NEWS | 31 Jan 2017
Women’s Right to Divorce under Islamic Law in Pakistan and India 

Indian Muslim women's rights are once again manifesting as debates over talaq (divorce). Shayara Bano, who holds an advanced degree in sociology, petitioned the Indian Supreme Court last year to rule on the constitutionalism of triple-talaq, in which a Muslim husband may divorce his wife by simply saying "talaq" three times with our without her consent. After she suffered fifteen years of mental and emotional abuse from her husband, he surprised her with a divorce, leaving her with little recourse for arguing terms. Shayara Bano v Union of IndiaWrit Petition (Civil) 118 of 2016 continues the pattern of using divorce cases as proxies for progressing women's rights. Pakistan editor Zubair Abbasi notes that this is not unique to India; Pakistani judges have also "tried to ensure gender equality under Islamic divorce law, but adopted entirely different approaches." Different judgments on various landmark cases inform these approachesCiting the Qur'an, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in Shamim Ara v. State of U.P. (2002) that a Muslim man may not divorce his wife without reasonable cause, in effect limiting a Muslim husband's prerogative to divorce. In comparison, the Lahore High Court in Pakistan chose an opposite approach in the 1959 Balqis Fatima case by expanding Pakistani Muslim women's judicial right to khul' (a woman's limited right to divorce). The Supreme Court of Pakistan agreed with this reasoning nearly a decade later in the Khurshid Bibi case, citing the Qur'an to emphasize a husband and wife's mutual rights and obligations. Both approaches theoretically advance the cause of gender equality, but Abbasi emphasizes the unequal results. For women such as Shayara Bano who live in fear of surprise divorcesthe Pakistani approach would have provided her with the agency to declare a definite divorce, an arguably more effective and desirable outcome than the possibility of forced reconciliation. Read more. Image credit: Newsgram

JUDGMENT :: Fatima vs Qureshi (Pakistan, 1959)

Judged by the Lahore High Court in Pakistan, this case advanced Muslim wives' divorce rights in Pakistan. Three judges ruled that Islamic law -- that is, according to the Hanafi School prevalent in Pakistan -- requires a harmonious marriage. Should this not be possible, a woman is within her rights to obtain a khul' (divorce declared by the wife) as long as she is willing to return any benefits received from her husband.The Supreme Court of Pakistan would go on to uphold this reasoning in later cases. Read more. Image credit: Supreme Court of Pakistan

AALS Leadership Issues Statement:  Of Commitments to Academic Freedom, Diversity, and Faculty Safety, including the Section on Islamic Law

In a message to member law schools of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), officers of AALS remarked on ideological attacks against members who are affiliated with Islamic law, either professionally or personally. The Association stated its commitment to the safety of faculty at members schools and reiterated its “core values” of academic freedom and diversity. Should any members witness threats to academic freedom or safety of faculty, AALS will be ready to assist. Read more. Image credit: AALS

Other News

International Pluralism Conference (09-11 Aug 2017| Syracuse, NY).  The conference is organized in collaboration with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. The conference theme is: Citizenship, Legal Pluralism and Governance in the Age of Globalization. Prior to the conference, from 4-7 August, a course will be organized for young scholars on the main theories, themes and methodologies of legal pluralism. More information on the course can be found  here . To get an impression of the previous conference and course, you can already have a look at the information provided below. Paper proposals due 31 Jan 2017 Read more.

Abdallah S. Kamel Fellowships in Islamic Law and Civilization (Fall 2017-Spring 2018 | New Haven, CT).  The Abdallah S. Kamel Center is seeking scholars from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines who have completed or are near completion of an advanced degree (e.g., Ph.D., J.S.D., D.Phil.) and whose work engages with the intellectual and social history of Islam, Islamic legal and political theory, or law in contemporary Muslim societies. Scholars working or studying abroad are welcome to apply. Fellows are expected to be in residence for the duration of the one-year fellowship and will receive a stipend in the range of $45,000 and $60,000 commensurate with their education and experience. Traveling expenses of fellows coming from abroad will be covered. Applications due 1 Feb 2017 . Read more.

Call for Papers for MESA's 51st Annual Meeting (18-21 Nov 2017 | Washington, DC). MESA invites submissions from its members for its 51st annual meeting. Submissions may be in the form of pre-organized panels, pre-organized roundtables, or individual papers (to be formed into panels by the program committee). Submissions due 15 Feb 2017 . Read more.

2017 Law & Social Inquiry Graduate Student Paper Competition (1 Jan-1 Mar 2017). Submissions are now being accepted for Law & Social Inquiry 's annual competition for the best journal-length paper in the field of law and social science written by a graduate or law student.  Law & Social Inquiry  publishes empirical and theoretical studies of sociolegal processes from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Entries due 1 Mar 2017 . Read more .

Temple Bar Scholarships (2-27 Oct 2017 | London). The Temple Bar Foundation is accepting applications for its scholarship program. Selected scholars will have the opportunity to shadow a barrister and observe and discuss English trial practice, spend time with a justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, observe appellate arguments, discuss legal issues with the country’s highest judges. Applications due 30 Apr 2017 . Read more.

International Conference on Transnational Families and Divorce: Revisiting Marital Break-Up in Times of Global (Im)mobilities) (27-29 Sep 2017 | Nijmegen). This conference examines transnational divorce, as its causes, processes, and after-effects increasingly take place across national and socio-cultural borders. It takes into account the different socio-legal and cultural contexts within which it occurs, notably how state policies influence the process of marital dissolution.  We particularly welcome papers from young scholars in the field of socio-legal studies, sociology,  anthropology, history, and other disciplines. We also encourage studies that employ a transnational  and/or intersectional approach (Crenshaw 1989) paying attention to structuring factors such as  gender, class, race and ethnicity. After the conference, selected papers will be published as parts of  an edited volume on transnational families and divorce. Abstracts due 30 Apr 2017  Read more.

Al-Qasimi Chair (Professor/Associate Professor) in Islamic Studies, IAIS, University of Exeter (Exeter, UK).  The post holder will be a leading international figure with the ability to attract high quality researchers at doctoral and postdoctoral level to the Islamic Studies research group. Any area of Islamic Studies is an appropriate specialism including (but not limited to) history, theology, philosophy, literature, mysticism, law, jurisprudence, art and architecture, art history, anthropology and sociology, digital humanities, and any period of the study of Islam. Applications due 1 May 2017 Read more.

Engagement Lab @ Emerson College: MA in Civic Media, Art, and Practice (Boston, MA).  For those who have an interest in digital Islamic law/humanities, and want graduate training to better prepare for an academic or industry career in the field, the Engagement Lab is accepting applications for their graduate program.  Read more.

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