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After the fast ends, evening meal is usually spent in the company of friends and family. Some take this time to give back to the poor. “In Saudi, we buy a bag of rice and donate some money for those less fortunate,” Sera notes.  “Also, you see a lot of people cooking big batches of food to feed to the poor. All mosques invite every one to come and eat for free every day and I think this is just one of the best things about Ramadan.” I am not remiss of the fact that as she says this, a big smile lit up her face. 
As we ate our food, I decided to tackle the issue of Shari’ah Law and her experience with it while living in Saudi. Sera acknowledges that Saudi essentially follows Shari’ah Law. Translated from Arabic, shari’ah means “road” or “way.” For Muslims, shari’ah governs all the aspects of daily life (Brodd et al. 510). In Islam, “God is the sole legislator. In theory, this means that while humanity can interpret law, humans cannot legislate or make new laws” (510). Qur’an, Islam’s sacred religious text, is Saudi’s primary legal source (510).  It oversees everything from commerce, crime, to marriage and even divorce. “Punishments for crimes are really harsh,” Sera says. “Many things are banned, like movie theaters and even Valentine’s Day!” Sera laughs as she says this. “Many believe that it encourages dating and that eventually leads to pre-marital sex.” As such, Islamic law also determines what everyone can eat or drink. Sera confirms that the consumption of alcohol is illegal and to be caught partaking in it can result in terrible consequences. For food, pork is strictly prohibited in the country. As for other meats, Sera states, “our butcher shops always cut the animal’s head off because that is the way it is expected in our religion. Cutting the head off and letting the blood drain is believed to be the most humane way.” When I asked about other religions in Saudi, Sera says that practicing another religion besides Islam in public is just not done. “Non-islam houses of worship is pretty much nonexistent  because Muslims believe this lessens the chance of its believers to be converted to another religion.” She adds, “men and women mixing together in social situations are also prohibited. They are only allowed to mingle if they are related.” 
The rules for mingling with the opposite sex immediately piqued my interest. I asked Sera if she can talk more about marriage and family within the context of Islam and she readily agreed. “Marriage and family are very important in my religion,” she says. As such, Muslims consider Muhammad to be the ideal husband and father and strive to follow his example in their lives (Brodd et al. 515). Marriage is to be expected once one reaches adulthood, whether this takes place in the form of an arranged marriage or not. “Traditionally, the family chooses the husband for the wife, although more modern Muslims don’t do this in abundance anymore,” Sera explains. “A lot of times the bride and groom meet for the first time under supervision of the family. During their “dates,” a mahrem (the women’s male guardian) will accompany the couple as they get to know each other.” I asked her what typically transpires during these dates and Sera laughed. “The dates are very basic and just consists of the couple talking.  Definitely no holding hands or kissing!” She also notes that having a child out of wedlock is possibly one of the worst things that can happen. “I only know of one person that happened to! She was half American and her Saudi dad disowned her and she now lives in the States. I can honestly say that  I’ve never known it to happen to a Saudi (Arabian).” She adds, “it is so taboo (to have a child out of wedlock) that some very traditional families can take it to extremes by killing their daughter. A lot of the times when it happens, the families hush it up and usually plan elaborate things like sending the daughter away or hiding them until the baby is born and then passing it off as someone else’s.” 
On the subject of marriage, I asked Sera if she can touch on the subject of her previous marriage. Sera married at age 20 while still living in Saudi. The marriage ended when her then-husband expressed his desire to take another wife. In accordance with Shari’ah Law, a man can have as many as four wives in Saudi, providing he treats his wives equally and have the means to support them all comfortably. “I was definitely not on board with his decision to take another wife,” Sera says. “In fact, “no second wives” was a stipulation in our contract!” A marriage is considered a contractual relationship in Islam (Brodd et al. 514). The bride and groom require a marriage contract, signed in the presence of witnesses, for the marriage to be considered valid (514). Unsurprisingly, Sera pushed for a divorce. Sera notes, “For a divorce to be granted, the man must say “I divorce her” three times on separate occasions with appropriate witnesses. This ensures that the intent is not done in the heat of the moment.” Sera also brings up the subject of “misyar marriages,” which is a type of marriage that is seeing a rise in popularity in Saudi. “Misyar is when a man “marries’ a young wife and essentially only sees her for sex. The wife usually doesn’t even live with the husband.. Honestly, it is  pretty much like escorting. They are using loopholes to do it and claim it is “Islamic” when really, it is just prostitution because the man pays for her house and upkeep and all she does is give him sex.” 

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