Untying the Knot: Muslim Women, Divorce and the Shariah reports on a study of the experiences of British Muslim women who try to divorce their husbands according to Muslim Law.
The study had three components:
- Analysis of 287 case-files of women who contacted the Muslim Law (Shariah) Council (MLSC), an independent organisation based in London between 1985 and 1995.
- In-depth interviews with 21 applicants to the MLSC conducted in 1999 and 2000.
- Interviews with individuals from the Muslim Women’s Helpline and the An-Nisa Society.
The women’s experiences of marriage breakdown were diverse, but a critically important common factor was the self-identification as Muslim, rather than, or as well as, various national identities. This was the case regardless of the extent to which the religion was practised. The problem of contending with a negative attitude towards Islam was also a recurrent theme.
Many of the women were able to achieve the dissolution of their marriage contracts, others were able to negotiate talaq divorces from their husbands, both with or without the intervention of the MLSC. Others either reconciled with their husbands, or withdrew from the MLSC process.
Sonia Shah-KazemiUniversity of Westminster
Director, WelfareNuffield Foundation