Women in Classical Islamic Law

A Survey of the Sources


Drawing on legal and ḥadīth texts from the formative and classical periods of Islamic legal history, this book offers an overview of the development of the questions prominent jurists asked and answered about women’s issues. All assumed a woman would marry and thus the book concentrates on women’s family life.
The introduction establishes the historical framework within which the jurists worked. A chapter on Qurʾān verses devoted to women’s lives is followed by chapters on marriage and divorce which compare the views of jurists during the formative period. The fourth chapter describes the evolution from the formative to the classical periods. The fifth uses material from both periods to describe the array of legal opinion about other aspects of women’s lives in and outside their homes. Throughout, jurists’ opinions are juxtaposed with relevant quotations from contemporaneous ḥadīth collections.

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Susan A. Spectorsky, Ph.D. (1974) in Middle East Languages, Columbia University, is Associate Professor Emerita of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Queens College, City University of New York. She has published on early Islamic Law and is the author of Chapters on Marriage and Divorce: Responses of Ibn Ḥanbal and Ibn Rāhwayh (Austin, 1993).
Women in Classical Islamic Law fills a significant gap in the literature and will be of immense use to a wide variety of readers.”
Kecia Ali in Journal of the American Oriental Society 132.3 (2012), 331-332.
All those interested in the history of the development of Islamic law and of the place of women in it.