Contesting the Boundaries between Civil and Religious Marriage

Contesting the Boundaries between Civil and Religious Marriage This article discusses the relation between civil and religious marriage, at the interface between the state’s legal discourse and the discourses and practices of Norwegian mosques. A central question is what kinds of effects the governance of Islam in Norway has had in the field of marriage. Against the background of political debates on the system of marriage authorization of faith communities, the analysis draws on interviews with public officials and administrative leaders of mosques, the majority of whom are authorized to perform legal marriage. While the Norwegian state concept of marriage authorization is based on a separation of the civil act and the religious act, mosque administrators rather highlight the similarity and continuity between the two. Contrary to state concerns, though, the analysis suggests that the civil marriages have affected the religious, rather than vice versa. What is interesting is that this reasoning actually results in Norwegian marriage certificates replacing or suppressing the Islamic marriage contract, although agreements on mahr (dower) are still made more informally. Thus, our findings suggest that there has been a secularizing effect. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology of Islam Brill

Contesting the Boundaries between Civil and Religious Marriage

Sociology of Islam, Volume 6 (3): 19 – Sep 25, 2018

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
2213-140X
eISSN
2213-1418
DOI
10.1163/22131418-00603003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article discusses the relation between civil and religious marriage, at the interface between the state’s legal discourse and the discourses and practices of Norwegian mosques. A central question is what kinds of effects the governance of Islam in Norway has had in the field of marriage. Against the background of political debates on the system of marriage authorization of faith communities, the analysis draws on interviews with public officials and administrative leaders of mosques, the majority of whom are authorized to perform legal marriage. While the Norwegian state concept of marriage authorization is based on a separation of the civil act and the religious act, mosque administrators rather highlight the similarity and continuity between the two. Contrary to state concerns, though, the analysis suggests that the civil marriages have affected the religious, rather than vice versa. What is interesting is that this reasoning actually results in Norwegian marriage certificates replacing or suppressing the Islamic marriage contract, although agreements on mahr (dower) are still made more informally. Thus, our findings suggest that there has been a secularizing effect.

Journal

Sociology of IslamBrill

Published: Sep 25, 2018

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