An attorney for a Will County woman is optimistic that Jordan courts will uphold a rare legal victory granting her client the right to a deferred dowry under Muslim religious law.
Attorney Reem Odeh said Saturday that her client, Mae Sallal, of Frankfort, should be able to collect her $15,000 dowry, pending a court ruling in Jordan expected soon.
“They have respect for the American judicial system,” Odeh said.
Sallal won what Odeh thinks is a virtually unprecedented legal victory last month before Will County Circuit Court Judge Robert Baron. He ruled that an Islamic marriage contract — known as an Aqed Zawage — could be enforced in the United States. In the past, Odeh said, judges have been reluctant to uphold religious contracts as binding law.
In that contract, which the couple signed in Jordan where they were married eight years ago, husband Rami Sallal agreed to pay $10,000 Jordanian dinars as a Muacher, or deferred dowry, if the couple split up. He also agreed to give her gold and other jewelry at her wedding as a dowry. In Muslim culture, dowries are given from males to females, said Mae Sallal, who is Palestinian. Rami Sallal is from Jordan.
After they moved to the United States, where he worked as a stockbroker, they parted. He filed for divorce in February, after he moved back to Jordan.
The judge agreed that the contract appeared to resemble a pre-nuptial agreement and ordered Rami Sallal to pay both the dowry and the deferred dowry. He also awarded Mae Sallal, 28, custody of the couple’s 1-1/2 year old daughter, their home in Frankfort and two cars..