Competing Fundamentalisms and Egyptian Women’s Family Rights

International Law and the Reform of Sharī’a-derived Legislation


Author: Jasmine Moussa
The debate surrounding women’s family rights under Sharī’a-derived law has long been held captive to the competing fundamentalisms of universalism and cultural relativism. These two conflicting perspectives fail to promote practical tools through which such laws can be reformed, without prejudice to their religious nature. This book examines the development of Egypt’s Sharī’a-derived family law, and its compatibility with international obligations to eliminate discrimination against women. It highlights the interplay between domestic reform processes, grounded in the tools of takhayyur, talfiq and ijtihad, and international institutions and mechanisms. In attempting to reconcile these two seemingly dissonant value systems, this book underscores the shortcomings of Egypt’s legislation, proposes particular reforms, while simultaneously presenting alternatives to insular interpretations of international women’s rights law.

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Jasmine Moussa is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law. From
2008 to 2010 she was the desk officer in charge of Legal Affairs and Human Rights Affairs in the Cabinet of Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
All those interested in international human rights law, women’s rights, Islamic ( Sharī’a) law, and reform strategies based on the Sharī’a, as well as the interaction between domestic and international institutions.