New Jersey Judge Upholds Islamic Marriage Contract

July 2, 2002

Source: New Jersey Law Journal

On July 2, 2002 New Jersey Law Journal reported "Islamic Marriage Contract Upheld." The article stated that "In New Jersey's first substantive decision on Islamic Law, a Passaic County judge ruled last Monday that a religious, dowry-style contract signed by two Muslims at their marriage is enforceable upon their divorce. Superior Court Judge John Selser enforced the 'mahr' (MAH-her) that Houida Saadeh and her husband Zuhair Odatalla signed on their wedding day, finding that aspects of the religious code were acceptable under 'neutral principles of law.' ... The agreement called for an 'Islamic Law Dower' of one golden pound coin and $10,000 in U.S. dollars [to be paid to the wife after a divorce.]" The plaintiff wife's lawyer, Abed Awad, noted that "the ruling gives Islamic clerics court-ordered clout. 'I think it will be welcomed in the Muslim community, mainly by women from our community, as they have been accustomed to seeking the intervention of the religious cleric, or the imam in the mosque, who may well order the husband to pay the mahr agreement. But his obligation to pay is an ethical and moral obligation, with no enforcement mechanism.'"