‘Ulamā’ and the Muslim Family Laws in Pakistan
Fatvā writing is an important discipline of Islamic sciences. The scope of fatvā writing, especially in modern times, is vast, which may have multi-dimensional impact on the state and society. Since the muftīs believe that they are performing religious duties through fatvā writing, their fatāvā are deemed, to some extent, establishing a parallel or rather alternate legal system in their respective societies. An overwhelming number of Pakistanis follow the ‘ulamā’ and muftīs of their respective schools of thought in their social, moral, and legal matters. Majority of the ‘ulamā’ and muftīs are of the view that many provisions of Pakistan’s penal code and family laws are not in line with the sharī‘ah. The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 (MFLO) is still under debate among the ‘ulamā’ and muftīs. The same is the case with the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2006. This paper starts with an overview of the historical development of the family laws in many Muslim countries, especially in Pakistan. Then it turns to the responses of the Pakistani ‘ulamā’ and muftīs to the MFLO. The paper also studies a publicized court case and discusses the practical defiance of the ordinance. It ends with the conclusion.
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