Muslimah Writers Alliance Welcomes Saudi Reversal in Al-Timani Forced Divorce Case

Aishah Schwartz, Director MWA

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Muslimah Writers Alliance Welcomes Saudi Reversal in Al-Timani Forced Divorce Case

by Aishah Schwartz, Director MWA

King Abdullah Urged to Continue Support of Advances Made in the Elimination of Gender Bias Against Women

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (MWA) Jan. 30, 2010 – Breaking news from Saudi Arabia today brings the welcomed announcement that the Kingdom’s Supreme Court of ruled on Jan. 29 in favor of overturning the forced divorce of Mansour Al-Timani (40) and his wife, Fatima Azzaz (36), opening the way for the pair, and their two children, to be reunited.

“On learning about the appellate court decision to uphold the July 20, 2005 lower court ruling, obtained absentia, forcefully divorcing Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani on the basis of his alleged lower social status, there was no doubt in my mind that Muslimah Writers Alliance would join in supporting their attorney, and scores of Saudi women activists and journalists, in appealing to the widely reported track record of mercy on the part of King Abdullah, in whose hands lay the power to reverse this travesty of justice,” stated Aishah Schwartz, Founder and Director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization.

“By forwarding Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani’s case to the High Court, King Abdullah took a step forward in reinforcing his established trend of reform by mandating, implementing, and enforcing existing, pending, and/or proposed measures designed to ensure that women’s rights in marriage and divorce, as well as various other aspects of daily life, are dealt with in accordance to the Shariah. Repealing local, cultural and socially backward man-made, convenience-based laws, is a moral obligation we must strive for on behalf of Muslim women world-wide,” Ms. Schwartz concluded.

MWA launched the Say ‘No’ to Forced Divorce – ‘Yes’ to Reforms online petition drive in February 2007 in support of reuniting Mansour and Fatima, in addition to calling for reforms pertaining to the rights of women in the Kingdom. The petition reached 1,000 signatures within one month representing a global outcry from more than 40 countries, 56 foreign cities, 21 U.S. States and 45 U.S. cities in support of Mansour and Fatima’s case.

The original legal action, filed by Fatima’s half-brothers after the death of her father, claimed that Al-Timani misrepresented his tribal affiliation (or social status) when he sought permission to marry Fatima. Al-Timani denied the charge, and in the single court appearance Fatima was made aware of, she adamantly declared to Justice Ibrahim Al-Farraj, that she did not wish to be divorced from her husband. 

Pending Friday’s ruling, Fatima and her son had been living in a women’s shelter. Had she returned to the guardianship of her brothers, she would have been forced into remarriage to another ‘more suitable’ man. Fatima told the Arab News in November 2007, “I’m leaving this place on one condition only: that I go back to my husband.”

“Fatimah’s case, and numerous other cases, are basically rooted in the right of the guardian to control life, marriage, and in our cases, education and travel,” stated renowned Saudi poet and activist, Nimah Ismail Nawwab.

Nawwab further asserted, “Women all over the world are being harmed because of it [guardianship] and our local, legal decisions are being picked up by others and cited as precedents, creating a domino effect that is widespread and tragically timeless.”

MWA applauds and supports the valiant efforts of Saudi women throughout the Kingdom who delivered petitions in support of Mansour and Fatima, and the efforts of journalists world-wide, including Saudi journalists, Suzan Zawawi and Sabria S. Jawhar of The Saudi Gazette; from the Arab News, Maha Akeel, Ebtihal Mubarak, Abeer Mishkhas, Lubna Hussain, Tariq A. Al-Maeena, Razan Baker, Bashir Karyad, Raid Qusti, Hassna’a Mokhtar, Rasheed Abou-Alsamh and P.K. Abdul Ghafour; from The Middle East Times, Nimah Nawwab, Dina Abdel Mageed, and Hala Abu Khatwa’; from ABC News International, Hala Abu Khatwa; from The Middle East Media Research Institute Y. Admon; Faiza Saleh Ambah of the Washington Post; Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, Washington Times; Donna Abu-Nasr, AP; Caryle Murphy, The National; Rania Salamah, Okaz; Naoki Tommasini, The Peace Reporter; Daniel Howden, The Independent; The International Campaign Against Honor Killings “ICAHK”; and MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz, who kept the case alive in the media.

“Networking among Muslim women all over the world has become a necessity and a survival strategy, stated Fatin Yousef Bundagji, Director of Women Empowerment and Research at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

Ms. Bundagji added, “You need never forget that a younger female generation is patiently waiting for you to secure its future.”

“This is truly a momentous occasion, not only for this individual couple, and Saudi society in general, but also for the larger international human rights movement against all forms of oppression,” stated doctoral student and woman’s rights activist in the Language Literacy and Culture Program at University of Marlyand (UMBC), Autumn Reed.

Another manifestation of King Abdullah’s commitment to supporting women’s issues materialized as the result of a collaborative effort supported by Muslimah Writers Alliance through another online petition drive in September 2006.  The petition was launched in protest of a proposal outlined in a report compiled by a committee of scholars at the request of King Abdullah.  The proposal, set forth as a plan to eliminate the prayer area for women within the mataaf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba), was met with a chorus of global outrage.

Within days the MWA Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women Petition collected nearly 2,000 signatures. 

By the petition’s eleventh day deputy head of Grand Mosque affairs, Mohammed bin Nasser al-Khozayem, announced to the press that, ‘The presidency (committee) [has] decided to adopt a second proposal, which is to expand two special places for women’s prayer, in addition to the one that already exists.’

Margot Badran, author and a senior fellow at the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., called the collaborative effort, “The most striking example to date of concerted Islamic feminist global protest and one that authorities could not ignore.”

For a media documented history of the case visit:
Published by MWA and/or written by Aishah Schwartz
Letter to the Editor; Wall Street Journal
Re: “A Whiff of Change” - April 7, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Petition Exceeds 1,000 Signatures in Support of Guardianship Reform in Saudi Arabia
MWANET - PRWEB 3/19/07 - - Keralanext, India - March 12, 2007
The Battle Has Been Longstanding and Continues
MWANET - March 8, 2007
To Advocate or Abdicate: Muslimah Writers Alliance Stands in Defense of Islam
MWANET - Naseeb Vibes (3/14/07) - March 6, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Petitions King Abdullah to Stop Forced Divorces
Liberty Post (Westminster, MD) - February 19, 2007
MWA Petitions King Abdullah to Stop Forced Divorces
International Campaign Against Honour Killings “ICAHK” - February 16, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Petitions King Abdullah to Stop Forced Divorces
PRWeb - February 14, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins in Petitioning Saudi Arabia for Reversal of Forced Divorces
WebIslam, The Huffington Post, Washington, DC - February 15, 2007
Will King Abdullah Listen to this Couple?
The Brunei Times - February 9, 2007
Saudi King Pressed Over Women’s Marriage Rights
BigNews, Malaysia Sun, China National News - February 8, 2007
Will Forced Divorce Become Rule-of-the-Day in Saudi Arabia?
King Abdullah petitioned to reverse precedent setting case threatening to send reform efforts for women on a backward trend
MWANET - February 8, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins in Petitioning Saudi Arabia for For Reversal of Forced Divorce
The American Muslim (TAM) - February 6, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins Al-Timani Attorney and Saudi Women Activists in Petitioning for Reversal of Forced Divorce
MWANET - February 5, 2007
Aishah Schwartz is a Muslim American revert and freelance writer. She has catalogued her journeys through Islam in a series of articles found at She is also Founder and Director of Muslimah Writers Alliance ( based in Washington, D.C., a member of the National Association of Women Writers and member of the National Association. As an international activist she more recently returned from a visit to Gaza (Dec. 30, 2009-Jan. 2, 2010), events of which are documented on her personal blog at
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