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Old 04-25-2017, 10:41 AM
3,167 posts, read 1,040,723 times
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Originally Posted by mcharas View Post
Good morning,

In my curiosity to understand the Islamic centers around me (I am new to a traditionally conservative area, and we have many mosques very nearby and a large Muslim population... I have little experience with Islam, even though I came from a very liberal area where there were no mosques within what is probably about a 30 mile radius), I have looked at their web pages online to learn more about the centers. My children have Muslim friends whose mothers I have come to know a little, but I never wanted to make anyone uncomfortable so I haven't asked them my questions... I don't know them *that* well.

In my perusing, most state right online that they require a dowry for the bride and at least two men to judge whether it would be a good union as part of the requirements for marriage. The information ephasizes that the state marital license is less important than the two men and the dowry... It reads very clearly that the state license is a simple and somewhat insignificant aspect, that what is more important are these traditions of Islamic law.
First of all, in an Islamic marriage, it is husband's duty to provide for his wife during their married life. Wife can work, if she wishes to do so, but her husband can't force her to go out for work. Therefore, right from the day one, and even before the marriage is consummated, the groom must pay the bride (usually) a sum of money called haq mahr. It is a right of bride to receive it from her husband as a gift. Thus the first thing that is given to the wife from her husband is a gift.

If the man is so poor that he can't give his future wife anything, there should be no marriage as he won't be able to discharge his responsibility of maintaining his wife.

Secondly, the two men are not to "judge" but to witness the marriage. This is the same as in a civil marriage.

Thirdly, an Islamic marriage on its own in America or Britain has no value unless confirmed in a civil marriage ceremony. Therefore, despite an Islamic marriage, the marriage must be done through civil means as well otherwise the marriage (Islamic only) may never be recognized by the State law. Where this state of affair exists, Muslims have to go through two different ceremonies or the two ceremonies are combined to make the marriage legal. This can be done if an Islamic Center has been granted license to hold civil marriage ceremony.

Originally Posted by mcharas View Post
Most Americans I know would probably interpret that this is placing shari'a law above American civil law.
No. It means civil law is not a religious law. Muslims may have to go through both if they want a marriage to be recognized as "legal" in America.

Originally Posted by mcharas View Post
While the religion's laws could be seen as similar as something to, for example, the requirement for a Catholic to prepare for marriage by accepting many of the denomination's sacramental requirements... Is there any difference in your opinion?
Yes, civil law is not religious law. Does the American civil law recognize Islamic Law in case of marriages? If not then each law looks at the other the same way.

Originally Posted by mcharas View Post
To issue a state matrital license to a group (I am speaking only about the area around me) that requires a man pay a dowry for a woman in order to 'legally' marry her and two men to judge for her-- in order to be in line with Islamic law-- is this intersection of religious law a form of imposition for putting religious laws on equal footing with American civil law?
No. It is complying with the both. All sections of the Civil Law regarding that marriage must still be met. And the Civil Law is concerned with only it's own requirements. As long as those requirements are met, the marriage is legal according to the State.

Giving a gift (haq mahr) to his wife is neither a requirement nor forbidden under Civil Law. Why should anyone see it as something illegal under the civil law?

Further, it is applicable only to Muslims and cannot be "imposed" on any non-Muslim. In other words, Muslims are not even imposing it on themselves but just complying with their religious requirement. This requirement is for Muslims only and for none else. It is also "in addition" to complying with the American civil law. Muslims have no problem in complying with the American Civil Law in addition to the Islamic Law in case of marriages.

Originally Posted by mcharas View Post
I have no feeling either way, I just find it interesting. That said, most people I know think an elected government outside of religion should have nothing to do with marriage.
Correct! That is how Church and State is kept separate. In reality, when a president says, "God bless America", he is doing nothing but mixing Church and State.

Originally Posted by mcharas View Post
On the other hand, I find it very nice that they all seem to offer open food banks, and many have free clinics on weekends for people with no medical or dental insurance or those that might have it but cannot get into their doctor on the weekend. I didn't realize that Islam required followers to be as community minded as these centers state the religion requires. Medical expenses alone can really add up!
Mosques, in reality, are Community Centers for Muslims. Islamic Law does not forbid helping needy non-Muslims as long as they are peaceful.

Friday prayer is a special occasion in a week for the Community to get together and sort out any problem in the community. These Centers are used to help people in need. These are not to be used for any wrong purpose.

In many Muslim majority countries, there is often a spare room built for travelers passing through the area but need to spend a night there. Villagers would know that someone is staying there for the night. They would make sure that the traveler gets food, water and bed for the night. My father was in charge of one of these small mosques over sixty years ago. As he would be often the first one to know about the traveler, it was his duty to let others know and make sure that the traveler (musafir) was provided for during his stay.
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