The Arab Institute for Women


Islamic Feminism and Arab Family Laws

In Arab countries, the formulations that Islamic family laws were given when they became written laws have determined women’s unequal rights in Muslim families. These laws, claimed to be based on the message of the Qur’an tend to be focus of political attention and continue to be politically divisive and so does the gender inequalities that they represent, despite reforms.

Organizations of Islamic feminism are involving activists and scholars from a range of countries in both the global North and global South, and they engage in transnational conversation on gender equality and Islam, claiming that they are compatible. The knowledge-building and advocacy that are focus of attention among Islamic feminist scholars and activists give authority to independent Islamic exegesis combined with international norms of human rights, and depend on a business model, where funding from sometimes powerful donors are crucial.

A transnational social movement perspective on Islamic feminism is presented in this collection of policy briefs, clarifying that the study of local appropriations of Islamic feminist reinterpretations of religious norms has potential to influence family laws in Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon. However, Islamic feminists are also highly controversial, so the question is if the knowledge produced in their networks can diffuse and have an impact at the national level. To this question, studies from Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon conducted by authors who possess expertise knowledge provide carefully contextualized answers and recommendations.