Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Supreme Court of Westchester County Recognizes a Divorce Obtained from Abu Dhabi

As Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce obtained from the Middle East, Central Asia and other Islamic nations, this author has been privileged to have been able to defend, successfully, clients by submitting legal opinions and affidavits in their support on issues related  to Islamic divorce to State and Federal Courts and to Immigration Boards. Some of these cases have been reported by major U.S. law journals. Following is a landmark case at New York Supreme Court of Westchester County, in which this author submitted an affidavit on behalf of a client. The honorable Court agreed with our argument and granted the client recognition of a divorce decree obtained in Abu Dhabi, including custody of children and a mahr of $250,000. You may read the judgment of the Supreme Court on the following link:



You may also read more on the treatment of the Islamic mahr agreements in US courts, by visiting our website at http://www.islamicdivorceinusa.com

INTRODUCTION TO SHI’I FAMILY LAW OF IRAN BEFORE AND AFTER THE REVOLUTION A COMPARATIVE STUDY


BY
PROFESSOR GABRIEL SAWMA

Prior to the advent of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, family laws under the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-79) witnessed major changes in that field, the Family protection Law of 1967 and its amendments in 1975 abolished extrajudicial divorce, instituted the wife’s right to divorce under certain conditions, limited polygamy by making it subject to judicial approval, and authorized the courts to rule on arrangements related to the maintenance of a divorced couple’s children.

In theory, the reforms under the Pahlavi rule were more advanced than the previous Iranian family laws. For example the reforms made it harder for a man to abandon his wife and prevented him from threatening her with the possibility of a sudden and rapid divorce and the loss of custody of her children. Although the new reforms embedded in the Family Protection Law remained partially based on the Shi’i Ja’fari School of law, for instance by accepting all the conditions that entitled either party to obtain a divorce, such as insanity and other disabling illnesses. These conditions were expanded and included in Article 11 an important change in the event a husband married a second wife without the consent of the first one, the latter could apply for divorce:

(1) If either spouse received a prison sentence of five or more years.
(2) A dangerous addiction on the part of either spouse which could, in the opinion of the court, be hazardous to the welfare of the family.
(3) Marriage of the husband to another woman without the consent of his first wife.
(4) When either partner abandoned the family life. This was subject to the court’s confirmation.
(5) If a husband or wife has, on account of the commission of a crime repugnant to the position and dignity of the family of the other party, been, according to the final judgment of a court of law, found guilty. The question whether or not the crime is repugnant to the position and dignity of the other party shall be determined by the court after taking into consideration the position and circumstances of both the parties as well as the custom and other standards.

Article 14 of the Family Protection Law requires the husband to get permission from the judge in order to marry a second wife, it reads:

When a man, already having a wife, desires to marry another woman, he shall obtain permission from the court of law. The court shall give the permission only when it has taken the necessary steps, and, if possible, has made an inquiry from the present wife of the man, in order to assure the financial potentiality and ability of the man for doing justice [to both wives].

In case the man marries [another woman] without obtaining the due permission from the court, he shall be liable for the punishment provided in section 5 of the Marriage Act f 1310-16[iii] (1931-37 A.D.)

The significance of the Family Protection Law of 1967 was threefold. First, it curbed the unilateral privilege of men regarding divorce and polygamy. No longer could a man divorce his wife readily or in absentia. Nor could he marry a second wife without the permission of the court. It was mandatory for both married couple to apply to a court of law for a certificate of non-reconciliation before a divorce would be granted. Second, a woman could petition for divorce under certain condition regardless of whether the privilege of acting as her husband’s agent was stipulated in the marriage contract. Third, parent had to make arrangements for adequate care of the children before divorce could be granted.

In practice, and according to the Islamic law, a man could always marry a second wife, provided he had the financial means to do so, while a woman could only file a petition for a judicial certificate allowing her to annul the marriage.

The reform also stated that “a husband may, with the approval of the court, prevent his wife from an occupation which is repugnant to the interest of his or her family or position” (Article 15).

The Family Law was consistent with the more tolerant reading of Islam and lifting the inequity imposed on women, protecting children’s rights, and safeguarding men’s dignity. Husband and wife shared joint responsibility for the family the adult woman was entitled to self-guardianship, rather than that of a male family member, and had the freedom to exercise it independently and the minimum age of marriage was increased to eighteen for both men and women.

As to the mut’a marriages, the Family Protection Law did not touch that institution, which allows a man to contract a temporary marriage according to Shi’a law.
In general, while the Family Protection Law of 1967 constituted an important step toward reducing discrimination against women, its impact was limited in its scope, and soon the Law was replaced aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of 1979.


THE IMPACT OF ISLAMIC REVOLUTION ON IRANIAN FAMILY LAW
As soon as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni took the power in 1979, the Family Protection Law was suspended along with other laws that were considered ‘un-Islamic’. On December 1979, the Revolution adopted a new Constitution based on Islamic shari’a. Article 19 declares that “All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights and color, race, language, and the like, do[es] not bestow any privilege”.

Article 21 deals exclusively with women, prescribing, that the government must “create a favorable environment for the restoration of [women’s rights; respect mothers, particularly during pregnancy and childbearing; support widows, aged women and women without support and award guardianship of children to worthy mothers, in order to protect the interests of the children, in the absence of a legal guardian”. This notion is also stated in the preamble of the Constitution where it reads:
Women were drawn away from the family unit and the condition of being a ‘mere thing’, or ‘being a mere tool for works’ in the service of consumerism and exploitation. Re-assumption of the task of bringing up religiously minded men and women, ready to work and fight together in life’s fields of activity, is a serious and precious duty of motherhood.

It is important to note that the Revolution granted women ‘intellectual rights’ unseen before in the history of Iran. Both the preamble and the first paragraph of Article 21 underlined the need to grant women for their active part in the Revolution their ‘intellectual rights.’ This made the government of Iran embark on an extensive policy for educating women, a policy that resulted in one of the highest levels of female education in the entire region.

This policy, however, contrasted with the new Civil Code of 1979, which penalized women by authorizing a minimum marriage age of nine years for girls the marriage of virgin women required the consent of their fathers; polygamy was reinstated without any legal restrains; commanded a wife’s obedience to her husband as a necessary condition in order to obtain maintenance; allowed mut’a marriage as a recognized institution (Articles 1075-77);  children were placed in the custody of the father in the event of divorce because “any child born during married life belongs to the husband” (Article 1158). And, in compliance with Qur’anic provisions, Article 1133 of the Civil Code stated that “A husband can repudiate his wife any time he wishes.” Additionally, the Special Civil Courts Act Article 3/2 provides that:

If a husband wishes a divorce in accordance with Article 1133 of the Civil Code, the court must first refer the case to arbitration in conformity with the Holy verse (i.e. the Qur’an): ‘If you fear a breach between the two, bring forth an arbiter from his people and from her people an arbiter, if they desire to set things right; God will compose their differences; surely God is all-knowing, all-aware.’ Permission to divorce shall be granted to the husband, if reconciliation between the spouses has not materialized.
This means that, in compliance with the Qur’an, a husband is guaranteed divorce without having to provide any excuse for it, but there has to be a process of arbitration. The law requires that process to be handled by a judge. Article 1109 of the Civil Code allows a husband to invoke his wife’s disobedience (nushuz) in order to avoid paying her the maintenance due during the idda.


MORE POST REVOLUTION CHANGES TO FAMILY LAW
As we noticed in the previous paragraph, the new law was more adaptive to the Qur’an than the pre-Revolution Family Protection Law, and it took away some of the gains that women were able to achieve under the Pahlavi rule. But the rapid changes in the social and educational aspects of the Iranian society after the Revolution, followed by the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), brought a gradual modification to the laws. The war forced women, to leave their homes and seek work outside. The period also witnessed a rise in women’s’ high education and made them compete for better positions in the job market. These two factors pushed women to delay their marriage and have fewer children. United Nation’s Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs says that between 1975 and 1980, the total fertility number was 6.5. The projected level for Iran’s 2005 to 2010 birth rate is fewer than two.

The competition in job opportunities in Iran created a conflict in the sphere of family. Women became influential in the public arena and started competing with men in the work force, and female organization embarked on efforts to amend the family law. In early 1982, and under pressure, the Iranian Parliament (Majles) added two provisions to the marriage contract first; the divorce wife was given the right to claim half of the wealth acquired during marriage, as long as the divorce was not deemed her fault. It delegates the right of divorce to the wife, through the intermediary of the court, where certain conditions occurs.

Articles 181 and 1883 of the Civil Code stated that the children of martyrs were to be under the paternal grandfather’s custody. This meant that the payment for the care of the orphans made by the Martyr’s Foundation also went to them. Under pressure from women organizations in Iran, the parliament passed a bill transferring the right of guardianship and tutorship of the martyr’s minors to their mothers, even after a mother’s remarriage.

In 1987, the Iranian parliament approved more benefits for widows and minors of the martyrs mainly better pensions for them, which is the equivalent of the late husband’s last salary. The Martyr’s Foundation also contributed with several benefits, such as free housing and free school tuition.

In 1989 the parliament established a new procedure for men who divorce their wives, the civil courts which have the right to approve a divorce. Thus, in order to divorce, a man had to produce good reasons and the court has the authority to consider those reasons as sufficient and may refuse the divorce. But this seems to violate the Qur’anic provision, which allows a man to divorce his wife, anytime and in any place of his choosing.


DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author. 
Gabriel Sawma is a lawyer with Middle East background, and a recognized authority on Islamic law of marriage, divorce and custody of children, Hindu marital disputes in U.S. courts, and Iran divorce in USA.
·        Professor of Middle East Constitutional and Islamic law,
·        Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce in US Courts and Canada,
·        Expert Consultant on Hindu divorce in U.S. courts,
·        Expert Consultant on Iranian Shi’a divorce in USA,
·        Expert Consultant on Islamic finance.

Admitted to the Lebanese Bar Association; Associate Member of the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Prof. Sawma lectured at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) in New York State and wrote many affidavits to immigration authorities, Federal Courts, and family State Courts in connection with recognition of Islamic foreign divorces in the U.S., Hindu divorces, and Iranian marital conflicts.

Taught Islamic Finance for MBA program at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Travelled extensively to: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Syria and Palestine.

Wrote many articles on Islamic and Hindu divorce in USA, custody of children in the Middle East and Central Asia; and on abduction of children to Muslim countries; 
Speaks, reads and writes several languages including Arabic, English, French and others.

Interviewed by:


Contact Information:

Tel. (609) 915-2237

For more information on Iranian marriage, divorce, custody of the children and inheritance, please read our articles at the following links:



For more information on the author, please see Curriculum Vitae at this link: http://muslimdivorceinusa.com/professor-gabriel-sawma-curriculum-vitae/

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Supreme Court of Westchester County Recognizes a Divorce Obtained from Abu Dhabi


As Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce obtained from the Middle East, Central Asia and other Islamic nations, this author has been privileged to have been able to defend, successfully, clients by submitting legal opinions and affidavits in their support on issues related  to Islamic divorce to State and Federal Courts and to Immigration Boards. Some of these cases have been reported by major U.S. law journals. Following is a landmark case at New York Supreme Court of Westchester County, in which this author submitted an affidavit on behalf of a client. The honorable Court agreed with our argument and granted the client recognition of a divorce decree obtained in Abu Dhabi, including custody of children and a mahr of $250,000. You may read the judgment of the Supreme Court on the following link:



You may also read more on the treatment of the Islamic mahr agreements in US courts, by visiting our website at http://www.islamicdivorceinusa.com

CUSTODY OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES



By
Prof. Gabriel Sawma


CODIFICATION OF THE PERSONAL STATUS LAW IN THE UAE
The United Arab Emirates codified their Code of Personal Status (Code) No. 28 in 2005 (Arabic, qanun al-ahwal al-shakhsiyyah). It was published officially in the Gazette under no. 439 of 11/30, 2005. Custody of the children is covered by articles 142-158 of the Code. It is largely based on the Maliki School of jurisprudence, and to a lesser degree on the Hanbali School, then Shafi’i, followed by Hanafi. The Code identifies the welfare of the child [maslahat al-hadana] when determining eligibility for custody and its duration. 

The general rule under Islamic Shari’a in the Sunni traditions is that all Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence hold that the mother, whether living with her husband or divorced, has the first claim to custody of her infant child. Nevertheless, these Schools differ with regard to the duration of female custodianship, and infancy is not always defined in terms of age limits.


CUSTODY PROVISIONS IN THE UAE CODE OF PERSONAL STATUS
Article 142 of the ode defines custody as following: “Custody is for providing the care, education and protection of the child in a way that does not contradict the right of the guardian.” This follows the approach of many countries whose family law is based on Islamic Shari’a, whereby custody of the infant remains with the mother, while guardianship is preserved to the father. This means the mother is seen as custodian, responsible for the day-to-day needs of the child, such as food and sanitation, while the father is responsible for the financial needs of the child, as well as providing him/her with shelter, reasonable medical care when needed and holding the child's passport.


DURATION OF FEMALES CUSTODIANSHIP
Article 156 (1) of the Code states the following: “Female custodianship ends when the boy reaches age of eleven and female reaches the age of thirteen, unless the court, in the interest of the child, decides to extend [the custody of the mother] until the son reaches bulugh (puberty/maturity) and the daughter consummates her marriage.”

The traditional Schools of Jurisprudence in Sunni Islam, mother’s custody in Hanbali School runs from birth to the age of seven for both, boys and girls. At the age of seven, the Hanbali School gives the child the right to choose which parent he or she wants to live with. In the Maliki School, the son will remain in the custody of his mother until he reaches puberty (bulugh), whereas the girl remains in her mother’s custody until she consummates her marriage (dukhul). The Arabic term bulugh is not defined by the Maliki School, but most scholars believe it is the age of fifteen. The Maliki School does not confer a right of choice to the children. The Hanafi School determines mother’s custody at the age of seven for boys and nine for girls; whereas the Shafi’i gives the mother right to custody at the age of seven for both boys and girls.


ELIGIBILITY FOR CUSTODY IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Article 146 of the Code of Personal Status states the following: “Custody is the right of the mother and then that of females within a prohibited degree of kinship [muharam], whereby maternal relatives have priority over paternal relatives taking into consideration the closest degree of kinship, with the father being the exception according to the following rank, and provided that the judge take into account the interest of the child.” According to article 146, the father comes second in a long list of entitled custodians.


QUALIFICATION OF THE CUSTODIAN
Article 143 of the Code specifies the requirements needed for the custodian of children to be qualified: puberty, sanity, health, ability to take care of the child, take care of the health of the child to avoid contagious diseases, and bee clean of any court judgments that is related to honor.
Article 144 contains two separate lists of requirement for women and men. Accordingly, a woman is prohibited from living with a husband who would not be legally prohibited from marrying the child whose custody is at issue. Article 144 also has a requirement that the mother should not re-marry, otherwise, she loses her right to custody. This last requirement does not apply to the husband, who has the right to marry up to four wives at the same time and keep the children under his custody. The husband is only barred from having custody of a girl to whom he does not have prohibited degree of kinship.

It is important to note that the prohibition of a female to be custodian if she remarries is not absolute; rather it can be waived whenever a continuation of female custody is considered to be in the best interest of the child.


NON-MUSLIM MOTHER LOSES CUSTODY OF HER CHILDREN WHEN THE CHILD IS FIVE YEARS OLD
If the mother of the child is not Muslim, she loses her custody of her own child unless the judge rules otherwise. However, article 145 states that in such a case, duration of the mother’s custody to her child ceases when the child reaches the age of five, and it does not matter if the child is a boy or a girl. In other words, if there is a divorce, or the husband dies, the mother is prohibited from having custody of her children unless the court decides otherwise. If the court decides to grant the mother custody of the children, she can only have the custody until the children reach the age of five. After that, custody goes to the father.


ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN COURT JUDGMENTS OF CUSTODY AND VISITATION RIGHTS
Custody orders of foreign courts are not enforceable in the United Arab Emirates. Foreign court orders of child support are not enforceable too.  A U.S. citizen parent with a court order from the United States granting him or her custody may present such order in the court of the UAE;  the court may take such an order into consideration, but will not be binding in a custody proceeding.
Non-custodial parents are guaranteed visitation rights, but may have to seek approval from the appropriate authorities.  
DUAL CITIZENSHIP

The United Arab Emirates do not recognize dual citizenship. Children born of a UAE father citizen take the citizenship of their father at birth, regardless where the child was born.


DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Gabriel Sawma is a lawyer with Middle East background, and a recognized authority on Islamic law of marriage, divorce and custody of children, Hindu marital disputes in U.S. courts, and Iran divorce in USA.

·        Professor of Middle East Constitutional and Islamic law,
·        Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce in US Courts and Canada,
·        Expert Consultant on Hindu divorce in U.S. courts,
·        Expert Consultant on Iranian Shi’a divorce in USA,
·        Expert Consultant on Islamic finance.

Admitted to the Lebanese Bar Association; Associate Member of the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Prof. Sawma lectured at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) in New York State and wrote many affidavits to immigration authorities, Federal Courts, and family State Courts in connection with recognition of Islamic foreign divorces in the U.S., Hindu divorces, and Iranian marital conflicts.

Taught Islamic Finance for MBA program at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Travelled extensively to: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Syria and Palestine.

Wrote many articles on Islamic and Hindu divorce in USA, custody of children in the Middle East and Central Asia; and on abduction of children to Muslim countries; 
Speaks, reads and writes several languages including Arabic, English, French and others.
Interviewed by:


Contact Information:


Tel. (609) 915-2237

You may read more articles on the law of marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance in the United Arab Emirates by visiting our website at:



For more information on the author, please see Curriculum Vitae at this link:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Supreme Court of Westchester County Recognizes a Divorce Obtained from Abu Dhabi


As Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce obtained from the Middle East, Central Asia and other Islamic nations, this author has been privileged to have been able to defend, successfully, clients by submitting legal opinions and affidavits in their support on issues related  to Islamic divorce to State and Federal Courts and to Immigration Boards. Some of these cases have been reported by major U.S. law journals. Following is a landmark case at New York Supreme Court of Westchester County, in which this author submitted an affidavit on behalf of a client. The honorable Court agreed with our argument and granted the client recognition of a divorce decree obtained in Abu Dhabi, including custody of children and a mahr of $250,000. You may read the judgment of the Supreme Court on the following link:



You may also read more on the treatment of the Islamic mahr agreements in US courts, by visiting our website at http://www.islamicdivorceinusa.com

CHRISTIAN OR JEWISH WOMAN MARRYING A MALE CITIZEN OF UAE



By
Prof. Gabriel Sawma

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a union of seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain. These emirates are located in the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south. Article 7 of the constitution of the UAE states “Islam is the official religion of the Union. The Islamic Shari’a shall be a main source of legislation in the union. The official language of the Union is Arabic.” This means the law of marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance is governed by the Qur’an and sayings and deeds of the Prophet of Islam, which constitute the major elements of Islamic Shari’a.
In 2005, the UAE enacted Federal Law No. 28 to govern matrimonial issues in what is called Matters of Personal Status or Personal Status Law (PSL). The PSL covers rules over marriage, divorce, guardianship, maintenance (Arabic nafaqah) and inheritance. Article 2 of PSL states that its provisions are based on Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence), and if no ruling exists in Islamic jurisprudence, a determination will be made in accordance with the “prevailing opinion in the Sunni Schools in the following ranking: Maliki, Hanbali, Shafi’i, and Hanafi”  followed by “general principles of the Islamic Shari’a and social justice.”


THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT
Islamic marriage is a contract with two major elements: an offer by one party, and acceptance by the other party.  Article 39 of the PSL mandates that the marriage of a woman over eighteen must be approved by a male guardian, otherwise, the marriage will be considered “null” and the couple would be separated. In addition to that, the law requires the presence of two Muslim male witnesses for the validity of the marriage between two Muslim couples, although Christian and Jewish witnesses are acceptable if one of the couple is Christian or Jew.


MUSLIM MAN’S ABILITY TO MARRY MORE THAN ONE WOMAN
The Personal Status Law of the United Arab Emirates does not prohibit a Muslim man from marrying a Christian or Jewish woman as we mentioned earlier.  But on the other hand, a Muslim man is allowed to marry up to four wives at the same time. This means that, even though he is married to a Christian or Jewish wife, he can still marry up to four wives.


CHILDREN BORN OF SUCH MARRIAGES ARE CONSIDERED MUSLIMS
Under the law of Islam, children born of mixed marriages, involving a Muslim man and non-Muslim woman are considered Muslims. The religion of children born of a Muslim father, always follow the religion of the father. It does not matter even if the child is baptized in the Christian faith, he is still and will always be regarded as Muslim, and is governed by Islamic Shari’a.


CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN IN THE EVENT OF DIVORCE
Marriages between UAE nationals and foreign-born wives are more likely to end in divorce. According to some accounts, the UAE has the highest divorce rate in the Gulf region; in 2005, it reached 46 percent. While women, who are UAE nationals, receive financial aid from the government after divorce, women are not eligible for such aid.
In the event of divorce, or death of the husband, a Christian or Jewish woman married to a UAE national, the wife will lose her custody to her children. This is based on Islamic jurisprudence which says, a person outside the religion of Islam is not qualified to have custody of Muslim children.


WIFE CANNOT LEAVE THE COUNTRY WITH THE CHILDREN WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE HUSBAND
Foreign women married to national citizens are not free to leave the country with their children; their children must remain in the UAE unless the court decides otherwise. Islamic Shari’a does not allow a divorce wife to travel outside the country with the children without permission of the husband or a court order. If the husband is dead, the wife can leave the country with the children only if the guardian of the children, who has been appointed by the father before his death, or a guardian who has been appointed by a judge, permits the wife to travel with the children. If such permission is not granted, the wife might have to leave the country without the children. U.S. law cannot force a foreign country to bring the children back to the United States.


A HUSBAND MARRIED TO A FOREIGN WOMAN MAY DECIDE TO TAKE THE CHILDREN TO HIS COUNTRY AND STAY THERE
A Christian or Jewish woman who is married to a Muslim citizen of the UAE should know that if the husband travels with the children to his country and decides to stay there with the children, she is not afforded protection of U.S. law to bring the children back to the United States. For example, if the husband, who is national of UAE travels with his wife and their children to his country, and then chooses to stay in UAE with the children, the wife may not be able to bring her children back to the United States. The law of UAE will not allow the wife to bring back her children to the U.S. without permission of the husband.
Furthermore, she may not be able to stay in the United Arab Emirates since her status as resident is based on her husband’s sponsorship. If the husband withdraws his sponsorship, she would be subject to deportation without being able to bring her children with her. There is no guarantee that she will be able to obtain an entry visa to that country in the future.


CONVERSION OF ONE SPOUSE TO ISLAM
Under Islamic Shari’a, if a non-Muslim woman married to a non-Muslim man decides to convert to Islam, the marriage is suspended until her husband converts too. In theory, she could leave the non-Muslim husband and marry a Muslim man. This is perfectly legal under Islamic law, and it has a reference in the Qur’an, which reads: “O ye who believe [Muslims], when there come to you believing women refugees, examine them. Allah knows best as to their faith; if you ascertain that they are believers [Muslims], then do not send them back to unbelievers [non-Muslims]. They are not lawful [wives] for the unbelievers, nor are [the unbelievers] lawful [husbands] for them.” (Qur’an 60: 10)
If a non-Muslim husband converts to Islam, a new marriage is not needed. He can marry up to four wives at one time.


INHERITANCE
Under the rules of Islamic Shari’a, a daughter inherits half of her brother’s shares. When a husband dies, the widow inherits one-eighth of his assets if he has children. If he dies childless, the wife inherits one-fourth. The rest of his assets are passed on to the husband’s closest relatives. If no son is born of the marriage, daughters alone cannot inherit all the assets of their parents; in such a case, part of the assets goes to the sons of the father’s brother.
However, a non-Muslim woman marrying a Muslim man from the United Arab Emirates does not inherit anything if the husband dies unless she is mentioned in his will as a beneficiary. Such a will cannot be valid if its purpose is to deny a legitimate person from getting his or her share under Islamic law.


DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS
In the event of divorce, the wife does not share in the marital assets. There is no distribution of assets in Islamic law. The only amount of money the wife receives in the event of divorce is the mahr as stipulated in the marriage contract. It is therefore very important for a woman who is embarking on marrying a male citizen of the United Arab Emirates to pay attention to the amount of mahr when she signs the marriage contract. Islamic Shari’a does not entitle the wife to share the assets of her husband no matter how diligent she was in protecting and promoting the family business.
You have to remember too that the husband is allowed to marry three other women. This tactic is often used by the husband to avoid divorcing his wife, since divorcing her would make him liable to the mahr. On the other hand, if the wife seeks divorce through khul’, she may have to give back the mahr to her husband.
I suggest that a woman looking to marry a Muslim man to do further research about her rights and obligations under Islamic law. She has less protection under Islamic Shari’a than U.S. law.

MUSLIM WOMEN ARE PROHIBITED FROM MARRYING NON-MUSLIM MEN
Under Islamic Shari’a, a non-Muslim man is not allowed to marry Muslim woman. The only way he can do so is to convert to Islam. The children of such union are Muslims, and all Muslims are, by virtue of the Islamic Shari’a, prohibited from leaving Islam. In certain Muslim countries, the penalty for leaving Islam is death by execution.


DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Gabriel Sawma is a lawyer with Middle East background, and a recognized authority on Islamic law of marriage, divorce and custody of children, Hindu marital disputes in U.S. courts, and Iran divorce in USA.
·        Professor of Middle East Constitutional and Islamic law,
·        Expert Consultant on Islamic divorce in US Courts and Canada,
·        Expert Consultant on Hindu divorce in U.S. courts,
·        Expert Consultant on Iranian Shi’a divorce in USA,
·        Expert Consultant on Islamic finance.
Admitted to the Lebanese Bar Association; Associate Member of the New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Prof. Sawma lectured at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) in New York State and wrote many affidavits to immigration authorities, Federal Courts, and family State Courts in connection with recognition of Islamic foreign divorces in the U.S., Hindu divorces, and Iranian marital conflicts.
Taught Islamic Finance for MBA program at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Travelled extensively to: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Syria and Palestine.
Wrote many articles on Islamic and Hindu divorce in USA, custody of children in the Middle East and Central Asia; and on abduction of children to Muslim countries; 
Speaks, reads and writes several languages including Arabic, English, French and others.
Interviewed by:

Contact Information:


Tel. (609) 915-2237

For more information the law of marriage, divorce, custody of children and inheritance in the United Arab Emirates, please visit our websites at the following links, where you will find most of our articles:

For more information on the author, please see Curriculum Vitae at this link: