CAIRO - 19 January 2021: “In a bid to control the increasing rate of divorce,” an Egyptian lawyer has called for a new initiative called “trial marriage,” creating a state of controversy in society and rejection by the Islamic religious institutions.
The initiative, which was announced by Egyptian lawyer Ahmed Mahran in October 2020, calls upon married spouses to sign a time-specific contract that will be attached with a marriage contract. During the period of time, the spouses will test each other and see whether each party would abide by the contract terms or not. In case of violating one of the contract terms by one party, the second one has a legal right to end the marriage contract.
The initiative became debatable, particularly after Mahran posted a copy of a civil form [the agreement formula] labeled as “the trial marriage” between two married couples on January 4, 2021. The form went viral on social media and was criticized by majority of users.
In terms of Islamic jurisprudence, this initiative is invalid and prohibited, according to a decision issued by Al-Azhar Sheikhdom, one of the world’s most pioneering Sunni Islamic institute.
“Marriage is a strong bond that it is impermissible to tamper with. It [any marriage contract] requires no separation between two spouses after a period of five years or less or more than that in the so-called #Trial_Marriage. This is a corrupt condition that has no significance. The stipulation of terminating a marriage contract with the expiration of a certain period makes the contract void and prohibited, Al-Azhar Fatwa Global Center on Sunday.
الزواج ميثاق غليظ لا يجوز العبث به، واشتراط عدم وقوع انفصال بين زوجين لمدة خمس سنوات أو أقل أو أكثر في ما يسمى بـ #زواج_التجربة اشتراط فاسد لا عبرة به، واشتراط انتهاء عقد الزواج بانتهاء مُدة مُعينة يجعل العقد باطلًا ومُحرَّمًا#مركز_الأزهر_العالمي_للفتوى_الالكترونية#الأزهر— الأزهر الشريف (@AlAzhar) January 17, 2021
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Dar al-Iftaa - Egypt’s independent body that specialized in issuance of fatwas (Islamic laws and decisions) announced early Tuesday that after studying the initiative by a group of scholars, it has been found that this initiative contradicts with the Islamic Sharia and the social norms.
“The trial marriage is a term that carries negative meanings intruding into the values of Egyptian religious society. It has been used to achieve false fame and cheap propaganda in cyberspace,” Dar al-Iftaa said in a statement on Tuesday.
Defending the notion
After the barrage of criticism, the initiative owner received from Islamic scholars and social media users, he defended his notion. “It is not a marriage contract. It is a conditioned agreement between two spouses,” Mahran said in a Facebook live video for Al-Dostor newspaper on Monday.
Commenting on the copy of the agreement form he posted on the official Facebook page, Mahran said that this copy was for already married spouses, who signed such a form or in order to avoid divorce. He continued that the spouses already have an open-ended marriage contract besides the agreement form, saying “the true meaning behind this initiative was taken out of its context by social media users.”
“It [the form] is a contract that has certain conditions in order to keep the marital life last and avoid divorce. It is not a marriage contract at all,” he said. “It is a civil agreement attached to the marriage contract. Or in other words, it is an agreement of reconciliation between two partners and not conditioned with time,” he clarified.
Abu El Yazid Salama, a scholar at al-Azhar Sheikhdom said during a debate with Mahran on “Public Opinion” talk show
Abu El Yazid Salama, a scholar at al-Azhar Sheikhdom said during a debate with Mahran on “Public Opinion” talk show on TEN channel on Monday said the time-term marriage is completely null and void.
Salama was wondering how the form is not a contract marriage and bears the title “marriage” at the same time. He added that the lawyer’s initiative name contradicts his main concept.
Rasha Abu Raih, the wife who signed the circulated form of the “trial marriage” contract, praised the initiative as “it prevented her divorce.” She added in comments to the talk show that the contract itself has no specific time, but some terms are conditioned with period of times. In case one of the contract conditions was not carried out, she will start the divorce procedures at a family court, she said.
‘Divorce rate could go higher’
“Marriage means stability and the initiative would increase the gap between a wife and a husband if it was applied as each one would turn to be a stalker, Rasha Omar, an expert at Abdeen Family Court told Egypt Today on Monday.
“Such an initiative proves that there is a lack of trust between the two partners, and consequently could result in psychological disorders like anxiety and depression for any party,” she said.
Omar clarified that a legitimate marriage contract can be conditioned, but the terms are not legally binding. She continued that some people could accept the initiative as they could expect bad personality traits of one of the spouses to appear after the marriage.
“I think this initiative would increase the cases of divorce,” she said.
In Egypt, a case of divorce happens every two minutes. A total of 225,000 divorces cases were recorded in 2019, compared with 201,000 cases in 2018, said Khairy Barakat, the head of the Public Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) in media remarks to “9:00 PM” talk show on the state-owned Channel 1 on December 22, 2020.