Law Of Domestic Relations - Introduction
The Vitalic Statistics Law Religious Jurisprudence and Personal Status Law
In the past there were no Druze Religious Courts in Palestine. Disputes between Druzes were usually settled through the mediation of friends of the two sides. If the disputes were more involved a Sheikh would be consulted and if he were unable to settle the dispute, then the leaders of the community would step in. Generally the Druze would not bring their disputes before the Shari'a Courts. Burckhardt points out that if the dispute could not be settled by the Druzes themselves the families would often clash rather than come before the Civil Court in Damascus. (2)
In Lebanon a different situation prevailed. At the beginning of the 19th century Burckhardt came across a Druze judge in Deir Al-Kamar who judged according to Ottoman Law and Druze customs. The judges appointment to the judiciary was handed down from father to son, but to the best of Burckhardt's knowledge most of the important issues were brought before the Emir or Sheikh Bashir. (3)
In 1948 the Druze Personal Law was first promulgated. The law was passed by the Lebanese Parliament on 24 February 1948 and was published as an appendix to issue no. 9 of the official newspaper on 3 March 1948.
Five years later, in 1953, the Lebanese law was accepted in Syria as the Religious Law of that country.
The Israeli Druzes, also did no find fault with the Lebanese law. On the day it was announced that the Israeli Druze Religious Council had been established (30 October 1961), the then-chairman of the Council the late Sheikh Amin Tarif, met with representatives of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Jerusalem to discuss the organization of the community. At the meeting he expressed the opinion that the Personal Status Law of Lebanon should be accepted. (4)
On 2 November 1961, the Sheikh assembled the Religious Council in Julis where a resolution was adopted declaring the Lebanese Personal Status Law as the Religious Law of the community in Israel, and the Religious Courts would judge all matters within their jurisdiction according to this law. Sheikh Tarif informed the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Prime Minister of the decision. (5)
The Lebanese Law which was prepared by a select group of Religious Notables (Oqal) and Druze lawyers in Lebanon was based largely on legal principles promulgated by Al-Amir Al-Said Abdallah Al Tanukhi (died 1947). In matters in which the legislators did not have a basis in Al-Tanukhi or in other Druze legal sources, they relied on the Ottoman Family Rights Law of 1917 (which had never been passed into law by the Turkish Parliament and was at the resolution stage [Kararnameh] ), on Lebanese Civil Law, and on Shari'a Law (principally the Hanafi school of thought).
The Druze Personal Status Law contains 171 articles, (6) divided into 19 chapters. It deals with matters of marriage (including dower and maintenance), divorce, adoption, guardianship, wills, inheritance, and division of property (Wakf). The details of these articles will now be discussed.
Chapter 1 - Eligibility to Enter into Marriage (Articles 1 - 5)
Chapter 2 - Forbidden Marriages (article 9 - 13)
Chapter 3 - Arranging the Marriage (Articles 14 -19)
Chapter 4 - Marriages Rules (Articles 20 -23)
Chapter 5 - Dower ("Mahr") (Articles 24 - 27)
Chapter 6 - Maintenance (Nafaqa) (Articles 28-36)
Chapter 7 - Separation (Article 37-49)
Chapter 8 - Waiting Period (Idda) (Articles 50-53)
Chapter 9 - The custody of the children (Articles 54-66)
Chapter 10 - Child allowance (Articles 67-74)
Chapter 11- Payments by sons to parents and other relatives (Articles 75-80)
Chapter 12 - Guardianship over minors (Articles 81-87)
Chapter 13- Guardianship and wills (Article 88-98)
Chapter 14- Responsibilities of the guardian [executor] (Articles 99-118)
Chapter 15- Circumstances under with a Qadi may disqualify a person and appoint a guardian (Articles 119 -125)
Chapter 16 - A Missing Person and his Trustee (article 126 -136)
Chapter 17 - Paternity (nasab) (Articles 137-144)
Chapter 18 - Wills and Inheritance (2) (Articles 145 -170)
The law was thought to be a liberal one, suited to the times and did not contradict Israeli Civil Law. In cases where the Israeli Civil Law is the determining law (e.g. minimum marriageable age), an adjustment is made between it and the Druze Personal Status Law.