Saudi Guardianship Law Bars Woman From Marrying Her ‘Musician’ Suitor

“Because the suitor plays a musical instrument he is unsuitable for the woman from a religious point of view,” a Saudi court reportedly said.


Saudi Arabia may have lifted the draconian ban that prohibited women from driving, but it still has some of the world’s harshest and most stringent laws and regulations oppressing its female population. Among them, the most notorious is certainly the Middle Eastern kingdom’s guardianship system, which requires women to seek permission from a male guardian – father, brother, husband or even a son – in order to get a passport, travel abroad, studying in a foreign country even if its on a government scholarship, being released from prison and most importantly, getting married.

In a prime example of how this certain law can be used to subjugate the female citizens, a court in the ultraconservative country recently prohibited a woman from marrying a man of her choice – all because he one played oud, a musical instrument popular in the Arab world, during some festival a while back.

For those who might not be aware, some conservative Muslims believe music to be forbidden by Islam. However, that is ironic considering Bedouin music and traditional dance are considered to be a distinctive part of Saudi Arabia’s culture.

According to local newspaper Okaz, a 38-year-old female bank manager from Unaiza in the Qassim region filed a lawsuit against her brothers after they refused to give their permission for her to marry a school teacher of 20 years.

Their reasoning: He “once played the oud and so was not considered religious.”

However, instead of siding with the woman, the court decided to side with her family and ruled in her brothers’ favor.

“Because the suitor plays a musical instrument he is unsuitable for the woman from a religious point of view,” the judge said, according to the newspaper.

The verdict was also upheld by an appeals court.

The case drew attention of social media users after a Saudi lawyer, Abdul Rahman al-Lahim, uploaded a video on Snapchat, discussing the court’s decision. He also revealed the male suitor was not given a chance to defend himself and his past actions in front of the judge.

Meanwhile, in an interview, the unidentified woman described the teacher as a “very pious” man “with a good reputation.”

She also said she was still determined to marry him and plans to ask the royal court to look into the matter.

In a country where forced and underage marriages are still a norm, the ruling in this particular case did not make much sense.

Unsurprisingly, Saudi social media users had a lot to say it:


“Oh my God, the level of regression and ignorance. When will I migrate, I don't have patience to deal with this society any longer.”


“Marrying off an underage girl to an old man is permissible. The marriage of an adult woman and an instrumentalist isn't.”


“How many women, both adult and underage, were forced to marry... we never saw anyone object to save their lives.”


“All around the world, marriage is a choice for both a man and a woman. Except here, even if a woman is a grandma, her marriage is never her own choice. She lives her entire life deprived of her basic rights because there isn't a legal adult age for women. Half our society is stalled and no population rises without women.”

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: mustafagull via Getty Images

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