Recent UW Law Faculty Scholarship: Alternative Model for the Islamic Marriage Contract and Environmental Justice & Sustainable Development

Here is the latest faculty scholarship appearing in the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Papers series found on SSRN.

  • “A Meditation on Mahr, Modernity, and Muslim Marriage Contract Law” by ASIFA QURAISHI-LANDES (UW Law)

    In this essay, I sketch an alternative model for the Islamic marriage contract. I propose the use of the partnership contract, rather than sales, as its background framework. I believe that applying the well-established (and recently re-energized) principles of Islamic partnership law to Muslim marriage contracts would have several advantages over the current sales-based framework, including eliminating several traditional rules that have been harmful to women. Among other things, some of the existing rules that would disappear under a partnership model include: the lack of mutuality between husband and wife, legal tolerance of marital rape, and a husband’s exclusive right to unilateral divorce. A scheme of Islamic marriage law based on partnership contracts would fit better with modern attitudes about marriage, mutuality, women and individual agency. As such, it would support the sharia-based approach of Muslim women activists more effectively than the current strategies that sometimes require uncomfortably stretching and pulling outdated doctrines to fit modern sensibilities.

    But my enthusiasm for a paradigm shift to this alternative model for Islamic marriage law is tempered by this caveat: paradigm shifts are not easy. They usually require disentangling emotional connections and long-held patterns of behavior, and these changes usually require much more than a good theoretical argument. So, while as a legal theorist, I would wholeheartedly support new Islamic marriage law based on a partnership contract model, the activist in me is concerned about the pragmatic realities of making it stick. Simply put, no matter how perfectly developed it might be, not everyone will be convinced to switch to this new scheme of marriage law. I, therefore, note some of the real-life challenges to introducing the alternative model, and what I think should be done in light of these challenges.

  • “The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Justice and Sustainable Development: Foreword and Chapter 1” by SUMUDU ATAPATTU (UW Law), CARMEN G. GONZALEZ, and SARA L. SECK

    Despite the global endorsement of the Sustainable Development Goals, environmental justice struggles are growing all over the world. These struggles are not isolated injustices, but symptoms of interlocking forms of oppression that privilege the few while inflicting misery on the many and threatening ecological collapse. This handbook offers critical perspectives on the multi-dimensional, intersectional nature of environmental injustice and the cross-cutting forms of oppression that unite and divide these struggles, including gender, race, poverty, and indigeneity. The work sheds new light on the often-neglected social dimension of sustainability and its relationship to human rights and environmental justice. Using a variety of legal frameworks and case studies from around the world, this volume illustrates the importance of overcoming the fragmentation of these legal frameworks and social movements in order to develop holistic solutions that promote justice and protect the planet’s ecosystems at a time of intensifying economic and ecological crisis.

To access all the papers in the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series, please use the following URL: