The kitābī Wife’s Conversion to Islam: An Unusual Interpretation by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya

In: Islamic Law and Society
Antonia Bosanquet Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg

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This essay analyzes Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s (d. 751/1350) teaching about the legal options open to a woman who converts to Islam while married to a Jewish or Christian husband. I argue that Ibn al-Qayyim’s preferred position is unusual for the eighth/fourteenth century in which he wrote, although it may derive from Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 728/ 1328) teaching on the subject. In order to contextualize Ibn al-Qayyim’s view, I summarize the variety of approaches to single-spouse conversion that dominated in the first century AH, and the broad consensus on the topic that developed after this. Although female conversion to Islam has received some attention in historical studies, there has been less focus on the legal discourse surrounding this question. The essay seeks to contribute to this discussion.

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