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Customizing Sharia: Matrilineal Muslims and Islamic Law in the Indian Ocean Littoral

August 27, 2019 9:30 am – August 27, 2019 11:30 am UTC+5.5 

Islamic law has been a realm of patriarchal conceptualizations in which not only the Muslim patriarchal practices but also the patriarchal backgrounds of Western scholars spilled over to the studies about Muslims and Islam. Although some scholars have tried to overcome these projections onto the non-Western societies, such preconceptions have dominated the academia, particularly the Islamic (legal) historiography. The ways of understanding matrilineal Muslim communities have suffered the most. Both in the past and in the present, Muslims in different parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, and Comoros follow different forms of this women-centered social system. The existing literature mainly construed up by anthropologists and historians also has not studied these communities in a connected and comparative perspective and has ignored the centrality of Islam and Indian Ocean networks to the matrilineal system. Against this background, this international conference aims to address these lacunae with theoretical engagements on the basis of empirical researches. It also aims to explore the ways in which the followers of the matrilineal Islamic praxis defended the system within the Islamic legal epistemologies and within the maritime social systems. This in turn helps to understand how the matrilineal Muslims of the Indian Ocean constructed their own versions of Islam and its laws, often in conflict and by compromise with the dominant patriarchal perceptions and narratives.


Ashoka University

Ashoka University
Sonipat, Haryana 131029

Cost: Free