Riyadh: Matchmakers are becoming busy by the day with the wider appeal of misyar marriages in Saudi Arabia.

There has been a 50 percent increase in misyar marriages after the issuance of a religious edict (fatwa) giving the alliance sanctity last month by the Islamic Fiqh Academy.

"Among the regions in the kingdom, Jeddah tops in the number of these marriages, followed by Riyadh, Eastern Region and Qasim," said Shaikh Ahmad Al Omari, a licensed marriage notary (mazoun) based in Jeddah.

Shaikh Ahmad Al Omari, who is also an imam and preacher at a mosque in Jeddah, said more marriage proposals come from men than women.

Speaking to media persons, he said: "I am getting requests seeking to facilitate misyar marriages not only from various parts of the kingdom, but also from several other GCC countries, some Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan and Morocco and even from European countries.

"Recently, I received a request from a 13-year-old girl asking for misyar marriage for a mahar of Saudi 25,000 Saudi riyals (about Dh25,000) and a monthly maintenance cost of 1,000 riyals." He added: "When I made enquiries about the girl, I found out that she was living with her mother and was in dire financial situation. For her, misyar marriage is the only and ideal option left to get out of the situation."

Referring to protests and objections raised against this type of marriage, Shaikh Ahmad Al Omari said misyar marriage is being held strictly in conformity with the provisions of the Islamic marriage contracts.

"It meets all the criteria and conditions of an Islamic marriage. This type of marriage will be valid only if the marriage is being held by the parents or close blood relatives of the bride and with the consent of the couple," he said.

He also drew attention to the recent fatwa issued by the Jeddah-based Islamic Fiqh Academy, an affiliate of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The religious edict says that "a marriage contract in which the woman relinquishes (her right to) housing and support money ... and accepts that the man visits her in her family house whenever he likes, day or night ... is valid."

Shaikh Ahmad Al Omari said several university students also made requests for misyar marriage. "They want woman who own a house and who are not seeking any cost of maintenance. They are not bothered about the age of the would-be spouses," he said.

Shaikh Ahmad Al Omari also said several parties have withdrawn at the eleventh hour before concluding the marriage contract.

Husband is not financially responsible

  • The word Misyar is from the colloquial Arabic word for visitor.
  • Misyar marriage is one where the couple does not live together and the husband is not financially responsible for his wife.
  • Misyar marriage is usually sought after by men who want to avoid the burden of dowries and alimonies that are usually stipulated in standard Islamic marriage contracts.