European courts ́ authority contested? The Case of Marriage and Divorce Fatwas On-line

Vít Šisler

Abstract

This article explores Islamic websites providing normative content for European Muslim minorities. It focuses on four distinct Sunni websites and analyzes their fatwas, i.e. legal and religious recommendations issued in matters related to family law. Drawing from a broader research of more than 450 fatwas, this article presents the various ways, in which Muslim authorities associated with these sites deal with the conflicting areas between Islamic law and European legal systems. Essentially, it argues that the Internet and information and communication technology create new public spheres where different, and oftentimes conflicting, concepts of coexistence between Islam and the State are negotiated. Moreover this article demonstrates how these concepts are later incorporated into existing legal frameworks through the institutions of arbitration and marriage contracts. At the same time it explores the underlying rationale behind the fatwa-issuing websites, which emphasize the role of the individual and promote voluntarily adherence to Islamic law. On a more general level, this article aims to provide case studies on how technology redefines the politics of religious authority.

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