Islamic Divorce in North America: A Shari'a Path in a Secular Society

Islamic Divorce in North America
Islamic Divorce in North America: A Shari'a Path in a Secular Society
Macfarlane, J
Oxford University Press USA

There is increasing attention among policy-makers and the public to the role of shari'a in the everyday lives of Western Muslims, raising negative associations and public fears among their American and Canadian neighbors.

The most common way North American Muslims relate to shari'a is in their observance of Islamic marriage and divorce rituals; recourse to traditional Islamic marriage and, to a lesser extent, divorce is widespread. In the course of her research, Julie Macfarlane conducted hundreds of interviews with Muslim couples, and her book describes how their Islamic marriage and divorce processes are used in North America, and what they mean to those who abide by them. The picture that emerges is of an idiosyncratic and frequently inconsistent private ordering system, dominated by imams and other community leaders, which reflects a wide range of attitudes towards contemporary family values and changes in gender roles. The emergence of a western shari'a challenges readers to consider how to find the right balance between state commitment to universal norms and formal equality, and the protection of religious freedom expressed in private religious and cultural practices.

  • The first empirical study of significant size to examine how North American Muslims approach marriage and divorce
  • A strongly personal work that demystifies and normalizes the process of Islamic marriage and divorce for a non-Muslim reader
  • A detailed analysis of the experiences of Muslim women seeking Islamic divorce
  • An examination of changes in lived religious practice, including movement towards a more private and personal forms of religiosity and the interface between cultural and religious meanings and obligations.

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