Islamic Studies Marriage
Hina Azam
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 July 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0202


A central feature of society and history, and a salient theme in religious discourse, marriage in Islam and in Muslim societies has been an enduring topic of academic investigation from a variety of disciplinary viewpoints. This article is divided into four sections, meant to reflect (though not exclusively or rigidly) four relatively distinct sets of approaches: religious studies, social sciences, law, and internal critique. The first section, Islamic Marriage Theory, covers marriage as envisioned in Islamic religious texts and discourses. The sources included in this section reflect or analyze the scriptural, exegetic, juristic, and exhortative traditions of Islam. The second section, Muslim History and Societies, addresses marriage as practiced in premodern and modern/contemporary Muslim societies and diasporic communities. The sources listed here are generally historical, anthropological, or sociological. The third section, Modern Legal Theory and Practice, treats marriage as legislated or implemented in legal systems around the world, in both majority Muslim and minority Muslim contexts. The final section, Contemporary Critiques and Reformist Views, highlights contemporary scholarship that either attempts to critique classical juristic formulations of Islamic marriage or that offers alternative visions of legitimate unions. All of the sources listed in this article are in English, although the subsection on Primary Texts in Translation lists available translations of classical Arabic primary texts that center on marriage. The most salient guideline for inclusion, besides scholarly significance and thematic relevance, is date: where more recent work is available on a particular topic, older work is often bypassed. Older publications have been included where their impact on the field merits continued familiarity or where they represent work in a little-studied area. The thematic concentration in this bibliography is on the processes of initiating, contracting, and conducting marital relations. Divorce and others means of dissolving a marriage are omitted from this review. The many publications that address issues of women, gender, and sexuality but that do not directly address marriage have generally been left aside as well. Inclusion of all those titles, or those on divorce/dissolution of marriage, would make this bibliography unmanageably large and would dilute its focus. In considering the field as a whole, one notes scholarly attention to certain themes. Marriage strategies and the role of elements such as kinship, age, socioeconomic status, and romantic love/individual preference are common themes. Focal points related to the contracting of marriage are dower/dowry negotiations, female legal capacity and the authority of guardians, and the inclusion of stipulations in marriage contracts. Scholarship on marital relations and the social aspects of marriage tends to center on domestic violence, temporary and informal marriages, and gender roles and hierarchies (such as expressed in ideals of seclusion or the practice of polygamy).

Islamic Marriage Theory

The sources included in this section treat marriage as envisioned in Islamic scriptural texts (the Qurʾan and the Hadith compilations) and religious discourses (i.e., juristic and didactic texts). The Qurʾan, Exegesis, and Hadiths lists work dealing directly with the Qurʾan and Hadiths, while the entries in Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and Religious Thought range further from the scriptural sources, addressing instead the ways in which classical Islamic scholarship interpreted those sources.

back to top

Your subscription doesn't include the subject of this book.