Marriages take place every day around Syria all the time, but one certain marriage got the attention of the whole country last week. The wedding ceremony of Hadeel Sukary and Adonis Khalof remarkably moved public opinion all over Syria and has been talk of the town since last week.
Hadeel (Muslim) and Adonis (Christian) are not the first couple from different religions that get married in Syria, they are not the first to marry according to a civil marriage contract done outside Syria, and not the first who receive support and blessing of both their families. So technically, nothing is phenomenal about this; but, someone posted photos with the caption “First Civil Marriage in Syrian Modern History” and it went viral. Nonetheless, what matters is not if it’s the first or not, what matters is how people reacted to it, the huge support for this wedding is truly promising. To be honest, not many couples celebrate such marriages publically, because not all of them are lucky enough to get this support from their families.
Syrian community is tolerant and people respect each other’s belief, but when it comes to marrying someone from another religion, people are very concervative, it is not always a pleasant occasion.
Syria is an Islamic country and marriages are recognized only when the contract is done according to one of the four accredited religions in Syria: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Unitarianism (Al-Muwa??id?n). Any other marriage contract is not recognized by Syrian law. This law recognizes civil marriage contracts only for foreigners who come from countries that work by civil marriage laws. Therefore, any form of marriage for Syrian nationals held in Syria outside the four recognized forms is considered invalid.
Accordingly, if a Muslim woman marries a non-Muslim, their marriage would not be registered and would not be considered valid (according to Islamic law) unless the husband converts to Islam, then their children would be registered as Muslims, but the husband’s family then have no right to inherit him because they are non-Muslims. If the husband does not convert, children would be registered under the name of the father, but mother would be considered “unknown”.
Law is not the only obstacle that faces couples from different religions, society is another obstacle for many reasons. First, marrying from another religion is seen as going against social traditions and costumes, it is strongly frowned upon. Second, such cases are seen as threat to social stability as they might motivate others to follow their steps and change the social order.
If either or both of the families of the couples happen to disapprove the marriage, couples have few options left; either to rebel and do things their way, or to give up and forget the whole thing.
Recently there have been many calls to change Syrian civil law in a way that offers individuals to choose between a civil marriage or a religious marriage, however, part of the conservative public met it with rejection worse than that of the religious and political institution. However, younger generations are more open to such changes; many stories are coming up to the surface trying to draw a role model for others.
Civil marriage is a basic step towards full equality of all citizens, to give people the right to choose how they want to commit; it is by no means an underestimation or insult to religions, on the contrary, it promotes more tolerance and equality. And now is the time to do such changes, now is better than ever.
If Syria was in need of any revolution, it is first this kind of revolution, one against social codes that set us apart instead of bringing up closer to each other. What we need is more love, more respect and more secularism that would unify us as Syrians regardless of our religion or ethnicity.
Congratulations Hadeel and Adonis, and thank you for sharing us your joy!
My heart can take on any form:
A meadow for gazelles,
A cloister for monks,
For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim,
The tables of the Torah,
The scrolls of the Quran.
My creed is Love;
Wherever its caravan turns along the way,
That is my belief,
(Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi)