Gender and Legal Personhood in Hanafi law | Dr Saadia Yacoob (Williams College) | AMI Research Seminar

Abstract: This talk considers how legal personhood was constructed in Hanafi law through a focus on consent to marriage.  From the marriage of free individuals to enslaved people and children, Hanafi jurists considered a number of social factors in determining whether an individual had the right of consent to marriage. Gender was only one of the factors considered and was in fact not a predictable determiner of an individual’s legal status. Thinking at the intersection of these different social identities allows us to see that gender was not the primary identity through which social relations were ordered in legal discourse. An intersectional analysis demonstrates that to fully grasp the complex social order imagined and authorized by Muslim jurists, we must think beyond the gender binary.

Saadia Yacoob is Assistant Professor of Religion at Williams College. She holds a PhD in Islamic studies from Duke University and an MA from the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University. She has also studied Islamic law in Egypt and Jordan. Her research focuses on gender, childhood, and enslavement in Islamic law. Her forthcoming book manuscript titled Reading Gender in Early Islamic Law investigates the intersections of gender, age, and enslavement in the construction of legal personhood in Hanafi law. More broadly, her research interests include Islamic legal history, Muslim feminist studies, history of sexuality, and slavery studies. Her research has been published in The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law and several academic blogs such as The Immanent Frame and Contending Modernities. She is also curator-host of the “History Speaks” stream at the Maydan Podcast.

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