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Khul': Between Past and Present

48 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2008 Last revised: 30 Apr 2008

Mida R. Zantout

University of Balamand; McGill University - Institute of Islamic Studies

Date Written: July 1, 2006


This article investigates past and present understandings and applications of khul (a type of divorce by mutual agreement whereby a Muslim wife can rid herself of a husband who is not at fault, by a ransoming procedure) synthesizing existing scholarship on the subject as well as Hanafi juristic doctrines. As khul' is part of a larger concept, namely, divorce initiated or approved by women, attention will also be given to the other options that Islamic law - or, on some points, cultural practices - grants women in order to obtain release from the marital bond. A comparative analysis between the application of marriage and divorce laws under the Ottomans and in contemporary Egypt will then be undertaken with a view to shedding light on the effect that the rise of the nation-state has had on gender inequality.

Keywords: Islamic Family Law, Divorce, Women, Ottoman, Egypt

JEL Classification: K00, Z00

Suggested Citation

Zantout, Mida R., Khul': Between Past and Present (July 1, 2006). Islamic Law and Law of the Muslim World Paper No. 08-14. Available at SSRN: or

Mida R. Zantout (Contact Author)

University of Balamand ( email )


McGill University - Institute of Islamic Studies ( email )

Room 319, Morrice Hall
3485 McTavish Street
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1Y1

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