An estimated 50% of marriages in the United States end in separation, with an estimated 46,523 divorces filed each week. While these relationships may fail for a variety of reasons, a divorce case in Dubai recently gained international attention for its unusual cause: the plaintiff reportedly filed for separation on the grounds that his wife was possessed by a djinn.
Now a familiar presence in many works of fiction, djinn or genies were originally known as supernatural creatures in Islamic mythology. While modern popular culture typically depicts genies as mischievous, wish-granting spirits often trapped in bottles or oil lamps, the Quran and The Arabian Nights describe them as one of the three sapient creations of God, made from fire and inhabiting an unseen world. Like humans and angels, djinn can be either good, evil, or neutral, and like humans, have free will. As a result, people in Islamic cultures often believe that djinn often interfere with human affairs, sometimes even possessing their bodies for their own ends.
In the case of the plaintiff in Dubai, that intention was apparently to send his marriage into disarray: after repeatedly refusing sex, the man’s wife reportedly told him to discuss the issue with her parents. His mother and father-in-law then told the plaintiff that his wife was possessed by a djinn, claiming that several religious scholars had unsuccessfully tried to exorcise the spirit in the past.
Upon learning this news, the man filed for divorce with the Dubai Sharia Court. In a hearing, his lawyer stated that the plaintiff had been cheated by his wife and her family, who had attempted to hide her possession until the problem grew significantly worse. Because of this, the plaintiff and his lawyer argued that the man should not have to pay alimony to his former spouse.
While demonic possession is a fairly uncommon reason for legal separation, cultural and spiritual issues can be common causes of marital strife around the world.
“Putting aside the ridiculousness of the husband’s argument, North Carolina requires allegations of marital misconduct to prohibit and/or limit alimony. Obviously, his argument regarding his wife’s possession would not amount to anything meaningful in our courts. However, it certainly makes for good entertainment,” says MJ Julyan, Esq.,Divorce Attorney, Julyan Law firm, PLLC.
Divorce is considered a serious matter in the United Arab Emirates; however, Dubai has one of the highest divorce rates in the region, with a reported 1,129 divorces in 2012. After undergoing a three- to six-month process, the court granted the couple’s divorce, but asked the plaintiff to pay around 40,000 dirhams, or 11,000 US dollars, to his ex-wife. Later, the Dubai Appeals Court ruled that although the divorce was legitimate, the woman did not deserve the alimony payment due to her decision to withhold her possession from her husband.