Monday, October 22, 2007

Ohio Court Refuses To Enforce Muslim Dowry Obligation

Saturday's Columbus Dispatch reports on an Oct. 10 decision by the Franklin County (OH) Common Pleas Court. Domestic Relations Judge Dana S. Preisse ruled that a promised dowry ("mahr") is unenforceable. Ruling against a Muslim woman, the judge said: "the obligation to pay $25,000 is rooted in a religious practice, the dowry is considered a religious act, not a legal contract ." Now-divorced Raghad Alwattar argued that the dowry was part of an enforceable pre-nuptial agreement. The judge ruled, however, that a prenuptial agreement must be entered into without duress. Here husband Mohammed Zawahiri was hurried into making the agreement only a few minutes before the wedding. In some other states, this sort of contract has been enforced. Columbus imam Mouhamed Tarazi says that after this case he will require grooms to sign a promissory note for the mahr so it will be enforceable in civil court.