How Muftis Think

Islamic Legal Thought and Muslim Women in Western Europe


In How Muftis Think Lena Larsen explores fatwas that respond to questions asked by Muslim women in Western Europe in recent decades. The questions show women to be torn between two opposing notions of morality and norms: one stressing women’s duties and obedience, and one stressing women’s rights and equality before the law. Focusing on muftis who see “the time and place” as important considerations in fatwa-giving, and seek to develop a local European Islamic jurisprudence on these increasingly controversial issues, Larsen examines how they deal with women’s dilemmas. Careful not to suggest easy answers or happy endings, her discussion still holds out hope that European societies and Muslim minorities can recognize shared moral concerns.

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Lena Larsen, Ph.D. (2011), is Director of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo. She is co-editor of New Directions in Islamic Thought (I.B. Tauris, 2009) and Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law (I.B. Tauris, 2013).
A note on transliteration

Part One: Women, Fatwas, Actors
Chapter 1: Continuity and change: Fatwas and fatwa-giving on Women’s Issues in Historical Perspective
Chapter 2: The Muftis and the Fatwa Institutions

Part Two: The Fatwas
Chapter 3: Agony Uncle: The Fatwas of Syed Darsh
Chapter 4: Women’s Issues and Collective Fatwas: The Case of the ECFR
Chapter 5: Fatwa, Legitimacy, and Authority

Part Three: The Muftis’ Reasoning in Local Context
Chapter 6: Fatwas in Context: Muftis and Local Challenges
Chapter 7: Maqasid al-shariʽa and Modern Common Morality
Chapter 8: Concluding reflections

The book is aimed at an academic readership interested in Islamic Jurisprudence, the practice of fatwa giving, Islam and gender issues. It will be a useful resource for researchers and students of Islamic Law or Islam and Gender.
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