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Matrilineal Islam: State Islamic Law and everyday practices of marriage and divorce among people of Mukomuko-Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia

On 13 December 2023 Alf Farabi successfully defended a doctoral thesis and graduated.

Al Farabi, A.
13 December 2023
Leiden Repository

This dissertation has approached marriage and divorce among Muslims in ‘peripheral’ areas in Indonesia from various angles, employing legal analysis as well as historical and ethnographic research. The study seeks to understand the intricate relationship between the interpretation of Muslim family law as promulgated by the state, and the different forms of empirical laws or norms operating within Indonesia’s multicultural Muslim society. Focussing on Mukomuko in Bengkulu province, on the west coast of Sumatra, this study discusses marriage and divorce practices in three different but connected sites or contexts: i.e. everyday practices at societal level; relevant cases available in the first instance Islamic courts; and landmark decisions and developments within the Islamic Chamber of the Indonesian Supreme Court, at the national level. Mukomuko is a case in point, in which the state’s patriarchally-inclined Islamic law conflicts with matrilineal Muslim community traditions. On the basis of ten months of fieldwork I conducted in this region and during several subsequent shorter visits from 2017 to 2019, this study reveals that even though marriage and divorce practices in Mukomuko are increasingly influenced by the state’s patriarchally inclined Islamic law, matrilineally-inclined Islamic law and its institutional actors have shown remarkable resilience.

Supervisor: Prof.dr. L.P.H.M. Buskens
Co-supervisor: Prof.dr. A.W. Bedner

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