Muslim Marriage and Non-Marriage

Where Religion and Politics Meet Intimate Life

Julie McBrien (Editor), Annelies Moors (Editor),

Series: Islam, Culture and Society

Category: Social Science

Language: English

ISBN: 9789462703810

Publication date: November 9, 2023

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Number of pages: 370

Size: 234 x 156 x 18 mm

Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

Funded by: KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access
University of Amsterdam

Stock item: 157471

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Series: Islam, Culture and Society

Category: Social Science

Language: English

DOI: 10.11116/9789461665423

ISBN: 9789461665423

Publication date: October 30, 2023

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Number of pages: 370

Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content

Funded by: KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access
University of Amsterdam


Perspectives and practices of couples in unconventional Muslim marriages.

Unconventional Muslim marriages have been topics of heated public debate. Around the globe, religious scholars, policy makers, political actors, media personalities, and women’s activists discuss, promote, or reject unregistered, transnational, interreligious and other boundary-crossing marriages. Couples entering into such marriages, however, often have different concerns from those publicly discussed. Based on ethnographic research in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, the chapters of this volume examine couples’ motivations for, aspirations about, and abilities to enter into these marriages. The contributions show the diverse ways in which such marriages are concluded, and inquire into how they are performed, authorized or contested as Muslim marriages. These marriages may challenge existing ties of belonging and transform boundaries between religious and other communities, but they may also, and sometimes simultaneously, reproduce and solidify them.

Building on insights from different disciplines, both from the social sciences (anthropology, political science, gender and sexuality studies) and from the humanities (history, Islamic legal studies, religious studies), the authors address a wide range of controversial Muslim marriages (unregistered, interreligious, transnational, etc.), and include the views of religious scholars, state authorities, and political actors and activists, as well as the couples themselves, their families, and their wider social circle.

Contributors: Joud Alkorani (Radboud University), Rahma Bavelaar (University of Applied Sciences Leiden), Loubna Elmorabet (University of Amsterdam), Annerienke Fioole (University of Amsterdam), Shifra Kisch (University College Utrecht), Iris Kolman (University of Amsterdam), Martijn de Koning (Radboud University), Eva F. Nisa (Australian National University), Ibtisam Sadegh (University of Malta), Samah Saleh (An-Najah National University), Vanessa Vroon-Najem (Amsterdam Museum), Dina Zbeidy (University of Applied Sciences Leiden).

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This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).


Muslim Marriage and Non-Marriage: Religion, Politics, and Intimate Life
Annelies Moors and Julie McBrien

Part I—The Politicization of Marriage: Problematization, Agency, and Activism

Troublesome Marriages and the Politics of the Future in Kyrgyzstan
Julie McBrien

Problematizing Early Marriages : Development Narratives and Refugee Experiences in Jordan
Dina Zbeidy

The Politics of Cohesion : Salafi Preachers and the Problematization of Muslim Marriages in the Netherlands
Martijn de Koning

Palestinian Women Prisoners : The Relational Politics of Incarceration, Marriage, and Separation
Samah Saleh and Annelies Moors

Part II—The Micro-politics of (Non-)marriage: Intimacy, Materiality, and Social Transformation

Cohabitation and ‘Urfi Marriages in Tunisia : Public Discourse and Personal Narratives
Iris Kolman

Exceptionally Ordinary: Singling out Single Mothers in Morocco
Annerienke Fioole

Configuring Communities: The Materialities of Dubai’s Migrant Marriages
Joud Alkorani

The Dower among Moroccan Muslims in the Netherlands : Generational and Gendered Shifts
Loubna el Morabet

When Islamic Marriage Travels to the Netherlands : Convert Muslim Women (Re)Signifying the Marriage Guardian and the Dower
Annelies Moors and Vanessa Vroon-Najem

Part III—Interfaith Marriage: Religious Difference and Multiple Positionalities

The Intimate Politics of Publicly Staging “Mixed Couples” : The Gendered Racialization of a Poster Campaign
Shifra Kisch, Rahma Bavelaar, and Annelies Moors

“We are an Example of Ceuta’s Convivencia” : Muslim–Christian Marriages at Europe’s North-African Border
Ibtisam Sadegh

Interfaith Marriages in Indonesia : Between the Law, State Ideology, and Progressive Muslim Voices
Eva F. Nisa

Contracting Coptic-Muslim Marriage in Egypt : Class, Gender, and Clerical Mediation in the Administrative Management of Religious “Crossings”
Rahma Bavelaar

About the authors

Julie McBrienORCID icon

Julie McBrien is Associate Pofessor in the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality, both at the University of Amsterdam.

Annelies MoorsORCID icon

Annelies Moors is Professor Emerita at the University of Amsterdam, where she held the Chair for the Social-scientific study of Muslim Societies at the Department of Anthropology.

The focus on the agency of women and men alike resets the discussion of these marriages, much of which had positioned women as victims. The transregional theme allows the editors to make novel observations about the malleability of Muslim marriage in different cultural and social settings. The variety of cases present a wide array of voices from different genders, classes, religious groups, and geographical settings and give the reader a good sense of how this variety of voices and settings lends complexity to the discussion of Muslim marriage. Judith E. Tucker, Georgetown University

Moors and McBrien’s collection dynamically displays the global diversity of Muslim marriages. They capture what makes marriages “Muslim,” while documenting the vast array of experience, expediency, and agency of Muslim women and men, in the face of the state, religious institutions, and on the ground socio-political-cultural conditions. An ethnographically rich curation of lived realities.
Suad Joseph, University of California, Davis

A unique book that combines lucid theoretical perspectives on a variety of current "controversies" about Muslim marriages with a rich set of fine-grained ethnographic explorations of the life stories of those involved in these kinds of marriages. The intimate stories expose the very politics of "problematizing" certain marriages and marriage practices while the careful analyses unpack the stakes of those generating the controversies, whether states, political parties, religious authorities, or families. The personal experiences reveal the complex conditions of these actual marriages and let us see how individual women's personal and social circumstances, considerations, desires and even affects shape their marriage choices. Beautifully researched and sharply conceptualized, this book is sure to change the conversation. Lila Abu-Lughod, Columbia University

Muslim marriage practices have evolved and changed across the Global North and South, with problematising discourses dominating the treatment of ‘boundary-crossing’ unregistered marriages. In this volume, leading researchers in the field draw on long-term empirical projects evidencing such practices in multiple state settings from both the North and South, providing a unique insight into evolving norms and practices and state engagement. The insights of the multiple authors, and Moors and McBrien, offer a significant contribution to our understanding of the problematising discourse and the experiences of those engaging in such marriages.
Rajnaara Akhtar, University of Warwick

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