Saudi woman barred from marrying 'religiously unfit' man because he plays musical instrument

Bride-to-be’s brother submits evidence supporting case against wedding

Tom Batchelor
Wednesday 03 October 2018 13:53
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Evidence presented in court claimed the prospective husband played the oud
Evidence presented in court claimed the prospective husband played the oud

A Saudi Arabian couple were reportedly barred from getting married after the prospective husband was deemed unsuitable because he played a musical instrument.

The bride-to-be’s family had objected to their relationship, arguing the man was not “religiously compatible” with her because he played the oud – a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in Middle Eastern and North African music.

Although the woman launched a legal challenge against her relatives’ decision, a judge backed the family after her brother submitted evidence that the man had once played the instrument at a festival in the city of Unaizah.

An appeal court confirmed that verdict, meaning the marriage cannot go ahead.

“Because the suitor plays a musical instrument he is unsuitable for the woman from a religious point of view,” Saudi newspaper Okaz quoted the court as saying.

The unnamed woman, a 38-year-old bank manager, said her prospective husband, a teacher, had a “good reputation” and was “very pious”.

She said she would seek an intervention from the country’s “highest authorities”, in reference to the country’s royal court.

Saudi lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahim said the man had been prevented from defending himself in court.

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In parts of the Saudi kingdom, including the woman’s home state of Qassim – a conservative region north of the capital Riyadh – some believe music is forbidden under Islamic law.

Playing an instrument is deemed an inferior profession and police in the state have previously arrested groups for listening to music.

Under the country’s guardianship system, male relatives or husbands have control over almost all aspects of women’s lives.

They must still seek permission to fulfil basic needs such as travel, study and opening a bank account.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal decree last November announcing women would be able to drive from June 2018 for the first time since 1990.

Lifting the driving ban is one of a host of social and economic reforms that have been unveiled in the kingdom since Mohammed bin Salman was appointed crown prince by his father last June.

He has reined in the power of the country’s notorious religious police, reopened cinemas and promised a return to a more “moderate” Islam.

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