Islamic Family Law Project in North Western Nigeria (IFL)
Phrase One (2008 – 2015)
Islam and Shari’a law is historically acknowledged to have liberated women and provided them with rights and protection, yet women still suffer oppressive treatment through various forms of deprivation and discrimination in the societies where Islamic law is in practice especially the North Western states of Nigeria.
This negative situation of women is accentuated by inadequate knowledge within the ranks of Muslims and the administrators of the Islamic Family law, patriarchy and harmful cultural practices.
It is against this backdrop that WRAPA sought support from the MacArthur Foundation with an overall vision of actualizing the rights of women under Islamic law.
The project covers the 7 north western states i.e. Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa and Kaduna states.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT
- To engage in serious scholarship and research in the area of Islamic Family Law with a view to using the known rules of interpretation to analyze the law
- Enhance its application within the background of contemporary needs, excise harmful cultural practices which had over the years become embedded in the law and extend the frontiers of the law by advocating reliance on Fatwas (legal verdict) or the other schools of law where it appears beneficial and proper to do so.
OUTCOMES / IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
- Ownership of change process secured with endorsement of project concerns and methodology by Shari’a stakeholders, operators and women who have been mobilized to demand for change.
- Constructive and sustained scholarship, research and dialogue on contentious issues (consent in marriage, forced marriage for minor girls, defined consideration in divorce, and validity of registration in marriages).
- Deep sensitization and public dialogue.
- Acceptance of a policy for HIV/AIDS testing for couples before marriage in Muslim communities.
Pilot Phrase Introducing the Kuthbah (January 2016 – June 2016)
Over the years, the quest to contextualize protection of women’s rights within Islamic Family law (IFL) has taken specific and short-term formats of research, advocacy and limited public dialogue given the sensitivity of some of the issues. Some concerns raised have been on:
- Forced Child marriages being justified by faith.
- -Protection from domestic violence and enjoyment of human dignity.
- -Rights of women to full maintenance by husbands including medical care.
- -Women’s capacity to enter conditions in marriages.
The WRAPA IFL project working in close collaboration with the institutions of faith and culture, jurists, contemporary as well as orthodox Islamic clerics and academics has articulated a Model Khutbah (Sermon) to respond to the key issues raised above. Inputs were generated through a rigorous academic and documentation process spanning over six years of research, sensitization, objective and strategic dialogue.
Complementary tools to support the Model Khutbah include marriage contract formats, practice reforms in alternative arbitration for settling dispute between spouses, documentation of mutually agreed conditions, and issuance of certificates. using the acceptable space of Friday sermons provides for wide reach, sustainable communication as well as legitimacy for the advocacy to observe the tenets of Islamic law in the key concerns raised in family life.
A baseline assessment was conducted before the Khutbah was delivered and after delivery an impact assessment was carried out, although we are still awaiting results.
The WRAPA external staff in all seven implementing states have carried out sectorial visits at various state platforms and has succeeded in getting support for the project all around.
OUTCOMES AND IMPACTS
- Getting the Jamma’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), which is an umbrella body of Muslims in the country to endorse and validate our Khutbah (sermon).This brings legitimacy to the Khutbah (Sermon) and more Imams will be willing to use it.
- Three (3) mosques in seven (7) of our project states, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto & Jigawa have delivered the Khutbah during 4 different Friday prayers.