This post was written by guest contributor Deonna Kelli Sayed.
Divorce is a growing challenge for North American Muslim communities, as well as in Muslim societies around the world. Part of that challenge is a lack of understanding regarding Muslim female experiences post-divorce.
Thoughtful, researched dialogue exists concerning legal issues impacting divorce among Muslims in North America, for example, as there are unique legal, social and cultural realities impacting these communities. Women are often the primary focus of public discourse on such matters, and for good reason – a 2012 study, “Understanding Trends in American Muslim Divorce and Marriage,” conducted by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), revealed that the majority of divorce narratives came from women. This is most likely because women “are required to be more proactive than men in obtaining permission to divorce.” While there is nascent attention focusing on rising divorce rates, there is scant dialogue on the multiple challenges and various realities facing Muslim women after ending a marriage.
Spurred by the 2003-2005 debate on sharia in Ontario, the report aimed to study the how Muslims in North America contextualize marriage and divorce. Qualitative data was gathered primarily by direct interviews with Muslim couples in the United States and Canada. A total of 212 individuals were interviewed between 2006 and 2010 and reflected an extremely diverse and educated group, on par with demographics of the larger North American Muslim community.
The report suggests that current divorce discussions among Muslims in North America centers on negotiating the civil court system and the implications of sharia-based endeavors in Western societies. The latter component focuses on how to bring imams and other Muslim community organizations into the dialogue. These are important and welcomed developments. [Read more...]