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A Home for Obedience: Masculinity in Personal Status for Muslims Law

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Over the centuries, family laws around the Muslim world have been enacted mainly with the aim of restricting women and curbing their rights. One of the issues that family laws paid much attention to and legislated in details is disobedience (nushuz) of the wife. Nushuz in shari’a is said to be withholding of the conjugal rights of the husband. Although Nushuz became a description of women’s behavior, in Chapter 4, of the Qur’an, An-Nisa (The Women) mentions the nushuz of both the husband and the wife—nushuz of the wife in verse 34 and a husband’s nushuz in verse 128. This chapter discusses both husband and wife’s nushuz and highlights the masculinity (and manipulation of that interpretation) in the Qur’an to legislate laws such as the Sudanese Personal Status for Muslims Act, 1991. The law dealt with the wife’s disobedience in details, but totally ignored to legislate any limit of the husband’s desertion of his wife or any behavior that may make him the one who is nashiz.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toledo, Email:


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