Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Saudi Wedding Ceremony

What's the difference between a Saudi and a Finnish wedding ceremony?
-In Saudi the groom is the one in long white dress and the bride is wearing black!
-Instead of "you may now kiss the bride" in Saudi it's "you may now see the bride".

Ok so as I promised in my previous post about getting the marriage permission in Saudi, I will tell you of the day we went to the judge to get married.
For preparations I had to disguise my 9 months pregnancy belly. I had gotten a very loose fitting over the head abaya for the occasion. Underneath it I wore a tight bellycorset and then four sweaters to try to look more evenly big. It worked, I looked in the mirror and saw a big mass of black with only the eyes visible. I had to walk a little slouched and try not to wobble! Needless to say it was not exactly comfortable or easy to manouver myself in that abaya. I constantly felt it's going to drop down from my head and my stomach will be exposed or that I would trip on it and fall over! I told my husband I felt like a bowling pin.

We arrived at the courthouse and met our witnesses and the man that acted as my wali(normally that would be my father if he was muslim).This building is solely for marriages and divorces and the marriages can be done from 10 to 12 p.m only. We went to wait outside the judges (Sheikh) room, and I went to sit in the female waiting area as the men handle everything here.

When we finally got into the judges room, I was the only woman there. The judge, his assistant, two witnesses and the wali were there. I felt somewhat akward but tried to walk in as normally as possible and sat down in front of the judge. Sitting actually masked the belly really well.

The judge shuffled our papers around and then on seeing the conditions we had put in our contract laughed so hard his long beard jolted. I felt humiliated! He then asked me in arabic, why are you denying your husband his right for a second wife? I said because it's my preference. He then continued to ask why I was asking for such an amount of muakhar(amount paid by husband to wife in case of divorce). I replied in case he takes another wife. The judge shaked his head and everyone was quiet in the room.

Then he sent us all out. The man acting as my wali said the judge is not going to marry us because of the conditions, that we should just take them out. I was furious! I said absolutely not, and I want another judge! My husband and I had in fact already agreed to cut the muakhar amount in half before going to the judge from recommendation of the wali. I didn't think it was the judges business to interfere with our personal decisions in the first place. Whatever the woman wants to add as extra conditions should be fine as long as they don't go against Islam and of course the husband agrees to them.

We saw other couples going in and out in under five minutes. Finally we got called back in.
Then suddenly he started asking for my Shahadah certificate (certificate that I a muslim).We didn't have it because on my iqama it states I'm muslim and it should have been enough. The judge started insisting he could not marry us without this paper. He sent us out again. My husband had to go to some sheikhs office to try get some kind of paper without avail. We went back to the judge. He said if you get me the certificate before 1 p.m it's ok. It was 12:15.

We rushed to the car and drove home like crazy. My husband ran upstairs to get the certificate, thank God we knew where it was! We were back at the courthouse at 12:40. But it seemed like this judge had disappeared into thin air. We searched for him everywhere for about an hour. He clearly didn't want to marry us and used the shahadah certificate as an excuse to get himself out of it.

So now what? My husband went around the courthouse asking if we could have another judge. He finally found one but we had to wait another half hour to see him. I was getting extremely uncomfotable and hot in my gear and hadn't had anything to drink in fear of needing to use the toilet and disassembling everything.

The second judge did not laugh at the conditions, but told me he will not include the no second wife condition in the contract. This time there was an interpreter in the room also, although most of what the judge said was not translated. He lectured my husband for a long time about agreeing to this condition. "Islam allows you up to four wives". As if he wasn't aware and we hadn't already discussed everything and mutually agreed. My blood was boiling but I tried to stay calm. The judge was saying my husband can't know if he changes his mind in the future. The sheikh told me this is not Islam. I said it's my right to have it in there. I was getting really upset because I felt he was just thinking of the rights of the man ignoring the woman's. What was it to him anyway, this was our personal issue! He insisted we go home and think things over.
I wasn't going to back out however much he was trying to intimidate me. So then the judge finally agreed to add it.

Next the judge had a problem with the muahkar. He said this amount is unheard of and against Islam. Really? Actually who is he to say what is a fair amount? Women don't get much anything here, let alone half of everything like in the west in case of divorce so I wanted to have it there as a sort of insurance. Again the lectures began. He tried to persuade me to take it out. I told him he is pressuring me and THAT is against Islam. He questioned my husband over and over. It looked like he was not going to marry us if I didn't do as he wished. I was so annoyed at the whole situation. It was unbelievable. I felt like he was trying to strip me of my rights in a room full of men and I thought to myself I am not going to BUDGE.

It paid off. After a long moment of silence the judge agreed after asking the witnesses to testify my husband was in his right mind and not sick or delusional (to agreeing to marry some woman as stubborn and demanding and aware of their rights as me I guess!). The judge read out something in arabic and stated the extra conditions. We both said we agreed and then everyone signed the paper. I tried to get up from my chair as normally as possible and slouched over when I walked up to him to sign. And finally it was over! It was mentioned Finland was not in their system and they had to add it in.

What a relief! We went outside and took some pictures in front of the building with our license. It was very windy and my belly was fully visible now. As we were taking the pictures the judge left the building and passed us in his car :D

I'm not sure were the judges so hesitant because we are a mixed couple or if this the typical stance of Saudi judges. Don't Saudi women ever ask for these conditions to look after their interests?

In all the whole process took about 5 hours instead of the anticipated 5 minutes! But it was worth it of course, we are very lucky to get the permission in the first place. I will never forget my Saudi wedding day!


Anonymous said...

alf mahbrook!!!!
me too, inshaallah!

Anonymous said...

You have a good story to tell to your children one day 8 ). Are you planning on having any ceremony in Finland later? Br, Johanna

Anonymous said...

wow, you have a strong character. Many women would just give up and remove those conditions. Congratulations to you again! :)

Mudfish said...

Hi, I really enjoyed reading this particular blog of yours. I 'shared' it in my FB and 'tweeted' it. Hope you don't mind. :D YP

Layla said...

Thanks everyone :)
Alice- I think its the Finnish famous "sisu" that got me through it!

Mudfish-thanks for stopping by and I don't mind if you share :)

Felicia said...

I came across your blog from American Bedu. I loved this post. It must have been quite an adventure trying to cover up your pregnancy. Alf mabrook for your Saudi wedding and your pregnancy. Inshallah all the best :)

Soile said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this!

Layla said...

Hi Felicia thank you and glad you found my blog :)

Anonymous said...

What a great memory! Sometimes, what seems stressful and a hardship end up being some of the fondest memories in life. And thank you for finally posting the picture! I have been impatiently waiting : ). And, honestly, if I didn't know you are you pregnant, I wouldn't say from the picture that you are. However, if I lived there and were used to seeing what every woman looked like wearing abaya, I might have a better sense of "preg-dar" : ) (like radar for pregnant women wearing abayas)

Thanks for sharing! And I agree, sisu had much to do with it, of that I am sure!

Layla said...

Stephi-I hope so!
The time we were taking the pics I didnt care about hiding the belly anymore plus its very windy so it did look much better inside :)
Im sure a woman would notice better in any case though!

Unknown said...

Mabrook, Layla! I adore your blog and I'm so happy everything finally worked out for you and your husband. After all that, having your baby will seem easy, inshalllah. :) Sisu, Layla!

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic story, Laylah! Good on you for standing up for your rights.
Ja hyviä viime odotteluhetkiä - kohta saat nauttia pikkuprinsessastasi!


Anonymous said...

May I forward the joke in the beginning? I think it was so funny!:) I love your blog!

Khadeja from Finland

Anonymous said...

Salamu alaykum sister,

they were correct to not to put this condition on the contract and even if they did, it is invalid anyway because Allah's law always goes over human things. You will find this out if you study of it.
You cannot forbid what Allah has allowed.

Aaishah said...

The judge was right about the wife condition. It is not a valid condition in Islam. Alhamdulillah it all worked out well for you.

Anonymous said...

so happy for u!!! how were u able to live in ksa before being married? and how lonf did it take u to get the marriage permisssion?

SmurfBurkan said...

I know it is wuite some time ago you wrote this, but I was very amused reading it :)

As for the anonymous and Aaishas comments, please do not utter a verdict which you are obviously ignorant off. I have heard some people objecting to conditions like these, but as with many other things there are differences of opinion. The same scholars who forbid puting conditions like these in marriage contract, also encourage "older" women (over 25) to consider being second wifes who give up their rights for maintainence... The first is something permissable, taking multiple wives, and the latter is one of the biggest rights a woman has in her marriage... makes one thinking what kind of misogyni is truly shaping these shuyookhs´ fatawa..

Layla said...

It seems some commenters knew better than the sheikh :)It's funny how he put it in our contract if its not permissable.
Some things might be permissible in Islam, it doesn't mean everyone has to do it. Muslim women can choose not to be in a polygamous marriage, it is not for everyone.

Thanks smurfburkan for stopping by!yes thats the way it seems to go, unfortunately.

Chick Flick Journal said...

Thats an interesting way of getting married. I'm Saudi and I'm about to get married. It's not the case with us I don't know why you got married this way. I mean we wear the white dress and the groom wears the black bisht

Layla said...

This was our nikah, when you sign the papers and agree to be married at the courthouse where women are supposed to be in abaya (and preferably niqab too), not the actual wedding party walimah..
Naturally women in Saudi also wear amazing beautiful wedding dresses at the wedding parties :)

Golden Oriole said...

I am impressed, you seem to be a very strong person!

Best regards,
Rosy Starling

Anonymous said...

hi Laylah!! am sishar ... you are so blessed!! i really admire you!! what a lovely couple!! may i know how did you get married in Finland? is there a need for the "LICENSE TO GET MARRIED/ ELIGIBILITY OF A SINGLE PERSON TO GET MARRIED issued by the ministry from saudi arabia? thank you so much!! hope to hear from you soon.. :)

Layla said...

Hi Rosy Starling and thanks for stopping by!

Sishar thanks for your comment,we had the Islamic nikah in a mosque in Finland. Later after we got the permission from SA government, we got that approved officially in the Finnish magistrate.My husband did not need any papers for the nikah, but for making our marriage official in Finland we needed to fill in a few forms from Finland and my husband had to prove he is single or not already married (which turned out to be a difficult paper to obtain from government)and we had to have our Saudi marriage license translated into english, then stamped at ministry and then by embassy, plus copy of original. I hope this answers your question. I asked my husband and he did not know what those forms you mentioned were, so I guess we didn't have them at any point.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, girlfriend, you would be my lifesaver if I lived there. I cant believe these judges consider themselves Muslims if THEY decide what conditions you can and cannot have in your wedding contract. It may be a mans "right" to have four wives, but the Qur'an specifically warns against that, stating that the jealousy of women is natural and, if a man cannot keep all the women happy (impossible) then the man will be punished in Heaven. God allowed polygamy at that time because of the male-female ratio due to the amount of wars and battles AND the fact hat Islam was a new religion with a tiny population (more wives, more babies, more Muslims). UUUUGHHHHH How a 23 year old convert can know these things but a freaking Saudi sheik cannot is absolutely baffling to me. 90% of the time, I cant stand the sheiks in Saudia because of these stupid things that they call Islamic when they certainly arent.

So proud to see your strength. I loved the story.

Anonymous said...

Asalaamu Alaykum,

The ignorance in some of these posts is astounding. I don't think we need to bash the shaykhs either. There is a difference of opinion and clearly, not everyone is aware, the immediate assumption tends to be you can't among most people, male and female. This could've been resolved if the sister's husband had had the daleel on hand in Arabic for the judge most likely too. For those who think you can't stipulate regarding your husband taking a second wife in the contract, think again. The point is, it doesn't say or imply there is anything wrong with taking a second wife, it doesn't even make it haraam for the man to do so. It simply is on the record as breaking a promise he made to her and grants the wife the right to divorce if he were to do so and be provided for appropriately if she chooses.

Here is some fatawa from Shaykh AL Fawzaan (of Saudi Arabia) and Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen (also of KSA) on the subject mashaallah:

With regard to the woman stipulating that the husband should not take a second wife, the opinion of some scholars is that this condition is permissible, and if the husband breaks it, the wife has the right to annul the marriage and take her dues in full.

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

If he stipulates that he will not take her out of her house or her city, or that he will not travel with her or will not take another wife, then he is obliged to fulfil that, and if he does not do so, then she has the right to annul the marriage. This was narrated from ‘Umar, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas and ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with them). End quote.

Al-Mughni, 9/483

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

If she stipulates that he should not take another wife, this is permissible. Some of the scholars said that it is not permissible, because it is restricting the husband in something that Allah has permitted to him, and it is contrary to the Qur'aan in which it says (interpretation of the meaning): “then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four” [al-Nisa’ 4:3]. It may be said in response to that that she has a reason to ask him not to marry another wife and she is not transgressing against anyone. The husband himself is the one who is giving up his right; if he has the right to marry more than one, he is giving it up. So what is to prevent this condition being valid?

Hence the correct view with regard to this matter is the view of Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him), which is that this condition is valid. End quote.

Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 5/243

It should be noted that if the husband breaks this condition, his wife does not become divorced as a result of that, rather she has the right to annul the marriage, and she may either annul it or give up the condition and accept what her husband has done, and remain as his wife.

Anonymous said...

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allah preserve him) said:

Among other conditions that are valid in marriage is if she stipulates that he should not take another wife. If he fulfils the condition (all well and good), otherwise she has the right to annul the marriage because of the hadeeth, “The condition which most deserves to be fulfilled is that by means of which intimacy becomes permissible for you.” Similarly, if she stipulates that he should not separate her from her children or parents, this condition is valid and if he breaks it, she has the right to annul the marriage. If she stipulates that her mahr should be increased or that it should be in a specific currency, the condition is valid and binding, and he has to fulfil it, and she has the right of annulment if it is broken. In that case she has the choice and may decide any time she wants and may annul it whenever she wants, so long as there is nothing on her part to indicate that she accepts it if she knows that he has gone against what was stipulated; in that case she would no longer have the option.

‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) said to the one who he ruled was obliged to fulfil what his wife had stipulated, when the man said, “Divorce us in that case,” ‘Umar said: It is a must to fulfil the conditions, because of the hadeeth, “The believers are bound by their conditions.” Al-‘Allaamah Ibn al-Qayyim said: It is obligatory to fulfil these conditions which are the most deserving of being fulfilled. This is what is implied by sharee’ah, reason and sound analogy, if the woman did not agree to become a man's wife except on these conditions, and if it were not obligatory to fulfil them, then the marriage contract would not be based on mutual agreement, and it would be making something obligatory upon her that Allah and His Messenger have not made obligatory. End quote.

Al-Mulakhkhas al-Fiqhi (2/345, 346)

Umm Muhammad

Anonymous said...

Also, always nice to see people a) making their own tafsir when the sister making this post never did so herself (polygamy is allowed and you have to be fair but it is not just for a specific time or because of social factors only; it warns the man to be just in all matters between them that he can control but certainly does not warn them not to do so at all. A man is not going to be punished for his wife's unhappiness if he did everything to keep her happy and treated everyone justly, would it be fair for a woman to be punished because her husband is sad when she has made every possible effort to remedy it) and b) last I heard being a pain in the behind and sticking one's nose into someone's marriage contract conditions does not take one out of Islam so don't see why one can't believe they consider themselves Muslims. Seriously...can we have a middle ground here>

saadat tahir said...

beutiful and unique site....
loads o stuff, a great mix of confusions and profusions...:)

just stumbeled on it searching historical sites.
need to spend more time here, indeed...insghtful and educational too
nice work
GOD speed

dr saadat

UmmAbdullaah said...

Maa Sha Allaah. Well said. This is the preferred approach to an issue that one is for or against. May Allaah reward you for your sincere efforts, ameen.

Anonymous said...

U mean u were pregnant at the time of ur wedding??Or did i miss something?

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

MashaAllah and alf mabrook.

It is against Islam to say your husband can't have another wife though in your nikah---I studied this as Muslimahs can't ask for things to be made unlawful that Allah made halal. But demanding a high divorce settlement in the nikah agreement in case husband DOES take another wife is totally halal and women who are against the idea of having another wife SHOULD insist on that.

How annoying though to make you sit so long.:(

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

And nothing wrong with asking your marriage to be annulled in the case of an additional wife/wives might I add just not that it be forbidden*

Anonymous said...

I asked for similar conditions within my marriage contract. Marriage is only that a contract - and what some extremists fail to understand is that stipulating this condition does not make it "haram" for the husband to have two wives. He simply must terminate one contract before proceeding to sign two others. In theory, haram and halal, cannot be modified so easily.... Also, not all women are the same - many will be tempted to cheat (often due to loneliness and feelings of grief) if their husband takes a second wife. To prevent oneself from being in such a delicate and trying situation, it is better to have clear conditions before the contract is signed. Clarity above all is essential - especially in an arranged marriage where quid pro quo is the name of the game.

And by the way, the groom can always reject the terms and walk away....

Anonymous said...

You look like a ghost on the picture... if it is you! loool

Anonymous said...

So you were pregnant before legally married? I don't know if I missed something but isn't that haraam in Islam cos you both weren't married yet?

I know it's a tad bit late!

Layla said...

no this was just the Saudi marriage ceremony.You think I would seriously post this if we weren't already? Think..

Anonymous said...

Love this post!! And def. love your blog. You look like you're making some gang hand sign in your picture though... sign for "we'll get the judge later".

Expat and the City said...

Amazing blog and post. You are making me wish I lived in Saudi instead of Kuwait. ;) Thanks for stopping by my blog. It was a nice surprise. :)

Layla said...

Thanks, haha maybe I was :)

Layla said...

Expat and the city-thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

salam!!!! mabrook habibti for being the first finnish saudi couple...really... i wanna know from which ministry did you go and was this in Qassim city???

Anonymous said...

Salam :) You know, I think they found your request strange because it's such a different culture...there, the women have families to take care of them if they get divorced. I agree with your thinking, and although we didn't do the same in our nikah, my husband and I agreed that we will make a provision for it in the event of his death, since the standard in his country is to follow the Islamic rules of inheritance (which leaves the wives and daughters with very little...assumes the next husband or the family will care for them as is the Islamic way) and I have absolutely no family to help me out in such a situation. I don't think they were looking at you like you were difficult, but rather it was a very strange thing for them, since the cultures are just so different when it comes to these matters. Unfortunately, although I believe the Islamic way works well when applied properly and fully, it just doesn't fit the reality of life in non-Islamic countries...