ABDALLAH v. SARSOUR
The parties married in Virginia on January 30, 2000 in accordance with Islamic Law and executed an Islamic Marriage Contract. As part of the divorce litigation, the wife sought enforcement of the Contract. It provided that upon marriage, the husband was to pay an immediate dower of $10,000 and up to $15,000 for the wife’s undergraduate expenses as they became due. The husband argued that this Contract was void for vagueness because the term “later” was used to designate the time of performance of the dower. Additionally, he argued that the Contract was void for failure of consideration because the wife failed to remain in the marriage as required under Islamic customs.
Whether the Islamic Marriage Contract is enforceable where the term “later” was used to designate the time of performance of the dower and the wife failed to remain in the marriage as required under Islamic customs.
The Court ruled in favor of the defendant-husband. The Court held that the Contract was not void for vagueness, explaining that “where an agreement is to pay money and no time is specified, it is interpreted as being an agreement to pay the same on demand; and if it is an agreement to do something other than to pay money, it is interpreted as a promise to do it in a reasonable time.” Thus, the term “later” as used to designate the time of performance of the dower would be interpreted as requiring payment on demand. Accordingly, the Court directed the husband to pay the $10,000 dowry as requested.
Additionally, the Court rejected the husband’s argument that the Contract was void for failure of consideration. The Court noted that the Contract was fully integrated, as it set forth the offer to marry and pay the two obligations as well as the acceptance of the offer and the proposed dowry. Therefore, the Court was not required to consider additional terms such as Islamic customs. Accordingly, the Court directed the husband to pay a portion of the wife’s undergraduate expenses that she had actually incurred.