Muslim marriage traditions – Why it matters in the context of US Immigration Law?

Khaja M. Din

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Immigration Attorney - Chicago, IL

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Posted almost 3 years ago. 1 helpful vote

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This Work Product Belongs To Attorney Khaja Din of the Din Memmen Law Firm. For assistance in your immigration case please feel free to contact the law firm of Din Memmen on the web at www.DinMemmen.comto arrange a consultation.

Muslim marriage traditions – Why it matters in the context of US Immigration Law?

THE USCIS recognizes foreign marriages if they are recognized in their home country (conducted according to local tradition). We had a client for whom we filed a VAWA. However, her marriage was never registered with any government agency in Morocco. One of the requirements of VAWA is that the person be “married" to their abusive USC or LPR spouse. Though there was no registration of the marriage in Morocco we were able to argue that the marriage was valid per local tradition & customs and thus a valid marriage for the purposes of the USCIS and our VAWA petition. What follows is an explanation of the requirements to conclude a Muslim Marriage.

Muslim marriages are concluded according to Islamic tradition when the groom asks the bride to marry him in consideration for “mahr" in the presence of two eligible witnesses with the permission of the bride’s family. Mahr can be any mutually agreed amount of what often times is referred to as dowry that the groom will give to the bride and becomes the bride’s exclusive property. The other ceremonial aspects often associated with marriage vary from region to region but in themselves are not considered to be essential for a marriage to be solemnized. This type of marriage is often called “fatiha-marriage" and is considered a valid marriage in most Muslim majority countries. The term “fathiha" refers to the first chapter or Sura of the Quran which is often read at the time of the marriage in order to bless the new union though the recitation of the fathiha is not obligatory. The fathiha marriage is still the only marriage that is performed in most rural areas of Muslim majority countries especially in the lesser developed countries such as countries in Africa and parts of the Middle East. Traditionally, governments ceased to play a role in marriage and divorce during colonization thus creating a parallel system of family law outside the reach of central governing authorities which the unregistered fathiha marriage remained a cornerstone. These habits continue to this day as evidenced by the numerous articles about recent government attempts to register fathiha marriages in many parts of the Muslim world. Despite these recent government initiatives, fathiha marriages remain the predominant method of marriage in many Muslim majority countries including Morocco.

This Work Product Belongs To Attorney Khaja Din of the Din Memmen Law Firm. For assistance in your immigration case please feel free to contact the law firm of Din Memmen on the web at www.DinMemmen.comto arrange a consultation.

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