Gender Equality and Islamic Family Law - A Seminar by Dr. Zubair Abbasi

Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Faculty Lounge, VC Office

This seminar has passed. To watch online, please visit the Seminars section of the SWGI website.

The Saida Waheed Gender Initiative is pleased to announce the launch of its Seminar Series. By bringing together faculty and students from across LUMS’ schools, the series seeks to promote interdisciplinary dialogue around gender as a category of analysis and action. 

For its first seminar, SWGI presents:

Gender Equality and Islamic Family Law: An Assessment of Women’s Right to Unilateral Divorce in Pakistan

Speaker: Dr. Zubair Abbasi

Date: Thursday, October 29

Time: 4-5 PM

Venue: Faculty Lounge, VC Office


About the Speaker:

Dr. Zubair Abbasi is Assistant Professor at Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law. One of his primary areas of interest is the theory and practice of Islamic family law in Muslim majority and minority countries. His work explores the interaction of classical Islamic family law with modern state law and international human rights law.

Article Abstract

Judges in Pakistan promoted the right of women to get a divorce without the consent of their husbands under the Islamic legal doctrine of ‘Khula’ on the basis of gender equality. In doing so, they did not adhere to the principles of 'Hanafi' school that were strictly applied by the colonial judiciary and are still being applied in India. Rather, they made a direct recourse to the primary sources of Islamic Law—the Quran and Sunnah—for drawing new legal principles. This form of judicial ‘ijtihad’ continues to play a key role in accommodating classical Islamic law (fiqh) within the framework of international human rights law in Pakistan. This process was not deterred by the Islamisation of laws introduced in the mid-1970s, rather it unintentionally bolstered judicial ‘ijtihad’ by empowering the Sharia Courts to have a direct recourse to the Quran and Sunnah.

This article employs comparative and historical research methodologies for analysing the development of women’s right to get divorce (khula) without the consent of their husbands in Pakistan. It makes comparative references to legal developments regarding this right in other Muslim countries and examines it from a historical perspective by looking into the genesis of legal reforms in classical Islamic law in South Asia during colonial period.