J. Andrew Bush
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationNew York U., Abu Dhabi
Grant numberGr. 9777
Approve DateApril 28, 2019
Project TitleBush, J. Andrew Harvard Law School "Islamic Law in a Quasi-State: Husbands and Jurists at the Fatwa Council in Iraqi Kurdistan"
According to predominant norms among Muslims in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, shari‘a (“Islamic law”) empowers a husband to divorce his wife by spoken repudiation. When husbands regret their repudiation, they often visit jurists at local Fatwa Councils seeking advice to restore their marriage. Having squandered the authority granted them by shari‘a, husbands try to restore that authority through shari‘a itself. While husbands regard jurists’ advice as uncorrupted by Iraqi state secularism, Fatwa Councils often send husbands to civil courts for a solution, showing the inseparability of three jurisdictions: shari‘a, Iraqi Civil Code, and civil provisions in the Kurdistan region. In this way, jurists adapt the procedures of the secular state to serve their vision of shari‘a. This project explores how Fatwa Councils mobilize multiple legal languages to restore men’s authority as husbands after they squandered it. In doing so, the project expands existing studies of gender and shari‘a that predominantly focus on women. Ethnographic research links Fatwa Council proceedings to Islamic legal traditions and historically shifting civil codes in Iraqi Kurdistan. A detailed account of how men engage men through legal language will contribute to the comparative study of how civil and religious law work to reconstruct men’s authority.