Women, Marriage and the Law in Post-Revolutionary Iran

Part of the Women’s Studies at York Series book series (WSYS)


Before the revolution of 1979, Iran was one of the few Muslim countries whose family laws, originally based on the shari’a (Islamic law), were radically reformed. The Family Protection Law of 1967 (FPL) substantially modified some of the inequalities inherent in Islamic family law. It abolished men’s unilateral right to divorce and put women on an equal footing with men in matters of divorce and child custody.


Marital Conflict Civil Code Legal Reform Muslim World Child Custody 
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  1. Some of the material in this chapter was published in another form as part of Z. Mir-Hosseini ‘Divorce in Islamic Law and in Practice: The Case of Iran’, Cambridge Anthropology, vol. 11, no. 1 (1986), pp. 41–69.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    H. Afshar, ‘Women, Marriage and State in Iran’, in H. Afshar (ed.), Women, State and Ideology (London: Macmillan, 1987), pp. 70–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  6. 3.
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    For a translation of the text of the FPL of 1967, see A. R. Naqavi, ‘The Family Protection Act’, Islamic Studies, vol. 6 (1967), pp. 24–66Google Scholar
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    For instance, Ayatollah Khomeini, in an important ruling, denounced FPL as contrary to Islam (Touzieh al-Masa’il). In a speech in 1967, he strongly opposed the above law as follows: ‘the law designated the “family law”, which has as its purpose the destruction of the Muslim family unit, is contrary to the ordinances of Islam. Those who have imposed [this law] and those who voted [for it] are criminals from the stand-point of both the shari’a and the law.’ For a translation of this speech see the translation by H. Algar, Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini (Berkeley, CA: Mizan, 1981), p. 441.Google Scholar
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    Temporary marriage, which is referred to as nekah-e monqateh in the Civil Code, can last from some hours to 99 years. The duration of the marriage and the amount of mahr which is paid to the women upon marriage must be specified in the marriage contract. Any ambiguity in regard to these two matters can render the marriage invalid (Article 1095). There is no divorce in this type of marriage; the woman is free after the lapse of the time cited in the marriage contract or if the husband forfeits the remaining time (Article 1139). A temporary wife whose marriage contract expires must keep a waiting period of two menstrual cycles before being able to contract another marriage (Article 1152). Although the 1967 law did not impose any restriction on temporary marriage, the FPL Courts, by not entertaining cases involving such marriages, in effect denied recognition to this type of marriage. For an account of this type of marriage in Iran see S. Haeri, Law of Desire, Temporary Marriage in Iran (London: I. B. Tauris, 1989).Google Scholar
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    This is a semi-modern view, and sometimes has an apologetic tone to it; see, for example, M. A. A. Maudoodi, The Laws of Marriage and Divorce in Islam (Kuwait: Islamic Books, 1983)Google Scholar
  14. M. Mutahari, The Rights of Women in Islam (trans.) (Tehran: World Organisation for Islamic Service, 1980).Google Scholar
  15. 25.
    For this type of transaction in one region of Iran, see Z. Mir-Hosseini, ‘Some Aspects of Changing Marriage in Rural Iran: The Case of Kalardasht, A District in the Northern Provinces’, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, vol. XX, no. 2 (1989), pp. 215–31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Haleh Afshar 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Girton CollegeUK
  2. 2.University of CambridgeUK

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