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Islamic Legal Reform: Sharī'a Court of Appeals and Maintenance for Muslim Wives in Israel

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The focus of this paper is the reform concerning maintenance. The sharī'a court for appeals in Israel created a substantial reform in sharī'a laws for maintenance. The underline of this reform is increasing the husband's obligation as to his wife. This obligation already exists in classical law and in the Ottoman family law from 1917, but the court emphasized and penetrated it so that the intermingling of Hanafī law, Ottoman family law and the court's ruling only widened the obligation of the husband. Thus, for example, the emphasis is articulated by applying obligation only on the husband, whereas the wife is not urged to go out for work. Moreover, the commitment for maintenance starts the day the contract is signed and not after the common life of the husband and the wife begins; there is no requirement for appointing experts in order to estimate the amount of maintenance; there is a widening of the responsibility for the dwelling; the fortification of the case law for acceptance of a nushūz (disobedience) claim; and control over the amounts decided by the sharī'a courts. In fact, this is a transition from one patriarchal position to another: from a patriarchal position based on a sharp dividing line of gender roles according to which the husband pays and the wife is paid, to another patriarchal position where the husband pays and the wife is paid larger amounts of money.

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