SOAS University of London

New book explores gender and equality in Muslim family law

19 April 2013

A collection of essays exploring gender and equality in Islam is launched by a panel of distinguished thinkers at SOAS, University of London on Saturday 27 April.

The panel discussion launching Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law is chaired by SOAS Professor of Law Lynn Welchman.  It brings three of the contributors, Mohsen Kadivar, Muhammad Khalid Masud and Mulki al-Sharmani, together with UN Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt and lead editor Ziba Mir-Hosseini.

Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law offers a groundbreaking analysis of family law, based on fieldwork in family courts, and illuminated by insights from distinguished clerics and scholars of Islam from Morocco, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, as well as by the experience of human rights and women’s rights activists.

It explores how male authority is sustained through law and court practice in different contexts, the consequences for women and the family, and the demands made by Muslim women’s groups. The book argues for women’s full equality before the law by re-examining the jurisprudential and theological arguments for male guardianship (qiwama, wilaya) in Islamic legal tradition.

Using contemporary examples from various contexts, from Morocco to Malaysia, this volume presents an informative and vital analysis of these societies and gender relations within them. It unpicks the complex and often contradictory attitudes towards Muslim family law, and the ways in which justice and ethics are conceived in the Islamic tradition.

Leader editor Dr Mir-Hosseini, research associate in SOAS’ Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, is a legal anthropologist, specializing in Islamic law, gender and development, and founding member of Musawah, the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family.

Dr Mir-Hosseini said: “The book offers a new framework for rethinking old formulations so as to reflect contemporary realities and understandings of justice, ethics and gender rights.”

The event takes place at SOAS, University of London, Room G2, on Saturday 27 April 2013, 5–7.30pm.
Admission is free, but registration for book launch is required.   

The Panellists:

Heiner Bielefeldt is United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief. A
philosopher, historian and Catholic theologian, he is also Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Policy at the University of Erlangen.

Mohsen Kadivar is a Muslim philosopher, a Shi‘i theologian and jurist, and a leading intellectual of the Islamic reform movement in Iran, currently he is Visiting Professor of Religion at Duke University.

Muhammad Khalid Masud is Director General, Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic
University, Islamabad. Formerly Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Islamabad, and Professor and Academic Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), Leiden.

Mulki al-Sharmani is researcher and lecturer in the Study of Religions, Faculty of Theology,
University of Helsinki. She is also research coordinator in the Qiwamah and Wilayah Research Project
with Musawah, the global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family.

The Chair:

Lynn Welchman
is Professor of Law with reference to the Middle East and North Africa at SOAS.
She is former Director (and now Deputy Director) of the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law.