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Legal Codes and Contemporary Fatawa: Muslim Women and Contesting Paradigms

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In this paper we wish to explore the legal notion of the family in contemporary legal codes and fatwa literature, and how it differs from legal stipulations regarding the nature and purpose of the marriage contract in the pre-modern Sunni fiqh. We are pursuing this brief comparative study by focusing on the issue of tahlil marriage as a legal construct that all of the four classical Sunni madhahib (law schools) did embrace, even though at least one of them tried to restrict its validity. By contrast, its role in the modern family codes is that of an awkward relic of the past, and some modern muftis in their fatwas even attempt to get away from it altogether.

Affiliations: 1: Georgetown University


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