Islamic Family Law

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law, Gender and Media

Module overview

This module provides a detailed examination of Islamic family law, covering the laws of marriage, dissolution of marriages, guardianship and child custody. These are examined in light of classical rules of Islamic jurisprudence and recent family law reforms in different parts of the Muslim world and also with relevant examples from UK cases. Taking the different areas of family law in turn, we examine the development of positions in the different jurisprudential schools (including the sources on which the classical schools relied) before considering later (colonial and post-colonial) treatment of and approaches to these areas of law in states' courts and codes. A focus on codification and the modern state's identity as legislator is highlighted. Approaches to reform of particular areas of law by different social actors are considered, including the use they make of classical and post-classical sources. Students are required to familiarise themselves with current modern Muslim family codes of a number of Muslim-majority states that will be referred to during the course. The Muslim world will also be examined.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


On successful completion of this module, a student will be able to:

  • demonstrate a good understanding of the complexities of Islamic family law;
  • demonstrate a clear understanding of the sources and jurisprudential methodologies through which the different fiqh schools arrived at their positions on the various areas of family law examined;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the interactions of Islamic family law with the state and familiarity with the family law codes of selected Muslim-majority states.
  • reflect critically on the issues raised in contemporary debates about Islamic family law and its application in modern times;
  • conduct independent legal research in the field of Islamic family law;
  • undertake written analysis and debate on key issues in Islamic family law




  • Weekly 2-hour seminar


Scope and syllabus


  1. Islamic family law: introduction
  2. The marriage contract: capacity and guardianship
  3. Age of marriage, marriage equality, options
  4. The dower
  5. Incidents of marriage: issues of maintenance, etc.
  6. Polygamy and stipulations in the marriage contract
  7. Invalid and irregular marriages
  8. Dissolution of marriage: Talāq
  9. Dissolution of marriage: Khul’ and judicial dissolution (Faskh)
  10. Child custody and guardianship of children


Method of assessment


  • Essay: 30% (2000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 70%


Suggested reading

Core reading

  • ‘Abd al ‘Ati, H., The Family Structure in Islam (ATP, 1977).
  • Baderin, M.A., Islamic Law: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2021)
  • Ibn Rushd, Bidayat al-Mujtahid, trans. Imran Nyazee as The Distinguished Primer, Vol. II (Garnet Publishing, 1996). Chapters on Marriage and Divorce.
  • Welchman, L, "A Historiography of Islamic Family Law" in Emon, A.E., and Ahmed, R., (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law (2018).
    Welchman, L., Women and Muslim Family Law in Arab States (AUP, 2007).

Additional reading

  • An-Na'im, A., (ed.) Islamic Family Law in a Changing World: A Global Resource Book (2002).
  • Wadud, A., Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective (OUP, 1999).
  • Specific Journal articles and Book chapters on the different topics.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules