Court prevents Saudi woman from marrying ‘musical’ suitor


By Fatima Al-Dubais

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

UNAIZAH — A Saudi woman has lost a judicial battle to marry the man of her choice as a court deemed him "religiously" unfit because he plays a musical instrument.

In some parts of the Kingdom, a man who plays music is considered of having a bad reputation.

Two years ago the suitor, a schoolteacher for 20 years, asked for the hand of the woman, a 38-year-old bank manager in Unaizah in Qassim province.

But her family objected, saying he was not "religiously compatible" with her because he played the oud, the oriental lute which is popular across the Arab world.

The woman, who was not named, took her case to the court.

A lower court weighed in on the side of the family, saying the marriage could not go through.

"Because the suitor plays a musical instrument he is unsuitable for the woman from a religious point of view," the court said.

The woman said her uncle had approved the marriage but one of her brothers rejected the suitor claiming he played "oud".

The woman did not get married for seven years after the proposal. The same suitor proposed to her again two years ago but her family rejected him on the same grounds, which made the woman to take her family to the Personal Status Court.

The court looked into the case and ruled in favor of the family stating that the couple were not suitable for each other due to "religious incompatibility".

The court did not see the need to question the suitor and took the testimony of the brother for granted.

The woman took the case to the Court of Appeals and proved that her brother's testimony was unfounded as he only heard from a witness that her suitor played a musical instrument.

The Court of Appeals brought in the witness who, according to the woman, confessed that he never actually saw the suitor play an instrument. He confessed that his mother pressured him to testify against the suitor.

The woman also submitted testimony from the suitor's colleagues and from the imam of the mosque he frequents. They all vouched for the suitor saying he was a man of good manners and strong faith.

However, the Court of Appeals ratified the lower court's verdict in favor of the family.

The woman told Okaz/Saudi Gazette she will seek intervention from the country's higher authorities. The bank manager said she was determined to marry her suitor, describing him as "very pious and with a good reputation".

"I won't stop here. I'll take the matter to the Supreme Court. Maybe I'll find my salvation there. I am 38 years old and holds an executive position managing over 300 people and I have a master's degree. I'm pretty sure I know what's best for me. The reason why I am insisting on marrying my suitor is that he has been a teacher for 20 years and everyone who knows him vouches for his honor and piety," said the woman. — With input from AFP