Kecia Ali, ed., “Half of Faith: American Muslim Marriage and Divorce in the Twenty-First Century” (Open BU, 2021)

In Half of Faith: American Muslim Marriage and Divorce in the Twenty-First Century, readers find a wide range of texts on Muslim Americans’ experiences with questions of marriage and divorce in an effort to do what is deemed Islamically acceptable. This exciting reader, which brings together previously published as well as new content, includes the broad themes of wedding, marriage, and divorce in the Muslim American experience. More specifically, the reader aims to explore the diversity in Islamic legal and theoretical thought, marriage and divorce practices, marriage contracts, wedding customs, and related issues.

In today’s very vibrant and engaging conversation, I speak with Kecia Ali, the editor of the reader, in addition to several contributors, who are Zahra Ayubi, Aminah McCloud, and Asifa Quraishi-Landes. Each scholar speaks on her contribution to the volume—Ayubi on divorce, Quraishi-Landes on marriage contracts and Islamic law, and McCloud on African American Muslim women as they transition to Islam, get married, and face issues of male guardianship. Further, we discuss why an Islamic marriage even matters to Muslims, and Kecia and Asifa share their views on fundamental issues with the Islamic marriage contract and whether, as Asifa suggests, it’s possible to re-imagine the Islamic marriage contract as a partnership contract rather than a sales contract.

The book, which is available for free, with a searchable PDF, through Boston University’s website, will be of interest to scholars and researchers interested in questions of marriage and divorce generally but more specifically in the context of Islam; individual practicing Muslims who seek resources on nikaah contracts, Islamic law, and divorce; Muslim and other religious leaders who serve Muslim communities; and undergraduate and graduate students in women’s and gender studies as well as religious studies courses.

Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She is currently working on a book project on Muslim women’s marriage to non-Muslims in Islam. Shehnaz runs a YouTube channel called What the Patriarchy?! (WTP?!), where she vlogs about feminism and Islam in an effort to dismantle the patriarchy and uproot it from Islam (ambitious, she knows). She can be reached at

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