Guest lecture Andrew Bush: Responding to Regretful Husbands: Fatwas on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in Iraqi Kurdistan

Afternoon Talk on Islamic Law

  • Date: Mar 18, 2021
  • Time: 04:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Location: online

About the speaker

Andrew Bush is an anthropologist who has conducted research in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since 2004. His first book was published in 2020 under the title Between Muslims: Religious Difference in Iraqi Kurdistan. He is currently Visiting Fellow at the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World at Harvard Law School.

About the topic

Islamic legal traditions have commonly held that husbands have a right to divorce their wives through a single verbal declaration of divorce. Many Muslim husbands have put themselves in a bind when they exercise that right and then later regret it. In the Kurdistan region of Iraq, generations of Kurdish muftis in the Shafi‘i school have answered queries from such husbands and their wives, and they have debated the possible procedures for restoring the marriage. This talk examines several positions in that debate across time, considering small details such as the role of translation between Kurdish and Arabic alongside wider shifts such as the presence, absence, and roles of state-appointed judges. Comparing the observation of contemporary practices of ifta’ with a reading of older fatwas from the 19thand 20thcenturies, Andrew Bushsuggeststhat the legal right of husbands to declare divorce was not merely an established fact of jurisprudence, but a deeply contested event that remakes men’s legal subjectivity in different ways. This talk explores the prospect that what often appears as an emblem of continuity in Islamic legal traditions—men’s authority to retain or release women as their wives—has also harbored different forms of uncertainty and instability.

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