Joohi Hosain

Shariah punishes the pursuit of happiness.

Joohi Hosain’s story is a sad tale of Shariah law being enforced on a mother and her daughter here in America.

Worse, it’s a case where the judge in the Appeals Court actually upheld imposing Shariah law.  The Shariah war on women is waged in courtrooms even in America.






Joohi’s story, like every story told here, is completely factual – taken from the public record of the appeals case for Joohi Hosain, available in the court record here:

In this case, a Maryland Court enforced a Pakistani custody order turning a little girl brought to America by her mother over to the father. Shockingly, the Maryland court actually abandoned American standards in making their ruling and stated that the best interests of the child should not be “determined based on Maryland law, i.e., American cultures and mores,” but rather “by applying relevant Pakistani customs, culture and mores”;“a Pakistani court could only determine the best interest of a Pakistani child by an analysis utilizing the customs, culture, religion, and mores of … Pakistan”; “in the Pakistani culture, the well being of the child and the child’s proper development is thought to be facilitated by adherence to Islamic teachings.”

The story behind this case is tragic and begins in Pakistan in 1983 with the birth of the daughter. Both parents (the mother Joohi, the father Anwar Malik) were citizens of Pakistan, living in Karachi at the time. In 1990,  Joohi left Anwar Malik and moved in with her parents, taking her daughter with her. Anwar Malik sued in Pakistani court to obtain custody of the daughter and Joohi fled the country with her daughter, rather than attempt to defend herself in a Pakistani Shariah court.

Joohi traveled to the United States on a student visa. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Shariah court awarded custody of the daughter to Anwar Malik in Joohi’s absence. He hired private detectives who found Joohi and her daughter living in Baltimore, Maryland in 1992. By that time, Joohi had moved into the home of another man, with whom she had conceived a son.

Joohi then filed a complain in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to prevent the Pakistani custody ruling from being enforced and to obtain a restraining order against the father. The Circuit court granted temporary custody to Joohi, refused to enforce the Pakistani custody award and enjoined Anwar Malik from going within 300 feet of Joohi’s residence.

When the case went to trial in the Circuit Court, the trouble began.

First of all, three attorneys were supposed to be involved: one each for the mother, the father and the minor child. But the attorney for the minor child failed to show up, yet the judge ordered the case to move forward anyway (and Joohi’s attorney failed to object at the time).

Anwar Malik produced an expert witness, former Pakistani Justice Sardar Muhammed Dogar, who claimed that the Pakistani Shariah court had in fact applied the “welfare of the minor” standard in awarding custody to the father. But his supposition was based not on any standard that would be applied in an American court, but almost purely based on “parental preference rules based on religious and societal doctrine,” i.e. Shariah. Dogar also claimed that Joohi had essentially surrendered her rights to the child by not appearing to defend herself in the Pakistani court. The court acknowledged that it depended largely on Dogar’s expert testimony in arriving at its conclusion that the Pakistani Shariah law ruling was not substantially contrary to the public policy of the state of Maryland.

Central to Anwar Malik’s case was Joohi’s failure to appear to defend herself in the Pakistani court. But, the fact of the matter is, Joohi had a very good reason not to try to defend herself in the Pakistani Shariah court. She was fearful that if she appeared in court, she would be arrested for adultery and prosecuted, with a possible sentence of public whipping or even stoning.

These facts need to be placed in the context of what was going on politically in Pakistan at the time.

Under the rule of General Zia ul Haq, a lengthy period of Islamization had been instituted in Pakistan, a hallmark of which had been a set of discriminatory legislation directed at women. This manifested itself in many ways, but the most relevant for the travesty of justice that the Maryland court perpetrated against Joohi can best be summed up in a report published by Amnesty International at around the time that this case was heard:

Several cases have been reported in which women were sentenced to death without being given adequate scope to testify on their own behalf. The most recent reported case is that of Nasrin, a 35-year-old housewife. She was charged with zina by her first husband, whom she had married in 1976 and with whom she had five children. In 1989, she married her second husband, Jaffer Hussain. Her first husband filed a complaint of zina in a sessions court in Dera Ismail Khan, Punjab province. Nasrin and Jaffer Hussain were arrested in November 1989 and granted bail by the Lahore High Court in March 1990. Nasrin could not prove that she had been divorced. In February 1993 Nasrin was sentenced to death by public stoning following a five-year jail sentence. Her second husband Jaffer Hussain was sentenced to 100 lashes. In July 1993 the Federal Shariat Court acquitted the couple. They had been held in prison for three years and eight months.” (Women in Pakistan)

So, Joohi had every reason to fear the Pakistani Shariah court and Justice Dogar, the expert witness relied upon so heavily by the Maryland court, was a part of that very justice system.

Nevertheless, none of the available evidence was enough to convince the Maryland court that the application of Pakistani law was contrary to public policy and the Pakistani court order was in fact enforced. The little girl was given to the father whom she had not seen in two years—and reportedly feared–and taken back to Pakistan. It is highly unlikely that she has ever seen her mother Joohi since.

As an aside, it should be noted that two of the judges on the Maryland Superior Court panel disagreed with the ruling and wrote a stinging dissent, maintaining that proceeding without the lawyer for the daughter being present was a miscarriage of justice and that the Pakistani court had NOT in fact applied the best interests of the child standard and therefore the Pakistani court order should never have been enforced.


Hosain v. Malik, 108 Md.App. 284, 671 A.2d 988 (Md.1996)