mUSLIM LAW REFORMS

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View with images and charts MUSLIM FAMILY LAW REFORMS IN JURISDICTIONS OTHER THAN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT Objectives and concept of the present study: The study of Muslim family law (MFL), as the most widely applied family law system in the world today, has two main objectives: to verify and document the scope and manner of the application of MFL around the world; and to explore and substantiate possibilities of MFL reform within particular communities of Muslims in their specific cultural, theological, legal and institutional context. This study is also concerned with evaluating and promoting the practical consistency between IFL and international human rights, especially the rights of women and children. In pursuing these and other related objectives, this study seeks to apply an integrated approach: from research and analysis to policy and law reform proposals, to advocacy for change by groups and organizations within the country or local community. 4 The goal of this project is to produce a concise, brief document that indicates “the reforms” in the application and implementation of family law in Muslim countries other than Indian sub continent in the world. Thereby, we wish to make the positive developments that are occurring in the Muslim world’s legislative and judicial practice better known and available to other states and practitioners that are grappling with the same issues. We hope this overview will be helpful to lawmakers, legal practitioners, and civil society groups.5 This document is not meant to be either prescriptive or an exhaustive record of all family law in all Muslim countries. Rather, it is a collection of “best practices,” touching on the issues that women and families have identified as being the most significant for their personal advancement and their quality of life and describing ways in which enlightened Islamic jurists have reconciled Islamic principles with contemporary ethical and social values to create forward-looking legislative practice. We reviewed the laws and family codes of different Muslim countries in the world including Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey etc. Referenced statistics and comparable data often extend beyond these countries; we have indicated the scope of those statistics when used, indicating whether comparisons are with the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the Arab World, or countries with Muslim majority populations more broadly. The first objective of the proposed project is to verify, understand and document the precise scope and nature of the application of MFL in a sample cross-section of Islamic countries and communities around the world. This "mapping process" will occur in two stages, an initial global survey during phase one of the project, coupled with in depth examination of three situations in the pilot study part of this first phase. The second phase will consist of in depth examination of five countries and two communities in the second phase of the project. The second objective of the project is to explore and substantiate possibilities of MFL reform within particular communities of Muslims in their specific cultural, theological, legal and institutional contexts. With due regard to professional and scholarly standards, the goal is to influence policy and law reform in Islamic counties and communities regarding the status and rights of women and children. Once clarified and tested through the two phases of this project, this approach to MFL reform can be applied in other situations. Before turning to the operational side of these two phases, here is some justification of the proposed scope, followed by further elaboration on the rationale of the objectives of the project. What is basically proposed here is a global survey to chart the field, to know who is doing what, how and what are the conclusions or results of their work. Despite the obvious need for this as an essential prerequisite to intelligent critical examination of the theory and practice of IFL with a view to its reform and positive development, no such study has been done yet. But for such a survey to achieve its objectives, it has to go beyond a mere review of formal legislation or occasional judicial pronouncements in various countries. A comprehensive and insightful survey must penetrate the facade of official legality to the realities of actual daily life for individual people, their families and communities. MFL is clearly too important to the individual and collective self-identity of most Muslims around the world for its role and significance to be appreciated from a formalistic survey of the law as it "ought to be." That is why in depth studies of the type described below are necessary for truly understanding what is happening, in what respects it needs to be reformed and how to achieve that objective. The proposed case studies are therefore integral to understanding the actual practice of MFL with a view to proposing and implementing effective reform as and when necessary. Only detailed and systematic study of how IFL affects the daily lives and social relationships of actual men, women and children, of how people adjust to and cope with the consequences of the application of the law will give us the insights we need for devising and implementing reform initiatives. Such studies are also necessary for testing the relevance and efficacy of reform initiatives already attempted in different parts of the world. But since such studies cannot be undertaken all at once in every Muslim country and community, we have to begin with a select sample of situations. There is also the need to verify and refine the criteria of selection of appropriate situations, and to develop valid methodologies for the study of each type of situation. That is why this proposal suggests implementation of pilot studies in three situations during the first phase of the project. However, while three might be a manageable number of studies for a start, it is hardly sufficient for drawing legitimate conclusions for the wide variety of situations that exist on the ground. For that reason, we propose to add another seven detailed studies during phase two of the project. Though even a total of ten studies under this project will not cover the full range of possible situations, it will certainly give us better bases for understanding the nature and consequences of the implementation of MFL in Islamic communities around the world. Expanding the sample in this way will also enable us to develop and refine the methodology of research for similar studies in the future, to be undertaken by a larger number of researchers, each in her or his own setting. This proposal is not premised on the claim that the theory and practice of IFL in various settings and contexts are not studied at all. On the contrary, this project presupposes the existence of such studies, and will draw upon their findings and recommendations, particularly those which have a similar or compatible orientation and methodology to what is proposed for this project. The proposal also assumes that there is a variety of reform initiatives undertaken in several Islamic countries and communities which should be examined in order to evaluate their efficacy and learn from their experiences. A close review of previously done work on both counts (studies and reform initiatives) in the field will be undertaken in the first phase of the project. Pending further examination during phase one, the working hypothesis of this project may be summarized as follows: •

Existing studies of IFL tend to be largely theoretical, often theological or legalistic in conception and approach, with little reference to actual practice in cultural context.


•

Some studies with a more practical orientation (such as those done under the auspices of Women Living under Muslim Law or other women's rights/ human rights organizations) are critical of aspects of the theory and practice of IFL in certain situations. But such studies include little comparative analysis, and/or attempt to formulate reform proposals with particular regard to strategies for their local advocacy and implementation.

•

To the extent that reform proposals are made in studies of the first or second type, they are made in broad theoretical terms, and without the involvement of local groups and organizations which might pursue practical implementation within the country or community in question.

These remarks are not, of course, intended as final criticism of existing studies in such a wholesale and generalized manner, or to dismiss them as totally lacking practical utility. Rather, these remarks are offered by way of hypothesis, subject to verification and clarification through the work of the proposed project. It is only reasonable to expect, for example, individual researchers to focus on their specific academic objectives which have to be achieved with very limited time and resources. Women and human rights organizations are also constrained by such factors as the mandate of their particular organization, and the expectations or orientation of their own immediate constituency regarding the priorities and/or strategies of the organization. While this project has its specific objectives too, we believe that they are significantly different from those of purely academic efforts in that they seek to develop an integrated model of reform oriented research as explained below. This project also has its constraints, but we believe them to be sufficiently consistent with its objective as to enable it to make a valuable and unique contribution. That is, our claim is that the objectives and methodology of this project supplement the work being done by others in ways they are unable or unwilling to do. In particular, we believe that what we propose to achieve through this project is unlikely to even be attempted by international women's and human rights organizations for the following reasons. It should be recalled here that the current model of women's and human rights organizations evolved in Western societies where such organizations tend to focus on generating political pressure for change, rather than themselves adopting specific reform proposals or solutions for political and legal problems. The latter role is normally played by political parties or other civil society organizations and the public at large. This is particularly true when such specific advocacy activities involve what and human rights organizations perceive to be delicate or complex theological considerations, as is the case with IFL. International women and human rights organizations, such as Women Living under Muslim Law, have emerged out of this Western model, and came to define their role in similar terms. Such organizations should be appreciated for what they do so well -- and they do play a vitally important role -- but they should not be expected to do what they are not equipped and inclined to do. But why is this also true of local chapters based in Islamic countries and even indigenous organizations like the Pakistan Human Rights Commission? The reason for this is what I call "the dichotomy of secular versus religious discourse." Partly due to the Western model they adopt, but also because of their own experiences in the past, human rights advocates in Islamic societies insist on a strictly secular universalist approach for two main reasons: First, they are concerned that once they engage in a religious discourse about the rights of women or human rights in general, they will be drawn into a relativist paradigm that repudiates the foundations of the principle of universality of human rights itself. Secondly, rights advocates, who almost always have a secular education and liberal lifestyle, feel that they lack the conceptual and terminological tools, or personal orientation, for effectively engaging in an Islamic discourse. Whatever may be the reasons for this reluctance, its clearly unfortunate consequence is that the Islamic public at large, and women as the beneficiaries of the advocacy of rights in particular, are faced with what appears to be a stark choice between Islam and internationally recognized human rights of women. Regarding the subject of this proposal in particular, instead of arguing for equality for women under IFL as a matter of Islamic principle, women's human rights are presented as the product of international treaties, whose implementation is demanded by international organizations based in the West, in opposition to Islamic norms and institutions, as articulated by conservative and fundamentalist forces in society. In light of these remarks and earlier-mentioned tentative hypothesis, I would emphasize that the ultimate objective of this project is to generate and promote credible and sustainable internal possibilities of MFL reform in Islamic societies and communities. In seeking to do so through the efforts of local researchers and advocacy organizations in the situations it covers during its two phases, the project will also be developing a model for implementation in other situations.6 Study of Muslim Family Law Reforms: General principles of Shari'a are supposed to govern such matters as marriage, divorce, maintenance, paternity and custody of children for more than a billion Muslims around the world. This does not mean that identical principles apply everywhere or in the same manner. Clear variations are to be expected not only because of significant theological, legal, and other differences among and within Muslim societies and communities, but also because Shari'a principles are often in practice modified by customary practices, or as a matter of state policy. The first objective of this Project is to verify and document the scope and manner of the application of IFL around the world, including Muslim communities living within predominantly non-Muslim countries. Marriage Age: The Quran does not define the minimum marriage age precisely, merely mentioning puberty as the permissible minimum. This has led to considerable divergence of legislative views on the proper minimum marriage age, particularly in the last century. Young women are at particular physical and psychological risk from early marriage. Setting a reasonable, not too low, minimum marriage age for both partners and especially for the female is important for a number of reasons. First, pregnancies in very young women are associated with increased complications and elevated mortality rates both for the mother and the child. Second, marriage often terminates a young woman’s school attendance. Third, a girl or very young woman is not in a position to give informed consent to a marriage.8 Africa Kenya: minimum 16 for statutory marriages under the Marriage Act.


Senegal: minimum marriage age is 20 years for males and 16 for females; judicial discretion for permitting underage marriages for serious reasons. Tanzania: under Marriage Act 1971 minimum age is 18 for males and 15 for females; courts may permit underage marriage of parties who have reached 14 years of age if specific circumstances make marriage appear desirable; Penal Code provides that persons of "African or Asiatic descent" may marry or permit marriage of girl under 12 years of age in accordance with their custom or religion if marriage is not intended to be consummated before she attains 12 years. Sudan: puberty, with requirement for willing consent of both parties. Somalia: minimum marriage age is 18 years for both parties; female party may marry at 16 with guardian’s consent; Court may grant exemption from minimum age requirements in case of necessity. Ghana: governed by classical or customary law. Ethiopia: Civil Code sets minimum marriage age at 18 for males and 15 for females, regardless of whether marriage is civil, religious or customary; Family Law may have changed the age to 18 for both males and females. Middle East Egypt: 18 for males and 16 for females (lunar calendar). Tunisia: minimum marriage age is 20 for males and 17 for females; scope for judicial discretion with wali’s consent and for compelling reasons and apparent benefit for both parties; if wali withholds consent and parties are adamant, matter must be taken to courts. Iraq: minimum age is 18 for men and women; judicial permission may be granted at 15 years if fitness, physical capacity and guardian’s consent (or unreasonable objections on part of guardian) are established. Morocco: minimum marriage age is 18 years for males and 15 for females; judicial discretion for males under 18 if there is fear of immorality; compatibility of age in marriage is defined as wife’s right. Palestine: West Bank - 15 female, 16 male under the JLPS; Gaza Strip- LFR 1954 required puberty and made 9 (female) and 12 (male) minimum ages; Palestinian Qadi al-Quda issued administrative decision in 1995 raising these to 15 female and 16 male. All ages by lunar years. Syria: minimum marriage age is 18 years for males and 17 for females; judicial discretion for males of 15 years and females of 13 years; judge may withhold permission for marriage if court finds incompatibility in age between betrothed parties. Jordan: 16 for males and 15 for females, lunar calendar; court permission required for females under 18 to marry men older by 20 years or more. Yemen: minimum marriage age is 15 for males and females. Kuwait: no substantive minimum marriage age identified; capacity to marry requires parties to be of age (puberty) and of sound mind, however, no notarisation or registration of marriage permitted where female has not reached 15 years or male 17 years. Algeria: 21 for males and 18 for females, scope for judicial discretion if necessity or benefit is established for marriage below that age. Libya: minimum marriage age is 20 years for men and women; judicial discretion for marriages below that age on grounds of benefit or necessity and with wail’s agreement. Asia: Indonesia: minimum marriage age 19 for males and 16 for females; provision for marriage below minimum age, subject to judicial discretion and parental consent. Malaysia: minimum marriage age of 18 for males and 16 for females, with provision for judicial permission for underage marriage. Singapore: minimum marriage age is 16 for both parties; kathi may permit marriage of girl under 16 who has attained puberty under certain circumstances. Brunei: minimum marriage age is 20 years for men and women; judicial discretion for marriages below that age on grounds of benefit or necessity and with wail’s agreement. Philippines: minimum marriage age 15 years for males and puberty for females (female is presumed to have attained puberty at 15 years); Shari’ a District Court may authorise marriage of female between 12 and 15 years if she has attained puberty, upon petition of her wali; khiyar al-bulugh: marriage of minors to be defined as betrothal and may be annulled by either party within 4 years of attaining puberty if marriage was not voluntarily consummated and neither father nor paternal grandfather served as wali; penalty of imprisonment or fines or both for illegal solemnisation of marriage.9 Background and Sources: Amin, Middle East Legal Systems, Glasgow, 1985; Fluehr-Lobban, Islamic Law and Society in the Sudan, London, 1986; Hale, Gender Politics in Sudan: Islamism, Socialism and the State, Oxford, 1996; Mahmood, "Sudan" in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed., New Delhi, 1995; O'Fahey, The National Front, Its Opponents and the Sharia Issue, Islam et societys au sud du Sahara, n. 11 (Nov. 1997): 55-65; Pearl, A Textbook on Muslim Law, 2nd ed., London, 1987; Redden, "Sudan" in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 6, Buffalo, NY, 1990;


Rubin & Cotran, eds. Annual Survey of African Law, vols. I-VI (1967-1972), London; Safwat, "Islamic Laws in the Sudan," in Islamic Law: Social and Historical Contexts, al-Azmeh, ed., London, 1988; Safwat, "Sudan," Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, vol. 1 (1994): 237-253; Women and the Law in Sudan: First and Second Reports, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, vols. I-III (1997) & vols. I-III (1999). Marriage Registration Africa: Kenya: statutory (includes Christian), customary, Muslim and Hindu marriages recognized as valid Polygamy: governed by classical law; a criminal offence to marry under civil regime (i.e. under terms of Marriage Act) and contract subsequent marriage under Islamic or customary law. Senegal: obligatory; if marriage contracted under one of customary legal regimes recognized in Senegalese law, parties must inform officer of civil status one month prior to marriage; non-registration is punishable by fine but does not determine validity. Tanzania: obligatory; non-registration punishable by fine although does not render marriage void; provision for licensing of religious functionaries as marriage registrars. Gambia: obligatory within one month of marriage (or divorce) although registration does not determine validity. Somalia: marriage to be registered at neared District Court or authorised office within 15 days (40 days for residents of rural areas); failure to register punishable by fine; essential elements of marriage outlined in Article 6 are: proposal and acceptance by contracting parties before two witnesses; marriage contracted under compulsion is invalid. Ghana: Marriage of Mohammedans Ordinance provides for registration of marriage and divorce among Muslims; marriage must be registered within one week. Ethiopia: Civil Code sets minimum marriage age at 18 for males and 15 for females, regardless of whether marriage is civil, religious or customary; Family Law may have changed the age to 18 for both males and females. Middle East Egypt: obligatory registration a legal requirement though it does not determine validity of marriage, thus judges shall not hear cases in which parties have not reached minimum marriage age or in which matrimony is denied and parties have no documentation. Tunisia: obligatory under Civil Status Act 1957, only formal document shall prove existence of marriage; unregistered marriage deemed void with three effects: establishment of paternity; immediate onset of ‘idda from date of voidance declaration; and creation of prohibited degree on basis of affinity. Iraq: obligatory court registration. Morocco: obligatory. Palestine: West Bank- see under Jordan. Obligatory and penal sanctions in criminal law but failure to register does not invalidate the marriage; similarly in Gaza. Syria: obligatory; penal sanctions for failure to register. Jordan: penal sanctions for those in violation of the mandatory registration requirements for marriage and divorce. Yemen: husband and wali responsible for registration of marriage within one week of contract; penal sanctions for non-compliance. Kuwait: no notarisation or registration of marriage contract permitted where girl has not reached 15 years or boy 17 at time of registration; no claim arising from marriage to be heard if parties are under-age at time of claim or if claim is not established by official documentation of marriage (except for paternity cases where decree of paternity shall be taken as decree of marriage). Algeria: obligatory registration governed by Civil Status Code; unregistered marriage may be validated by court judgment. Libya: obligatory. Asia: Indonesia: obligatory; Marriage Registrar Office of Department of Religious Affairs is responsible for registration of Muslim marriages and Civil Marriage Registrar Office of Department of Internal Affairs for all other marriages. Malaysia: required; both parties must apply to Registrar for permission to marry at least 7 days before wedding; marriage not to be solemnised except in kariah masjid of woman’s normal residence or special permission to marry elsewhere; Registrar records value of contents and value of items of dower given and promised at solemnisation; provision for appointment of Registrars in public offices and kariah masjid; nonregistration punishable by fine and/or imprisonment although it does not determine validity of marriage. Singapore: obligatory; all Muslim marriages must be registered with a kathi or naib kathi; non-registration of marriage or divorce itself does not determine validity. Brunei: obligatory.


Philippines: obligatory; penalty of fine for failure to register any change in civil status.10 Background and Sources: Hooker, Islamic Law in South-East Asia, Singapore, 1984; Ibrahim, Family Law in Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore, 1984; Kamali, "Islamic Law in Malaysia: Issues and Developments," Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, vol. 4 (1998): 158-179; Mahmood, Malaysia in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed. New Delhi, 1995; Redden, Malaysia in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 9, New York, 1990; Selangor, Administration of Islamic Law Enactment 1989 and Islamic Family Law Enactment 1984 (as at 15 th September 1991), comp. by Legal Research Board, Kuala Lumpur, 1992; Siraj, Women and the Law: Significant Developments in Malaysia," Law and Society Review, vol. 28, no. 3 (1994): 561-581. Marriage Guardianship Senegal: each party must give free consent, even minors, and parties under 21 require parental consent; lacks of free consent or parental consent are grounds for nullification of marriage. Tanzania: Marriage Act 1971 provides that valid marriage requires free consent of marrying parties; guardian's consent not required for parties who have attained 18 years. Sudan: Guardian is to marry the adult woman with her consent, although the qadi is empowered to act in this capacity if her guardian refuses his consent without justification. Guardian retains entitlement to seek dissolution on grounds of lack of kifa'a of husband (defined as kifa'a in religion and morals. Somalia: girl who has reached 16 years, but is under 18 years may be represented in contract of marriage by father (in absence of father, guardians in order are: mother, grandfather, elder brother, uncle, Court-appointed guardian or judge); Court also empowered to overrule objection of guardian to marriage of female ward between 16 and 18 years. Ghana: Marriage of Mohammedans Ordinance specifies that marriage is solemnised in presence of bridegroom, bride’s wali, and two witnesses; Criminal Code identifies causing someone to marry under duress as misdemeanour. Ethiopia: both Article 34 of Constitution and Civil Code state that consent to marriage obtained by violence renders marriage invalid, but Civil Code provides that consent granted due to "reverential fear" of an ascendant or other person is not equivalent to consent obtained by violence. Middle East Egypt: governed by Civil Code; wali cannot prevent ward from marrying for reasons of status, amount of dower, etc.; judge may authorise marriage if wali refuses. Tunisia: marriage of males or females below legal age of discernment requires wali’s consent (or judicial decision overruling wali’s refusal). Iraq: no relative or third party has power of compulsion; marriage contract concluded by coercion is void if not consummated; likewise, no relative or third party may prevent person having legal capacity from marrying; ILPS provides penalties of fines and/or imprisonment for noncompliance. Morocco: no coercive guardianship; ward may take matter to court if her guardian refuses consent to her marriage; ward who has reached age of legal majority and has no father may contract her own marriage. Palestine: West Bank- see under Jordan. and in practice consent of guardian registered in nearly every marriage; Gaza Strip- In Gaza the LFR assumes guardian gives consent and that where there is no guardian, the qadi exercises guardianship in marriage. Syria: under age of full capacity, both parties need permission of wali; wail’s objection to marriage of girl less than 17 years may be overruled by judge. Jordan: guardian's consent is required for marriage of a female under 18 years, but not for a divorcee or widow over 18 years. Yemen: invalidity of marriage by coercion; judge can overrule guardian if his objection to marriage of ward is considered unjust, with proviso that the wife receive her proper dower from husband of equal status. Kuwait: marriage concluded by wail’s offer and groom’s acceptance; woman who has been married previously or has attained 25 years has "freedom of choice" in marriage, however, cannot conclude contract herself (must still be concluded by her wali); invalidity of marriage under coercion or intoxication. Algeria: guardian not permitted to marry his ward by compulsion or without her consent, and may not withhold consent if marriage is in ward’s interests as judge is empowered to authorise such a marriage in case of guardian’s opposition. Libya: guardian may not force ward of either sex into marriage or prevent ward from marrying; if guardian withholds consent, ward may take matter to court to obtain permission. Asia Indonesia: free consent of marrying parties required for validity, unless religious law governing the parties directs otherwise; Marriage Law 1974 defines as legal a marriage "solemnised according to the laws of the respective religions and beliefs of each of the parties"; parties under 21 years need parental permission.


Malaysia: valid marriage requires both parties consent as well as consent of wali or syariah judge if no wali is available; compulsion of wards or unreasonable objection to their valid marriage punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. Singapore: wali of bride may solemnise marriage according to Muslim law or may request kathi to do so; kathi may serve as wali where woman has none or where kathi rules that wail’s opposition to marriage is unreasonable; whether or not wail’s agreement is required for validity of marriage is governed according to classical school of law applicable to parties; in all cases, kathi is directed to make inquiry to determine that there are no lawful obstacles to marriage under either Muslim law or Administration of Muslim Law Act. Brunei: guardian may not force ward of either sex into marriage or prevent ward from marrying; if guardian withholds consent, ward may take matter to court to obtain permission. Philippines: free consent of marrying parties and presence and consent of wali are requisites for marriage contract.11 Background and Sources: Redden, "Jordan" in The Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, volume 5, Buffalo NY 1990; Amin, "Jordan" in Middle East Legal Systems, Glasgow 1985; Mahmood, "Jordan" in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, New Delhi 1995; Hinchcliffe and Alami, "Jordan" pages 79-114 in Islamic Marriage and Divorce Laws of the Arab World, London 1996; Welchman, "The Development of Islamic Family Law in the Legal System of Jordan," ICLQ 37 1988 868- 886; Gallagher, "Women's Human Rights on Trial in Jordan: The Triumph of Toujan al-Faisal," pages 209-231 and appended translation of article by Toujan al-Faisal, "They Insult Us... and We Elect Them!" pages 232-237, in Afkhami, Faith and Freedom, London 1995. Child Custody and Guardianship Muslim countries often restrict the rights of mothers to raise or even to have the right to visit their own children in the event of a divorce. Instead, these countries cite a “natural right” of fathers to have guardianship over their children; custody defaults to the father after a child reaches a particular (often very young) age. Paternal grandfathers or other male relatives of the father have preference in the event of his death, irrespective of the wishes or needs of the child. Loss of their children is a powerful threat, keeping women in otherwise unendurable marriages. Africa Kenya: Kadhis' Courts generally grant custody to mother until 7 years for boys and 14 for girls at which point custody reverts to father; regular court system generally grants longer periods of custody to divorced Muslim mothers. Senegal: custody is determined by judgement of court and may be granted to either party or to third party according to best interests of ward; whichever parent has custody, the father is the guardian unless he is unable to fulfill this role. Tanzania: first consideration of court in ruling over custody matters is welfare of the ward; rebuttable presumption that children should remain with mother until age of 7; courts also directed to consider: customs of community to which parents belong; economic circumstances of both parents; housing that both parents can provide; and behaviour of mother and whether she contributed to marital breakdown Succession: governed by classical law; under Non-Christian Asiatic Succession Ordinance, personal law applicable to deceased (Hindu, Muslim, etc.) will apply; in case of conflict of laws between Islamic and customary laws are applicable to succession, thus Courts directed to consider intention and mode of life of deceased in determining which regime should apply. Sudan: divorced mother has custody over boys until 7 years and girls until 9 years; custody may be extended if proved to be in best interests of ward; until the male reaches puberty and the female consummates her marriage.. Court has some discretion to allow a woman who re-marries a man not within the prohibited degrees of relationship to the child (i.e., a mahram) to retain custody if the interests of the ward so demand. The custody of a woman of a different religion to the father ends when the child is five years old, or earlier in it is feared that the child will take another religion. Child support considered father's duty until girl is married and until boy is of age able to earn his own living. Succession: Radd extended to include spouse. Somalia: mother entitled to custody of male children until age of 10 and female children until age of 15, with court empowered to extend custody until age 18 for male or female ward if s/he is not able to look after him/herself; if mother remarries and husband is within prohibited degrees to ward(s), or in case she is widowed and remarries, she may retain custody; maintenance of children is duty of both parents until age of majority for sons and marriage or financial independence/gainful employment for daughter. Ghana: Matrimonial Causes Act provides that courts may grant custody according to ward’s best interests, and order provision for his/her education and maintenance out of assets or income of either or both parent and courts adjudicating Muslim divorces directed to apply terms of Act in matters of maintenance and custody. Ethiopia: Civil Code provides that child custody and maintenance arrangements are to be made only with consideration for interests of ward; provision states that in absence of any "serious reason", wards are to remain with mother until age of five. Nigeria: Matrimonial Causes Act 1970 applicable to custody suits arising out of dissolution of civil, customary and Islamic marriages; in all custody matters, Act directs that interests of child shall be paramount. Middle East Egypt: divorced mother’s custody ends at 10 years for boys and 12 years for girls; judge may extend custody to 15 years for boys or until marriage for girls if ward’s interests so require. Tunisia: divorced wife has right of custody over boys until age of 7 and girls until age of 9, after which custody reverts to father if he requests it, unless judge considers child (ren)’s mother better suited to maintain custody.


Iraq: divorce entitled to custody of boys or girls until age of 10 years, extendible to 15 years at which time ward may choose with which parent s/he wishes to live. Morocco: divorced mother has right of custody until puberty for sons and until marriage for daughters. Palestine: West Bank- see under Jordan; Gaza Strip- classical Hanafi rules allowing limited extension of mother's custody of girl up to eleven years and boy up to nine. Syria: divorced mother has right to custody over boys until age of 9 and girls until age of 11; qadi may order wards to stay with mother if guardian is not father, until marriage for girl or until boy or girl reaches rushd; qadi may also order children to remain with mother if court finds that father is not to be trusted with them. Jordan: divorcee is entitled to custody of her children until they reach puberty, subject to classical conditions; other custodians till 9 and 11 males and females. Yemen: mother’s custody ends at 9 years for boys and 12 years for girls; unlimited (i.e., undefined) possibility for extension of mother’s custody if it is deemed in wards best interests, and wards may choose which parent they wish to live with once period of custody ends. Kuwait: divorced mother’s right to custody ceases at puberty for boys and majority or marriage for girls. Algeria: divorces right to custody ceases at age 16 for boys (or 10 if she remarries) and until legal age of marriage (18 years) for girls (so long as mother remains single or marries someone within prohibited degrees to the daughter), with proviso that decision to terminate custody is subject to ward’s best interests; full guardianship reverts to mother upon father’s death unless his will provides otherwise. Libya: governed by Maliki principles; mother’s custody ends at marriage for daughters and puberty for sons. Asia Indonesia: Marriage Law simply provides that in case of dispute over custody, Court shall render its judgment; father shall have responsibility for maintenance expenses, unless he is unable to bear such responsibility in which case Court may order mother to share expenses. Malaysia: divorced mother entitled to custody of boys until 7 years and girls 9 years, subject to classical conditions; court may extend custody to 9 and 11 years respectively upon hadinah’s application; after expiry of hadinah’s custody, father becomes custodian, with proviso that ward having reached age of discernment may choose with which parent to live, unless court directs otherwise. Singapore: under terms of Guardianship of Infants Act 1961, Courts directed to consider religious and customary practices of community, but best interests of ward are paramount consideration; regular court system has jurisdiction over all custody cases. Brunei: governed by Maliki principles; mother’s custody ends at marriage for daughters and puberty for sons. Philippines: divorced mother has right to custody over sons and daughters until 7 years after which age ward may choose to reside with either parent; custody of unmarried female ward who has reached puberty reverts to father while son in same circumstance resides with mother.12 Background and Sources: Amin, Legal System of Kuwait, Glasgow, 1991; Amin, Middle East Legal Systems, Glasgow, 1985; Ballantyne, Commercial Law in the Arab Middle East: The Gulf States, London, 1986; El Alami & Hinchcliffe, Islamic Marriage and Divorce Laws of the Arab World, London, 1996; "Kuwait," Civil Society, vol. 8, issue 90 (June 1999): 10-11; Mahmood, "Kuwait" in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed., New Delhi, 1995; Nasir, The Islamic Law of Personal Status, 2nd ed., London, 1990; Pearl, A Textbook on Muslim Personal Law, 2nd ed., London, 1987; Redden, Kuwait in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 5, Buffalo, NY, 1990. Judicial Divorce In many countries in the Islamic world, men have possessed a unilateral and unconditional right to divorce. In these same countries, women are often not only not afforded that right but, if they are allowed the right of divorce at all, must resort to the courts to divorce their spouses, where they confront innumerable social, legal, and bureaucratic obstacles. In many Islamic countries, women are often at a massive disadvantage compared to men in such matters as financial support, child custody, child visitation and child guardianship, and subsequent remarriage. Africa Kenya: governed by classical law Post-Divorce Maintenance/Financial. Senegal: either party may seek judicial dissolution on following grounds (preceded by reconciliation efforts by judge): other party’s declared absence; adultery; sentencing for crime bringing dishonour to family; failure to fulfil legal condition stipulated upon marriage; abandonment of family or conjugal home; maltreatment rendering continuation of marital life impossible; medically established sterility; grave and incurable illness discovered since marriage; incompatibility making continuation of conjugal life intolerable; and for wife, failure to maintain on part of husband. Tanzania: except in extreme cases, no petition of divorce to be heard before marriage has subsisted for two years; either spouse may apply for divorce on grounds of breakdown, but no decree of divorce can be granted unless court is convinced of irreparable breakdown; party seeking divorce must first apply to Marriage Conciliatory Board which must certify failure to reconcile parties before divorce suit can be initiated; evidence of breakdown of marriage for court's purposes must indicate following grounds: mental or physical cruelty; wilful neglect; desertion; voluntary separation; or change of religion dissolving marriage under religious law the parties were subject to at time of marriage; requirement of recourse to Marriage Conciliatory Board can be waived under certain circumstances (desertion, mental illness, imprisonment, etc.).


Sudan: wife may seek judicial divorce on following grounds: husband's incurable physical or mental illness making it dangerous for the wife to continue to live with him; husband's impotence not curable within one year (established by medical report); husband's cruelty or discord between spouses; husband's inability to pay; husband's absence for one year or more or his being sentenced to two years or more in prison; also, divorce by ransom, i.e., if wife is declared nashiza (disobedient) by court order, wife may waive her rights and if the man does not agree to the divorce, arbitrators must be appointed; if she proves that she suffers from remaining with him a talaq will be ordered by the court. Somalia: either party may seek judicial dissolution on following grounds: incurable disease of other spouse making cohabitation dangerous or impossible; disappearance of other party for period of over four years; habitual failure to maintain by other party; serious disagreement between spouses making conjugal life impossible (after reconciliation efforts of 60 days); perpetual impotence or sterility of other party; and other spouses sentencing to over four years imprisonment. Wife is entitled to seek dissolution if husband has been granted permission to marry polygamous by District Court, on condition that there are no children Ghana: possible to terminate customary law marriage by application to court under Matrimonial Causes Act, in which case grounds for divorce include those recognized in personal law of the parties in addition to those enumerated in the Act; under Act, divorce may only be granted if court concludes irreparable breakdown; courts hearing suits for divorce among Muslims directed to apply Matrimonial Causes Act directing guidance by justice, equity and good conscience in determination of post-divorce reliefs and custody. Ethiopia: judicial divorce may be sought by either spouse for "serious causes" or "other causes"; serious causes are: adultery; desertion of marital home without knowledge of that parties whereabouts for two years; a spouse’s confinement to lunatic asylum for minimum of two years; and judicial declaration of absence of a spouse; couples seeking divorce for either serious or other cause must first appoint family arbitrators who will attempt to effect reconciliation and if efforts fail, arbitrators can grant a divorce, preferably on mutually agreed terms; if serious cause for divorce can be established for which one spouse bears burden of fault, family arbitrators may divide common property unevenly; if no serious cause is established, property is divided unevenly to disadvantage of spouse who petitioned for divorce; arbitrators decisions can be appealed to courts; Family Law may have placed jurisdiction for divorce with the courts from the beginning of the proceedings. Middle East Egypt: wife may obtain judicial divorce on following grounds: serious or incurable defect of the husband (unless woman married in full knowledge of such defect or defect occurred after the contract and she implicitly/explicitly accepted it), harm making cohabitation as husband and wife impossible, if harm is proved and reconciliation efforts fail, material or moral harm if husband marries polygamously and such harm makes cohabitation as husband and wife impossible (up to one year from date of her knowledge of the polygamous union), husband’s absence for a year or more without reasonable justification; husband’s imprisonment for three years or more, after one year of sentence has passed, nonpayment of maintenance; and discord if reconciliation efforts fail, with financial settlement proportionate to allocation of blame as determined by arbitrators; wife may also obtain a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility, but will not lose all financial claims against her husband; a divorce requested by wife on the grounds of incompatibility must be granted within six months. Tunisia: available (after reconciliation efforts) at request of either party; in issuing decree of divorce, Court shall also assess maintenance, custody, housing and visiting rights. Iraq: wife entitled to request dissolution if husband does not fulfill any lawful condition stipulated in marriage contract; either party may request dissolution upon following grounds: such harm as makes continuation of marriage impossible; marital infidelity; if marriage was contracted without judicial permission before either party attained 18 years; if marriage was concluded outside court by coercion and was not consummated; if husband marries polygamously without judicial permission; and if any of above grounds are not proven, on grounds of discord (in which case courts initiate reconciliation procedures; if reconciliation efforts fail and husband refuses to pronounce talaq, courts may grant judicial divorce; if wife is found to be at fault, her financial rights are forfeit).? Wife may request judicial divorce upon following grounds: if husband is imprisoned for three or more years; if husband abandons wife for two or more years without lawful reason; if husband does not consummate marriage within two years of contract; husband’s impotence or affliction (if after consummation, must be confirmed by medical report); husband’s infertility if wife has no living son by him; husband’s serious illness which would cause wife harm; non-maintenance after grace period of up to 60 days; non-maintenance due to husband’s absence, disappearance, concealing his whereabouts, or imprisonment for more than one year; and if husband refuses to pay maintenance arrears after 60-day grace period; wife may also request judicial separation before consummation in return for any dower and proven expenditure on husband’s part for purpose of the marriage. Morocco: wife may seek judicial divorce on following grounds: husband’s non-maintenance; husband’s grave and incurable or long-term defect; harm caused by husband making cohabitation impossible (after reconciliation efforts); husband’s absence for over one year without valid reason; husband’s oath of abstinence if he does not comply with judicial decision allowing four month grace period; all judicial divorces irrevocable except divorce granted because of husband’s oath of abstinence or inability to maintain. Palestine: West Bank- see under Jordan. Gaza Strip- the same, except that women may petition for divorce on the grounds of injury and does not allow the husband to petition on grounds of 'discord and strife'. Syria: wife may seek judicial divorce on following grounds: defect in the husband preventing consummation (though such right is forfeit if wife accepted defect except in cases of husband’s impotence); husband’s insanity; husband’s absence without justification for one year; husband’s sentencing to three years imprisonment after serving one year of sentence; and husband’s non-maintenance, if non-maintenance is due to husband’s inability, judge shall grant grace period of up to three months; either spouse may seek judicial divorce on grounds of discord causing such harm as makes cohabitation impossible (after reconciliation efforts). Jordan: grounds on which women may seek divorce include: failure to maintain, physical desertion or husband's absence for one year or more, husband's prison sentence of three years or more; both spouses may petition on grounds of 'discord and strife', breach of a binding stipulation of the marriage contract, and various grounds associated with spouse's mental and physical health. Yemen: dissolution available to either spouse on grounds of defect (right is forfeit if defect was accepted explicitly or implicitly, except for insanity, leprosy and other communicable diseases difficult to cure); and inequality of social status; annulment effected if husband becomes Muslim and wife is not kitabiyya or if wife becomes Muslim and husband refuses conversion to Islam or on grounds of either party’s apostasy; wife may request decree of dissolution (lesser irrevocable) on following grounds: husband’s non-maintenance; husband’s absence or disappearance for one year if husband left no provision for maintenance or two years if he provided for wife’s maintenance; husband’s


imprisonment for three years or more after one year of sentence; husband’s breach of maintenance or accommodation obligations towards cowives; incompatibility (after reconciliation efforts, and if husband refuses to pronounce talaq, in exchange for wife’s return of her dower); husband’s proved addiction to alcohol or narcotics. Kuwait: woman may seek judicial divorce on following grounds: husband’s non-maintenance; ila; husband’s absence of one year or more without good reason, giving rise to injury to wife; and husband’s imprisonment for three or more years; either spouse may apply for judicial divorce on grounds of injury/prejudice caused by such word or action as makes continued matrimony impossible, established by testimony of two male or one male and two female witnesses (after reconciliation efforts, with possibility of award of appropriate compensation to aggrieved party); annulment available on following grounds: defect of either spouse such as makes cohabitation harmful or hinders conjugal relations (e.g., disease, impotence); and difference of religion arising after marriage that renders marriage invalid according to rules of shari’a and either party may demand dissolution on grounds of non-compliance with any valid stipulation recorded in marriage contract. Algeria: wife may petition for divorce on following grounds: non-payment of maintenance; infirmity preventing conjugal relations; husband’s abstinence from sexual relations for over four months; husband’s imprisonment for over a year for offense that brings disgrace to his family; husband’s absence without provision of maintenance or valid reason for over a year; any legally recognised harm (e.g., relating to maintenance, treatment of CO-wives, etc.); and any grave moral impropriety. Libya: judicial divorce available on following grounds: husband’s failure or inability to maintain without cause; absence without justification; grounds of defect preventing fulfilment of aims of marriage or other grave defect; ila’ or hajr, after appropriate grace period; most of above grounds available to husband as well; if parties do not agree to talaq by mutual agreement, court will appoint arbitrators; if reconciliation efforts fail and harm is established, judge issues decree of divorce with financial effects proportionate to relative fault; annulment effected due to difference of religion in cases of conversion after marriage where this affects validity of marriage according to shari’a. Asia Indonesia: either spouse may seek judicial divorce (preceded by reconciliation efforts by judge) on following grounds: other spouse’s adultery, alcoholism, addiction to narcotics, gambling or "any other vice that is difficult to cure"; abandonment for two years without valid reason; cruelty or mistreatment endangering life; physical disfigurement or malady preventing performance of marital duties; sentencing to prison term of five years or more; and constant disputes without hope of resolution. Malaysia: wife may apply for dissolution on following grounds: husband’s disappearance for over one year; failure to maintain for three months; sentencing to three years or more in prison; failure to perform marital obligations for one year; continued impotence, if wife was unaware of it upon marriage; mental illness lasting two years or leprosy, vital go or communicable venereal disease; wife’s repudiation of marriage concluded by father or grandfather before she attained 16, if she is below 18 years and marriage was unconsummated; cruel treatment; husband’s refusal to consummate for four months; invalidity of her consent (obtained under duress, mistaken, etc.); and any other grounds for dissolution or nullification recognised in hukm shar’. Singapore: wife may be granted judicial dissolution with husband’s consent and Court will grant application; if husband agrees to a khul’ Court will assess amount of compensation to be paid by wife according to means and status of both parties; wife may also apply for faskh on following grounds: husband’s failure to maintain for three months; imprisonment for three years or more; failure to perform marital obligations for one year; continued impotence since marriage; insanity or serious illness making cohabitation injurious to wife; and cruel treatment (defined as habitual physical abuse or cruelty of conduct, associating with women of ill-repute, obstruction of wife’s religious observance, unequal treatment of co-wives, cohabiting with another woman, or trying to force wife to lead immoral life); before making decree of divorce or nullity, Court may appoint arbitrators to attempt reconciliation. Brunei: judicial divorce available on following grounds: husband’s failure or inability to maintain without cause; absence without justification; grounds of defect preventing fulfillment of aims of marriage or other grave defect; ila’ or hajr, after appropriate grace period; most of above grounds available to husband as well; if parties do not agree to talaq by mutual agreement, court will appoint arbitrators; if reconciliation efforts fail and harm is established, judge issues decree of divorce with financial effects proportionate to relative fault; annulment effected due to difference of religion in cases of conversion after marriage where this affects validity of marriage according to shari’a. Philippines: wife may seek judicial divorce on following grounds: in cases of husband’s oath of abstinence (ila), zihar (likening wife to his relations within the prohibited degrees), li’an (imprecation of adultery); wife may seek decree of faskh on following grounds: husband’s failure to maintain for six months; husband’s sentencing to one years imprisonment; husband’s impotence or abstention from conjugal relations for six months; husband’s insanity or affliction with incurable disease injurious to family; husband’s cruelty (defined in Code); and any other cause valid under Muslim law; until the passage of the Family Code, Muslims were the only Filipinos with the possibility of legally ending a marriage.13 Background and Sources: Hooker, Islamic Law in South-East Asia, Singapore, 1984; Ibrahim, Family Law in Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore, 1984; Kamali, "Islamic Law in Malaysia: Issues and Developments," Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, vol. 4 (1998): 158-179; Mahmood, Malaysia in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed. New Delhi, 1995; Redden, Malaysia in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 9, New York, 1990; Selangor, Administration of Islamic Law Enactment 1989 and Islamic Family Law Enactment 1984 (as at 15 th September 1991), comp. by Legal Research Board, Kuala Lumpur, 1992; Siraj, Women and the Law: Significant Developments in Malaysia," Law and Society Review, vol. 28, no. 3 (1994): 561-581. Talaq Africa Kenya: governed by classical law. Senegal: extra-judicial divorce not permitted.


Tanzania: does not automatically dissolve marriage, but constitutes compelling ground for Court to issue decree of divorce if talaq was pronounced after failure of reconciliation efforts by Marriage Conciliatory Board. Sudan: Regionally standard reforms affecting validity of talaq accompanied by a number in word or sign, talaq in the form of an oath, talaq phrased and intended to induce someone to do something. The wife must be informed of the husband's revocation of a revocable talaq during her `idda period in order for the revocation to be valid. Somalia: Family Code provides that right of talaq belongs to husband "subject to the authorisation by the competent court"; court may authorise divorce only after reconciliation efforts (of 60 days) have failed, and court may not authorise more than one talaq at a time; divorce by a minor, insane person, or pronounced under compulsion is invalid. Ghana: governed by classical or customary law. Ethiopia: abolished; under Civil Code, all divorce law is uniform regardless of whether marriage was civil, religious or customary. Middle East Egypt: talaq expressed indirectly, while intoxicated or under coercion, or conditionally with coercive intent is ineffective; repudiation to which a number is added verbally or by gesture effective only as single revocable talaq (except third of three); written and notarised certification of talaq must be obtained within 30 days of repudiation and notary must forward copy of certificate to wife; certain financial effects of talaq suspended on her knowledge thereof if husband is found to have concealed it. Tunisia: extra-judicial divorce prohibited; irrevocable divorce becomes permanent impediment to remarriage between divorced spouses. Iraq: talaq must be confirmed by Shari?a Court?s judgement or registered with Court during ?idda period; talaq by man who is intoxicated, insane, feeble-minded, under coercion, enraged (madhush), or seriously ill or in death sickness ineffective, as is talaq that is not immediate or is conditional or in form of an oath; all talaqs deemed single revocable (except third of three); wife may obtain khul? From husband in return for consideration that may be more or less than her dower. Morocco: talaq must be registered at court, normally in presence of wife; if talaq is found to have been exercised while wife is menstruating, judge shall oblige husband to revoke it; talaq uttered while intoxicated, under coercion, enraged, upon condition, by oath or with intention to coerce not effective; talaq to which a number is attached effective as single revocable only (except third of three). Palestine: West Bank- see under Jordan. Gaza Strip-standard reforms to Hanafi rules as implemented in Egypt in 1920's, reducing effect of many forms of triple talaq to a single revocable and denying effect to others (eg those spoken as an oath). Extra-judicial talaq valid but registration is mandatory. Syria: talaq uttered while intoxicated, disoriented/enraged, under coercion, during death sickness or grave illness, or in order to coerce deemed ineffective; talaq to which number is attached shall be considered single irrevocable (except third of three). Jordan: talaq uttered while asleep, drunk, in a faint, overwhelmed (madhush), or under coercion have no effect; oaths on talaq and conditional talaq intended to coerce someone into committing or refraining from a particular act are invalid; talaq accompanied by a number in word or gesture, or repeated in a single session, gives rise to a single revocable repudiation. Yemen: talaq ineffective if uttered while intoxicated or with intent to coerce; talaq to which number is attached only effective as single revocable (except third of three). Kuwait: talaq uttered by man who is insane, feeble, under coercion, intoxicated, mistaken, disoriented, or enraged shall not be effective; statement of talaq must be immediately effective; talaq to which a number is attached effective as single revocable only (except third of three); rules on khul include explicit prohibition of coercion in khul and invalidate any condition by father stipulating his custody over children from the marriage. Algeria: only established by judgement of the court; judgement must be preceded by reconciliation efforts by the judge; wife may obtain a khul in return for compensation (not to exceed proper dower) if husband consents. Libya: Article 28 states "[i]n all cases divorce shall not be established except by a decree by the relevant court" whether by talaq, mutual consent or judicial divorce; talaq uttered by a minor, insane, demented or coerced husband or without deliberate intent is invalid, as is suspended or conditional talaq; talaq to which a number is attached considered single revocable (except third of three); wife may also obtain khul’ from husband for appropriate compensation, which may include deferred dower or custody over children; if husband retracts offer of khul’ "due to obstinacy" court is empowered to rule a khul’ in return for appropriate compensation. Asia Indonesia: Marriage Law provides that divorce shall be carried out only before Court of Law, after Court has endeavoured to reconcile the parties; husband married under Islamic law may submit letter notifying religious court of his intention to divorce and giving his reasons; if husband’s reasons accord with any of six grounds for judicial divorce outlined in Marriage Law and determines that reconciliation is not possible, court will grant session in order to witness divorce. Malaysia: extra-judicial repudiation punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, and courts adjudicate on validity of talaq on basis of classical Islamic law although original legislation is silent on the matter; husband wishing to pronounce talaq required to apply for judicial permission, outlining his reasons as well as amounts of payments of nafkah edah (‘idda period maintenance), mutaah (consolatory gift) and maskahwin (dower) he intends to make and provisions for division of harta sepencarian (matrimonial property); if court hearing determines consent of other party and irretrievability of breakdown, court advises husband’s pronouncement of single talaq and registers divorce; if other party disagrees or court is not convinced of irretrievable breakdown, court begins conciliation efforts of no longer than six months; if conciliation committee fails to effect conciliation, issues certificate of its failure and any and recommendations regarding custody, maintenance, division of property, etc.


Singapore: registration of divorce and revocation of divorce is compulsory, and non-compliance is punishable by fine; kathi may not register divorce without an inquiry establishing both parties consent; kathi may not register any divorce by triple talaq and case must be referred to Shari Court. Brunei: Article 28 states "[i]n all cases divorce shall not be established except by a decree by the relevant court" whether by talaq, mutual consent or judicial divorce; talaq uttered by a minor, insane, demented or coerced husband or without deliberate intent is invalid, as is suspended or conditional talaq; talaq to which a number is attached considered single revocable (except third of three); wife may also obtain khul’ from husband for appropriate compensation, which may include deferred dower or custody over children; if husband retracts offer of khul’ "due to obstinacy" court is empowered to rule a khul’ in return for appropriate compensation. Phillipines: divorce may be effected by: talaq, ila, zihar, li’an, khul’, tafwid or faskh, as enumerated in Family Code; divorce by talaq must be effected by husband in single repudiation during wife’s tuhr; talaq to which any number is attached counts only as single revocable until expiry of ‘idda.14 Polygamy Muslim countries are addressing the issue of polygyny in different ways. One group of countries, including Tunisia, Turkey, and in part Lebanon, simply bans the practice outright. A second group restricts the practice, applying conditions that, in some cases, are quite rigorous to deter a frivolous exercise of multiple marriages. Africa Senegal: permitted; groom must register his option for monogamous, limited polygamous or polygamous (up to four wives) regime upon registration of first marriage, and option is for life; wives entitled to equal treatment in polygamous unions. Tanzania: permitted with consent of first wife; upon registration, parties are to declare whether marriage is polygamous, potentially polygamous, or monogamous, and marriage may be 'converted' to polygamous or monogamous by joint declaration Obedience/Maintenance: maintenance of wife or wives is husband's duty; becomes wife's duty in cases where husband is incapacitated and unable to earn a living; Courts may order maintenance under limited circumstances where husband refuses or neglects to maintain wife. Sudan: classical rules apply. Somalia: man may not contract second marriage without written permission of District Court; Court’s authorisation requires ascertainment of one of following conditions: sterility of wife of which husband was not aware at time of marriage, attested by panel of doctors; incurable chronic or contagious illness of wife, certified by a doctor; wife’s sentencing to more than two years in prison; wife’s unjustified absence from matrimonial home for more than one year; or existence of social necessity (not defined). Ghana: governed by classical or customary law; all customary marriages potentially polygamous under Ghanaian law. Ethiopia: abolished, backed by sanctions provided in Penal Code. Middle East Egypt: notification of existing and intended wives required; existing wife can petition for divorce if she sustains such harm as makes cohabitation as husband and wife impossible (up to one year from date of her knowledge of the polygamous marriage). Tunisia: prohibited; penal sanctions for polygamous husband and wife who knowingly enter into polygamous marriage are one year’s prison sentence and/or fine. Iraq: only permitted by judicial permission, to be granted on two conditions: financial ability and lawful benefit; permission not to be granted if judge fears unequal treatment of co-wives; ILPS provides penalties of imprisonment and/or fines for non-compliance. Morocco: polygamy not to be permitted in case of fear of unequal treatment; requirement of notification of prospective and existing wives; woman who did not insert stipulation limiting husband’s right to marry polygamously in marriage contract and whose husband does so may seek judicial divorce on grounds of harm. Palestine: governed by classical law. Both laws specifically permit a woman to stipulate in contract that husband will not take another wife while married to her and to petition for divorce on the basis of this stipulation if he proceeds to break the terms of the stipulation. (Muslim Palestinians in East Jerusalem cannot marry polygamously under the terms of Israeli law). Syria: judge may refuse permission for polygamous marriage unless husband establishes lawful cause and financial capacity. Jordan: no constraints aside from classical injunctions that a man must treat all co-wives equitably and provide them with separate dwellings; man must declare his social status in marriage contract. Yemen: permitted subject to equitable treatment of co-wives, financial means, lawful benefit, and notification of prospective co-wives. Kuwait: governed by classical law; may be subject to stipulations in marriage contract. Algeria: reason for contracting polygamous marriage must be justified and prior notification of existing wife/wives required; any co-wife may petition for divorce on grounds of harm if her consent was not obtained. Libya: permitted with prior judicial permission based on grounds of financial and physical capacity; written agreement of wife may authorise husband to marry polygamously or authorisation may be given by court for certain reasons.


Asia Indonesia: basis of marriage is considered monogamy, but Marriage Law does not prohibit polygamy for those religions that allow it (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism); permitted with consent of existing wife or wives and judicial permission, by fulfilling conditions specified by law, i.e., proof of financial capacity, safeguards that husband will treat wives and children equally; and court inquiry into validity of reasons for wishing to contract polygamous marriage (e.g., existing wife’s physical disfigurement, infertility, incurable disease). Malaysia: allowed with judicial permission; contingent upon application and court hearing with existing wife or wives; court requires proof of necessity (e.g., sterility physical infirmity, willful avoidance of restitution order, etc.), proof of financial capacity; guarantee of equitable treatment of co-wives; proof that proposed marriage will not lower standard of life of existing wife or wives and dependants; contravention of application and permission requirements punishable by requiring immediate payment of outstanding dower to existing wife or wives and by fine and/or imprisonment. Singapore: permitted, but marriage by a man who is already married must be solemnised by kathi or with Kathy’s written permission. Brunei: permitted with prior judicial permission based on grounds of financial and physical capacity; written agreement of wife may authorise husband to marry polygamously or authorisation may be given by court for certain reasons. Phillipines: no Muslim man may take more than one wife "unless he can deal with them with equal companionship and just treatment as enjoined by Islamic law and only in exceptional cases"; determination of exceptional cases not specified.15 Post-divorce Maintenance/ Financial arrangements Africa Senegal: in case husband sought divorce on grounds of incompatibility or incurable illness of wife, obligation to maintain is transformed to obligation to pay alimony; in case divorce is judged to be exclusive fault of one party, judge may grant other party compensation. Tanzania: in dividing marital property and passing decision on maintenance, courts must consider: customs of the parties' community; contribution made by each party towards acquisition of the property in money, property or work; debts owed by either party for acquiring property for their joint benefit; and needs of infant children; Courts may order maintenance for former wife for limited number of reasons such as enforcing Muslim wife's right to maintenance during 'idda. Sudan: divorced wife entitled to maintenance as per the classical rules and in most cases to mut`a assessed according to the means of the exhusband to a maximum of the equivalent of six months' maintenance Somalia: where reason for talaq or faskh is deemed to be husband’s fault, Court shall order him to maintain former wife for three months to one year; if wife is deemed to be at fault, Court shall order her to pay husband sum not less than her dower in compensation. Ghana: courts empowered under Matrimonial Causes Act to grant maintenance in addition to matrimonial reliefs recognised under personal law of parties. Ethiopia: Civil Code does not refer to support payments to former spouse; Penal Code does make it an offence to refuse maintenance for existing or former spouse; support payments often granted to wife during course of divorce litigation and deducted from her share of communal property once it is divided. Middle East Egypt: divorce repudiated by husband without cause or consent on her part entitled to compensation (mutual al-talaq) of at least two years maintenance (no maximum stipulated); maintenance claims for ‘idda not to be heard after one year from date of divorce; divorcing husband required to provide independent accommodation for former wife having custody of their minor children. Tunisia: husband obliged to provide maintenance during ‘idda or, if there is an infant, until the child is weaned; if divorce was husband’s will, judge may determine what financial compensation is due to wife (or vice versa if divorce was at request of wife). Iraq: husband obliged to maintain divorce (even if nashiza) during ‘idda; 1983 legislation provides that repudiated wife has right to continue residing in marital home without husband for three years, so long as she was not disobedient, did not agree to or request divorce, and does not own house or flat of her own. Morocco: divorcing husband obliged to pay compensation if talaq was on his part; qadi may award wife compensation for talaq without good reason, with no upper or lower limit of compensation specified. Palestine: West Bank- see under Jordan. Gaza Strip: classical rules, no compensation for arbitrary talaq and no arrears pre-dating submission of the maintenance claim. Syria: husband obliged to pay maintenance for ‘idda after talaq, judicial divorce or annulment, up to maximum period of nine months; divorced wife may be awarded compensation of up to three years maintenance (in addition to maintenance during ‘idda) if judge finds husband’s exercise of talaq to have been arbitrary Jordan: compensation for arbitrary talaq of a maximum of one year's maintenance; classical rules requiring former husband to pay the divorcee for breastfeeding and undertaking custody of their children are maintained. Yemen: husband required to pay maintenance during ‘idda; judge may award compensation equivalent to up to one year’s maintenance to wife who is arbitrarily divorced without just cause.


Kuwait: maintenance obligatory during ‘idda for divorce, annulment, irregular contract or invalid marriage; divorce entitled to compensation equal to not more than one year’s maintenance in addition to maintenance during ‘idda, except for cases of divorce for non-maintenance due to husband’s poverty, divorce for darar caused by wife, divorce by wife’s consent, or annulment at wife’s request. Algeria: judge may award wife damages if husband found to have abused his right of talaq; no indication of levels of compensation given in the law. Libya: wife may be awarded compensation by court if husband is considered to bear responsibility for causes of talaq. Asia Indonesia: property acquired during marriage considered joint property, and Marriage Law only directs that division is according to the laws applicable to the parties; court may order alimony for children or maintenance for former wife (time periods and levels not specified). Malaysia: wife divorced without just cause may apply for maintenance during ‘idda and mut’a, levels of which are to be set by court; court also divides assets acquired by joint effort during marriage, and may also order division of assets acquired by sole efforts, with consideration of contribution made by other party in terms of housework and caring for family, though other party will in all cases receive smaller portion; divorced wife entitled to reside in marital home during ‘idda or until expiry of custody or remarriage, if former husband cannot provide other suitable accommodation. Singapore: divorced wife may apply to Court to order maintenance for her ‘idda; if woman is not entitled to maintenance under classical law, Court may grant maintenance in consideration of particular circumstances of the case. Brunei: wife may be awarded compensation by court if husband is considered to bear responsibility for causes of talaq. Phillipines wife entitled to maintenance during ‘idda; maintenance due for duration of nursing if divorced mother continues to nurse child for two years.16 Background and Sources: Amin, Middle East Legal Systems, Glasgow, 1985; El Alami & Hinchcliffe, Islamic Marriage and Divorce laws of the Arab World, London, 1996; Anderson, Law Reform in the Muslim World, London, 1976; Iraq, Official Gazette (English Edition), no. 11 (16.3.1983), pp. 4-5; Mahmood, Iraq in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed., New Delhi, 1995; Mallat, "Shi ism and Sunnism in Iraq: Revisiting the Codes," in Islamic Family Law, Mallat & Connors, eds. London, 1990; al-Mukhtar, "Iraq," Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, vol. 1 (1995): 157-177; Nasir, The Islamic Law of Personal Status, 2nd ed., London, 1990; Pearl, A Textbook on Muslim Personal Law, 2nd ed., London, 1987; Redden, Iraq in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 5, Buffalo, NY, 1990 Succession Africa Kenya: governed by classical law; uniform legislation on intestate succession made applicable to all Kenyans in 1972 but 1990 amendment to Succession Act inserted exemption for Muslims. Senegal governed by classical law as outlined in Section III on Muslim succession in Book VII of Family Code; includes provision for only granddaughters through predeceased sons not standing to inherit as residuary heirs from anyone else to receive one-sixth of estate. Somalia: testate succession limited to one-third of estate, unless consent of heirs is obtained; bequest in favour of an heir also invalid unless consent of other heirs is obtained; Article 158 states that "In conformity with the principles of the 1 st and 2nd Charter of the Revolution females and males shall have equal rights of inheritance"; heirs are identified as: spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, full siblings, paternal and maternal aunts and uncles; widow or widower entitled to half of estate if there are no children or grandchildren, or one fourth if there are; sons and daughters to receive equal shares, and same applies to grandchildren; shares of other heirs also specified in Code, as are grounds for inclusion or exclusion of heirs and reduction of shares. Ghana: upon death of Muslim, whose marriage was registered under Marriage of Mohammedans Ordinance, property devolves according to Islamic law; Wills Act 1971 provides for freedom of testacy, but subject to customary law applicable to testator. Ethiopia: Civil Code does not refer to support payments to former spouse; Penal Code does make it an offence to refuse maintenance for existing or former spouse; support payments often granted to wife during course of divorce litigation and deducted from her share of communal property once it is divided. Middle East Egypt: 1946 Law introduced obligatory bequest (wasiyya wajiba) for descendants of predeceased sons (how low soever) and daughters, as well legalised bequests to heirs, and extended doctrine of radd (return) to allow spouse relict to share in residue of estate. Tunisia: Book 9 of TLPS on succession introduced obligatory bequests in favour of orphaned grandchildren through sons or daughters, limited to first generation of grandchildren and to maximum of one-third of estate; introduced and extended doctrine of radd (return) to allow surviving spouse to share in residue of deceased partner’s estate; also provision that if deceased has only surviving daughters, estate shall go to children and not to paternal uncles. Iraq: introduction of obligatory bequest to grandchildren by predeceased sons or daughters as well as complete freedom of testator to make will within limits of bequeath able one-third of estate; 1963 legislation allowed female descendants of deceased to completely exclude collateral male agnates; 1963 amendments also adopt Shi’i system of classifying heirs for inheritance, though Sunni principles still govern division of estates among heirs.


Morocco: introduction of obligatory bequest to favour grandchildren through predeceased sons (how low so ever). Palestine: West Bank- see under Jordan; Gaza Strip- obligatory bequest benefits grandchildren through predeceased daughters as well as sons of propositus, as in Egypt; shari`a rules re-applied to miri property in Gaza as well as in the West Bank. Syria: governed by Hanafi fiqh as embodied in SCPS; reforms extending doctrine of radd (return) to allow surviving spouse to share in residue of deceased partner’s estate and introducing obligatory bequests in favour of orphaned grandchildren through predeceased sons. Jordan: changes to classical Hanafi law allow for spouse relict to be included in the radd of the estate; 'obligatory bequests' in favour of orphaned grandchildren is restricted to children of predeceased sons and not daughters. Yemen: obligatory bequests for orphaned grandchildren by predeceased sons (how howsoever) or daughters (to first generation only), up to portion their dead parent would have received or up to bequeath able third, depending on circumstances, i.e., grandchildren through sons may inherit if they are poor, and grandchildren through daughters if their father is poor; also Quranic heirs permitted shares in residue of estate in proportion to their shares, but spouse relict does not share in radd. Kuwait: 1971 Law introduced obligatory bequest in favour of orphaned grandchildren by predeceased sons (how low so ever) and daughters (first generation only). Algeria: obligatory bequest for orphaned grandchildren by predeceased sons; also extended doctrine of radd (return) to allow spouse relict to share in residue of estate. Libya: governed by Maliki principles; Law on Women’s Right to Inheritance 1959 reiterates classical law and introduces penalty of imprisonment for anyone withholding lawful share from a woman (until payment of her share); Wills Act 1994 introduced obligatory bequest for orphaned grandchildren through predeceased sons. Asia Indonesia: governed by classical law influenced by directions contained in the Compilations of Islamic Law. Malaysia: governed by classical law as modified by Malay custom Singapore: estate of Muslim dying intestate to be divided according to Islamic law "as modified by Malay custom" although this appears to be relic from pre-Independence legislation as commentators note that there have been no cases of such modification in city-state of Singapore; Muslims may only dispose of property by will in accordance with particular school of law to which they are subject. Brunei: governed by Maliki principles; Law on Women’s Right to Inheritance 1959 reiterates classical law and introduces penalty of imprisonment for anyone withholding lawful share from a woman (until payment of her share); Wills Act 1994 introduced obligatory bequest for orphaned grandchildren through predeceased sons. Phillipines: governed by classical law, as defined in Family Code.17 Background and Sources: Amin, Middle East Legal Systems, Glasgow, 1985; Fluehr-Lobban, Islamic Law and Society in the Sudan, London, 1986; Hale, Gender Politics in Sudan: Islamism, Socialism and the State, Oxford, 1996; Mahmood, "Sudan" in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed., New Delhi, 1995; O'Fahey, The National Front, Its Opponents and the Sharia Issue, Islam et socities au sud du Sahara, n. 11 (Nov. 1997): 55-65; Pearl, A Textbook on Muslim Law, 2nd ed., London, 1987; Redden, "Sudan" in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 6, Buffalo, NY, 1990; Rubin & Cotran, eds. Annual Survey of African Law, vols. I-VI (1967-1972), London; Safwat, "Islamic Laws in the Sudan," in Islamic Law: Social and Historical Contexts, al-Azmeh, ed., London, 1988; Safwat, "Sudan," Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, vol. 1 (1994): 237-253; Women and the Law in Sudan: First and Second Reports, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, vols. I-III (1997) & vols. I-III (1999). Obedience/Maintenance Africa Senegal: husband identified as head of family; choice of residence lies with husband, and wife is required to live with him, unless a judge has authorised her to live elsewhere as a result of danger to herself or her children; although maintenance is defined as obligation of both spouses during subsistence of marriage, the obligation is principally that of the husband and failure to maintain is provided as grounds for wife to seek dissolution. Sudan: Provision is made for stipulations to be inserted in the marriage contract. The wife has rights against her husband in accordance with classical rules: maintenance, the right to visit her parents and other close (mahram) relatives to the extent recognised customarily. Maintenance includes medical fees and is assessed according to the circumstances of the husband; arrears of maintenance can be claimed for up to three years preceding the date of submission of claim. She loses the right to maintenance if she is disobedient, in accordance with the classical rules, but a ruling for obedience cannot be forcibly executed. Somalia: legislation states that marriage is based on equal rights and duties; husband is declared head of the family, parties are obliged to cohabit, and wife is obliged to follow her husband; both parties obliged to share expenses of matrimonial home in proportion to their incomes if they are able to do so; if either party fails in duty to maintain and is not destitute, other party may obtain Court order for maintenance (sums and time period for arrears of maintenance not specified; Court empowered to award interim maintenance and authorise claimant to contract debts against defaulting partner if s/he finds it impossible to obtain maintenance from defaulter. Ghana: Criminal Code imposes duty of maintenance of wife and children on husband.


Ethiopia: Civil Code states that spouses owe each other "respect, support and assistance" and provides that husband is head of family, determines place of marital home, wife must obey him in all lawful things that he orders and he owes his wife protection; marriage contract may be written settling financial effect of marriage, as well as other reciprocal rights and duties, but cannot change any mandatory legal provisions and has no effect unless approved by family arbitrators or by courts. Middle East Egypt: deviation from classical Hanafi law relating to arrears of maintenance which are deemed a debt against husband from the date he fails to maintain until debt is paid or excused; claims for maintenance not to be heard for past period exceeding one year from date of claim; wife’s leaving the home for lawful work not deemed disobedience so long as she does not abuse this right or it is not contrary to interests of her family, with proviso that husband has not asked her to refrain from exercising right to work. Tunisia: the law provides for equal cooperation in managing family affairs. Iraq: husband obliged to maintain wife (in accordance with circumstances of both spouses) subject to classical conditions. Morocco: legislation specifies maintenance as one of wife’s rights, and obedience as one of husband’s rights. Palestine: classical law. West Bank- see under Jordan. Stipulations are explicitly allowed in West Bank under JLPS, but not frequently used. LFR in Gaza refers only to stipulations regarding a polygamous marriage (in terms similar to OLFR) and to delegation of divorce. Syria: wife’s financial rights forfeited if she works outside the home without husband’s consent or she is deemed disobedient due to leaving matrimonial home without lawful justification or refusing to cohabit with husband; arrears of maintenance shall be awarded wife from date that husband fails to maintain her, up to four months prior to date of claim. Jordan: institution of 'house of obedience' is maintained in legislation, but without any forcible execution. Yemen: the husband must maintain his wife and the wife must be obedient to her husband in matters affecting the family’s interests; wife may leave marital home to work so long as there is no breach of honour or of her marital duties and husband consents; arrears of maintenance may be claimed for period of up to one year prior to date of claim, unless spouses had agreed to other conditions. Kuwait: maintenance considered a debt against the husband from date when he fails to provide maintenance, and maximum of two years arrears of maintenance may be claimed for period preceding court claim; judgement for obedience cannot be imposed by force; wife’s working not deemed a violation of her marital obligations if her working is not contrary to family’s interests. Algeria: arrears of maintenance normally payable from date that claim is filed, though judge may order payment of arrears on production of valid evidence for period of not more than one year preceding the claim. Libya: maintenance is husband’s duty, within limits of his ability, unless husband is in hardship and wife is wealthy; provision for either spouse to obtain maintenance order, or interim maintenance during suit if plaintiff appears to be eligible. Asia Indonesia: law specifies that both spouses are equal and both are responsible for maintaining home and caring for children; obligation of permanent resident and domicile to be decided by both parties; husband as head of family required to protect wife and provide according to his means and wife’s duty is to manage household. Malaysia: wife’s right to maintenance subject to classical definitions of obedience; wife’s disobedience can result in restitution order or punishment of fine; wife may obtain maintenance order from court (levels and time periods are not specified). Singapore: wife may apply to Court for maintenance order, although sums and time period for which she may claim for arrears are not specified. Brunei: maintenance is husband’s duty, within limits of his ability, unless husband is in hardship and wife is wealthy; provision for either spouse to obtain maintenance order, or interim maintenance during suit if plaintiff appears to be eligible. Phillipines: husband’s rights and obligations relate to fixing residence of family (subject to classical conditions) and maintaining family; wife may not work without husband’s consent, but may take matter to arbitration council in case he withholds consent.18 Background and Sources: Hooker, Islamic Law in South-East Asia, Singapore, 1984; Ibrahim, Family Law in Malaysia and Singapore, Singapore, 1984; Kamali, "Islamic Law in Malaysia: Issues and Developments," Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, vol. 4 (1998): 158-179; Mahmood, Malaysia in Statutes of Personal Law in Islamic Countries, 2nd ed. New Delhi, 1995; Redden, Malaysia in Modern Legal Systems Cyclopedia, vol. 9, New York, 1990; Selangor, Administration of Islamic Law Enactment 1989 and Islamic Family Law Enactment 1984 (as at 15 th September 1991), comp. by Legal Research Board, Kuala Lumpur, 1992; Siraj, Women and the Law: Significant Developments in Malaysia," Law and Society Review, vol. 28, no. 3 (1994): 561-581. Comparative Study of Muslim Family Law Reforms in brief: The following charts which compare the family laws of a number of countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have been compiled based on information obtained from the Islamic Family Law project of Emory University. 19


Marriage Marriage Polygamy Age for Age for permitted? Females Males

AFRICA

Ethiopia

15

18

Is notification of Do men and Divorced Divorced woman's first wife and women have woman's right to Signatory to With reservations right to custody of justification equal rights to custody of CEDAW? which articles? son till age required? divorce? daughter till age

Yes

Decision made Decision made only only with with consideration Yes consideration for for interests of ward interests of ward

No

N/A

According to Governed by various Muslim 7 classical law traditions

Kenya

16

16

Yes

Senegal

16

20

Yes

Yes

Judge grants according to best interests of ward

Somalia

18 (16 with guardian 18 consent)

Yes

No

10 (18 by judge)

Sudan

puberty

Yes

No

7 (puberty judge)

Tanzania

15 (12 if of 18 (14 by African Yes judge) descent)

No

7

puberty

Yes

14

29(1)

Yes

none

Yes

none

15 (18 by judge) No

N/A

by 9 (marriage by No judge)

N/A

7

Yes

none

In Gambia and Nigeria, classical Maliki fiqh is applied to matters of personal status. In Ghana, personal status law is governed by classical or customary law, and until now, no single body of law regulates personal status matters. The colonial legislation applicable to Muslims, the Marriage of Mohammedans Ordinance 1907, is limited to administrative or procedural matters such as providing for registration of marriage and divorce. All three nations have signed and ratified CEDAW.

ASIA

Marriage Age Marriage Age Polygamy for Females for Males permitted?

Divorced Is notification of Do men and Divorced Signat woman's right first wife and women have woman's right ory to With reservations to custody of justification equal rights to custody of CED articles? daughter till required? to divorce? son till age AW? age

Bangladesh

18

21

Yes

Yes

Brunei

none

none

India

18

Indonesia Malaysia

Maldives

No

7

Yes

No

Governed by Governed by Yes classical law classical law

9(2) & 29(1)

21

Yes

No

7

Yes

29(1)

16

19

Yes

Yes

Yes

Court decides Court decides Yes

29(1)

16

18

Yes

Yes

15

Pakistan

16

Philippines

puberty 15)

Singapore

16

15

(12-

Governed shari'a law

18

Yes

15

Yes

16

Yes

by Governed shari'a law

Yes

Yes

puberty

5(a), 7(b), 9(2), & and 2)

7 (then ward 7 (then ward Yes chooses) chooses)

General reservation any provisions cont the shari'a or tradition, and constitutional auton

No

7

29(1) and acces general declarat Pakistan's accession to the provisions of constitution

No

7 (then ward 7 (then ward Yes chooses) chooses)

none

No

Judge grants Judge grants according to according to Yes best interests best interests of ward of ward

2, 11(1), 16 & 29(1)

No

9 (11 judge)

puberty

by

2 & 16(1c)

Yes

7 (9 by judge)

by

puberty

Yes


18 (12 minimum for 18 Muslims)

Sri Lanka

Yes

MIDDLE Marriage Age Marriage Age Polygamy permitted? EAS for Females for Males T

Governed by Governed by shari'a shari'a classical classical law Yes law (Shafi'ie (Shafi'ie majority) majority)

No

none

Divorced Is notification Divorced Do men and woman's With of first wife woman's women have right to Signatory to reservations and right to equal rights custody of CEDAW? to which justification custody of to divorce? daughter till articles? required? son till age age

Algeria

18

21

Yes

Yes

No

18 (if remarries & 16 (10 if spouse within Yes remarries) prohibited deg to daughter)

Egypt

16

18

Yes

Yes

No

10 (15 judge)

Iran

puberty

puberty

Yes

Yes

No

2 (reverts to 7 (reverts to father if she father if she No remarries) remarries)

N/A

Iraq

18 (15 with 18 (15 with guardian guardian Yes consent) consent)

10 10 (extendable (extendable Yes to 15 when to 15 when ward decides) ward decides)

2(f,g), 9(1,2), 16 & 29(1)

Israel

17 (younger with guardian 18 consent)

Yes

No

6 (then based 6 (then based on ward's on ward's Yes best interests) best interests)

7(b), 16, & 29(1)

Jordan

15 (18 by 16 (18 by temporary temporary Royal Decree Royal Decree Yes in December in December 2001) 2001)

No

puberty

puberty

Yes

9(2), 15(4) & 16(1 c,d,g)

Kuwait

15, for 17, for marriage marriage Yes registration registration

No

puberty

majority/ marriage

Yes

9(2), 16(f) & 29(1)

Lebanon

18 (17 with 17 (9 with guardian guardian consent); 15 consent);9 for Yes for Shi'a; Shi'a; 17(15) 18(16) for for Druze Druze

No

7; 2 for Shi'a; 9; 7 for Shi'a; Yes 7 for Druze 9 for Druze

9(2), 16(1 c,d,f,g) & 29(1)

Libya

20

No

puberty

2 & 16(c,d)

Yes

Judge grants Judge grants according to according to Yes best interests best interests of ward of ward

9(2), 16 & 29(1)

N/A 2, 9(2), 15(4), 16(1c, d, f, g, 2) & 29(1)

Yes

20

Yes

18

Subject to judge's authorization N/A and to strict legal conditions

by

2, 9(2), 15(4), 16 & 29(1)

12 (age of marriage by Yes judge)

2, 9(2), 16 & 29(2)

marriage

Yes

Morocco

18

Palestine

15 (West 16 (West Bank); 9 Bank); 12 Yes (Gaza) (Gaza)

No

puberty puberty (West Bank); (West Bank); N/A up to up to 9(Gaza) 11(Gaza)

Syria

17 (13 with 18 (15 with judicial judicial Yes consent) consent)

No

9

Tunisia

17

18

No

N/A

Yes

7 (then father 9 (then father if he if he Yes requests) requests)

9(2), 16(c,d,f,g,h) & 29(1)

Yemen

15

15

Yes

Yes

No

9 (then ward 12 (then ward Yes chooses) chooses)

29(1)

11

Yes


In Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) personal status law remains unlegislated. The shari'a courts apply classical Islamic personal status laws to Muslims. In Oman, Ibadi fiqh is applied while Hanbali fiqh is applied in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, none of these nations has signed CEDAW. Glossary of Islamic Terms Fiqh means understanding, comprehension, knowledge, and jurisprudence in Islam. It refers to the legal rulings of the Muslim scholars, based on their knowledge of the shari'a and as such is the third source of rulings. Madhab means school of thought. There are four Sunni schools of thought: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'ie and Hanbali. Differences existed from the very beginning not only between the two sects of Islam, Sunni and Shi'a, but also among the different schools of thought of each tradition, and indeed within the same school of thought. Shari'a refers to the revealed and the canonical laws of Islam which are derived from two major legal resources of Islamic jurisprudence: (1) the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam which is believed by Muslims to be the direct word of God; and (2) the Sunnah. General principles of shari'a are supposed to govern such matters as marriage, divorce, maintenance, paternity and custody of children for more than a billion Muslims around the world. This does not mean that identical principles apply everywhere or in the same manner. Clear variations exist not only because of significant theological, legal, and other differences among and within Muslim societies and communities, but also because shari'a principles are often in practice modified by customary practices, or as a matter of state policy. Sunnah means habit, practice, or action, norm and usage sanctioned by tradition. It refers to the sayings, practices and habits of Prophet Muhammad, whom Muslims believe is the final messenger of God. The hadith are reports of the sunnah. The sunnah is one of the two major legal sources of jurisprudence in Islam. Source: The Islamic Family Law project of Emory University. Conclusion: Many experts, both inside and outside the Muslim world, have identified retrograde societal practices as a major obstacle to the economic and social development of the region. A number of countries have started to review and update their legal codes, to give attention to the training of their judges, and to concern themselves with the just application of existing laws in the court system. In doing so, they have found that equitable laws appropriate to the current age do not conflict with the principles of Islam. Rather, these countries are cleaning their legal codes of non-, pre-, and un-Islamic tribal practices, many of which are archaic and brutal, sanctioning such things as forced marriage, child marriage, punitive rape, sale of girls as hostage brides to resolve tribal disputes, and the like—all practices contradictory not only to global principles of human rights but also to Islam. In many Islamic countries, written legal codes quite officially exclude women from basic human and civic rights, placing them into a status of lifelong dependency and subordination to the power of a male relative or husband. The law may even explicitly allow men to keep a wife or other female family member prisoner, preventing her not only from obtaining personal documents and from traveling but even from leaving the house. Other egregious laws include those that pressure a woman who has been raped to marry her assailant or that take away a woman’s (but not a man’s) citizenship if she marries a foreigner. But fortunately, much movement and debate are currently occurring in this area, and we can note hopeful signs of change. Three reasons stand out. First, a number of forward-looking countries are addressing these problems and violations and have taken the lead in crafting equitable law codes. Second, as part of the post-conflict nationbuilding processes currently under way in Afghanistan and Iraq, issues related to constitutions and the law are receiving a great deal of international attention and expertise. Third, improved communication is bringing about a better global exchange of ideas and knowledge, both within the Islamic world and internationally. This has enabled Muslim legal scholars to draw on a much broader and richer range of legal interpretations and to build law codes that utilize the best elements from all of the recognized orthodox schools of law.1 Civil society and nongovernmental organization activity, monitoring, awareness campaigns, and application of international conventions (such as The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW), can further support these positive developments. The project was reviewed for the laws and family codes of Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. Referenced statistics and comparable data often extend beyond these countries; we have indicated the scope of those statistics when used, indicating whether comparisons are with the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the Arab World, or countries with Muslim majority populations more broadly.20 References: 1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/beliefs/sharia_1.shtml 2. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/index2.html 3. Emory University .Islamic Family Law.http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/2004 4. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/index2.html 5. Emory University. “Islamic Family Law,” http://www.law.emory.edu/IFL/, 2004. 7. Emory University. “Islamic Family Law,” http://www.law.emory.edu/IFL/, 2004. 8. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/index2.html 9. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/iraq.htm 10. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 11. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 12. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 13. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 14. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 15. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 16. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 17. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 18. http://www.law.emory.edu/ifl/legal/.htm 19. https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/4367/ 20. http://www.learningpartnership.org/events/newsalerts/morocco0204.phtml


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