Chapter 6: Matrimonial property in Islamic law
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The concept of property ownership in Islamic legal discourse has changed over time. The notion of matrimonial (or family) property which is shared or jointly held is one of the most challenging ideas faced by Islamic property jurisprudence in modern times. Historically, property was deemed to be held by the spouses independently, with certain rights and responsibilities arising within a recognised nikah marriage. However, in the era of post-colonial states, women’s increased workforce participation on the one hand and economic inactivity or under-activity on the other, and unpaid social reproductive labour, there is a recognition that this regime is problematic. This chapter outlines the Islamic jurisprudence and state practice concerning matrimonial property generally, taking a global snapshot of the differing state practices by examining three prevalent approaches: no matrimonial property or shared assets; community of property/shared assets; and negotiated private contractual agreements.