar (نكاح المسيار )or Misyar Marriages, Zawaj Al-Misyar (زواج المسيار)"The traveler's marriage" in Saudi Arabia

Nikah Al-Misyar (نكاح المسيار )or Misyar Marriages, Zawaj Al-Misyar (زواج المسيار)"The traveler's marriage" in Saudi Arabia

What is a Misyar Marriage?

According to the definition of the term, a misyar marriage is a marriage contract between a man and a woman in which the woman waives some rights she would have under a normal Islamic marriage.  In some Sunni Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, several Arab Ulema (scholars) consider Nikah al-Misyar (Arabic: نكاح المسيار or zawaj al-misyar (زواج المسيار)”The traveler’s marriage” as Islamic. This can be the case, for example, when older women find it increasingly difficult to marry as they get older. By opting for Misyar it makes it possible for men to fulfill their physical satisfaction without having to worry about their finances or the time required raising a family. Also, a woman here chooses a husband who is incapable of performing the normal duties of marriage – specifically financial maintenance, or spending enough time with her. Rather than remain unmarried, she considers that marrying such a man is preferable.

Misyar: Misyar Marriages in Saudi Arabia

Misyar Marriages (Traveler's Marriages) in Saudi Arabia

Considering the fact that extramarital and premarital sex is considered a cardinal sin in the kingdom, Misyar is popular because it legitimizes sexual relations outside the framework of marriage. However, the conservative Saudi society is divided over the no-strings marriage of convenience known as misyar, which has become increasingly popular.

In a Misyar Marriage, Couples can Live Separately and have Sexual Relations

In a misyar, couples have the option of living separately and having sexual relations together. Despite the fact that it gives up most of their rights in exchange for this marriage, it is still a better alternative than nothing, especially for women who are spinsters, divorcees, and widows. Men can have a legal relationship by having some fun in secret, at a discount.

Reasons of Misyar Marriages’ Popularity in Muslim Countries

The reason misyar is popular is a combination of several things-the dowry, a number of dinners and parties, decorating a villa or a flat, and the honeymoon are all costly. This could all cost the groom several hundred thousand riyals. People who are short on money can take advantage of Misyar.

Friendly Mobile Apps, Websites, Enabled Many Misyar Wives to Sign More than one Contract in Major Cities like Riyadh & Jeddah

The matter of fact is the use of modern technology, friendly apps & websites, and the availability of furnished apartments have enabled many misyar wives to sign more than one contract in major cities like Riyadh & Jeddah. The ‘enlightened’ women of this group believe that, since misyar husbands do not tell their full-time wives about their relationships, why should they disclose the same about their misyar marriages? Religious leaders frown upon such practices.

Websites advertising misyar marriages often reveal the immaturity and desperation of those who wish to find partners.

Legality of Misyar Marriage in Saudi Arabia

Misyar marriage and its legality within the context of Islamic interpretation have been subject to a lot of debate. Muslims and social activists also raise concerns and engage in a public debate over its use, context, and social construct. Nevertheless, a fatwa (religious edict) was issued in favor of Misyar that eventually legalized this practice by the late supreme mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Baz. It is the same idea behind ‘Urfi (unofficial marriage) in Egypt and Muta’h (temporary marriage) in Iran. The Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights considers misyar to be both an insult to men and women and as a punishment for women trafficking. Clergy members (Ulema), however, have different opinions on the matter.

According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, A Qatari-Egyptian scholar:

“Regardless of how it is described, misyar should be seen as a form of legal relationship between a man and a woman. That being said, I would like to clarify the statement above. In spite of this, I wish to clarify that I am not a proponent of misyar marriage. There is no doubt that such marriages may be socially unacceptable, but there is a vast difference between what is Islamically valid and what is socially acceptable.” 

Sheikh Ahmad al-Kubaisi, a scholar based in the UAE, says misyar marriage is right according to Islamic law, but it compromises some values. Al-Kubaisi also believes that misyar can help lower the high number of spinsters in Arab countries.

Women in Misyar marriages surrender their right to support and housing voluntarily, which is the major difference between a conventional Islamic marriage and Misyar. Besides, there is nothing wrong in giving up one’s own rights.

Do you misyar or do you not misyar? There is certainly confusion on this issue in Saudi society. A Muslim will be judged based on his or her motives and intentions for all of his actions, including misyar.