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Muftis and Matrimony: Islamic Law and Gender in Ottoman Syria and Palestine

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This essay explores the ways in which Muslim jurists of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Syria and Palestine elaborated their vision of a gendered society. In the many fatāwā dealing with marriage arrangements and the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives, muftis constructed a legal discourse that focused on gender difference yet proved flexible and responsive to changing social conditions. This discourse on marriage formed a backdrop against which the judges of the Islamic courts, and members of the general population, further developed the legal doctrines of marriage through their use of the court system. As wives and husbands brought complaints or made claims against each other, and the qādī delivered his judgment, they contributed to the ongoing elaboration of a legal discourse that took account of social reality.

Affiliations: 1: Georgetown University


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