Can a widow remarry in Islam
The preferred or compulsory marriage connection of a widow with the direct or classificatory brother or another close agnate of her deceased husband in order to testify for this descendant and to provide him with a successor and heir to his name, his line and his property. A new marriage is therefore not necessary: the widow is still considered to be married to her deceased husband. It follows that the children of Levirate connections are considered the legitimate descendants of a man who is not their genitor, and that they both continue the line of the deceased and inherit him.
Latin-Hebrew, LEVIR = brother of the husband, brother-in-law: The term levirate is derived from the apparently seldom Latin word levir for brother-in-law. It contains an obligation that had legal force in Judaism; it was used in Islam; but in Rome it did not exist. [Goody 1989: 72].
The institution of the Levirate is closely connected with emphatically patrilineal systems, polygyny and the dowry. The institution of the Levirate (like that of the Sororate) can be described and explained on the basis of the theory of descent as well as that of the theory of alliance. These two approaches are not fundamentally incompatible with one another. "Customs such as the levirate and sororate are open to both explanations. In the levirate, when a man dies one of his brothers has the right and obligation to marry the wife and raise children to the name of the dead man. To the descent theory, these are clearly devices to preserve the continuity of the lineage; to alliance theory, they are ways of perpetuation the alliance. [Fox 1967, p.235]
While in some societies, the idea of the posthumous continuation of the line for men who had no sons during their lifetime is in the foreground (descent aspect), the levirate marriage in alliance societies is more of a strategy for maintaining established marriage relationships between ethnic groups beyond the death of the original spouse (Alliance aspect) [Barnard / Good 1984: 120; Vivelo 1981: 330;
Beattie 1976: 119f, 107f, 129].
The data collected in the course of field research are usually too complex to be clearly and exclusively assigned to one of the two binary contrast definitions of the levirate - women's inheritance [Abrahams 1973: 163-174].
According to Beattie, the levirate is characterized by the following features:
- A new marriage is not absolutely necessary; the widow can therefore continue to be regarded as the wife of the deceased
- The children from the marriage with the brother are considered to be the descendants of the deceased
- The levirate occurs in emphatically patrilineal societies; therefore, its primary function is to enable posthumous continuation of the line for those men who had no sons during their lifetime
- The inheritance of the deceased goes to the sons fathered by his brother's representative
- Instead of the real or classificatory brother, the widow can also marry another member of the family group of the deceased
Vivelo provides a different definition of the levirate, for whom the most important differentiating criterion for widow inheritance is the intended function of marriage, ie whether it represents a process to continue the line or a process to maintain the alliance relationship: "In societies that practice the levirate , if a man's relatives give his widow a replacement after his death, the levirate is often described as a practice whereby the brother of a deceased man marries his widow (or, with regard to the woman, is expected to be married) from the wife that she marries the brother of her deceased husband). But this does not always have to be exactly correct. Often she does not have to marry his brother (the real or classificatory), but some specific member of his kin replaced the group the deceased member. The levirate is therefore a mechanism for the continuation of the relationship between groups through marriage beyond the death of the original spouse. When a man dies, his kin group puts another man in his place to spouse the widow. [Vivelo 1981: 245f, 330]
Levirate marriage is very different from spirit marriage, where the vicarious husband actually marries the woman by paying cattle and performing the marriage rites even though he is doing so on someone else's behalf. In the Levirate marriage, all of this was already carried out by the legal husband, so that the brother as the substitute husband does not, strictly speaking, enter into a new marriage and into an already existing family. A woman is married not only to the husband, but also to his brothers, since the cattle come from the common herd. The widow is always referred to as the wife of the dead man and never as the wife of the substitute husband, as is the case in spirit marriage. In addition, the children see themselves as members of a legal family to which their social father (pater) does not belong, although he can be their genitor. If a widow has already given birth to more than two children, she can choose where and with whom she wants to live together (see widow concubinat) [Evans-Pritchard 1951: 112ff].
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