Shari‘ah-based personal dispute resolution for Muslims living in non-Muslim regions.
Dispute resolution remains a difficult issue for Muslims living in non-Muslim regions. While Muslims within Muslim regions do usually have access to Shari‘ah-based personal dispute resolution through settlement in court by an appointed judge (qāḍī) whose judgments are binding and enforceable, the absence of such judges in non-Muslim regions leaves Muslims residing in such lands without this option. The problem is augmented by the widespread belief that an Islamic state’s courts are the only acceptable means by which to obtain binding dispute resolution for Muslim litigants. The current state of affairs is particularly harmful to Muslim wives in abusive marriages, since it leaves them no means within the Shari‘ah to rectify their situation.
This Analytic Brief will show that the classical schools of Islamic Law provide other options relevant to the current situation. The first part of this Brief will introduce the various models for personal dispute resolution which are covered in classical Islamic law. The second part of this Brief will then discuss the applicability of each model and present a possible strategy for their application in a manner that respects and is harmonious with both the Shari‘ah and the legal environment of Muslims living in non-Muslim regions. The Brief will close by demonstrating how these models might be applied to the problem of Muslim wives caught in abusive marriages.