Twenty-First-Century Loving: Nationality, Gender, and Religion in the Muslim World

12 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2011

See all articles by Adrien K. Wing

Adrien K. Wing

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: January 24, 2008


This essay highlights the intersection of three identities; nationality, gender, and religion, to show how a twenty-first-century Loving v. Virginia issue still exists in many nations. In a number of countries, interfaith marriages are still generally frowned upon due to customary and/or religious norms, and in some places, such unions are illegal or impossible. Interfaith marriages of any kind can be as problematic and as deadly as they have been for centuries. In many Muslim countries, it is legally forbidden for Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.

This essay answers the questions; will this ancient, deeply rooted prohibition join the fate of the Virginia antimiscegenation statute in Loving? Will such laws be legislated out of existence any time in the near future? Even if the legal prohibitions were lifted, would ongoing de facto norms still hinder Muslim women from choosing marital partners freely? Part I discusses various multiple identities of Muslim women and how they might be implicated generally in this particular twenty-first-century Loving problem. Then, to provide further context, Part II elaborates upon various aspects of Muslim family law, including the prohibition on interfaith marriage for Muslim women. In Part III, the essay discusses possible solutions that could potentially assist those Muslim women who do want the legal freedom to marry outside their faith. The essay concludes that potential legal change in this arena is unlikely in the near future.

Keywords: Women's Rights, Human Rights, Islam, Comparative Law, Muslim Women’s Rights, Loving Virginia, Gender Equality, Interfaith Marriages, Antimiscegenation, Marriage Rights

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Wing, Adrien Katherine, Twenty-First-Century Loving: Nationality, Gender, and Religion in the Muslim World (January 24, 2008). Fordham Law Review, Vol. 76, p. 2895, 2008, U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-08, Available at SSRN:

Adrien Katherine Wing (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

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