Middle East: January 2011 Archives

January 27 & 30: from Yunnan Province, China - Pennsylvania - Jerusalem - Glasgow - Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo

Spring City Golf & Lake Resort on the island of Hainan: China is becoming a golf mecca for Asia. Photo/Anthony Germain

China's growing affluence is spoiling a lot of good walks, as golf finds a following among the nouveau riche.

Why the world's leading Nazi hunter says Canada's doing a lousy job.

It's justice delayed for women in the DRC.  A look at the plight of the wartime victims of rape in Congo.

Meet the Indiana Jones of lost languages, scouring the globe to save endangered tongues.


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January 20 & 23: from Haiti - Dubai - Beijing - New Delhi - Rajasthan, India

A branch of Fonkoze, Hait's largest microcredit bank (photo/Amber Hildebrandt/CBC)

Fixing coffee or fixing cars: Given the choice, Maryam Darwish reached for a wrench and loosened a social barrier in the United Arab Emirates. 

From Haiti, the story of a remarkable bank that provides literacy along with its loans.

Negotiating the Twilight Zone: a Canadian contends with a legal system that's ensnared her husband in China.

And, how to make something out of nothing.  The pros and cons of India's can-do work ethic.

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Hezbollah and temporary marriage

Ruba Ali Al-Hassani of Toronto heard Hanin Ghaddar's report from Beirut about Hezbollah promoting mut'a, an old Muslim practice of temporary marriage on our January 6th program.

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I am a Shi'ite Muslim, and while I on a personal level do not condone (mut'a), I feel the need to correct the erroneous information provided in the interview.

Mut'a marriage was not something that Ali, (prophet) Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, introduced. While Ali is an important figure to the Shi'ite community in Islam in particular, the law on mut'a marriage was introduced during Muhammad's time.

The context to it was to serve the needs of traveling Muslim men who had to be away from their wives. Whether they were single or married (Islam allows men to have up to 4 wives at the most), mut'a marriage was deemed a practical solution to help with people's (not just men's) needs in a legal and halal ("kosher") way. The only way sex can be practiced legally is in a marriage. Therefore, temporary marriage, with less responsibilities and less of a commitment than permanent marriage, seems to be the solution.

As marriage in Islam is a contractual relationship, so is Mut'a marriage. Your interviewee claimed that no contract is required; that the man and woman only need to recite a verse/statement. By doing so, she reflected a very common misunderstanding of Mut'a marriage. In fact, this misunderstanding is one of the reasons it is misused. The contract is there to protect the parties to the marriage, especially the woman.

The contract outlines how long the marriage will be, providing dates and times. Conditions can be placed. For example, living conditions, meeting places, etc. Also, a condition to the contract could be that no physical touch would take place. In such cases, the purpose behind the Mut'a marriage is to allow both partners to spend time in private, in a legal/halal/"kosher" way (Islamic law does not permit that an unmarried couple be alone in a room, lest sexual behaviour outside marriage should take place).

Some Muslims (though not all, and not all Shi'ites practice this) engage in Mut'a marriage not for the sexual aspect, as outlined above, but to provide the couple with a halal/kosher means to spend time together and get to know each other.

However, due to culture and personal preferences, many Muslims do not engage in Mut'a marriage. While some use it properly, and some misuse it.

It would be greatly appreciated if the information provided in today's interview be corrected on your show, in order to avoid any misunderstanding of Mut'a marriage.

thank you,
Ruba A. Al-Hassani
Ph.D. Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School
Teaching Assistant, York University

Hanin Ghaddar's piece about this, in Foreign Affairs magazine.

January 6 & 9: from Juba, Sudan - Brunei - Diego Garcia - Serra da Guia, Brazil - Rohtak, India

Brazilian traditional healer Dona Jesefa.

The View from Southern Sudan heading into a referendum that's expected to create a new country.

Modern medicine is discovering there's much to learn from traditional healers in Brazil.

New information about the Anglo-American campaign to expel residents from their island home in the Indian Ocean.

And to Brunei, where a strange snack is making a comeback. It's a gummy paste with a yummy taste, if you can get past the look of it.

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