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Unrecorded Muslim Marriages, Bigamy, and Polygamy
by Karen Lugo
The same week that Republican convention delegates unanimously voted for a platform provision stating that judges should not consult foreign law or customs to guide them in interpreting American law, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled on the convoluted case of a bogus Muslim marriage which set the stage for a potentially bigamous Muslim marriage.
North Carolina's highest court sorted through contorted facts and two previous rulings to reach the proper conclusion: that a marriage performed in defiance of state laws -- which regulate ministerial qualifications and marriage registration -- was not valid. The legality of this prior non-compliant marriage had everything to do with how the courts would determine the rights of the husband and wife in the current dispute.
An earlier marriage had involved a Muslim woman participating in some kind of commitment ceremony to a Muslim man. Whether or not the procedures that followed were legally acceptable hinged upon whether a truck driver could legally perform a wedding; whether a properly executed marriage license was required (the state law was later changed to relax licensing requirements); and, whether a verbal Islamic divorce was valid. Also, the record states that the "marriage" only lasted for weeks and was never consummated. Later the same year, the ostensible wife married a different man but this time followed civil marriage requirements.
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