Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Media Information
Online version Handwörterbuch des Europäischen Privatrechts

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Nadjma Yassari, LL.M. (London)

Leader of the Research Group: Changes in God's Law - An Inner Islamic Comparison of Family and Succession Laws

Phone: +49 40 419 00 - 240

Facsimile: +49 40 419 00 - 288


Main Fields of Research:

PIL, International and National Private Law of Islamic Countries with emphasis on the Near and Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan


Academic Career:

Born 1971 in Teheran/Iran; 1989-95 Legal studies Vienna and Innsbruck/Austria; 1997-98 Master of International Business Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London/Great Britain; 1999 Conferral of doctorate at the University of Innsbruck, Dissertation Topic: "The Concept of Freedom of Contract in Islamic and Western Legal Cultures"; 2000-01 Arabic language studies at the University of Damascus/Syria. 2016 post-doctorate thesis (Habilitation) at the University of Hamburg. Since 2000 research fellow responsible for the Law of Islamic Countries at the MPI. Since April 2009 leader of the Research Group "Changes in God's Law - An Inner Islamic Comparison of Family and Succession Laws".


Current Projects:
Max Planck Working Group on Child Law in Muslim Countries

Recent Lectures:


Minderjährige unbegleitete Flüchtlinge: Das Kindschaftsrecht in ausgewählten islamischen Ländern

Justizbehörde Hamburg, Aktuelle Rechtsprechung im Familienrecht

  • Location: Deutsche Richterakademie Wustrau


Minderjährigenehen in den Herkunftsländern und die Bedeutung ihrer Auflösung in Deutschland

Fachgespräch über ein Projekt zur Unterstützung von minderjährigen Flüchtlingen nach Auflösung ihrer Ehe

  • Location: Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, Berlin


Das Kindschaftsrecht islamischer Länder im Wandel

Expertentreffen zu Mediation in Fällen mit muslimischem Kontext

  • Location: Internationales Mediationszentrum für Familienkonflikte und Kindesentführung (MIKK), Berlin

Recent Courses:

WS 2016/17


Einführung in das islamische Recht


  • Location: Universität Hamburg, Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät

SS 2016


Einführung in das islamische Recht


  • Location: Universität Hamburg, Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät

SS 2015


Das Familien- und Erbrecht in islamisch geprägten Rechtsordnungen


  • Location: Universität Hamburg, Abteilung für Geschichte und Kultur des Vorderen Orients

Recent Publications

I. Edited Works

Parental Care and the Best Interests of the Child in Muslim Countries, Asser Press, Den Haag 2017, XVIII + 353 pp. (together with Lena-Maria Möller, Imen Gallala-Arndt).

The book “Parental Care and the Best Interests of the Child in Muslim Countries” is the first publication to provide a comparative and cross-national analysis of parental care regimes in Islamic countries. The book is edited by Priv.-Doz. Dr. Nadjma Yassari, director of the research group “Changes in God’s Law: An Inner-Islamic Comparison of Family and Succession Laws” at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, together with Dr. Lena-Maria Möller, a senior research fellow in the same research group, and Dr. Imen Gallala-Arndt of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. It compiles the results of a workshop on parental care held by the research group together with legal and Islamic studies scholars in Rabat, Morocco in April 2015. Drawing on the example of ten Islamic countries – from Indonesia to Morocco – the volume analyses the emergence and evolution of the notion of the best interests of the child and investigates the question of whether and to what extent international conventions on the rights of the child have impacted the development of parental care regimes in Islamic countries. In particular, it examines the prevailing legal norms, both substantive and procedural. Special attention is also given to legal practice and the role of the judiciary. In addition to the country reports, the book also includes two comparative analyses on questions of parental care in both public and private international law. With its up-to-date assessment of parental care regimes in Islamic countries, which extends far beyond a pure analysis of statutory law, the book is of high practical relevance for legal practitioners working in the area of cross-border custody disputes.

Publisher version (DOI)

Changing God’s Law – The dynamics of Middle Eastern family law (Islamic Law in Context), Routledge, London/New York 2016, XII + 290 pp.

An edited volume based on the international conference “The Dynamics of Legal Development in Islamic Countries”, held in 2013 at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg. The publication edited by Nadjma Yassari shows the various developments within the field of family law that can currently be observed as a result of the social changes taking place in Islamic countries. The volume identifies and elaborates on the significance and functions of the various actors involved in the development of family law in the Middle East. Besides the importance of family law regulations for each individual, family law has become the battleground of political and social contestation. Divided into four parts, the collection presents a general overview and analysis of the development of family law in the region and provides insights into the broader context of family law reform, before offering examples of legal development realised by codification drawn from a selection of Gulf states, Iran, and Egypt. It then goes on to present a thorough analysis of the role of the judiciary in the process of lawmaking, before discussing ways the parties themselves may have shaped and do shape the law.

Approches juridiques de la diversité culturelle – Legal Approaches to Cultural Diversity (Académie de droit international de la Haye), Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden 2013, XXXV + 985 pp. (together with Marie-Claire Foblets).

The central theme of the volume is cultural diversity, a vast subject that is highly relevant today. The particular focus here is on the many ways in which this diversity is managed within the framework of State law. The twelve contributors to this book have a special interest in how cultural traditions and their various forms of expression are handled by the law. They were all participants in the 2009 Research Programme of the Centre for Studies and Research of the Hague Academy of International Law. The breadth of the subject is reflected in the wide spectrum of perspectives from which the topic has been explored. Starting in each case from the existing State and international legal frameworks, the contributors explore how the interactions between positive law and other normative orders can be placed at the service of a legal system that is as fair as possible within a plural context.

II. Books and Monographs

Die Brautgabe im Familienvermögensrecht – Innerislamischer Rechtsvergleich und Integration in das deutsche Recht (Beiträge zum ausländischen und internationalen Privatrecht, 104), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2014, XXXIV + 580 pp.

  • reviewed by: Rohe, Zeitschrift für das gesamte Familienrecht 2015, 812.
  • reviewed by: Ebert, Rabels Zeitschrift für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht 79 (2015), 453-456.
  • reviewed by: Schneider Kayasseh, EJIMEL 2 (2014), 92-96.

The dower (mahr) is a central element of classical Islamic marriage law and vests wives with a property law claim valid against their husbands. It is an institution unknown to German law, yet German judges often must rule on dower claims when they are raised in German courts. In her monograph “Die Brautgabe im Familienvermögensrecht – Innerislamischer Rechtsvergleich und Integration in das deutsche Recht” (The Dower in Family Property Law – Inner-Islamic Comparison and Incorporation in German Law), Nadjma Yassari considers the legal institute of the dower from three different perspectives: in classical Islamic law, in the contemporary law of selected Islamic countries, and in German law. The function of the dower within the marital property law thus stands as a focal point of the work. Nadjma Yassari, who has since 2009 headed the Max Planck Research Group “Changes in God’s Law: An Inner-Islamic Comparison of Family and Succession Law”, explores in her monograph the foundations and historical development of the Islamic dower (mahr) and considers it in the context of the family property law of Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Tunisia. While property law relations between spouses have been the subject of continual development, the impact of these reforms has been weak: the principle of post-marital solidarity is only marginally anchored and a significant social safety net does not exist. As a consequence, the dower continues to play an important role in filling gaps in financial and social support. In light of this appreciation, the work continues on to address the incorporation of the mahr into private international law and German family law.

III. Shorter Works in Collections, Commentaries, Handbooks and Encyclopaedia

Familienrechtliche Entwicklungen im islamischen Rechtskreis: Zwischen Ideal und Realpolitik, in: Martin Gebauer, Stefan Huber (eds.), Gestaltungsfreiheit im Familienrecht, Ergebnisse der 35. Tagung der Gesellschaft für Rechtsvergleichung vom 10. bis 12. September 2015 in Bayreuth – Fachgruppe Zivilrecht, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2017, 135 - 166.

Recht in Afghanistan ab 1920, in: Ludwig Paul (ed.), Handbuch der Iranistik, vol. 2, Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden 2017, 243 - 252 (together with Lena-Maria Möller).

Stand des Scheidungsrechts in den islamischen Ländern, in: Anatol Dutta et al. (ed.), Scheidung ohne Gericht? Neue Entwicklungen im europäischen Scheidungsrecht (Beiträge zum europäischen Familien- und Erbrecht, 18), Gieseking, Bielefeld 2017, 315 - 336.

IV. Journal Articles

Wenn Jugendliche heiraten – Die Minderjährigenehe aus rechtsvergleichender und international-privatrechtlicher Sicht, Kritische Justiz 50 (2017), 269 - 285 (together with Lena-Maria Möller).

Projekt zu Mehr- und Kinderehen in Syrien, Neue juristische Wochenschrift, NJW-aktuell 33 (2016), 19.

Adding by Choice: Adoption and Functional Equivalents in Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, The American Journal of Comparative Law 63 (2015), 927 - 962.

  • Max Planck Private Law Research Paper No. 16/4

V. Case notes

Anmerkung zu KG, 08.04.2015 - 13 WF 57/15 (Auslegung einer Brautgabevereinbarung), Zeitschrift für das gesamte Familienrecht 2015, 1610.

Scheidung iranischer Eheleute in Deutschland, OLG Celle, 15.08.2011 - 10 WF 73/11, FamRB international: Informationsdienst für die familienrechtliche Praxis 1 (2012), 2 - 4.

Scheidung in Deutschland nach iranischem Recht, OLG Koblenz, 26.11.2008 - 9 UF 653/06, FamRBint 2009, 26 - 27.

VI. Reviews

Review of: Jänterä-Jareborg (Hg.), The Child’s Interests in Conflict 2016, Zeitschrift für das gesamte Familienrecht 2017, 1490.

Review of: Mallat, Introduction to Middle Eastern Law 2009, The American Journal of Comparative Law 59 (2011), 1135 - 1139.

Review of: Ebert (Hrsg), Beitrage zum Islamischen Recht 2000, ORIENT 2002, 289 - 291.

VII. Conference Reports

Perspectives for the unification and harmonisation of family law in Europe – Conference of the Commission on European Family Law in December 2002 in Utrecht, Zeitschrift für Europäisches Privatrecht 2003, 658 - 659 (together with Jens Scherpe).

VIII. Miscellaneous

Wie privat darf die Scheidung sein?, Verfassungsblog 2017,, 22.09.2017.

„How Is the Principle of the Best Interests of the Child Applied in Islamic Family Law?“ (Interview für das Projekt Latest Thinking), 2017,,.2017.