Saudi Arabia: American Bedu’s Quiet Secret

Dear readers and friends of Carol, here you find Carol’s last article, which she had scheduled a long time in the future. This article illustrates Carol’s great capacity for love and forgiveness.

We miss you Carol.

After careful thought and deliberation I have decided to come out with something I have danced around and never discussed outright.  Why?  Because of my own inner conflicts on the issue.  However, I realize that to be fair to the memory of the man with whom I shared the best times of my life and to his family and heritage, I should speak out.  This may not put me in the most favored of light but as the saying goes, it is what it is. It is part of who I am and my life I had shared with my late husband, Abdullah.

When I first met Abdullah back in the late 1990’s I was under the belief he was separated and in the process of divorce.  After all, we met in Pakistan, he was there alone and if asked, he did not acknowledge that he was married.  Truthfully I also made it very difficult for him to be candid as I was brash and vocal on my views on men who had more than wife.  Besides, at that time, I never imagined we’d have a life or future together.  Yet as time went on and I got to know this kind, caring and compassionate man, I gave him my heart with no holds barred.

Time passed and we discussed marriage.  He chose to be less than direct on the topic of marriage other than he had children with a good woman and whom he respected highly.  The implication was that a divorce had taken place but he would do whatever he could for his children and their mother.  I admired his integrity and loyalty.

It was not until we had been married for more than three years that I learned he had never divorced his first wife.  From a western and emotional perspective I felt abandoned and betrayed.  Yet at the same time, Abdullah was always true to his words and actions.  He never made me feel incomplete or less than loved or his only love for that matter.  He had a relationship similar to many around the world of couples who were divorced and had children in common.  He never spoke against the fine woman who was his first wife.  It was my own insecurities that would make this subject an issue.  Yes; like a whining banshee I would feel some periods of self pity and fear.  Oh how silly I was.

As more time passed I like to say that my eyes opened wider and wiser.  I became aware of intimate family details and especially so how a Saudi woman can lose so much of herself and her own opportunities if there is perceived abandonment or divorce.  Abdullah, showcasing his honor, would never place a woman in such a position.  He wanted her to always have the protection of his name, integrity and family.  She raised his children and raised them so well.

She and I never met, never talked.  There was no need.  Over time I came to realize there was no need for me to feel threatened or insecure.  If anything, one could say I was in the stronger position since I was the one recognized and known as Abdullah’s wife to whom he openly gave his heart and was willing to sacrifice his position in order to merge a life together.

I only have all the more admiration for Abdullah.  He was a man caught in tradition and heritage.  Like me, he never dreamed he’d also find that ‘once in a lifetime love.’  He did not want to lose me and chose to hold back from me until I asked him point blank directly about his marital status.  Even when I did confront him all those years ago, I still see the fear and concern which etched over his face.  He was ready for me to let him go because of my strong abhorrence against the concept of multiple wives in Islam.  But all it took was for me to see his face, his fear, his love and yes, his fear to hope.  I knew… I could not let this man go.  We would move forward and move forward even stronger.  We would learn to dissolve the time which had been lost by my own fears and insecurities.

Don’t say it can’t happen to you.  It can.  It does.  It happened to me.  Don’t be quick to judge or point fingers either.  Don’t blame him.  Don’t blame me.  Don’t blame her.  We all may find ourselves in circumstances beyond which imagined.

My late husband taught me an invaluable life lesson on compassion, honor, integrity and how to accept compromises for less hurt, great gain and immeasurable love.


184 Responses

  1. Amazing love story..

  2. I am left in tears. I pray my love for my husband and his love for me are somewhere near Carol’s and Abdullah’s. RIP!

  3. I’m glad the story is now complete and in the open. Carol certainly had a great capacity for love and forgiveness. I certainly don’t blame her for being so misled. And I certainly don’t blame Abdullah’s first wife for being nearly completely abandoned by him.

  4. For some reason I’m not surprised.

  5. Mama Bedu… simply, thank you. I’m reading back through old e-mails and crying. Thank you for being the person you are and showing how beauty and light can be found even in the craziest of messes.

  6. I miss her writing…..

  7. To the current moderator of American Bedu, May I have your permission to repost this to my blog? Carol was my mentor in writing my fictional story of an American who fell in love with a Saudi man. She read excerpts and encouraged me. She helped me build a believable story. She never told me the above story, but from our conversations, I admit I suspected. I am in tears as I read it and as I type this now. She and I shared a line that is in my novel; Love Finds A Way. Now I understand her better and yes, Friends, she has spoken, love found a way.
    I miss you Carol! I know you are together in heaven. Death may separate a strong love but not forever as love is eternal.

  8. May you rest in peace Carol. I was touched by her kindness and compassion she was the kind of person that really understood serving humanity. The pain she went through was great. Even though polygamy is tradition in Saudi it still hurts and women suffer quietly. I do not have an opinion and even if I did I will not say it out of my love for dear Carol and her great husband Abdullah. I hope the world will slowly understand that for men and women to be equal traditions must change and the new generations should start this. The concept of Equality of men and women is much bigger than mere issues it is a way of life. We must start building society by changing these concepts. This is a worldwide problem and manifests itself in different forms in different cultures.
    We love you Carol and pray for your and your husbands progress in the other world.

  9. A sad story and a good example of how there are always issues with cross cultural relationships. It is probably impossible for a middle aged Saudi man to realize what foreigners think of multiple marriages.

  10. katcanfield, yes you can, we think that Carol would have been happy to oblige you. Please add a link the blog.

  11. @Jerry,
    To be fair to Saudi men- In my experience most middle aged Saudi men, especially well educated ones, DO realize what foreigners think about multiple marriages. And certainly Saudi women understand.

  12. Maybe from a Western perspective, this is something secretive, mysterious or intriguing but it is not surprising at all. Not sure why but I always thought that he was still married to his first wife so it was not so shocking to read this and it was kind of an anti-climax waiting for this final post from Carol.

    Having said that, it is almost nostalgic, yearning for more posts from her, needing more answers, missing her warm presence, her smiles through her posts, her romantic stories and above all – just her. I just miss her so much. This last post has so much of her in it – seems like she has never left us. Maybe this whole blog is what makes her still be with us.

    Perhaps we will never know answers to many questions – how it was being a second wife, was he still in touch with her, did she know that he was very sick, how was it when he passed away, was the first wife involved in saying goodbye to him, was she even aware that he had another wife. What about Carol’s own first husband, was he around or in touch?

    Maybe we are never meant to know the answers to these questions or the very personal side of her life. It is enough to know about the strong bond Carol and Abdullah had and the love that they had shared. It is enough to know how caring and compassionate she was and how she felt that she must be honest to her readers about her life and she wrote from her heart.

    We miss you, Carol. Rest in peace, you and your dear husband.

  13. I am not surprised. According to Carol, It’s clear that Abdullah wasn’t a man to divorce from the mother of his children.

  14. Loved reading her blog. Felt like she is with us again. Miss her writings. I knew both Carol and Abdullah, May their souls rest in peace. I wonder if Carols movie is going to be out soon for viewers! Anyone knows about it?

  15. Things are different in this part of the world. I think that Westerners are the first to speak out against stereotypes, prejudice, racism, and judgement, but are often the first to do it.

    I was a second wife and #1 and I did meet and get to be friends. I tell very few people (and I wonder if any of my friends will read this here). I don’t care anymore, but I was judged often by lots of friends and family. Every circumstance is different.

    I admire Carol. She obviously loved her husband very very much. May they both rest in peace and love.

  16. Things are not so different that the majority of first wives, and second wives who were misled and all children involved are not tremendously hurt. There are the rare occasions where all adults agree and chose freely the arrangement. But it is not true that in “this part of the world” folks (especially women and their children) are mostly ok with polygamy.

  17. Im not against polygamy by consenting adults. however i dont think lying is good either, on such a topic either. but we all do what we have to do to be happy. so i completely understand why they all did what they did and how it could be normal .
    different people see different things as a breaking point in their relationship, but we all have a choice as adults and polygamy is one of them.
    It worked out for them, but it rarely does for the many and innocents get hurt.

    i dont condone breaking laws but if saudi permits multiple wives and all of them agree i see nothing wrong. I’m not sure how truly the visa situation in the US was represented. but that’s all in the past. hope they both rest in peace.

  18. I don’t care who wants to marry whom.
    As long as it is all fair and above board, if all agree of their own free will, are adult, 21 or older, and not pressured or indoctrinated.
    Men can marry more wives, women can marry more husbands, men can marry men, women can marry women.
    All fine.

    Now if there’s lies and deception involved, that’s a completely different matter of course. That’s low, evil and inexcusable.

    It’s also not really fair if men are allowed to marry multiple parties and women are not, or men are not allowed to marry other men or women not to marry other women.
    It should be fair and equal.
    Any man who marries more than one wife should be fine with his wives adding other husbands or wives to their marriages.

  19. A few things that Carol said let me to wonder if there was a current first wife. Still I know she loved her husband and I think her husband loved her. I wish he was more forthcoming before the marriage.

  20. I think I cast Carol’s horoscope once and I saw that she was a Libra. That explains a lot because Libra people are ready to go to any length to keep their relationships going, no matter how devastating the other person’s actions can be. I know this as I have two Libras in my family and this story gives me a feeling of déjà vu, though there wasn’t polygamy involved. I am only surprised that Abdullah lied to Carol about his marital status even though Carol had made her position on polygamy very clear. This doesn’t seem right to me despite the happy end, but to each his own.

  21. Somebody did my horoscope and told me that one of the things I’d be totally unsuitable for is ”Artist”.
    Yeah, right….

  22. I was not at all surprised to read this (much like when I’d read about her being a Christian). When I’d read that this post was upcoming I KNEW what it was going to be about. I had asked her outright if he was married when she met him and she declined to answer and that was all the answer I needed. 😉

    Like you, Aafke, I also don’t care how mature adults choose to live their married lives as long as there are no lies and deception involved and if there is, that’s low, evil and inexcusable. Considering Abdullah’s understanding of Carol’s beliefs about plural marriages, his deception was especially evil and inexcusable. He should have told her the truth and helped her to understand and if she willingly chose to marry him after that then fine. But that grand love that they shared was fake (based on secrets held) from the get go. I have to question Carol’s use of the words ‘ honor and integrity’ to describe a man that was basically deceitful. But, I guess that’s what she was when she was living as a ‘closet Christian’, no? So, perhaps they were perfect for each other after all?

  23. I wish I could tell Carol that I would never judge her for that, ever. I remember from time to time, multiple wives topic would appear and she said it was sensitive topic. I thought to myself, I do not just those you have more than one wife. I always wanted to say, at least they are honest about it.
    Carol, I miss you!!!

  24. Carol, too, had her own secret. She did not reveal that she was spy to Abdullah until a year or two after marriage. So they are even.

  25. @Sarah,
    That is really a false equivalency. Not all secrets are created equal. She was not spying ON Abdullah, or using him to get info- and it was almost certainly safer for HIM not to know.

    But lets say for a minute you are right, and they are “even”. What about his first wife? The one that was left and watched her husband start a life with another woman? And his kids who watched this treatment of their mother? Are they “even” too?

  26. I have refrained from my opinion so far, but I want to ask this question of those who have read this story. Why is multiple marriages in Islam any different than divorce and remarriage in other countries? Throw out that oppression of women in Islamic countries, that is a different issue altogether.
    I know many men and women who are now with a third or fourth wife/husband. So they get divorced before remarrying, but usually the man has to care for the financial needs of the previous wife and children. So in reality, isn’t he doing the same thing as Muslims but only within the laws of the country they live in?
    I am not condoning the start of relationship with a lie. Even if both parties had a lie on their side, that did not make it right. If love is real it should be able to sustain the truth. But humans, unfortunately, seem to be afraid of that and do hold back on the truth. And I will bet everyone of us out there has lied to someone we thought we loved in some way. Everyone! And if you have never, then you may cast the first stone.

  27. What? For a woman if she is married she can’t move on. The man can. The difference is that the wives often don’t know about each other- so they are being “cheated” on. They lose custody if they divorce their husbands even if that’s what they want. The often can’t divorce their husbands if they want. If they are fortunate enough to get a divorce and custody- they lose custody if they remarry. They have to move back home with their parents or a brother if they get divorced.

  28. The big difference is for the women, if she’s the 2nd wife she cannot move on, if she’s the divorced -ex then she can.
    I’m actually not against polygamy between consenting adults but letting only the men have that right seems unfair to me.

  29. First wife can’t move on either. Especially without a divorce.

  30. @sandy, sorry, yes exactly, thats what i meant… the wife cant move on ( whichever no) but the divorced one can. i cant wrap my mind around why would any woman want half a husband but then that’s just me… maybe they have compelling reasons, but the simple fact that men can and women can’t gets my back up to the whole sorry mess.

  31. One aspect of this that has not been mentioned is the financial aspect about what happened to Carol after Abdullah passed away. She was immediately excluded from his medical insurance – she wrote about this on this blog, so I guess we can assume that this is a fact. Would that have happened to an only wife? And it appears from what she wrote (small apartment, on Medicaid, which is US insurance for those with very limited financial resources) that she was not left much, if any, assets in his will, and didn’t have much in the way of separate assets. Now, this can happen in many cases with second marriages between mature individuals in the US; both parties agree that their estates will be kept separate and go to their children. But it doesn’t sound like Carol had much money at that time to take care of herself, and, with a great love, I would assume that, in the case of a non polygamous marriage, the party with assets would ensure that the party without assets was taken care of in the event that he/she passed away. Did the fact that Abdullah had another wife prevent Carol from being taken care of financially? Was his other wife in the same boat after he passed away?

    I am not saying that women are necessarily owed their husbands’ assets, but it is clear that Carol gave up her career to get married. So, if her opportunities to make her own money were limited, and she was left without an inheritance because of the polygamous marriage, that is something to consider.

    This is not to judge in the sense of good or bad; it is to point out to anyone reading who is contemplating a romantic relationship/marriage with a Saudi that, if one ends up as a second wife, it could make survival difficult.

  32. Great story and now one of the questions I was always wondering about has been answered. I was surprised that after Carol got diagnosed, it seemed like all the ties with her Saudi in-laws were severed – she never spoke of them, there was no inheritance, no survivor benefits of any kind, it’s like that part of her life got cut off. Since the first wife never left the picture, it is clear that in the eyes of her husband’s family, the first wife remained The Wife, and when Abdullah was gone, became The Widow. The American? Never happened. Well. Like it never happened.

  33. if Carol didn’t became Muslim she doesn’t have right to inheritance (Islamic law) and I think Carol didn’t.

  34. Sandy,
    Yes his first family is not “even” but considering only the two – Carol and Abdullah, and that both had secrets of their own – so its kind of like they are even, even though the nature of the secrets maybe different.

    But did the first wife ever know about Carol, did the kids know. If so, what were their initial reactions? Something we were never told.

    In my opinion, the heart is a marvelous piece of creation. It can adapt to any situation and even in polygamy, the previous wife (wives) can eventually get used to the fact and will live normal lives. It is known that man can love many women – for him each one is different and so for each is a different kind of love but love it is. But for women, she can love only one with all her heart. This is why she finds it difficult to imagine that the man with whom she is sharing her life with is now sharing his life with other women. Its very difficult to imagine but when it does happen, it takes only a while to get used to it. There are however some women who just cannot take it and do not want to even try to manage the situation. I guess it depends on the upbringing, the society, the background …etc.

    Carol may not have to live that pain, perhaps because the first one was not in touch with her husband (I presume) or he maybe in touch secretively. But if she was in pain, she was strong enough not to show it.

  35. nassima, according to this blog, Carol didn’t convert back to Christianity until one year after Abdullah’s passing. So that should have nothing to do with her inheritance rights. Although that would be something for someone contemplating building a life with a Saudi man to consider if that is the case – if you are not Muslim, you are entitled to nothing as a widow. Is that a correct understanding?

    Time does not permit additional comments at the moment, although I could say quite a bit.

  36. Sarah, I completely disagree with your assessment of what type of love men and women are capable of. Some- both genders- are capable of more than one person- some not. Some make commitments and chose to honor them no matter who else crosses their path. Some chose to have honest foundations to their marriages whether plural or singular.

    Carol states in this post it caused a lot of pain. And why do you presume he was not in touch with his first wife? Why wouldn’t he be? Carol mentions interactions with his children in this blog. She also spoke a lot about not agreeing with polygamy.

    It is the prevailing orthodox view that a non-Muslim can’t inherit. But there are many ways to arrange to provide for loved ones if you chose to do so while you are still living.

    Personally if everything is honest and everyone makes their choices I don’t have a strong feelings about polygamy. Consenting adults can do as they like. It isn’t for me, so I won’t do it, is all.

  37. Sarah, I think you are wrong about Carol’s ‘secret’. I’m pretty sure that if you were to find the post where she told US the ‘secret’ you would read that she told him about her job BEFORE the marriage because she was going to have to quit her job to marry him. When she sat him down to lay that secret on him that would have been a perfect time for him to confess that he too had a secret that he was keeping. But, conniver that he was, he couldn’t do that because she had made it clear to him how she felt about plural marriages. You cannot even try to compare these ‘secrets’. One was a career that required secrecy and the other was just pure manipulation to get what he wanted with no regard to her feelings when the truth would come out.

    As far as ‘inheritance’ goes, if the wife is not allowed to inherit because she is not Muslim then she should not be allowed to marry a Muslim!! But the thing is, she didn’t just not inherit, she lost all of her personal belongings as well since she didn’t pack everything she owned when she travelled to the US with her ailing ‘love’. It’s pretty sickening that she had to lower herself to ask strangers on-line for money to help get her cats shipped to her. She had a relationship with her step children and considering the kind of opulence that Carol lived when she was with her ‘prince’ they should have had enough money to at least send her her things. Also, as far as anyone is KSA knew, she was still a Muslim. She didn’t become a Christian again until after Abdullah died but she went into that marriage as a Muslim so she should have been able to inherit.

    I just hope that any women reading these posts gets the message. Stay far away from Saudis and/or Muslims. They will manipulate and sweet talk you and tell you everything that you want to hear to get exactly what they want with no regard for your feelings or personal values. It makes me sick that Carol was forced to compromise her values for that man that she fell in love with under false pretenses. I could try to respect the marriage if she had known what she was getting into but it was all a sham. But, clearly, living the life of opulence and adventure meant more to her than being true to herself. She had many opportunities to share this with us when she was alive but she waited until after she died because she STILL hadn’t come to terms with the fact that she was duped. If she HAD then she wouldn’t have been too embarrassed to deal with the questions that she would have gotten from us. SMH…

  38. Sandy, it is just my opinion based on what I see around and what I read, so with all due respect, it does not matter if you agree or not. I assumed that Abdullah was not in touch in husband/wife way – you know what I mean. He may have been in touch in “providing” way.

    I would agree with polygamy if the situation calls for it and not just because the man just “wants” to.

  39. I’ll try breaking up my comment in case the length of it is what is keeping it in moderation.

    Sarah, I think you are wrong about Carol’s ‘secret’. I’m pretty sure that if you were to find the post where she told US the ‘secret’ you would read that she told him about her job BEFORE the marriage because she was going to have to quit her job to marry him. When she sat him down to lay that secret on him that would have been a perfect time for him to confess that he too had a secret that he was keeping. But, conniver that he was, he couldn’t do that because she had made it clear to him how she felt about plural marriages. You cannot even try to compare these ‘secrets’. One was a career that required secrecy and the other was just pure manipulation to get what he wanted with no regard to her feelings when the truth would come out.

  40. Nope, that didn’t work so it must be the content. LOL

    You are in moderation, all comments will be released when a moderator is online

  41. “. But for women, she can love only one with all her heart. ” — really?? why?? i thought a womans capacity for love was all encompassing, on one side we say a women loves her children the most , however they may me and then we say she can love only one with all her heart..
    It’s all a bunch of BS,
    I can love 3 men equally – with all my heart, do there does that mean i can marry 3 of them? no why not?

    i dont care if 1 man married a truck load of women, but dont justify that with a religious book and some statements without proof, simply say they like multiple partners, unfortunately this is denied to women.i know plenty of women who could easily manage 2 or more husbands and be happier than with one…. but we just say ‘ touch luck’ and get on wih it.

    As for inheritance. i assume they lived in US for a brief while, i assume they cam on some visa ( atleast one of them did?) which means theya re husband and wife, as far as i know the US doesnt give visas to 2nd wife, 3rd wife etc., or green cards either… which means she was the only LEGAL wife . irrespective of what islam says. which means she gets survivor benefits.. but she didnt. so was she not recognized as married?? well it doesnt matter now anyways but to me this is such a sad story of such a compassionate and brave woman and if they did indeed cut her off a truly idiotic family. well there are all kinds inthis world i guess.

  42. @nassima – luckily for us only some countries follow islamic law, and carol didn’t since she passed in the US . religion has nothing to do with inheritance, if she was good enough to be married to a muslim man, she was good enough to receive inheritance but then greed always exist in this world and what better than using a religious book to justify that.

    for those of you married to a muslim man who are not muslim ( like me) . I’d suggest get the marriage registered in civil courts. and make sure its recognized. plus there are a million ways of passing on inheritance to your wife even if the religious text says no…

  43. Anon,
    I didn’t know that Carol was muslim during her marital life with abdullah. I always tought she remain faithful to his religion.

    I agree with you it isn’t fair for the non muslim wife.

  44. Moderation, my friends. LOL

  45. If assets were in Saudi – you would need to make a different arrangement even if you are in the US.

  46. I think it is wrong of us to assume what kind of relationship Carol may or may not have had with her Saudi family before/after her husband’s passing. And quite frankly, that is none of our business. Please respect her and her family’s privacy. Ditto for Abdullah’s relationship with his first wife.

    This post doesn’t surprise me at all as I kinda gathered as much from what went unsaid. Although I wish for her sake Abdullah would have been more forthcoming and honest in the beginning, I can also understand his not wanting to lose Carol as she is a very, very amazing, loving, beautiful woman. And I can understand why Carol chose to stay with him. Love, as they say, conquers all. I have been in a different situation, though similar in that all was not laid on the table as I would have believed in the beginning. However, I stayed because of love. If Carol was happiest and most content when she was with Abdullah and vice versa, what else matters?

  47. We have to assume what Carol tells us is true about how things transpired. one would have to question why she did not ask the “tough” question before marriage. “are you married?” She was a smart and capable woman who was a spy no less. Certainly it is not the type of thing that someone who had training such as she did would overlook. My own personal take on it is that human beings can be very good at deceiving themselves when they want to. Meaning that sometimes people don’t ask the questions they need to because they perceive that all the right signs are there. But are they really? Or is it more of a case of seeing what we want to see to make it fit our scenario? I have no doubt that Carol and Abdullah loved each other deeply. Perhaps he did not tell her because he was afraid of losing her due to her strong dislike for polygamy. I am not saying that is correct but I am saying it is possible. When people allow themselves to be ruled by their heart rather than their common sense I think they create situations that work for the narrative they want.

    Carol could have left once she knew about it and standing in her shoes I can’t imagine it was an easy decision to stay. But she did stay despite the lie. A lie of omission. Lie or no lie there was the compulsion to deal with and accept a situation she probably thought she never would have to deal with. A divorced man? OK. A married man? Unlikely she ever thought it would happen to her.

    My thoughts also wander toward the first wife. Did he leave his first wife for Carol or was he already separated prior to meeting her? If they were not separated, I wonder how the first wife felt knowing that her husband was in love with another woman and was, in effect, going to leave her to make a life with the second wife? It seems as if he operated as if Carol was the only wife (both in a life shared and intimacy). He provided the first wife money but she was left in this limbo of not being a wife in the full sense and not being able to find anyone else. That must have been hard and how did Carol reconcile all that I wonder. Not an easy situation and one I am sure more than one woman has found themselves facing.

  48. Lynn,
    Maybe I misunderstood Carol’s post but she did say :

    “During those first weeks of marriage he understood that I was still “out-processing” from my job and finishing up administrative paperwork”.

    Meaning it was after her marriage and then again:

    “As a newly married couple we were shy, loving and always warm around each other. I loved how he would enter our home, put his briefcase in the foyer, open his arms wide and holler “Honey, I’m home!” I’d always come running and fling myself in his arms. It didn’t matter we were not teenagers although our love for each other radiated like innocent children. One of the first things he asked the day he knew I had some “resignation meetings” was how did they go? Without any further ado I took his hand and led him to the couch. Sitting down and holding his hand I told him, “Honey, we’ve got to talk.”

    So it was really within her first few weeks of marriage after they bought a house for themselves and Carol was in the process of resigning from her job as a spy.

    From the above I thought it was after and not before her marriage. If I understood wrong then I accept my mistake.

    Another thing – as I said before, it does not matter how serious the secret it, it is still a secret. It cannot be compared especially if someone keeps it thinking it might effect the other party.

  49. I always wondered why she spoke so strongly and so often against women getting involved with Saudi students. I kept wondering why she didn’t believe that it was possible for others to find the same perfect love that she shared with her husband. Now I understand better. It wasn’t so perfect after all. If she was fine with the deception and the fact that she was second wife, would she have kept it a secret? I can’t help thinking that sharing that would have been sharing such a powerful example of what could happen to a western woman who falls in love with a Saudi. Considering how much she was against western women dating Saudis and thinking that they could marry them is proof that she never truly came to terms with it and that she was ashamed….so ashamed that she couldn’t even share it as a warning to others. I’m very glad that she did write the post and had planned to share it at some point and I’m grateful that whoever found it made the decision to share it. Thank you for that. This is a powerful message for all of us and everyone who ever reads her blog.

  50. I think that Carol had kept it a secret from the readers so that it will not tarnish the image of her husband – after all – she had raised him on to a pedestal. To her readers, he was a perfect gentleman so why disappoint them?

    The fact that she did praise him so much proves that she did forgive him – or is that a cover up to make herself believe that he was indeed perfect. (By the way, no one is perfect). Maybe she needed to wash him with good words, to elevate him so that his wrongs seem almost invisible, almost petty – to her.

    We don’t know much about his relationship with his first wife but it is common that if a couple are estranged and they do not communicate much and if they do its only about the kids or the house or something general, then its natural for the man to feel that he is single. In this sense maybe Abdullah did not feel the need to tell her anything.

    All that is in the past.

  51. I think perhaps Carol needed to see Abdullah in the best possible light. She loved him. And believing in the best light of their relationship was probably a comfort to her in her illness- and through his.

    But she made clear through her posts what she thought of these issues in general. So she must have been conflicted about it. Anyway by my value system there’s no excuse/justification etc for what he did. He may have loved her very much. But I don’t feel he showed respect to either of his wives.

  52. In one post on this site Carol recounts their three marriage ceremonies.
    The first two were Islamic. The third one, a civil ceremony in their home, she says Abdullah wanted to insure legal status of the marriage in the US. The only problem is that the third one was not legal if he were still married to his first wife. No matter what country you are from, no matter if polygamy is legal where you live, if you have a living non-divorced first wife somewhere you cannot legally marry in the USA.

    I don’t know about marriage licenses where they married, but here the form asks if you have ever been married before, and if you check yes you have to provide proof of divorce or a death certificate of the former spouse. In my state he would have either had to lie and say never married or produce a fake divorce certificate to have a civil ceremony. In my state they don’t take your word that you are divorced: an official certificate is needed.

    So in the end their civil marriage in the USA was not legal either.

  53. Sarah, I wish you would have linked back to those posts. I was searching and searching and couldn’t find them. I knew it wasn’t 2 or 3 years into their marriage as you had first claimed. Also they were married 3 separate times! That’s 3 opportunities to bring it up and no doubt the marriage license he applied for in the US asked if he was married so, technically, they were not even legally married here (which had no bearing on his Visa since he was here with his job working as a Saudi Diplomat – probably actually a SPY! lol). Also, I don’t think they ‘bought a house for themselves’ as much as his appointment provided him a house. They were only here because of HIS job at that point, right? Then when his appointment was over and he had to go back to KSA he surprised her with a phone call telling her to get herself and the house ready, they were getting married that night! That wedding had nothing to do with ‘romance’ but surely had something to do with the hoops you have to jump through getting approval to bring his 2nd wife back to his country. What a GREAT opportunity to share about his existing wife! Good thing for him that women are not treated as humans with rights in that country or else they might have spoken to HER in the application process and made sure that she knew the score. You said ‘Maybe she needed to wash him with good words, to elevate him so that his wrongs seem almost invisible, almost petty – to her.’ That’s called ‘deluding yourself’ and people do it all the time in order to allow themselves to continue to living outside of their own personal value system because it ‘feels good for the moment’. Carol and Abdullah were not married that long (5 years? 7?) and I have to wonder if it would have actually lasted because no doubt if he thought it was ok to keep that secret he would have had more and maybe even end up taking yet another wife. So, I hope no one holds this example of marriage up as something great to aspire to.

    Okie – ‘proof that she never truly came to terms with it and that she was ashamed….so ashamed that she couldn’t even share it as a warning to others.’

    I think you are probably right about that. Disappointing, isn’t it?

    Sandy – ‘Anyway by my value system there’s no excuse/justification etc for what he did. He may have loved her very much. But I don’t feel he showed respect to either of his wives.’

    I agree completely!!

  54. I’m wondering why my comments keep ending up ‘waiting for moderation’. That makes it kind of pointless to post as part of a discussion, doesn’t it?

    If people are put in moderation it is because they behave badly. If their behaviour is unacceptable they will get banned. If people behave well they are taken out of moderation.
    I will take you out of moderation.

  55. Here is a link to the online application for a marriage license in Loudon County, Virginia, where Abdullah and Carol lived:

    If you have been married before, you need to check the radio button “widowed” or “divorced.” There is also a “N/A” button which I think is intended for first marriages. The online form and instructions do not indicate if you need to prove proof of a divorce. However, the state website does state that “A marriage entered into prior to the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one or both parties.” is prohibited in Virginia. So it definitely was not legal, and Abdullah would have had to lie (and, as it was a legal document, one might even go so far as to say he perjured himself) to complete the marriage license.

    I do not believe that anyone needs to tell all their secrets to the world; in fact, I think that often goes against common sense. However, I believe that telling the truth is very important. It destroys trust when people lie. That relationship was based on a lie, not just one by omission, and it does appear that it caused a lot of heartbreak, for many. And I do think that Abdullah bears the majority of the responsibility, as he was the one who did the overt lying.

    I don’t think we, the blog audience, are owed an answer to this, but I would not be surprised if the relationship between Abdullah and his first wife was not as platonic as we are all assuming after he began his relationship with Carol. He would hardly be the first man who carried on an intimate relationship between two women at the same time.

    One thing I would like to know, though, is what happened to Carol’s cats after she passed away. Moderators, do you know the answer?

  56. Carol’s wonderful cats are living with a friend of Carol. This was all arranged before she died.
    Carol had many friends, and made many more while she was battling cancer, and they all loved her and her cats.

    FYI, dear readers: There are some very low class people who read this blog and send the most horrible, in very bad taste and using the worst language styled comments to this blog attacking Carol.
    Very depraved.
    I feel like these seem to come up when Carol writes about her husband and Saudi family. But I could be wrong.
    They are of course always in moderation as the types who write them make up new email addresses every time.

    As Carol has been ill for many years and has had help moderating these last years by some of her friends we have been diligent to weed those comments out, so she may not have seen even one of them.
    I just got a new one. A bit useless now isn’t it?

    I do know Carol very much wished to be in touch with her Saudi family, even more so when her own life was coming to an end.

    Carol had had to leave her belongings, antiques, rugs she collected, and personal things in Saudi when she left with Abdullah to help and support him in his grave illness, and she did get a large part of her own belongings back from Saudi.

    Moderator 1

  57. Lynn,
    Sorry I should posted the link:

    Yes I was wrong in saying that it was 2-3 years into their marriage. I did not realize that until I re-read that post.

    Anyhow, being a diplomat, he must have had connections to make it legal in the forms but under Islamic law they were legally married.

  58. Yes Carol does not have to share intimate details about her life to the world but whenever she writes something personal, I get the feeling that she feels obliged to inform her readers about her life in all truth. She used to update us on her hospital visits, results of her tests …etc.

    Lynn, she was married for 6 years but they were together for a few years before that.

  59. Lynn, what you remember makes it seem that he told her when they got back to Saudi, because I thought they lived in the US about 3 years and she says she found out after 3 years. That would make sense- it would almost have to come out then. Or something would happen that would make her ask.

    I’m glad this came out. There are some of us that knew- the expat wives network is intertwined here. I had a hard time reading the posts on how wonderful Abdullah was.

    Moderator- it sure sounds like someone blames Carol for it. In a very tasteless manner. I don’t know- but I’ve always assumed if he lied to Carol he also lied to his other wife. So who knows really what they make of it all.

  60. It could also be other bitter first wives who knew, making the rude posts. Since it wasn’t a total secret.

  61. Sandy…if it won’t betray any confidences, do you know if he was separated from his first wife at the time of meeting Carol? I can’t remember the timeline.

  62. Oby- that I don’t know for certain. But the concept of “separated” doesn’t really exist here. People are married or they divorce.

  63. Sarah, you said, “Anyhow, being a diplomat, he must have had connections to make it legal in the forms but under Islamic law they were legally married.”

    That is not possible. If Abdullah had diplomatic immunity, it would limit if not eliminate the possibility that he would be prosecuted for committing any crime in the US. However, if a diplomat commits an illegal act, it is still illegal. What typically happens in the US if a diplomat commits a crime is that he or she is expelled from the country, and not prosecuted. The illegal act does not become legal if a diplomat commits it, however.

    I thank the moderator for updating us about Carol’s cats.

    Unfortunately, the nature of commenting on the Internet promotes rude behavior. It does seem to intensify against women (hence my label of anon). I would wager that there are multiple abusive commenters here, with multiple reasons.

    Considering this blog has a big audience, especially among women who are considering relationships and/or marriage to Saudi men, I think it is a good thing that information about the down side of this relationship is public. Yes, it is about their private lives, but I (as did Carol, I think) would be concerned for naive women getting involved in relationships that may be partially based on a rosy image they got from reading this blog.

  64. Well, they were technically ‘separated’ since she was in KSA and he was in India and/or Pakistan and then the US. I’m just curious if his first wife knew that they were ‘separated’. I can respect it if they were living like any other divorced couple but he wanted to save her the ‘shame’ of being ‘divorced’ and since he doesn’t HAVE to divorce her in order to move on, he kindly kept her status as married and that made her happy.

    Sandy, could that have been the case? Not that that would make it acceptable to not let Carol know that she would be a 2nd wife even if she was the only ‘true’ wife at the time..

  65. It’s possible. Or she might have also thought she was maintaining the family home and taking care of the kids. I really don’t know. I don’t know the rules for diplomats taking families with them. And I don’t know any of the details of their personal situation regarding this.

  66. I think it’s also very relevant to Carol’s adjustment to the situation to remember their ordeal with Cancer began in 2008. She can hardly have yet been adjusted to life in Saudi and the marital situation. They must have formed a tremendous bond while fighting their health battles. They really went through a very rough and difficult life and death struggle together. That probably changes a lot for a couple.

  67. From what I was told it seems Abdullah told nobody nothing unless he had no choice… Probably under the ”benevolent” idea of what one doesn’t know won’t hurt one.
    Until one finds it out of course.

  68. Whatever happened to the documentary and was this information in it / going to be in it?

  69. So then, Abdullah could not legally marry Carol in the States while he was still married to another woman. But according to this post, he was still married when he married her. And he cannot use his position to legally marry. Something not right here. Maybe he did divorce after all but is it possible that Carol could have misunderstood the situation?

    What happened to freedom of speech. I thought the West promoted this?

  70. Sarah, what does freedom of speech have to do with this? Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to lie.

  71. I find this an interesting quote of Carols from the thread “Rights of an American Wife in Saudi Arabia.” Whether she’s referring to her own situation or not I cannot say. But she claims that Saudi men will lie about divorces in a civil courthouse.

    @Gloria – a word of caution… I have read your comments and can see you are an intelligent professional woman who has found love later in life. I am concerned that you do not know his family and have not been to Saudi. My question is what proof do you have that he is truly divorced? So many women marry then come to Saudi to find there actually is another (Saudi) wife in the wings who oftentimes is a cousin and it was an arranged marriage. And I can also tell you that even if you have a civil marriage in a courthouse Saudi men are not afraid to lie under oath that they are divorced.

  72. Sarah, freedom of speech does not mean one can say anything one likes. The most common exception to this is the truism (in the US) that one does not have the freedom to yell “fire” in a crowded theater (If there is no fire), because you could cause injuries if there were a panic to get out.

    Another example is perjury, which means lying in court or on official governmental forms, such as a marriage license. This is what Abdullah must have done if he were still legally married in Saudi Arabia but obtained a marriage license in the commonwealth of Virginia, where this is illegal and one has to state that one is not married on the application for the marriage license. Lying that one is not married when one actually is in other circumstances, such as if one was a married man trying to pick up women in a bar (and I am not accusing anyone described in this blog of doing this; I am just providing an example) is not illegal. I do hope we can agree that lying is wrong, although it is not illegal, in the US, anyway, unless it is done in a specific context.

    There are some other exceptions. If you check wikipedia, you can find a pretty good definition of freedom of speech in the US, and the limitations to it.

    If you go back and read this very blog post, it does seem clear that Abdullah told Carol explicitly that he was still married. He “chose to hold back from me until I asked him point blank directly about his marital status.”

    I think I really need to limit myself from commenting on this. Each time i look at this, I really dislike this situation even more. There is a term called “gaslighting” in American English that comes from an old movie, where someone manipulates you into not believing the truth. This is considered mental abuse, by the way. Carol was, in my opinion, thoroughly gaslighted here. All this talking about how honorable Abdullah was… If this action were so honorable, there would have been no need not to fully disclose his marital status before the wedding.

    I know I said earlier that I didn’t believe people had to share all information with everyone. But I do think that there are certain things that should be shared with certain individuals at certain times. For example, if one (and again, so there are no mistakes, this is an example only, not referring to anyone in this blog) had a sexually transmittable disease, one has a moral obligation to inform sexual partners before having sex. Another example is that one has a moral obligation to inform a future marriage partner if one is already married. If one wants to go into polygamy with open eyes (which I am actually against, even though I believe consenting adults should be able to do what they want, because there does appear to be a power imbalance in all instances of institutionalized polygamy that I am aware of), it is a very different thing from going into it when one is not aware of it.

  73. but didnt she go to saudi to live and then she became an illegal citizen. that gives me the impression she went on a visitor visa. the man she married was not good to her. i remember her saying she lived with his mothers home which shows how much the family keep secrets. and she got a job and eventually move to her own apartment. which shows again she finacially paid her own way. and i get the impression why she cornered abdulla to admit of another wife was because of lack of money and time with her. just like with any relationship in this world.”where you been, why am i paying for everything”?
    she was the non traditional muslim wife he wanted to if she was muslim, that he fancied. he got to drink beer and mingle with the neighbors. something he couldnt do with his first wife. the pics shows them drinking. she was nothing but a fantasy. i know for a fact the first wife is receiving a full salary pension from him and carol got zero. just the fact that she put his name on the internet is enough to shame the first wife. all who knows him knew of them. maybe carol knew what she was doing by letting the family know of her relationship with abdulla. i sometimes wonder if the blog was really for the first wife. but i know a woman scorned can bleed evil on the ones scorning her. and that i mean of the first wife.beware.

  74. Lynn, Anon,
    Regarding freedom of speech, I was referring to the negative comments here that are “not allowed” – nothing about the marriage secrets. I don’t know how bad they are but aren’t people allowed to say their thoughts in “freedom of speech” concept?

    Apologies, I was not clear there.

  75. So then if he lied to the court and to Carol, he was not so honorable. It was also not so honorable in the eyes of his first wife – but it was all for love, he wanted to be with the woman he loved.

    Carol accepted and loved him and gave him a halo ring on his head. I still think she did that to bury the painful fact he lied to her or was not straightforward with her. (Abdullah may not have lied to her outright but just avoided the question or brushed aside or ignored the topic in a way that made her think that he was divorced – yes something like gaslighting)

  76. I think it’s very likely Carol needed the comfort of believing she had the wonderful courtship and marriage she believed she had for the first 3 years of her marriage- to help her through her’s and Abdullah’s illnesses. It can’t have been much more than a year after she found out before the health crisis began. Really, the life she had collapsed so quickly around her. She would want to believe she had the perfect relationship.

    G- I find it highly unlikely Carol was in the country illegally. I don’t think Abdullah would have taken that risk and neither would she have. Especially as she was blogging about a marriage. I do agree it was likely embarrassing for the first wife to have this story out on a blog. Abdullah is not unknown- and it would possibly seemed rubbed in her face. There is a lot of the smaller details we just can’t know. I believe Carol continued her blog because it gave her a support system and a way to connect to the world while also providing a very good service to many who learned a lot from this blog. Especially as her life became so difficult. I doubt it was aimed at the first wife in any way. Carol wanted to be happy with her marriage and I don’t think she was vindictive at all.

  77. I found this comment from Carol on that CIA confession post.

    ‘Given I was leaving an elite career to start a new life with a foreign official did not leave any doors opened behind me. However one thing the CIA breeds into its operatives is confidence and I did not doubt my decision.’

    Scary isn’t it? 😉 Too bad they didn’t put ‘Intelligence Gathering Skills’ above ‘confidence breeding’ as it could have saved a lot of heartache, no? No wonder it took the CIA so long to find bin Laden!! Sheesh!

  78. Sarah,
    Thank you for clarifying what you meant when you spoke about ‘freedom of speech’. I think I agree with you. Moderation should be about keeping SPAM away, not other people’s opinions that you simply don’t like to hear.

  79. From what I remember about what Carol told me: Nobody knew nothing, It went like this; Abdullah said he was divorced. He married Carol without telling his family. He told his children when they came to visit in America while they were turning into the street they lived.

    They went to Saudi Arabia, I think it was meant to be for a couple of years only, and as their marriage was not approved she had to remain there in secret. They lived for a couple of months in an small apartment, when going out Carol had to be fully veiled, hidden.
    Of course Abdullah had enough connections to get the marriage approved after it was official they moved to a villa in the diplomatic quarters.
    I seem to remember she confronted Abdullah after a while in Saudi Arabia only.
    Saudi families are very good in keeping things secret.

    Carol had to work because she had to pay for her own clothes and later she paid herself for her maid which she needed when she got ill. When she was in hospital for the mastectomy she had nobody to look after her or visit.
    None of the family seemed to have cared for her or contacted her, or helped her in any way.
    At least one of her expensive antique rugs disappeared and was replaced with a cheap crappy one while she was in Saudi Arabia, but Abdullah told her to stop inquiring about it.

    While she was (ill herself) giving Abdullah 24 hour care and loving attention nobody of the family would look after her cats, if she had not had good friends her cats would have died of neglect.

    Remember our efforts to get her cats back to Carol? We got them back thanks to money raised by her friends, and personal effort by her friends.

    Of course after Abdullah died she was immediately dropped from his healthcare, left on her own without medical care and got no help or support or anything.

    I know Carol only says the nicest stuff, and always wanted to be loving and outgoing, but I think a dose of reality is important for those women who read this blog and get all rosy because Carol is so very good in covering everything with pink glasses and rose petals.

  80. Gosh! She really did spin it well. Not telling his children until they were almost at the front door?! How about a special “I’ve got something to tell you” lunch while giving the kids a tiny bit of heads up to absorb what has transpired. An explanation of SOME kind would have been a kindness for the children as well as Carol. I can’t imagine the kids were not a little pissed off about the entire thing. What a way to meet a new person in your fathers life. Really awful.

    Did Carol really feel the way she was describing Abdullah on this blog or was she putting a positive spin on it for her own mental sanity? It is hard for me to fathom a woman in the CIA with security clearance having to cover and live in secret. How is it that the first wife was quiet? Why was Abdullah not paying for her clothes and maid? He paid for the first wife, did he not? In Islam isn’t it supposed to be every wife treated equally? How did they get to her rugs to take it? were they not at their home or perhaps in storage? So many questions and some not very nice (or it appears so ) answers.

  81. So you see – no one is perfect. Now my belief that Carol raised to for her own sanity and insecurities is more stronger. She wanted him to be the person she wrote about. A knight in shining armor. How much she argues with him, what went on with both his wives will not be known to us. The kids must have of course informed their mother which made matters worse for Abdullah. And what pain she must have been in while she was alone in the hospital.

    Sometimes I used to wonder why she made him look so perfect and such a gentleman. I did not buy it.

  82. I went all the way back and found this:

    And I’m surprised to hear that she was not accepted by Abdullah’s family because I remember her post about Mama Moudy being her caretaker in the hospital as well as several other posts about Mama Moudy.

  83. She is first diagnosed with cancer less than a year later- June 2008. I think romanticizing the relationship was a survival mechanism for her. A person can only deal with so much and needs a situation from which to draw strength.

    I imagine Mama Moudy did the minimum required. At the time of this post I think Carol still doesn’t know. I’m not surprised at all Carol wasn’t accepted. Blood is thicker than water and easier for them to blame Carol than Abdullah.

  84. Regarding freedom of speech on this blog, I don’t think that applies. The owners of this blog have the right to allow or deny whatever expression they want; this is private space. Now, if someone wants to write “Carol is this (negative thing) or Americanbedu moderator is that (negative thing) or Anon is a really really negative thing, they can do that on space they own or control, as long as they are not breaking laws or rules of the company that hosts the blog or whatever they are publishing on (assuming they are writing on the internet). And if they are publishing untruths, Carol’s heirs, the moderators, or anon could sue them for libel/slander.

    Regarding the posts that have been made, I am glad to hear a bit from Abdullah’s first wife’s side. I actually have a great bit of sympathy for her, as well, It must have felt as if she were cast aside for Carol, even though I am as sure as I can be that she was not Abdullah’s wife just in name only. And I can understand the family disliking the interloper, as she was, even though she did not intentionally become a second wife. However, it is not right to steal from her, if they indeed did take an expensive rug and didn’t return all of her possessions. And it is definitely wrong to make innocent animals suffer.

    I am definitely not picking on Saudis or Islam in this aspect, although the fact that multiple wives are allowed does provide a breeding ground for trouble. I think that, in much of the world, when a man is deceptive so he can sleep with (married or unmarried) multiple women, people expect the women to turn against each other. And it often happens. I think that the true target of the anger should, in many cases, probably most cases, be the man. It was a crappy thing to do to the family in Saudi Arabia to introduce a second wife. However, whose fault was that? Did Carol even know she was becoming a second wife? Yes, Carol “allowed” Abdullah to drink beer with the neighbors. However, did she force this? I think if he didn’t want to drink alcohol in the US, he could abstain pretty easily. (I used to drink, and I don’t now. No one holds me down and pours beer down my throat. Maybe that sort of thing happens in a college fraternity in the US, but not in a suburban DC home in a neighborhood of adults.) So, instead of being angry that she acted in her nature, put the blame where it belongs.

  85. Anon,
    I can’t imagine anyone blaming any second wife when she didn’t even know that she was a second wife. I feel as sorry for a duped second wife as I do for the betrayed first wife. BUT this duped second wife was a flipping CIA agent so, as an American, that disturbs me a bit 😉 But still, I don’t blame her for being some kind of marriage interloper but I think she probably should have discussed it here when the topic was raised (it’s not like her personal life was off-limits on this blog) rather than trying to hold him up as some kind of saint that she was so lucky to have found. I hope she at least shared her story in private conversations with those who looked to her for advice in new relationships with Saudis or Muslims. Abdullah’s first wife and kids should have also put the blame where it belonged and that was strictly on Abdullah.

    Re: Carol ‘allowing’ him to drink beer. LOL It has become pretty clear that that man lived his life how HE pleased.

  86. Anon, thanks. I am sure that if anybody wants to criticize Carol or the blog and does so in polite or at least normal words, such comments would pass. Comments which don’t pass are those which are in violation of the blog rules and common normal civilized interaction.

    I think it’s ridiculous to whine about ”free speech”. Carol considered this blog to be her living room. Lively discussion yes, personal attacks and dismally bad manners and language, no.

    I’ve been saying this for years, we get this whining again and again:
    A modicum of civilized behavior is necessary to be allowed on any forum, on the internet or elsewhere.
    The internet is a big place, if anybody wants to spew garbage they can make up their own blog and go ahead!
    And some actually do.

    I have never heard Carol speak any detrimental words about her Saudi family, it was always positive. But when you take off the sugar coating, the realities of life in Saudi, and the things which happened to Carol do not look so rosy to me. Make of it what you will.
    And Carol loved ”Mamma Moudy”.

  87. Lynn –

    I think that strong emotions, including love, can cloud one’s judgement. Carol’s agreeing to marry Abdullah despite warning signs is an example of that. I know that, in my daily life, if I get angry enough, I do not see reality clearly, and, if I am not careful, I can act based upon my mistaken perceptions. And I think that can happen to anyone, including CIA agents (and other people in positions of responsibility where one would hope that this would not happen).

    I do think that Carol believed her own rose-colored glass view of her marriage to a certain extent. I think that is how she could face herself. I am glad that things finally came out, not so we could satisfy our curiosity, but so that other women reading this blog would be warned.

    I started reading this and other blogs written by American women married to Saudis several years ago. It seems as if the majority have really, really bad endings (or are in bad states now that haven’t ended, which may be worse). I do hope that women who read this who are doing so because they are contemplating involvement with a Saudi man are very, very, very careful if they proceed.

  88. I think it is important for readers to know the truth. Even with an ideal husband- life in Saudi is difficult at times for most foreign brides. Initially it’s an exciting adventure (best case) but day to day living -year after year is difficult even in a less alien context. And things happen that will matter a lot to you that you can’t really control. Based on experiences I’ve had and witnessed- I think if Carol and Abdullah had not become ill her perception of her marriage would have changed once the truth was out- and facing the realities of life in Saudi.

  89. Carol may have kept this a secret also because it has serious implications. If Abdullah did not divorce then it means their American marriage was not legal and to get the marriage certificate means that he lied or pulled some strings. She cannot risk that becoming public considering his position and it could lead to more issues. So it was better to keep it hidden.

  90. I don’t know Sarah, the worst that could happen is that his marriage to Carol was not legally recognized in the US but it isn’t a ‘law’ that you must be married to live together in the US and it isn’t like he would be thrown in jail for bigamy if there weren’t any complaints (but he has diplomatic immunity anyway) and there is no way in the world that you would be able to convince me that the Saudis that he worked for would be concerned, in the least, that he was living his life as a normal Saudi man. I am surprised to hear that their marriage was not readily recognized in KSA as I don’t remember anything like that. How would she have been able to get to KSA in the first place? If she was greeted so openly at the airport by his family it wasn’t very secretive so why would she have had to move about under ‘cover’ until it was recognized?

    I think the only reason she kept it secret was simply because she was embarrassed for a woman in her career and with her training to be so ridiculously naïve. She gave up her dream job to be in a relationship with a playah who violated her SO badly. If she hadn’t been so open about her feelings about polygamy it wouldn’t have been quite as bad. I’m guessing that she wasn’t proud about her conversion to Islam either since she kept that secret from her family as well. She tried to say that she didn’t convert for a man but, considering that she had been living amongst Muslims for years but didn’t convert until after she met Abdullah I’d have to question that statement as well. I’m curious whether or not she ever shared with her family about how she’d been duped by this ‘prince of a man’?

  91. Lynn,
    You are probably right. If it isn’t such a big thing to lie on the form and illegally marry, it is a big thing for a gentleman of his caliber to do. The only honorable thing he did was to keep his first wife with dignity (at least that was his intention). How dignified is she now?

    Yes, how did she enter KSA and their marriage not approved when they arrived?

    I, too, think that her conversion has to do with her marriage and not the religion itself. Actually what Abdullah did is not very unusual. Most estranged couple think that they are single again, especially men and there are many Abdullahs out there, not only in KSA but in Asian countries, too and some are not even Muslims.

  92. Lynn

    I hear what you are saying but surely you must believe there was some love involved on both sides…perhaps more hers than his. But she said that he treated her as his only wife and she was presented as his “current” wife. Ie: from what she wrote, socially I had the impression that Abdullah acted as if she was the only wife when they were together and in public or social situations.

    The More I think about it the more I feel upset by it. If Carol knew before hand and then accepted the circumstances that is one thing. But he did “play” her it seems. Someone way above in this thread seemed to say that they knew for certain that he was not only with Carol in a conjugal way but also the first wife. Maybe I misunderstood their meaning. If that was the case, Carol must have hurt quite a lot over it. I cannot imagine sharing. The pain of that would be too overwhelming…I would imagine I would just shut down emotionally. I think it is hard enough for women from Saudi society to cope with it…how could someone with no family history of that begin to cope. Perhaps it was also a matter of where would she go and what would she do now. So she made the best of it. She must have found a way to forgive him the lie. Or as Sandy said, if Abdullah had lived long enough and they had not been in a dramatic life or death fight, she might have come to resent her situation.

    As for the family, they owe her a huge debt of gratitude for standing by him and helping him as much as she could given her circumstance and illness. I think her actions speak for themselves and just for that alone she deserves their respect.

  93. oby, I speculated that it was possible that the married relationship with the first wife was not over. I certainly don’t know whether it was or not; I never met any of the individuals; never even emailed them. My speculation is based on that many married men who want a relationship with other women tell the other women that they are not having conjugal relationships with their wives, when they indeed are, and the fact that Abdullah was not honest about the first wife, leading Carol to believe they were divorced until three years after he married Carol, and only admitting it when he was forced to. I came to the conclusion based on this that he was most likely not honest about the marriage being over in that sense.

    The thing about being a second wife when one doesn’t know that there is an existing first one is limited to Islam, I think; the other religions that I know of that allow polygamy are very up front about it. But having a second relationship with someone who is married who is not honest about the fact that he is married; no, that is not limited to Muslim men at all.

    I think Carol deserves Abdullah’s family’s respect; however, I doubt that she has it or will have it. For them to appreciate her good qualities, they would have to recognize Abdullah’s bad qualities. Or even flaws in Islam (i.e., expressly allowing polygamy). Again, pure speculation on my part, but not likely to happen.

    Am I the only one who remembers that Carol wrote at least one post stating that, if your Saudi boyfriend/lover introduces you to his friends and acknowledges you publicly, it actually means that he does not respect you? If this is true, the public acknowledgement actually does not mean good things about Carol’s status.

    I am glad that Carol wrote this last post. I am Buddhist, and our primary teaching is cause and effect; very simply put, you get the results of the actions that you take. Carol’s public idealization of her marriage could have very well given other women the idea that getting into the same situation was a good idea. Not a good effect to create, considering the reality. So it is a good thing that she corrected this impression, even if she still appeared to idealize Abdullah.

  94. oby,
    I have no doubt that the loved each other greatly and he treated her as his ‘only’ wife but surely they have different ideas of what ‘love’ is. If you love someone you would not want to put them in a situation that would be painful for them such as one where you find out that you’d been lied to and are now a party to the very thing that you abhor.

    You said ‘maybe carol knew what she was doing by letting the family know of her relationship with abdulla’ .

    How was she the one that let the family know?

    How do you know for a fact the wife#1 got full pension and Carol got zero? Do 2nd wives never get anything or was this marriage never approved?

    Why would you think that this blog was to scorn the 1st wife? Why in the world would Carol be upset with the first wife when Abdullah should be the only one she’d be upset with in the situation. BUT, speaking of women scorned…We were discussing before how suspicious it was the they both happened to come down with cancer and it had been suggested that there was something in their environment that could have caused it. Now that we hear about how contentious things were I have to say hmmmmmm…a poisoning perhaps?

  95. It seems Carol mentioned herself, Abdullah and maybe a cat (?) coming down with cancer. Did she speculate it had to do with their water..or something about the house?

    I tend to think Abdullah was a liberal Muslim who just enjoyed meeting women when he was out of the country. He had his cousin-wife back home, but he was always looking for more potential wives. Why not? It is totally allowed in his faith. So he met this confident, blond American while they were both on assignment…they eventually fall in love. She tells him how much she despises polygyny, so, of course, he’s not going to disclose that he is married. “I can win her over!” And he did…sort of.

    Maybe once he met and married Carol, he didn’t have as much to do with the cousin-wife. That was his more traditional life. Carol represented his more worldly life outside of the strictness of Saudi society.

  96. We really have no idea that he was estranged or otherwise from his first wife. Practically speaking because of his work they were often in different countries. This made if very easy to have and “outside” wife and an “inside” wife who didn’t know about each other- until they moved to Saudi.

    And I have to disagree that the “secrecy” is an Islamic thing. Marriages are meant to be public. And it would seem in fact both of Abdullah’s WERE public- just in different parts of the world.

  97. I thought an Islamic marriage is only really valid after the big party and all the world knowing about it? So super super public!

  98. well Aafke , that’s only for somepeople 🙂 most marry no.2, and up to upgrade and just because they can. no noble reason or need or any such thing. so many hush it up especially if no.2 is a non-saudi with no clue as to whats happening.

    although i dont condone polygamy, hey consenting adults and all, i’ve yet to see it applied properly or happily. there’s always atleast 1 or 2 people in the threesome who is miserable.
    and i have seen it up close, my FIL had 2 wives, and 2 of my BIl’s have 2 wives.. all the wives are miserable, the men ofcourse dont care much and have a good old time. I would too if i had 2 women to please me, compete over me and cater to me 🙂

    and as for carol, yes i had an inking with some stuff she said but i never asked outright and she never spoke of her case. i only know she was vehemently opposed to it. I dontjudge because i know how difficult it is in ksa. I was there for a few yrs and with F’s unstinting support. his family of course couldnt stand me and he had no other wife and was not even raised there for the values to set it… yet it was incredibly hard for me. freedom, career, family ete took a nosedive, simple things we take for granted is incredibly hard especially the first few yrs and a hostile family makes it that much more terrible.
    throw in F’s accident and resulting trauma, god was i glad to leave, never set foot back in. so one cant judge the pressure there is different and hard even for very loving , sane, 1 husband 1 wife couples especially if one of the partners grew up outside saudi…

  99. I tend to believe Carol when she said that Abdullah’s first marriage was more similar to a divorce. My opinion on this is based on, after Abdullah told her the truth, I would imagine Carol would have carefully considered past and present events to deduce if Abdullah was still with his first wife or not.

    Due to Abdullah’s status, it is easy to imagine that his first wife had more perks while married to him. Also, women in Arab culture lose guardianship of their children if/when their marriage is ended, whether due to death or divorce. It’s possible they stayed married in name to prevent someone else (especially before Carol was in the picture) from caring for his children while he was travelling abroad. Still, I’m not sure why he stayed married after meeting Carol. Perhaps it was better for his family as a whole, which is something that would be very important in an interdependent culture.

    Carol was a strong woman and could have left Abdullah at any time. What I find interesting is that she stayed. There had to be some sort of connection holding the two of them together or she wouldn’t have married him to begin with.

    I know this may be the wrong place to comment, but I miss her more and more each day. I really regret not getting to know her better while she was here. We had a similar way (though not the same) of looking at the world, I think.

    Are you sure that Carol had to work to pay for her own clothes and maid while in KSA? I thought she mentioned somewhere that her mother-in-law came to check on her while she was recovering from her surgery. I believe there was also more to the story of Abdullah’s health care benefits than what is made public. While Carol tends to make things positive and rosy, you tend to the opposite of being somewhat pessimistic. However, I think it’s a good balance and I can see why you were such good friends.

  100. StrangeOne- probability he DIDN’T leave his first wife – at least not until Carol found out- 3 years into their marriage- when she started questioning after they returned to Saudi. She, then he, became ill less than a year after the revelation. Her plate was full- it would have been hard to leave. It would have been hard to come to terms with the turn her life had taken.

    He kept it a secret from her and his kids, until they were practically at the door. Why would he have told his first wife? Though I imagine her kids told her after the visit.

    Mothers only lose custody because the Father’s make them lose custody. He could have easily divorced her and let her keep the kids if he had wanted to.

  101. Sandy – my impression was that they were both on the older side so kids were in all likelihood grown up.

  102. Yes, I think they were- or nearly grown. However they acted a bit young on the first visit. I remember she took them for a manicure- and then they removed all the polish once home. Either way- if they’re not married they live “at home”. Girls live wherever the father says if they aren’t married.

  103. Even the most intelligent woman can be fooled and then she can continue to fool herself and live the lie because she can’t bear to think about how she was duped. I find it all very sad but in another way she lived a few ‘fairy tale’ years and had some fun and perhaps thought it all worth it.

    It is terrible that Abdullah lied but I am not at all surprised. These Saudi men are taught from birth that they can have their cake and eat it too. They are ‘special’. I have seen them marry and have children and have the man they truly love even visit and be part of family gatherings. Of course I shouldn’t blanket them all but I’ve seen and heard enough and with that … enough said.

    I hope in his last days he had some remorse for the financial difficulties he left for her.

  104. I still can’t believe she is gone. She was such a big presence. I miss her posts that got so many ideas out on the table. I learned a lot.

  105. @oby. Me too.

  106. I think one of my favourite things about Carol was that she lived life on her own terms as best she could, stayed open-minded, and had one amazing adventure while she was here with us. There are some situations which have no rulebook or clear answer. I think her and Abdullah’s love story is one of those. We can all use the words “would, should, and could”, but it’s different when you’re the one in a given situation rather than a viewer from outside. The truth is, who knows? Unless you’ve been there, done that, do you really know what you would do?

  107. I understand that in the Arab idea the family is really the man’s family. The wife is more or less a housekeeper and baby maker. If there is a divorce the woman is disregarded. Its a fact. Given that Carol’s husband was a committed Muslim it isn’t sensible to expect anything different. Carol saw things with rose colored glasses. At this late date I cannot judge her. She chose to stay.

  108. Jerry, don’t you mean to say ‘in the Muslim idea’? It isn’t ‘Arabs’ that say that the husband get’s the kids after divorce but Islam. And how ‘committed to Islam’ can a person that openly drinks beer be? I’m just sayin’…;-)

  109. I haven’t been on this site in awhile now so was rather amazed at the number of people that suggested I come on over and see what the latest shocker was. Unfortunately, it didn’t shock me in the least. Many of us guessed as much years ago…both from what Carol would say but more importantly from what she never said. Those silences spoke volumes. I have no idea why she felt the need to confess after death, who would care now that both parties involved are gone? My only comment in regards to her “news” is that she portrayed her marriage as a one of kind, I found one of the few “good” Saudi men left standing. I’m sure Abdullah was a good man generally speaking, but a man that kept quite an important secret from her (of course this opens the possibility that he kept other equally important secrets from her). Having said that, one would assume that Carol was not blind nor stupid so most likely had clues all along that she chose to ignore. Women tend to do that when they are busy making up excuses as to why they love and stay with that man that isn’t ready to be completely honest with them.

    My other comment, that has nothing to do with the marriage itself, is that she portrayed herself as a Muslim quite often yet nothing she said or did (based on some of her words and actions) ever gave one the feeling that she took that title very seriously. She was obviously unlearned in Islam other than the things you pick up by just being around Muslims, so even if she were an actual Muslim she showed very little interest in educating herself about her new chosen religion. Her ignorance was plain for anyone to see and I wasn’t the least surprised to learn she had abandoned all pretense in favor of her previous religion once safely back in the land of free choice. I am left to assume she took on the role of “Muslim” simply to make passage into Muslim countries easier on her. Not a horrible thing to do as sometimes rules imposed on us are problematic and simple solutions are the best ways to get around them…yet she let others assume she was serious about her conversion while the facts clearly show she was not.

    If Abdullah was a good secret keeper than Carol was as well…however, we all have our secrets and really can’t point a finger at anyone else…except in this case we can because Carol opened herself up to the judgement of others by posting her stories here…those before her death and those after.

    R.I.P. Carol and Abdullah

  110. Important question:

    if a wife remains christian, she does not inherit her muslim husband in saudi? thus her only way to get covered in this matter is to convert?

    what about any pension to go to her if he dies? Is that automatic or they need to make extra agreements in this matter?

    what about his medical insurance? they will simply sign her off?

    I am talking in the case of a legally recognised first wife with children. Does it make a difference if he dies when their children are adult or when their children are minors?

  111. @gigi
    first off, where are you living at the moment? that will answer some questions i have. so, is your saudi working in saudi and for how long? your kids will inherit the benefits if there is a death and depending on how long he worked and other factors that will lead to the amount of money to receive. even if you are muslim your kids will inherit not you unless you are citizen. that is why you read a lot of saudi families trying to take the kids from the mom of the dead husband. or trick her to sign papers. it is for the money. most american women married to saudis dont know their rights and what they will benefit for there future living in saudi. which is a dependent of there kids, unless she works and becomes a citizen. im not fully knowledgeable on the whole matter and i hope someone is on this thread to help you. and there is no medical to receive either. also, it doesnt matter if the children are adults or minors, the money is to them. i will ask on the first wife question, my husband is a pain in the wazzu on this matter…wants to know why i need to know..hehe. i think he doesnt know much myself.

  112. @g

    very very helpful- thus only the citizenship would allow the wife full inheritance as well as pension from the husband ( in case of death)?
    What about this new residence permit they say will become available for wives- more or less the right to indefinite leave to remain in saudi? Will this change the scene?

    In this case both husband and wife work full time.

    Is all this valid despite anything written in the premarital contract?

    If you have an email that would be very helpful- many thanks.

  113. i was told if married and your husband has other wives, you all split the pension from him.

    the new residence pemit we dont know about this one,. but if it goes into effect, you are treated same as a saudi is.

    i dont know what your premarital contract is. but if it is a legal contract and states you will get the house and car when husband dies. then you get it when he dies. it is a legal contract.

    im surprised no saudi reading this thread can make a comment on this subject to better help you, or a wife living in saudi that has some knowledge on the matter. even a saudi female should know something. i know it is hard to get info from the right department there, because they want to talk to a man or speak in arabic.

    i dont know where you work, but maybe the hr department can also answer some questions but dont count on them knowing everything, but since they have employees retiring all the time, they will know something. it doesnt hurt to go ask them and gather as much info as you can. squeaky wheel gets the oil. i think most foreigners married to saudis are to timid to ask there husbands about the ”what- ifs ” of her life when she gets older.

    i really am not that full of info, and i hope what i am telling you is right. nobody has commented that im wrong.

    are you american in saudi? im not there at the moment so, i dont have anyone to ask that knows more than my husband. these are very good questions for all to know. even your husband if he wants to retire in america should know his rights and benefits. but retiring in saudi is better finacially in the long run i think. especially if your home is paid for.

  114. dear g, thanks 🙂

    I think from your answer all is clear- in order to inherit a home or land- leading automatically to property ownership you need either to have the new iqama( indefinite leave to remain) or the citizenship.

    Any normal iqama on a saudi husband ( residence permit) would only allow you to get his pension if he passes away or secure your own pension if you work.

    I guess it is the same as any foreigner wanting to own property in saudi- they cannot directly do so.

    Thus the home would only go to the children ( thank god no other wives involved :)) )

    It is a great point actually that potential wives should be aware of and it is not widely discussed.

  115. Regarding this article- unfortunately it seems that Carol could have possibly been in saudi under her own iqama or visitor visa.

    If a wife is under her husband’s sponsorship she is added to the family card before her iqama is issued. And…if one goes to work in saudi under her husband’s sponsorship they ask for a copy of the family card for their file- that is standard proceedure.

    Thus immediately you know if he has other wives as all wives and children that exist are registered there.

    Anyhow though,,,,no one should feel ashamed of all these- they can happen to anyone.

    Carol made in the process of all this a great effort to run this blog that has been extremely useful to many people giving such great insight to the saudi world.

  116. I never blamed Carol for being the second wife… When it was her husband that put her in that situation. I’m sure Abdullah was a great guy, but he made a huge mistake, as many Saudi men do, that his wives would accept the situation he put them in of sharing him as father and husband. Without divulging what I know, I can tell you that Carol—the second wife, and the first wife as well as her children, suffered a great deal due to his choices. Since they both passed away, we should now try to pray for them and for those they left behind that will now have to try to continue without them. RIP Carol and Abdullah.

  117. Abdullah was divorced from his first wife two times, but he did not divorce her a third time so he was still legally married to his first wife, who was his cousin.

    Carol told me that the family were still in possession of all of her things that she had collected over the years while working and traveling for her job, (before she met and married Abdullah) and that they never returned them even after he passed away. I hope that Abdullah’s family will send Carol’s son those items that belonged to her, if they haven’t already done so, to her son. Carol told me that her husband gave her carpets to his mother and others in the family and they were not his to give.

  118. When i first read the post, i thought only a namesake divorce hadnt taken place and Abdullah was pretty much a free man.

    ” He had a relationship similar to many around the world of couples who were divorced and had children in common.” that means he wasnt really with his first, isnt it?

    but based on comments, it looks like he was still with his first wife and lead almost a double life. that is very very bad.

    Some one as nice as Carol doesnt deserve that.

  119. Thank you Carol’s friend for adding to our knowledge.
    Carol told me she got most of her things back, but well… She always tried very hard to make Abdullah and his family look good.
    She did own, amongst other things, a collection of very expensive carpets, which she considered as her savings for her old age. Her pension. I never saw those in America. She could have used the money very much indeed if she had been given her property back, given her own plight.

    I met Carol for the first time for real when she was in Houston with her husband where he getting a bone marrow transplant. Then it turned out that Carol’s breast cancer had returned and she needed to do a lot of tests and hospital visits. I came to America to support her. Abdullah needed 24 hour care, and Carol was his primary caregiver. She spent most hours of every day by his bedside, looking after him and tending to his needs. She was absolutely devoted to him and the sweetest caregiver imaginable.

  120. I have read this blog for several years after coming across it when I lived in Saudi. I do not wish to comment on Carol’s personal life but it strikes me that now the first time a new person comes to the blog the first thing they read is something Carol kept secret for a long time and makes the rest of the blog seem to be fake or only a partial truth.

    After years of giving such a service to the blog it a shame to leave this as a legacy of the blog.

  121. “Carol told me that her husband gave her carpets to his mother and others in the family and they were not his to give.”

    Well, this makes me respect Abdullah even less than before as he seems to be one of the most unethical men I have ever seen. Not only did he not care about Carol’s feelings from the start but he paid little regard for her property and treated it as his own. I can imagine the sheer delight with which his greedy mother and relatives acquired those beautiful expensive carpets that Carol paid for and cherished so much. If I was her, I would not have given Abdullah even a minute of care because he’s the kind of person who doesn’t deserve anybody’s selflessness and I’m saying this as a cancer survivor who knows this illness all too well. He did not deserve the selfless care of the woman whom he robbed of her dignity and property! Perhaps he loved her but that was extremely selfish love that sought its own satisfaction. If he truly loved her, he would have put her well-being first and his selfish needs second.

  122. ‘Abdullah was divorced from his first wife two times, but he did not divorce her a third time so he was still legally married to his first wife, who was his cousin’

    I don’t get this part, some one explain please

  123. Abdullah may have divorced his first wife twice, but if he was not in any way intimate with her for more than 3 months, then it is good as complete divorce. With him being with Carol in Pakistan, India, USA and KSA, I guess, he was not with his first wife for a long time. This means he was Islamically divorced and Carol was indeed his only wife. He may not have had the divorce papers in his possession but he was divorced.

    If Carol knew the technicalities of Islamic divorce she would not have been so miserable (ie, if she could live with being the second one). The first wife’s situation is another story.

  124. @Sarah,
    I have never heard that interpretation of how one gets divorced Islamically. Also, if the first wife’s marriage was legally recognized then they were married. Also, even by your definition it’s unlikely they were divorced. I’m sure he visited his family in the kingdom as well. He had his mother and children there as well as his wife.

  125. Sandy,

    According to shariah of divorce. If the man pronounces divorce first time, then they are still married, they stay in same house but they do not sleep together and she is in iddah (waiting) period of 3 months. If in that time they get intimate, then the divorce has ended and they continue their married life as normal. If there is no reconciliation in that iddah time, then the divorce is complete and it is in effect. But if they decide to marry again after the iddah period, then they can do so with a new nikkah contract and ceremony.

    The second divorce is the same. But the third time round, if they want to get together, they cannot. She has to marry someone else and if that marriage happens to end in divorce, then she is free to marry her first ex-husband.

    The Quran says, “Divorce is to be given two times, and then (a woman) must be retained in good manner or released gracefully.” (Quran 2:229)

    Visiting the family house is not the same as being intimate. Husband is responsible for the upkeep of the kids and house. So he can still be visiting. Of course the marriage of Abdullah with his first wife was legally recognized. As I said if that was his second divorce and he was not with her in her iddah then they are no more married even divorce papers are not in his possession.

  126. I understood you the first time Sarah. But in Islam one also follows the law of the land. If they were not legally divorced- they were married. And we have no idea of the nature of his visits. But it seems the first wife believed they were still married as did his children and other family. And they did not know about Carol at first.

  127. I would be curious to know why Abdullah gave the carpets away to family, and whether or not he knew that it was Carol’s retirement plan, if that was the case. Perhaps he didn’t think she’d need them for retirement because he’d take care of her. Perhaps it was his way of making sure she didn’t leave him. Or perhaps it wasn’t even something that crossed his mind. If he knew that she was planning to keep them as some sort of nest egg then perhaps it was his (selfish) way of keeping her with him. Maybe he was afraid to lose her? It’s not right, but it might explain the situation some.

    This story, though, reminds me of what an awesome person Carol is to be so forgiving and kind. I really miss her!

  128. Sandy
    If you understood me the first time then why did you say “I have never heard that interpretation of how one gets divorced Islamically”. 🙂

    When you say “But in Islam one also follows the law of the land”, you are saying that in Islam the laws of the land are different from the land laws and that would be incorrect. Shariah is there as the law of the land especially concerning marriage, divorce, inheritance …etc.

    If one is a sincere follower of Islam than they will follow what it says. One may follow the tribal law or customs but what I was talking about is Islam and as a Muslim, Abdullah would technically would be divorced and Shariah is what counts. Why I say that is that Carol used to talk about them being together and courting for years outside of the Kingdom. Obviously it was more than 3 months. But, who knows! I am only deducing this from following the posts in this blog.

    Regarding the carpet, no one can say what goes on in the private lives of a couple. From the post it is made to look like Abdullah was a perfect gentleman and she was the kind, caring, loving wife. We, on the outside, cannot say who a person really is. We cannot judge. Whatever happened, it does not matter anymore.

  129. Sarah,
    I haven’t really deciphered your latest post- but end of the day, they were married. Carol said so, Abdullah said so- and apparently wife one got pension etc. etc. and Carol got nothing. So speculating on 3 month separations that you don’t even know occured don’t matter.

  130. Sarah, how is one going to prove that there was no sex between the two? It could be his word against hers. But then again, who would believe a woman in this case?

  131. @Sarah

    I don’t believe what you say about divorce applies here because a necessary part of divorce and marriage, for that matter, is the public recognition of both. If you are divorced but behaved as if you are married AND the important people in your life plus the government of your country regard you as married, then guess what? You are married.

    Do you think Abdullah’s wife considered herself divorced? Did his children consider their parents to be divorced? Did Abdullah’s parents considered him divorced from his wife? They are Muslims too, as far as I know, so wouldn’t they share the interpretation of Islamic divorce you described? Did Carol, his second wife, considered him divorced from his first wife? Did his family card reflect his divorced status? No? Then he wasn’t divorced.

    I did think it was exceedingly strange that while in Saudi, Carol conveyed this status of a respected and beloved wife who was embraced by her husband’s family and especially her mother-in-law. Then she gets cancer and leaves for treatment and boom! it was like her life in Saudi didn’t exist, her in-laws forgot about her entirely, and whatever property she had there just went poof. We will of course never know the truth but to me, that shows that his family never really considered her a part of their social fabric.

  132. I also think that for what was advertised as a caring, loving husband, Abdullah essentially left Carol high and dry. No property, no life insurance, no medical coverage, no nest egg. It doesn’t seem as if he cared very much what would happen to her after he’s gone. And sadly, it doesn’t seem as if Carol gave it a whole lot of thought either. At her age, she should have been better protected than that. To leave a secure, pensionable government job for this?

  133. Wendy,
    One does not have to prove anything to anyone. Allah swt is the Watcher of all things. So it is only between the couple and their Maker. If they go beyond the limits set by Shariah, then they have to answer to it.

    A similar situation is when a marriage is not consummated and the couple wishes to separate, their is no iddah period. Who is to say that there has been no relationship? Who can tell, unless medically they can determine it. If there is deceit, then who is going to face it, who is responsible? The general public? No. So whoever goes beyond the limits, then only he/she is answerable to it.

  134. NN,
    A marriage is for public recognition when there is some sort of celebration. But for divorce there is no such feast.

    Yes in the first and second divorce pronouncement, the couple is in married/divorced state. It is not complete marriage or divorce. It is by the mercy of the Creator Who has allowed such arrangement so that mistakes can be avoided. People are too quick to say “talaq” and then regret it later. And divorce is not a thing that you want to air publicly but rather it is handled delicately between the people involved. Being in the state of marriage and yet separated and living together can make a difference. Yes to the public, you are still married. What goes on in one’s house is no else’s business.

    I cannot say about the situation of Abdullah or if he considered himself divorce or married – or even what his family thought about it. Certainly they shared the knowledge of Shariah. We are not in a place to say what they knew or didn’t know. Does it make a difference to them or to us for that matter? Isn’t it a private matter between them?

    As you said, Carol conveyed to her readers, the message that her husband was the most caring, generous, loving, kind of unique man and her in-laws were too kind. That was her way dealing with the feelings in her heart. Maybe she wanted it to be that way and she lived her wishful life through her posts. Who knows?

    As for the rest of us – should we not look into our own lives and take lessons from the people who passed on?

    We hope that Abdullah and Carol are happy and resting in peace. I am sure they would not like us to dissect their lives and speak ill of them or their families.

  135. Sandy,
    Yes Abdullah and Carol said Abdullah was still married to the first wife. So maybe they were or maybe not. I was just stating what was obvious to me from her posting and comments from her friend: it was second divorce and he was away most of the time …etc. We, on the outside, do not know the complete, whole, truth no matter how close a friend you are of hers or anyone’s. We simply do not know. One’s personal life is exactly that.

    As for pension or inheritance, we don’t know for sure who got what. So speculating on that does not matter. And as I said in another comment – what does it matter anyway. It was their lives.

  136. @Sarah,
    YOU are the one that started all this line of speculating. Everyone involved said Abdullah was married to his first wife-including him and Carol. YOU are the one that tried to make a case- on very little evidence at all- that they were not married. For reasons that totally escape me. I don’t know what you hope to gain by that.

  137. Sandy,
    I repeat again, I am just stating things by observing what Carol and her friend said in their posts, that is all and its only my thoughts or speculations as you like to call them. Why do you have to be so sensitive? If they were married – so be it. I am just saying that it could be a complete divorce – or it could not be. Whatever. There is nothing to gain or lose in stating a thought. It was not a case I was trying to make. But you are dragging it too much. For what? What do you hope to gain?

  138. Because you just wrote three consecutive posts going on and on about it, and I was wondering if you would actually notice what you’ve done- or if you’d not get it at all.

  139. Sandy,
    Those consecutive posts were in reply to 3 different people who addressed me and I did like to ignore those comments. Hope you did not mind me replying to others (including you).

    And I do not think I have done anything except reply to comments. You on the other hand are dragging this issue and picking on me for my thoughts and saying I am going on and on. Lol. Take it easy, sister, and make better use of your time. 🙂

  140. When one reads about Mohammed’s contemporaries it seemed taht the people of his time quite happily divorced and remarried, women as well as men. They seemed quite relaxed about changing partners or re-marrying an earlier partner.
    Clearly mohammed wanted to curtail this happy-go-lucky aspect of society and so he made up these divorce rules. And again making his society a bit more misogynistic than it used to be.

  141. I don’t think there was a post that taught me more about the things you should consider when thinking of marrying a person from an entirely different background. May Carol’s last story serve as a warning to any woman who considers marrying a man from another country and, what’s even worse, an entirely different culture. Ladies, unless you are seriously ill, completely immobile and unable to support yourselves, do not see a man as a financial plan under any circumstances. I know that what I’m saying will not sit well with the more romantic souls visiting this blog but a man is not a financial plan and Prince Charming hardly exists. Even if he does, he is just as mortal and likely to fall seriously ill as you and me. I am not a feminist in any way – I just possess too much common sense to mistake the devil for anything other than he is. I am sure Abdullah was an extremely charming person but “charming” doesn’t necessarily equate with “thoughtful” and “honest”. He must have enjoyed Carol’s company immensely but he didn’t think ahead and probably never asked himself what would become of her if and when he’d be gone. She was a complete foreigner in his world; she decided to lose her right to a perfectly secure government pension to be with him and she ended up high and dry at a time when she was very ill herself. I’d rather spend my whole life as a working spinster constantly saving for a rainy day than party at someone else’s expense with no thought about the future and the vicissitudes of life.

    One more thing – years ago, I read a French classic where the author said through one of the heroines: “Women enjoy the love they give. Men enjoy the love they receive.” For some reason that I cannot explain, I am quite sure that this is exactly what happened between Carol and Abdullah – she loved him to distraction and he enjoyed being loved to distraction but that didn’t make him think about what he could do for this wonderful woman in the event of his death. Her leaving everything that constituted security and independence for her must have flattered his ego to no end but did not inspire him to do anything else. The fact that he gave her valuable carpets away to his family is a particularly shameful episode in my book as it reveals appalling selfishness and a blatant lack of regard for her feelings. Her property in KSA was the only valuable thing she had left but he took even that away from her.

  142. Sarah, that was no answer to my question. You said if there was no sex for three months it could be a divorce. Suppose the man wanted a divorce so just SAYS there was no sex just to get a divorce and that there really had been sex and the wife says her husband is not telling the truth? You can’t just have a divorce because there is no sex for three months. What if the wife does NOT want a divorce?

  143. Wendy, I don’t think the wife has a say in the matter.
    Unless she has a powerful family (men) to back her up…

  144. I was shocked when I read this yesterday. I haven’t visited in months and then I find this dismaying tale. We all have our lessons that we draw from this. I am a feminist but there is nothing more scathing or truthful that I could come up with than what non-feminist @RealityCheck wrote above. I guess this is in part a tale of personal honor – and Abdullah was sorely lacking. As was his family, perhaps even to the point of criminality. I am sure Carol’s son found this travesty upsetting . My condolences to her family and friends.

  145. Wendy,
    That’s is a valid point you raised.
    The man need not lie about the fact. If there was sex and he wanted divorce, all he has to do is pronounce divorce once more. This maybe his second or final one.

    If there is sex, then they have to wait another 3 months. The 3 months waiting period is also to ensure that she is not pregnant.

    No you cannot have a divorce if there is no sex for 3 months. It is only in the case of “state of divorce” in which the pronouncement has been made. The women is free to marry anyone else after this waiting period.

  146. I am most definitely a feminist. Why is it that people think it’s necessary to add to any reasonable (feminist) comment that they are not a ”feminist”? If you stand for women’s rights to equality, autonomy, human rights, reproduction rights, education, etc, then you are a feminist, whether you are are male of female, you are a feminist.
    Being a feminist is a good thing, it means that you are intelligent, reasonable, rational, fair, honest, and a decent human being. Why deny it?

  147. Aafke, I agree with you. I just wanted Sarah to explain a little more. Women have few rights, if any, and that’s a given. Sarah thinks that’s fine.

  148. Aafke,

    The reason I said I wasn’t a feminist is that I didn’t grow up in a society with a mass feminist movement – I did not grow up in Western Europe but in Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I did not express myself correctly – I should have said “I did not grow up in a society with strong feminist traditions” rather than “I am not a feminist in any way”. The problem is I typed my post in a very emotional state of mind, so I came across as a non-feminist who distanced herself from all the good things that feminism has done for women.

    Over time, I have arrived at what feminists think via common sense. Carol’s story definitely shows why feminism is valid, why it is relevant, why it should be part of mainstream politics even now. Women who give up their own financial achievements to become completely dependent on a man (or those who don’t even try to achieve anything because they met someone who promised they will be taken care of) are turning the clock back by decades and not doing favour to anybody, including themselves.


  149. Wendy,
    When a woman wants to divorce, all she has to do is to go to the qadi (judge) and explain why she wants a divorce and if its a valid reason, she will get it. There is no three times things going on here. It is only once and she is free. Unlike the situation when men have to pronounce three times and there is a waiting period and so on. So what is fewer rights given here.

    Since divorce is the most hated thing, the judge will consider the matter very carefully and encourage a patch up. In any society divorce is messy and takes time and its not much difference here.

  150. ”Als she has to do is go to the qadi”… and we all know how that will end, especially in Saudi Arabia. Without a huge bribe and a powerful family no chance for the woman.
    I don’t see why women can’t just say ”I divorce you”. Seems a lot more fair to me.

    Wendy, sorry 😦 couldn’t resist making a snarky remark. 😈

    Reality check, well you know, especially in America, almost everybody seems to feel obliged to utter the prefix ”I am not a feminist, but…” before making a feminist remark, so I wonder what’s going on here. And why people feel the need to do so. There seems to be ongoing attack on the word ”feminist” to make it seem like it’s something bad instead of good.

  151. @Sarah

    You’re being disingenuous. You know perfectly well that there is a huge difference between being able to divorce for whatever reason (for a man), and having to explain your reasons to the judge and convince him to agree with you (for a woman). A woman has to have a “valid” reason for divorce in the eyes of a judge; a man needs no reasons to divorce. One is easy and completely autonomous; the other requires agreement from an authority figure. Why are women treated as children that require consent from someone else to do what they want with their marital lives? Can you say in full confidence that men and women have an equal amount of rights when it comes to divorce? Seriously?

    PS: Divorce initiated by men under shariah is not messy at all. It’s actually quite easy. Notification, notice period, 3 months of maintenance and off you go. And don’t forget, shariah does not recognize a concept of marital property so a homemaker wife whose husband no longer wants to be married is one of the worst things to be in shariah ruled countries.

    You must also know that the divorce procedure you describe is far from uniform. Not all shariah schools require triple notification and waiting period; some think that a one-time notice plus a waiting period will do just fine., for instance.

  152. Below is a link to an article I’ve just found on the Internet. It chronicles Carol’s marriage and battle with cancer as well as Abdullah’s death.

    “Diplomat Reunited with her Middle East Cats”

    What struck me especially hard was the following paragraph:

    “Now, Fleming is fighting her third battle with cancer, which doctors have said is inoperable and incurable. She has no income. In Saudi Arabia, a husband’s pension is divided among family members. Saudi authorities cancelled Fleming’s health insurance after her husband’s death, although they have promised to restore it and cover the mountain of bills. Right now, Fleming depends on Medicaid.”

    So it seems that Carol DID have a health insurance but the insurance was cancelled by the lovely Saudis with their infinite understanding of other people’s suffering.

    I wish I knew why they had to do this to her insurance – not that an explanation will make their decision look any better.

    Aafke, you have been mentioned in that article, too. 🙂

  153. I thought a one time notice was enough to divorce, but when uttered three times (by the man of course) it is irreversible.
    Unless the woman marries and has sex with another man and then when she is divorced from the #2 she can marry the #1 again.
    This of course does not apply to the man. Only the woman.
    I find all of these misogynist rules and obsession with sex, the whole of Islamic law concerning marriage very distasteful.

  154. Reality Check, thanks for posting that link. Carol was a lovely woman which secured her a lot of friends who were happy to be there for her. Carol’s beloved cats are a great example, friends in Saudi Arabia made sure her cats survived while she was in Houston looking after Abdullah, friends from all over the world came together, worked and collected the money to get Carol’s cats back in her arms. I met them personally in NC and they are the loveliest cats. Of course they are now adopted by yet another friend of Carol.

  155. Sarah can’t see anything negative in Sharia law for some reason. That’s too bad.

    I will gladly say that I am a feminist, have been one forever and will die being one.

  156. No I cannot see anything negative in Shariah for the reason that it is the best solution for mankind, if followed to the letter.

    Yes the ultimate words of divorce is in the hands of the man but with that comes responsibilities, the need to be more wiser of the two, the more mature. It is heavier in his heart, he has to face the consequences.

    And it is not so easy as you think. When I said messy, it is such. When the husband thinks that he wants a divorce, both parties have bring one arbitrator from each side and all issues would be discussed openly. The arbitrators will meet with each one privately and then they sit together before meeting the couple together. All four of them air out all issues. The arbitrators give them counsel which must be followed. The husband also make dua of istikharah before deciding on divorce.

    Then after all these details are completed and still he feels the need to separate, then comes the first pronouncement of talaq.And there are conditions even for that. It is sinful to utter talaq while she is in her menses. If she is on her menses, he must wait (giving him more time to cool down and reconsider), until she is purified and he has not touched her intimately. If he did touch her, then he cannot divorce her until the next cycle. You see here divorce is discouraged from being uttered on the spur of the moment, its something which is planned. Can you see how complicated it is (compared to women going to the qadi).

    After saying talaq, both stay under same roof, while he supports her, for 3 cycles with no show of love and no intimacy. Can you imagine a situation like that. So again – a chance for reunion. Moods can change, change of hearts, realization …. If a connection does occur then divorce is null and void.

    Rinse and repeat second time. And third unlucky – no reunion after that.

    Then if divorce does take place, the husband is obligated to give a parting gift to the wife. And he cannot take anything from her unless she gives from her own wishes. Tell me what law on earth asks to give a gift to the wife after a divorce. The Quran says go your separate ways with good feelings. There is no bitterness, no anger …etc.

    Isn’t this divorce long complicated procedure? And can you see how many chances are given to avoid separation, to rekindle the love, to be a couple again?

    A women going to the judge is much more simpler. Both ways, the judges and arbitrators try for reconciliation.

  157. You forgot when the women get a Khula divorce they have to pay the husband for it. And according to Hadith if the husband doesn’t agree no divorce. So burden of proof on the woman is very high- that she has legitimate grounds.

  158. I respect the dead. It was obvious how much Carol loved her husband from her writing, so reading some of these comments has come as a shock to me as it seems very disrespectful to both.

    You also never know what happens between a husband and wife. It is their business.

  159. Desert Girl,

    I don’t think anybody is making any disrespectful comments on Carol – now that her true story is finally out, it has merely made us ponder much deeper questions, such as trust, the true value of financial independence and whether or not marriage to a person from an entirely different culture is worth all the sacrifice. I am sure that if Carol did not want any comments on her private business, she would have never shared her true story with us. I think she did this for purging and I’m grateful for each and every word I read as her last post made me realize things that I have only been vaguely aware of and that have now crystallized into their purest form.


  160. One thing that puzzles me in the article posted about Carol and her cats. It says
    “But the U.S. and Saudi Arabia wouldnt accept diplomats from the two countries marrying one another”.
    In my mind that is very untrue. I doubt the US has the power to stop a marriage and I doubt that they would. Living together is not much different is it?

  161. You can marry if you like- but not necessarily keep your position and security clearances.

  162. @Sarah

    You are being disingenuous, again, and I believe you know it. Let’s take this up line by line.

    “When the husband thinks that he wants a divorce, both parties have bring one arbitrator from each side and all issues would be discussed openly. The arbitrators will meet with each one privately and then they sit together before meeting the couple together. All four of them air out all issues. The arbitrators give them counsel which must be followed. The husband also make dua of istikharah before deciding on divorce.”

    Answer this: are divorces initiated by husbands invalid unless the arbitration process has been completed? Does every divorce initiated by husband need to go through arbitration? Does the husband need to show proof of arbitration to make the divorce legal? I think you know the answer. The answer is NO, it doesn’t and it isn’t. It may be very well and good to arbitrate but the fact of the matter is that it is not mandated, it is not required, and divorces without arbitration are just as legal, and no shariah court can force or require a man and his wife to undergo arbitration in order for the husband-initiated divorce to be legal. All the husband needs to do to divorce is to decide to divorce and inform his wife to that effect. That’s the only requirement that HAS to be met. Everything else is just…extras. So everything you wrote about arbitration is part naivete, part wishful thinking and part a desire to mislead what you think is a gullible audience.

    “Then after all these details are completed and still he feels the need to separate, then comes the first pronouncement of talaq.And there are conditions even for that. It is sinful to utter talaq while she is in her menses. If she is on her menses, he must wait (giving him more time to cool down and reconsider), until she is purified and he has not touched her intimately. If he did touch her, then he cannot divorce her until the next cycle. ”

    I’ve already posted one ruling for you that differs from the procedure you describe. This may be one of the ways to divorce, but it certainly isn’t the only legal way to divorce in shariah.

    “Can you see how complicated it is (compared to women going to the qadi).”

    It’s not complicated at all. What is complicated is for a grown woman to seek permission from someone else to control her marital decisions. The judge, mind you, doesn’t have to agree with her, does he? There is no requirement on him to agree with her, or to find her reasons valid, and thousands of women at KSA can tell you that they’ve been sent home with instructions to be patient.

    “So again – a chance for reunion. Moods can change, change of hearts, realization …. If a connection does occur then divorce is null and void.”

    Let’s just make one thing clear: the waiting period is not to give the “couple” the chance to reconnect. It’s a chance for the HUSBAND to change his mind. The wife’s desires don’t have any legal weight in this scenario. It’s the husband who decides to divorce, and it’s the husband who decides to take her back or not. It’s not up to the couple. It’s up to the man. Legally, that is.

    “Then if divorce does take place, the husband is obligated to give a parting gift to the wife. And he cannot take anything from her unless she gives from her own wishes. Tell me what law on earth asks to give a gift to the wife after a divorce. The Quran says go your separate ways with good feelings. There is no bitterness, no anger …etc.”

    Actually, yes, I can tell you what law on earth provides for a divorced woman way better than this. It’s the law of marital property that says to the divorcing party: before you divorce, give half of what you built together to your spouse. The divorcing woman is not left begging for a gift (which isn’t required, and which isn’t set in stone). When the husband leaves, he leaves with half of their property, and she gets the other half. I’ll take that, thank you.

    “Isn’t this divorce long complicated procedure? And can you see how many chances are given to avoid separation, to rekindle the love, to be a couple again?”

    The divorce you described may be, but that’s not the only legal way to divorce under shariah, and many men divorced without going through these motions – because they don’t have to. And again: it’s not the chance to avoid separation for the COUPLE, it’s the chance for the HUSBAND, and the husband alone, to change his mind. What the wife thinks is irrelevant.

  163. Three more points:

    -The judge is always a man (women cannot be judges under Sharia)

    -And even during the waiting period, the man can get another wife, the waiting period is only limiting the woman

    -The waiting period is more to guarantee the ex-husbands property rights in case the woman is pregnant. Children are property of the man.

  164. And secular laws are of course far superior in that they prescribe alimony for the partner who sacrificed their career and work opportunities and stayed home and looked after the children.

  165. @Sarah

    For instance, here are the good folks at Sunnipath explaining the way to divorce to perfection:

    “The Ahsan (most preferred) divorce is to make one pronouncement of divorce to the wife, in an interval between menstruations (Tuhr), in which no sexual intercourse with the wife has taken place. After which she is left until her waiting period (Iddah) is over.”

    See? No triple notice. No arbitration. No nothing. Inform, maintain for 3 months without intercourse, say goodbye. Easy peasy.

  166. NN,
    You ask:
    “are divorces initiated by husbands invalid unless the arbitration process has been completed? Does every divorce initiated by husband need to go through arbitration?”

    You are talking about general laws but I am talking about Shariah. If some people are divorcing whichever way they wish then it is really up to them. As per Shariah yes arbitration is needed:

    “If you fear a breach between them, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers; if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation.(4-35)

    So if people do not follow this, then really it is up to them, right? Yes by law every divorce should go through this.

    You ask: “Does the husband need to show proof of arbitration to make the divorce legal?”

    There will be witnesses, yes and the arbitrators are also witness to this proceedings. If it is a rule in the Quran to go through this counseling, then how can you say it is not required?

    You say: “and no shariah court can force or require a man and his wife to undergo arbitration in order for the husband-initiated divorce to be legal”

    That is not true. By the time it reaches the court, the arbitration maybe over. If not the judge will ask about the counseling if he follows the shariah. Sometimes the judge refers them to arbitrators to study the case and try to stop any wrong doings and if the situation gets worse, then, the arbitrators from each one’s family is called to give council. And Allah says “if they wish for peace then He will reconcile their hearts”.

    I have been to such a court where the man said talaq and the couple was in the court. There was no arbitration and the judge himself arbitrated in this case as the wife did not have any family members.

    It is neither “naivete” nor “wishful thinking” but instructions from the Quran. I have no desire to mislead the readers. My intention is only to make people know what is behind talaq. Nothing else. I will not waste my time misleading people.

    As far as I know there is only one Shariah way. Of course people will follow their own interpretation out of ignorance or madhab or regional procedures. Some will even misuse the shariah to suit their cases.

    You say: “thousands of women at KSA can tell you that they’ve been sent home with instructions to be patient”

    Yes that maybe be true and in the case which I mentioned above where the man wanted divorce, he was told the same thing. To go home and think it over. But we read in books of ahadiths, Prophet (saas) accepted the divorce of women then and there. So what we are witnessing now is not fair and just. Divorce is painful and the faster it is done with, the better for all involved to move on.

    You say: “Let’s just make one thing clear: the waiting period is not to give the “couple” the chance to reconnect. It’s a chance for the HUSBAND to change his mind.”

    Yes obviously it is. It is for the husband to change his ways – after all it was he who initiated the divorce. In fact, the waiting period is a blessing. During this period both husband and wife feel the pangs of separation and this increases the chance for reconciliation and they may mend their broken relationship. You must realize that divorce is the most hated lawful thing in the sight of Allah (swt) so why would He make it so easy as to just utter the word and get done with it. No, there is a systematic procedure to be followed which give numerous chances for uniting the couple.

    NN, the fiqh of divorce is very vast and this type of post does not cover it. There are many more details and what I am saying is just bits and pieces (maybe this is why it seems that I am trying to misguide the people)

  167. NN,
    You mentioned “divorce to perfection”. It was amusing to note that how much far you are from understanding it.

    What you quoted (which I had already mentioned from the start. If you had read, you would have realized this and not even mentioned it here) is the start of the proceedings, when the man utters the word. You see from the start, the man has to follow certain conditions. The women must not be in her menses, must be pure, must not be pregnant, and he must not have had sex with her … etc. So talaq to start with is not easy and this is only the start. The arbitration …etc follows after word. Just because you read one article which does not mention complete divorce procedure does not mean that that is the most accurate way and cancel out the Quranic verses. Come on, and you accused me of being naïve.

    Triple notice does not occur same time. When he utters the word, that is the first time and then there is waiting period …etc. I have written all this before. You are not reading or you are not reading clearly.

  168. @Sarah

    I read you quite clearly. I just happen to think that what you write isn’t true. I challenge you to name one Muslim-majority country where divorce initiated by men is conditioned upon completion of arbitration. You aren’t the highest authority on Shariah so I will take it that if arbitration isn’t a condition of divorce, as far as I know, in KSA, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar (where I know this to be the case), then the judges in these countries must have satisfied themselves that shariah doesn’t call for it. It can’t possibly be that you’re the only person who’s right, and the entire legal corps in these countries is wrong. Are you the only person who knows the right way to divorce? If not, why isn’t arbitration required in Muslim-majority countries? If it is required, please cite laws of each countries stipulating that.

    As far as I know, no judge can stop a man from divorcing if a man is determined to do so. Once again, the man’s right to divorce is unconditional and unlimited. It is also unilateral.

    The conditions you named are so ridiculously easy that I wonder how you can mention them with the straight face. That a woman must not be menstruating or pregnant? That isn’t difficult now is it? Wait till she’s done menstruating, announce divorce, waiting period begins, waiting period ends, you are divorced. That’s all there’s to it.

    The article I cited describes the divorce procedure in its entirety. The reason it is short is that the process – for a man – is quite easy. You may wish to make it seem like waiting for several announcements and arbitrating is mandatory but the fact of the matter is that neither of them is. Again – for a man, the process to divorce is this:

    a. Announce divorce when the wife is neither menstruating nor pregnant
    b. Wait 3 months without intercourse
    c. You’re done.

    Is it nice to arbitrate and pronounce divorce multiple times? You’re free to do so if you wish. But you don’t have to, and no one can make you (if you’re a man).

    Where do you live? This forum is full of ladies who live in Muslim-majority, shariah-ruled countries. I invite them to share their reports on how divorce initiated by men and women is practiced in their jurisdictions. Let’s see whose picture of Islamic divorce is closer to reality – mine or yours.

  169. Oh please, Sarah, which planet do you live on? Muslim men can divorce their wives by sending a text-message!
    And the clerics are quite ok with this. Anything to support the rights of cowardly men goes.

  170. Sandy, she did give up her position so I’m not sure why the article said that the US wouldn’t allow her to marry. I think the article made an error. I’m not a US supporter but I know they wouldn’t/couldn’t stop that marriage. I’m thinking that it was Abdullah who knew he was married in Saudi that was the reason they couldn’t marry in the USA because of course the US doesn’t allow bigotry. With his position with his government I’m sure it was known that he was legally married in Saudi.
    Sarah makes the perfect Muslim wife. There’s no sense arguing with her. She believes what she believes and thinks it’s all wonderful!

  171. Wendy, you meant ”bigamy” right?
    I think she lost her job, nobody could actually stop her marrying.

  172. A court can however divorce a couple against their wishes. Remember the case when a happily married couple with children was divorced against their will because the brothers of the wife decided that the man was of the wrong tribe, or insufficient status?
    Fatima and Mansour, the woman was actually imprisoned when she refused to leave her husband.
    Insane! That poor couple who loved each other has fought for four years and needed international support to get back together.

  173. And, Sarah, for a man divorce costs nothing, for a woman to get a divorce from a judge, she needs at the very least a substantial amount of bribe money to pay off the judge, and another amount to pay off the husband, we are talking in the tens of thousands of dollars here.
    And the men insist on getting the mahr back.
    Very unfair, as mahr is money for sex and the men have had the sex. You’d think the woman could keep the money she earned, she did an honest job; she providing the sex, she got paid. Why should the women have to give it back later?

  174. Hi about divorce there is two types of divorce
    1- divorce with three months chance to get back .This right only use twice and must be the husband fix the reasons of divorce in first place before the wife accept going this three months the wife has choice of stay in her husband home ar going to her family home and the husband must to obey to that request.

    Before three months finish and the husband did not fix the reasons of divorce or the wife didn’t accept to go back in this case the must go to court and judge will listen to both and if marriage will continue for both good or not

    2- divorce no go back
    A-If three months finished the wife now free from the husband and she can go to court to request money for taking care of children and the money decided by judge up to factor life level class
    B- if the husband use divorce third time the marriage is end immediately

    The wife has the right to keep the house and also has the right to get money to take care of kids

    Court will stand with the wife and kids if the wife can ensure to be a good mother

  175. NN,
    I don’t really understand why you insist that there is no mediator in divorce. This must be something personal. Just wondering.

    You say you are reading and yet you miss the points. I have already mentioned to you a case of my friend which was in a Muslim country in a shariah court where the judge asked for arbitration and he mediated on the woman’s side since she did not have anyone. Then told the man to reconsider the matter. And another case where a relative of mine in USA, was involved was also called for arbitration. It was not in the court but before going to court there was arbitration and it ended up in reconciliation.

    I am telling you about the Shariah, please note that and I have quoted Quran but where is your evidence in what you state? Have you ever been in a shariah court? NN, What happens in reality – sending SMS, or uttering words and being done with it, or judge just dismissing the case …etc is not in Shariah. The Quran is the highest authority on Shariah and I have quoted that. Is that not enough for you? And on what “authority” do you speak? On simplistic articles, on what you hear, on what you “see”, on what you think? In the cases where Prophet (saas) was involved, those are unique cases which gives us guidelines on grounds for divorce. For example, he allowed a divorce where the wife found her husband unattractive.

    And you say its very simple to wait for menses to be over and for her to be pure …etc. NN, be realistic. A man who is in anger, who is impatient, who cannot live with the situation anymore, who wants out…etc, will naturally find it very hard and frustrated by these conditions. You cannot realize that until you are living it. Islam tells us to be patient so he has to be in control. It is not all that easy as you make it out to be.

    Furthermore, you can watch this beautiful Khtubah in USA:

    Anyway, if you have your views on this subject so be it, I am taking mine from Quran.

  176. One would hope most men aren’t so childish to want a divorce in a fit of anger. While waiting DOES prevent that type of off-the-cuff divorce, that would be in very few cases, unless you are saying Muslim men are more emotional and out of control than other men?

    Arbitration is mentioned yes- but it is not generally legislated in court. And often only in a token manner. It is not investigated. There is a difference in what the Quran says- and how Shariah is legislated. As Muslims- arbitration SHOULD be part of the process- but Shariah doesn’t legislate it- because it CAN’T. How do laws quantify enough arbitration- or arbitration of the right kind? This is primarily a spiritual thing. And without it divorces are still granted in Shariah courts.

  177. @Sarah

    I’m going to make it super-easy for you. You say that arbitration is required in shariah in men-initiated divorces. OK. Going from that assumption, can you state that:

    1. All men-initiated divorces undergo arbitration as a condition of divorce.
    2. Courts require proof of arbitration before issuing a certificate of divorce, and
    3. Divorces undertaken without arbitration are considered unlawful.

    Can you? If you can’t, then we can’t really say that arbitration is a mandatory condition of divorce. Yes, Quran mentions it, but it doesn’t mandate it, and certainly Muslims around the world do not see it as mandatory. I’ve never read a fatwa that says to men that they cannot divorce without undergoing arbitration first, and if they do, then their divorces are invalid.

  178. Afke … slip of the brain on the bigamy.


    Good luck with the Sharia arguments. LOL!

  179. NN,

    As I have mentioned before that this differs according to madhab, regional laws, or ignorance. But according to Shariah and Quran there should be mediation by two arbiters on both the sides and if it ended in failure, the husband can pronounce divorce. Yes shariah court will ask for arbitration. NN, there is no need of fatwa if there is sharia law which is the law. I agree that some Muslims do not do this mediation and that is why there are so many easy divorces which the Quran is trying to avoiding in the first place.

    For further information, in Egypt, Family Law 1920-29 Article 25 states that “arbitration shall be undertaken by two persons eligible to act as witnesses under the law of evidence, one each either from the families of the spouses or from amongst persons knowing their circumstances, and possessing the ability to effect a reconciliation”. The law requires that “the arbitrators shall be bound to make all enquiries into the causes of discord and to take all possible measures to effect a reconciliation”. The arbitrators are required to report their findings to the judge who shall pronounce judgment on the basis of that.

    The Ottoman Law of Family Rights 1917 Articles 130 and 131 says if there is dispute between husband and wife and they approach the court, it will appoint an arbiter from both sides who will closely examine the case and make effort for reconciliation.

    Pakistan, under Muslims Family Law Ordinance 1961, there is an arbitration council which consists of the chairman and the two representatives of the husband and wife.

    Iran, Family Protection Law, 1967, says all disputes will be appointed arbiters. Every divorce case must issue a certificate of irreconcilability for the marriage to annulled.

  180. Isn’t amazing how ineffectual the all powerful invisible skydaddy is? First he can’t write a book which explains what he wants, three tries later and he still isn’t getting anywhere, and then in the culture where he tried the third time and has full power he still can’t get the people to do it the way he wants…
    I suppose he tried again (#4) with the ”prophet” Joseph Smith, didn’t get that right either of course, and now we have the prophet Bobby Henderson (PBUHP) (#5) and it is true that the Church of the flying Spaghetti Monster is the fastest growing religion right now, but I sort of expect that in another thousand years the CotFSM will have f*cked up as well…
    Time for another try (#6) I suppose….

  181. Hi
    I want to make it clear two persons present the couple they used when there is a big problem between husband and wife before divorce but not after the husband make divorce announcement

  182. Regarding divorce, Sarah, 3 months separation is quite short compared to international standards. In Germany for example, you need to be separated for 1 year, as witnessed by a local government office, to become eligible for divorce.

  183. Zue is right about the separation year in Germany. Except when there are special circumstances of course, for example abuse, then the divorce goes through immediately.

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