Women, Islam, and the State in North Africa

  • Fatima SadiqiEmail author
Living reference work entry


This chapter portrays the ebb and flow of women at the intersection of Islam and the state in North Africa from the premodern to the postmodern eras. This intersection produced a holistic belief system that governs all aspects of life, including the political, the individual, the socio-economic, the moral, the spiritual, and the intellectual. The societies to which this system was introduced were heavily patriarchal and by no means “liberal,” but far from challenging this patriarchy, this system established and institutionalized a new set of patriarchal rules such as gender segregation, veiling and polygamy that harmonized with and gave a new impetus to the subordinate status of women. This institutionalization has been at the heart of political rule since the coming of Islam to North Africa. With the birth of the nation-state in the region in the middle of the twentieth century, legal Islam has been used to maintain patriarchal authority through the control of family laws, which are today the only ones still based on traditional fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). With the coming of independence and the gradual spread of literacy, generations of women challenged the monopoly of legal Islam from various standpoints, hence producing women’s movements whose main demand has been reform of the family laws.


Women Legal Islam State North Africa Patriarchy Agency Politics Premodern Postmodern Women’s movements 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of FezFezMorocco

Section editors and affiliations

  • Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Public AdministrationBabcock UniversityIlishan RemoNigeria

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