“He left her pregnant three months after their marriage. She didn’t know anything about him except that he is a foreign fighter in one of the armed factions.” Samar is a Syrian girl who married a foreign man during the current events in the country, who refused to prove his identity and personality. He left after three months of marriage, without telling her, saying goodbye or even divorce her, and this marriage resulted in a child without lineage.
Samar is amongst hundreds of women who married non-Syrian men, without official documentation of marriage or documents proving the identity of the husband. These marriages also resulted in hundreds of children, in the absence of real statistics, because most of them fear the consequences of this person’s nationality, or perhaps his affiliation with certain factions. Whereas, most of the women who married non-Syrians before the war, and their marriages were not confirmed, were deceived by them or because of underestimation and lack of knowledge.
How does Sharia see this issue?
This type of marriage is inconsistent with the purposes of marriage in Islamic law. Ammar Taous, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence, said that the intentions of Sharia from marriage are to protect the offspring, honor and property, but all of these are not preserved in this marriage.
Taous indicated that the marriage contracted in these cases is valid but prohibited at the same time. The sin is borne on both the father of the girl because he failed to identify the identity and lineage of the husband, and the husband also who concealed his identity, in addition to the contractor, the witnesses, and whoever knows about this marriage and could have stopped it, yet hadn't, because of its negative consequences later.
In addition to that, the legitimate purposes of Sharia from marriage are related to the wellbeing of the individuals, mainly the husband and wife, the wellbeing of the family, the wellbeing of society and humanity, but in these marriages all of these purposes are not fulfilled. This kind of marriage does not meet these purposes. Taous emphasized the necessity of rejecting it, and warning the community of its consequences and the importance of registering the contracts officially, with supporting documents recognized in Syria or in another country.
Taous said that a Muslim woman can have a “divorce,” redeeming herself in the event she marries a man and leaves her suddenly without divorce, so she can divorce herself from him.
In 2017, the Syrian Islamic Council, which is considered a Syrian religious reference that includes all religious classes and religious schools, issued a statement alerting and affirming through it the danger of these types of marriages to the Syrian society as a whole, and to women and children in particular.
The Syrian law grants the Syrian mother’s son, of unknown parentage, the Syrian nationality, on two conditions: The first is for the mother to be Syrian, and the second is for the birth to take place in Syria within the provisions of paragraph (2) of Article 3 where the child of unknown parentage is considered Syrian according to the law. The law does not allow Syrian women to grant her child the nationality except for the above case.
Syrian lawyer Assi al-Hallaq clarified the details of the legal status of marriage to foreigners, establishing it, and registering children. He said that the Syrian law grants citizenship to the child born of a foreign father, in the event that it is confirmed that this child is unable to prove the lineage of the sonship from his father, and that this father is of unknown descent and nationality. In this case, the child carries the nickname of his mother, while the name of the father is indicated by a question mark or unknown.
If a Syrian woman married to a non-Syrian man of unknown nationality and descent takes an unofficial contract to the court, the judiciary grants her children the Syrian citizenship, but in return the law does not grant citizenship to a child that his father is known, but refuses to grant it to him.
Al-Hallaq indicated that unregistered marriage is outside the law circle, and that there must be a contract in accordance with the Syrian Civil Status Law; that is, the contract is established in accordance with law and Sharia in terms of witnesses, affirmation, acceptance, dowry and conditions.
Prevailing societal perception
The social outlook in Syrian society is based on lineage, as it is concerned with preserving lineages and what is known as the “family tree.” It is a tree in which the lineage of the family was written from ancestors to ancestors of ancestors, until it reaches the origin of the family, clan or tribe.
Families are concerned with the details of their children's friends, and they are often asked “who is your friend's father? Who is his grandfather?” and so on. Thus, because of the importance of lineage in society, children of unknown lineage or foundlings are viewed with an inferior, cruel and degrading look, and they may be bullied and insulted.
Safwan, a specialist in sociology, said: “Our Syrian society considers the father or male as the head of society. Therefore, the chain of lineage mentions male ancestors and ancestors of ancestors. So, here the child lives in a state of stigma, because he does not have lineage and does not have a family, even if there is a family caring for him it also bears this stigma because it is raising a child of unknown lineage.”
The woman also faces a harsh societal judgment, because she married an unknown foreigner, gave birth to children and both became anonymous. There are many reasons that drive women to such a marriage, which were mentioned in a questionnaire conducted by Rozana. Among these reasons are weak knowledge of the law, lack of community awareness, poverty, and other reasons related to each case separately.
Safwan says that we cannot determine the first reason that forced a woman into an unknown marriage, unless we study her condition and circumstances from A to Z. He added that even if a legal and legitimate solution to such issues is found, the societal look remains harsh and prevailing.