Religion, Gender, and Family Law: Critical Perspectives on Integration for European Muslims

For well over three decades, Muslim scholars and legal experts residing in Europe and elsewhere have been engaged in a concerted effort to employ classical legal frameworks and principles to formulate religious rulings appropriate to the European sociopolitical and cultural milieu. These scholars, in seeking to develop jurisprudence for minorities (qh al-aqalliyyat), have generated a rich intellectual discourse on how religious laws can both reinforce civicbelonging and adapt to meet the practical needs of Muslim-minority populations. For instance, there is broad consensus among such scholars that following the laws of the territory within which one resides is incumbent upon Muslims and that a parallel system of law is unnecessary and undesirable. In general, civil laws attempt to safeguard persons, life, property, family, and human dignity; hence, it is understood that civil codes, European and other- wise, are roughly in line with the objectives of Muslim religious law. Here, the underlying principle is that key aims of religious law, such as securing the rights of individuals within a family structure, can be secured through civil legislation. This is not to say that the integration of religious and civil norms is not without its particular challenges, both practical and theoretical, but that integration is the most viable path forward.

To read the full article published in “Applying Sharia in the West,” click here.

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