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Women and Malaysian Islamic family law: towards a women-affirming jurisprudential reform

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Codification of Islamic family law has been one of the most effective recent ways of administering Islamic law. It is obviously due to its many advantages, including making the law certain, uniform and supposedly in tandem with the current needs of society in a modern setting, particularly in solving issues facing Muslim women in contemporary families. Nevertheless, according to critics, this legislative measure has not been free of pitfalls and loopholes, which have worked against women's welfare in many ways. In the Malaysian context, for examples, the most prominent allegation is the gender-bias feature of certain provisions of the applicable law. To remedy the situation, given the cultural sensitivity and moorings of different interest groups in the country, the approaches have been diverse. But by looking at the issue from a purely academic, nonpartisan perspective, one would assume that the problem is rooted in the way that the legislature has construed fiqh and codified it in the form of the existing statutes. In this paper, therefore, I attempt to explore analytically to what to undo in the existing laws in order to make them more robust, effective and responsive to the need of Muslim women in the twenty-first century.
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Keywords: Islamic family law; Muslim women's welfare; codification; fiqh

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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