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Abstract

Although Islam has a long history in coastal northern Mozambique, the question of how Muslims manage family life there is little understood. Based on the analysis of historical, ethnographic and legal records, and a case study of a bairro (Port., ward) called Paquitequete in the contemporary coastal city of Pemba in Cabo Delgado province, this article focuses on Muslim family and gender relations in northern Mozambique. It argues that Muslims of this region maintain concurrent legal identities as Muslims, matrilineal Africans and citizens of the modern state. While women benefitted from matriliny by accessing the land and support from their maternal side, upon widowhood and divorce they lost access to their husband’s or common assets because the husbands’ matriclan claimed them. The perseverance of matriliny made local Muslims seem to abide less by Islamic norms, but historically they have combined the Shāfiʿī madhhab (Islamic legal school) with matrilineal custom. In contemporary Pemba, family and gender relations are regulated not only by Sharīʿa or by African ‘traditions’, but by a blend of elements from these two alongside modern legislations. Moreover, it could be said that this arrangement is endorsed by a kind of popular consensus, which is particularly salient in the Community Courts.

In: Islamic Africa
In: Rethinking Halal
In: Rethinking Halal
In: Rethinking Halal
In: Rethinking Halal