Whether living in a traditional Muslim nation or in the secular West, family law or ‘personal status law’, has special significance for Muslims. There are several reasons why. The first is that the Quran has many verses (ayat) setting out legal principles and rules for marriage, divorce and family relationships. This means there has always been a clear foundation for Islamic family law, emanating directly from the revelations from God to the Prophet Mohammad. The reformist nature of many of these verses indicates that family law was an important dimension of God’s message for Muslims. Many of these reforms either abolished or reconstructed practices that were detrimental to women and children, making them ground-breaking in feminist terms with Muslim women given legal entitlements that were not attained in the West for a thousand or more years. In addition, the example of the Prophet as a married family man cemented the importance of the family in every Muslim society, and the many hadiths (ahadith) on family matters, together with the expansion of laws by the jurists, enabled family law to develop into a comprehensive legal compendium. The second reason is cultural and sociological. Poulter has argued that family law embodies the ‘quintessential culture of a distinctive group … which cannot be discarded lightly’. It goes directly to individual identity within a shared identity of the family and extends to a shared belonging to the worldwide com- munity of Muslims (ummah).
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.