By Mohamed Yassine El Hattach
By Mohamed Yassine El Hattach
Morocco World News
Mekens, Morocco, October 23, 2012
The concept of engagement, or Al-Khutbah in Arabic, has seen many changes and development from time to time to meet the desires of citizens. In each society, the engagement is performed in light of custom and national laws. In Morocco, engagement is a necessary step. It is ruled by custom, which recognized by the Maliki Doctrine as one source of Islamic legislation, and by the Family Code which derives most of its articles from Islamic law.
In 2006, Moroccan Parliament enacted the Family Code which subrogated the previous Personal Status Code. It was amended in order to meet the needs of Moroccan society, especially in terms of issues that pertain to the rights of children and the equality between spouses. The issue of engagement witnessed some development in its legal adaptation. In the Article 5, The Family Code defines that “engagement is the reciprocal promise of marriage between a man and a woman. Engagement takes place through the expression by the two parties of a reciprocal promise to marry by any accepted means, including the reading of the Sura of Al Fatiha from the Holy Quran and the customary exchange of presents.” This definition demonstrates some religious and traditional features under which the engagement occurs.
One obvious matter is that there is semi-contradiction between modernity and tradition in the performance of betrothal. It seems that definition is very applicable to Moroccan society because it is, to some extent, conservative. However, the reality is different. As soon as the betrothal is achieved by the family of couples, the couples begin the period of dating which lasts until the wedding. Even the Moroccan legislature admitted the period of engagement does not guarantee any rights for the female because the betrothal is just a promise of marriage, not a marriage. Let’s go further and suppose that the woman became pregnant during engagement. In this case, society becomes very traditional and looks at her pregnancy as a disgrace. Does the law give her a right to register her child in the File of Civil Status?
In addition, when the legislature says that “engagement is the reciprocal promise,” it means either of the couple can rescind the engagement when he/she wants. Article 6 states that “… Each party has the right to break off the engagement.” The legislature acknowledges only the customary matters such as the presents and dowry that are mentioned in the Article 5. If the couple gets disengaged before the marriage, this is when the woman will face traditional problems, and she will find difficulty for integrating in society. The popular explanation, “When a woman split up, is that as long as she was refused by that man, she is not supposed to be a good wife.”
Even if we consider the celebration of the wedding and the engagement from occasional perspectives, we will see the features of modernity and tradition. There are those who still preserve the Moroccan traditions during their all familial occasions and ceremonies, while some families renounce all traditional customs during their betroth occasion and bridal ceremony.
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