Islamic Law in U.S. Courts: In re: The Marriage of Awatef and Nabil Dajani (Cal. Ct. App. 1988): Divorce Proceeding

In a divorce proceeding involving a prenuptial agreement (Islamic marriage contract) between a Muslim husband and wife, the California Court of Appeals considered the validity of a provision requiring the husband to pay 3,000 Jordanian dinars as well as 2,000 dinars of either cash or household furniture as a “deferred dowry” (known as mahr or ṣadāq) due to the wife upon death or divorce. The husband claimed that the deferred dowry is not due where, as here, the wife initiates the divorce proceeding. The court concluded that, regardless of the individual claims, requiring payment of one party to the other upon divorce was an example of prohibited “divorce profiteering” and that, “if the court had accepted the position of wife’s expert, the contract would not have been enforceable under the public policy of the state.” Accordingly, the Court upheld the lower court’s decision not to enforce that provision of the agreement.

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