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Refereed articles

An exploration of mata'a maintenance in anticipation of the recognition of Muslim marriages in South Africa: (Re-)opening a veritable Pandora's box?

Najrna Moosa and Shaheena Karbanee investigate a question of considerable importance to women in the Islamic community: the right of a divorced woman to maintenance after divorce. In South Africa, as elsewhere, most Muslim women are not employed outside the home and, with the power to pronounce divorce vested in men, may be left destitute if their husbands exercise this power.

While the relevant text does not explicitly provide for maintenance after divorce, the authors align themselves with scholars who contend that there is scope in Islamic jurisprudence to assert such a right. From a survey of case law in South Africa and the Indian subcontinent it is suggested that, while there is a gap between the rights granted to women in Islam and what happens in practice, there also are also signs of renewal. The conclusion is that Islamic law offers sufficient mechanisms to remedy the inequalities suffered by Muslim women in this regard.

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