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Islamic Family Law: Legal Texts and Social Practices’ in a collection reviewing the state of scholarship on women and gender in the Middle East.1 Framed as a response to the 1968 claims of Anderson on ‘The Eclipse of the Patriarchal Family in Contemporary Islamic Law’, Moors’ review shows how the debates have been opened up by the entry into the field of differently placed scholars – notably women, and even more notably women from the region, and from disciplines other than law and what was then called Oriental Studies, such as those working in women’s and gender studies, anthropology and history. The debates she covers focus on challenges to the idea of the traditional Muslim family, monolithic, unchanging, patriarchal, governed by the text of Islamic family law as understood from classical fiqh texts. The challenges are made through examination of different sources, including evidence of social practice as found in court records, fatwas and oral narratives. They show women in history exercising agency within the given framework, going to court, mobilising resources, negotiating, controlling property, and they seek to identify women’s voices in the telling of this history. Moors identifies this shift in perspectives to the late 1970s, and goes on to consider the role of the state, the relationship between the exigencies of post-colonial state-building, the construction of ideal family types as reflected in national codifications of Muslim ‘personal status law’ (a term which Cuno shows to have entered Egyptian legal terminology via French colonial practice in Algeria2 ) and citizenship expectations and aspirations. She looks at the state’s organisation of its judiciary, the attitudes of the judiciary, at ‘Islamic modernity’, the rise of political Islam and ‘Islamic feminism’, women’s activism and the impact of and on family law of all these, as debated in the scholarship she reviews. To these areas – all still attracting scholarly interest – I would add the burgeoning scholarship on international human rights law and Islamic family law. Moors’ focus on gender as a lens through which to examine Islamic family law scholarship matches the development of gender as a theoretical construct more generally. Of particular significance here is historian Judith Tucker’s Women, Family and Gender in Islamic Law, published as one of the ‘themes in Islamic law’ series edited by Wael Hallaq and intended “to interpret the complexities of the subject for those entering the field for the first time.”3 The book is thus a landmark – and a considerable achievement - in applying feminist legal theories and gender analysis to the historical articulations and current narratives of Islamic family law in a monograph intended as an introductory account of the substance. Appropriately, Tucker joins the more recent pattern of scholars in entering the text in the first person.

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Frontiers, E. (2022). ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

Frontiers, Edu "ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW" Afribary. Afribary, 05 Jul. 2022, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.


Frontiers, Edu . "ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW". Afribary, Afribary, 05 Jul. 2022. Web. 18 Aug. 2022. < >.


Frontiers, Edu . "ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW" Afribary (2022). Accessed August 18, 2022.