Muslim Divorce in the Middle East

Contesting Gender in the Contemporary Courts

  • Jessica Carlisle

Part of the Gender and Politics book series (GAP)

About this book


How have Muslim marriages legally ended around the turn of the 21st century? Who has the power to initiate and resist shari‘a derived divorce? When are husbands and wives made to bear the costs of their marital breakdown? What does divorce law indicate about the development of gender regimes in the Middle East and North Africa? This book opens with a description of the historical development of Islamic divorce in the MENA. Subsequent chapters follow a Syrian male judge, a Moroccan female legal advice worker and a Libyan female judge as they deal with divorce cases in which husbands, wives, their relatives and lawyers debate gender roles in contemporary Muslim marriages. MENA ‘state feminism’ has increasingly equalized men’s and women’s access to divorce and encouraged discussions about how spouses should treat each other in marriage. The real life outcomes of these reforms have often been surprising. Moreover, as the last chapter explores, jihadi proto-states (such as Islamic State) have violently rejected state feminist divorce law reform. This accessible book will appeal to students, researchers and a general readership interested in Islamic law; Middle Eastern studies; gender and sexuality; and, legal and social anthropology.


Muslim divorce in the Middle East Middle East and gender issues gender in Middle Eastern courts divorce law in the Middle East law and politics in the Middle East gender regimes in the Middle East Islamic divorce in MENA region feminism in MENA region Muslim marriages in the Middle East legal anthropology Middle Eastern divorce law reform Shari‘a and divorce law Muslim divorce in Syria Muslim divorce in Morocco Muslim divorce in Libya law reform activists in MENA region state feminism in Syria state feminism in Libya family court in MENA region Islam and feminism

Authors and affiliations

  • Jessica Carlisle
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in SocietyNewman UniversityBirminghamUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information