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Sherin Khankan, Imam
Mail: mariammosque@sherinkhankan.dk

MUSLIM WOMEN’S RIGHT TO DIVORCE

Many Muslim religious leaders of today have normalized a patriarchal structure denying Muslim women the basic right to divorce. A basic human right and a basic Islamic principle stated in The Quran: Women’s right to Islamic divorce and to start a new life with a new companion after the divorce is stated clearly in Quranic verses 2: 231-232. The verses can be summed up as the following: Oh You who have chosen to be graced with belief. It is not lawful for you to force women into marrying or holding on to them in marriage against their will. You must not prohibit them from remarrying. Muslim women’s right to Islamic divorce is not included in most marriage contracts, even though lawfully Islamic, trapping many in unhappy or abusive marriages. This is fatal and must be changed. Since 2016 The Mariam Mosque has challenged this patriarchal tradition and the mosque’s marriage contracts, include the woman’s right to divorce. More than 30 women subjected to violence have received an Islamic divorce in the Mariam Mosque. At the Mariam Mosque, women can get a divorce without the consent of the husband and without a negotiation/reconcialiation process. We have made a reformation of the existing patriarchal female suppressive divorce procedure for women seeking a divorce (the so called khula process). In fact, the Islamic marriage contracts we offer, are very different from some of those in other mosques around the world. Ours stipulate in the preamble that women have the right to divorce, polygamy is banned and in cases of physical violence or emotional abuse, the union is no longer valid. Most importantly we have made a fusion in our contract between national law and Islamic guidance. The Islamic marriage contract must be supplemented with a legally valid civil marriage. The couple must be married legally according to the law of the country they live in before the Islamic wedding/blessing can take place. If you divorce according to national law you immediately obtain an Islamic divorce. We urge Muslim religious leaders to change the existing patriarchal structure by implementing the fusion between European law and Islamic guidance. We urge Muslim leaders to act according to human rights and basic Islamic principles and give women the right to divorce in the contract. The solution is to design and standardize the Islamic Marriage contract in all Danish mosque communities in ways that clearly secure women’s right to divorce.

Sherin Khankan, Mariam Mosque Copenhagen.