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Application of Muslim Family Law as a Form of Customary Law in Accra, Ghana

In: Islamic Africa
Author:
Fulera Issaka-Toure Islamic Studies Department, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
Department for the Study of Religions, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, fissaka-toure@ug.edu.gh

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Abstract

This article examines the central role of the malam (Islamic scholar) in the application of Muslim family law in a legal plural tradition in Accra, Ghana. It demonstrates that the role of the malam as a legal actor is one which is not self-ascribed, yet his deployment of such role is significant in how we understand the interaction of various bodies of laws and their hierarchies. The article shows that women form the majority of the litigants who seek to improve their wellbeing by appealing to Islamic legal norms through the malamai. It argues that, through the judicial practices of the malamai of the two dominant Islamic groups, the Tijāniyya and the Salafiyya, the manner in which the malam himself deploys his legal role reveals how his position is relevant for his predominantly female clients. In the end, this article contributes to how we understand the practice of legal pluralism through the application of Muslim family law as a form of customary law.

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