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Posted On: 18 June 2009 08:43 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Freedom to Marry

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More than 800 respondents from North Africa, the Gulf, Levant and Iraq took part in the online survey conducted between June 4 and June 9. The poll demonstrated that while Muslim respondents across the Arab world do not subscribe to the view that Islam forbids women to choose who they marry, the majority do agree that Islam prohibits Muslim women to marry outside their religion – The Holy Quran is pinpointed by most respondents as the source of this ‘prohibition’. Compared to men, women appear to actually support this ‘prohibition’ even more strongly, with a larger proportion of them agreeing that Muslim women should be allowed to marry anyone they choose as long as the man is also a Muslim. While most of those interviewed across the Arab world believe it is fair that Muslim men can marry outside their faith while women cannot, it is important to note that approximately one-quarter of those interviewed disagree with this state of affairs – opinions on this issue are especially divided in the Levant. When it comes to the issue of ‘inter-sect’ marriages between Muslims, respondents are considerably more open to the idea — those in the Levant seem to be especially accepting of this concept while those in the GCC seem to be least in favour. Most of those interviewed (including those in the GCC) believe that GCC women should be able to marry men from other nationalities. In fact, across all regions surveyed, individuals do not believe it is best for women GCC nationals to marry men from their families or tribes – levels of disagreement with this idea were especially accentuated amongst Levant respondents. On the issue of arranged marriages, two-thirds of the women respondents disagreed that it is in the best interest of Muslim women to have their husbands chosen by their families and less than half expressed the view that arranged marriages have a much higher success rate. Regardless of their views on arranged marriages, both genders agree that Muslim women have the right to turn down their suitor if they are not pleased with the choice. When it comes to the increasing divorce rates across the Arab world, ‘distancing from the faith’ is perceived by the largest proportion of respondents across the region as the main reason for this ‘phenomenon’. Increased education and financial independence of women also emerged as a distant second reason across most regions.