Page:Satires and profanities -microform- (1884).djvu/130

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121
SOME MUSLIM LAWS AND BELIEFS.

sence of witnesses, if none can easily be procured) renders her his legal wife if arrived at puberty. A man may divorce his wife twice, and each time take her back without any ceremony, unless she has paid for it by resigning the reserved third of the dowry, furniture, etc.; but if he divorces her the third time, or puts her away by a triple divorce conveyed in one sentence, he cannot receive her again until she has been married and divorced by another husband, who must have consummated his marriage with her. To divorce her, he simply has to say, "Thou art divorced," or "I divorce thee"; but the woman cannot separate herself from her husband against his will, unless it be for some considerable fault on his side, such as cruel treatment or neglect. The facility of divorce has depraving effects, upon both sexes. Many men in the course of ten years have married twenty, thirty, or more wives; and women not far advanced in age have been wives to a dozen or more successively. "I have heard of men who have been in the habit of marrying a new wife almost every month." But such conduct is generally regarded as very disgraceful; and few persons in the upper or middle classes would give a daughter in marriage to a person who had divorced many wives.

The women deem it more incumbent to cover the upper and back part of the head than the face; and more requisite to conceal the face than most parts of the person. Many among the lower classes never conceal their faces; women may often be seen with nothing but a narrow strip of rag round the hips. The face-veils have the advantage of leaving the eyes visible, which are generally the most beautiful of the features; fine figures being more common than altogether handsome faces; though some faces are of a beauty distinguished by such sweetness of expression that they seem the perfection of female lovliness, "and impressed me at the time with the idea that their equal could not be found in any other country." The women of Cairo are less strictly guarded than in most Eastern lands;