Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Marriage conclusion in Belgian Muslim families: Navigating transnational social spaces of normativity

Kim Lecoyer


This article examines multiple normative frameworks that shape rules and expectations for marriage conclusion among Muslim families in Belgium and highlights how women in particular understand, use and resist these norms. Among these normative frameworks, particular attention is given to the study of Islamic normative discourses, which frequently originate in a transnational public space of Islamic norms and reference, but are at the same time locally situated in daily practices and local discourses. The article is based on fieldwork conducted in Belgium with different religious actors on the one hand, and interviews and focus groups with, mainly female, members of Belgian Muslim families on the other hand. The data stems from a broader research on non-state family practices and dispute resolution among Muslim families of migrant origin living in Belgium.


marriage; transnational Muslim families; internormativity; Belgium; gender

Full Text:



Allievi, S. and Dassetto, F. (1997). Facettes de l’Islam belge. Louvain-la-Neuve: Academia Bruylant.

Allievi, S. and Nielsen, J. S. (2003). Muslim networks and transnational communities in and across Europe. Leiden: Brill.

Amdouni, H. (2011). Contrat de mariage Islamique - question 2. 9 March 2011. (retrieved 14 September 2012).

Boubekeur, A. (2003). “Le jeune marché matrimonial musulman en France”. Confluences Méditerranée, 3: 157–167.

Bousetta, H. and Bernes, L.-A. (2007). Muslims in the EU: Cities Report - Belgium. Preliminary Research Report and Literature Survey. New York, London, Budapest: Open Society Institute.

Bousetta, H. and Martiniello, M. (2003). "Marocains de Belgique: du travailleur immigré au citoyen transnational". Hommes et Migrations, 1242: 94–106.

Bowen, J. R. (2004). "Beyond migration: Islam as a transnational public space". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30 (5): 879–894.

Caeiro, A. (2010). "The power of European fatwas: the minority fiqh project and the making of an Islamic counterpublic". International Journal of Middle East Studies, 42 (3): 435–449.

Caeiro, A. (2011). Fatwas for European Muslims: the minority fiqh project and the integration of Islam in Europe. Utrecht: Utrecht University.

Centre Islamique et Culturel de Belgique (n.d.-a). Consultation religieuse (FAQ) - question 11. (retrieved 21 September 2012).

Centre Islamique et Culturel de Belgique (n.d.-b). Consultation religieuse (FAQ) - Question 42. (retrieved 15 February 2013).

Centre Islamique et Culturel de Belgique. (n.d.). Consultation religieuse (FAQ) - question 91. (retrieved 21 September 2012).

Corijn, M. and Lodewijckx, E. (2009). De start van de gezinsvorming bij de Turkse en Marokkaanse tweede generatie in het Vlaamse Gewest: Een analyse op basis van Rijksregistergegevens. Brussel: Studiedienst van de Vlaamse Regering.

Dassetto, F. (2011). L’ Iris et le Croissant. Louvain-la-Neuve: Presses universitaires de Louvain.

de Sousa Santos, B. (1987). "Law: A Map of Misreading. Toward a Postmodern Conception of Law". Journal of Law and Society, 14 (3): 279–302.

de Sousa Santos, B. (1995). "Law: A map of misreading". In: B. de Sousa Santos (ed.) Toward a new common sense: law, science and politics in the paradigmatic transition (pp. 456–473). London: Routledge.

European Council for Fatwa and Research (2002). First and Second Collections of Fatwas (Qararat wa-Fatawa li-l-Majlis al-Urubbi li-l-Ifta’ wa-l-Buhuth). (Anas Osama Altikriti and Shaikh Nasif Al-Ubaydi, Trans.). Cairo, Egypt: Islamic INC/Al-Falah Foundation.

European Council for Fatwa and Research (2009). Kān yuʿāshir imraʾat kitābiyat dūn ʿaqd zawāj sharʿiy? [Cohabiting with a (Christian or Jewish) woman without an Islamic marriage contract?]. 11 March 2009.كان-يعاشر-امرأة-كتابية-دون-عقد-زواج-شر-3/ (retrieved 26 September 2012).

Grillo, R. (2004). "Islam and Transnationalism". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30 (5): 861–878.

Hoekema, A. J. (2005). "European Legal Encounters between Minority and Majority Cultures: Cases of Interlegality". The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law, 37 (51): 1–28.

Islamopedia Online (2010a). Faisal Mawlawi of Lebanon responds to the question: Is the civil marriage conducted in Western and European countries valid from an Islamic legal point of view? 22 April 2010. (retrieved 14 September 2012).

Islamopedia Online (2010b). Yusuf al-Qaradawi on ratifying an Islamic Marriage contract after a civil marriage has been consummated. 22 April 2010. (retrieved 26 September 2012).

Islamophile (2003). Le mariage civil est-il valide du point de vue de la Shari`ah ? [Translation of Mawlawi’s fatwa]. (retrieved 17 September 2012).

Karman, K.-L. J. (2011). "Interpreting Islamic Law for European Muslims: The Role and the Work of the European Council for Fatwa and Research". In: J. S. Nielsen (ed.) Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Vol. 3 (pp. 655–693). Leiden: Brill.

Le Roy, É. (1999). Le jeu des lois: une anthropologie ‘dynamique’ du Droit. Paris: LGDJ.

Lecoyer, K. (forthcoming). “Insiders’ Perspectives on Muslim Divorce in Belgium: A Women’s Rights Analysis”. In: E. Brems, G. Corradi and M. Goodale (eds.) Human Rights Encounter Legal Pluralism: Normative and Empirical Approaches. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

Lesthaeghe, R. (1997). Islamitische gemeenschappen in België: fundamentalisme of secularizatie? Ethnic Minorities Working Papers 1997–1. Brussels: Interface Demography (VU Brussel) & Vakgroep Bevolkingswetenschappen (Universiteit Gent).

Lesthaeghe, R. (2000). "Transnational Islamic Communities in a Multilingual Secular Society". In: R. Lesthaeghe (ed.) Communities and generations: Turkish and Moroccan populations in Belgium (pp. 3–57). Brussels: Steunpunt Demografie and VUB University Press.

Levitt, P. and Glick Schiller, N. (2004). "Conceptualizing Simultaneity: A Transnational Social Field Perspective on Society". International Migration Review, 38 (3): 1002–1039.

Manço, U. and Kanmaz, M. (2004). "Belgique. Intégration des musulmans et reconnaissance du culte islamique : un essai de bilan". In: U. Manço (ed.) Reconnaissance et discrimination: présence de l’islam en Europe occidentale et en Amérique du Nord (pp. 85–115). Paris: L’Harmattan.

Moore, S. F. (1973). "Law and social change: the semi-autonomous social field as an appropriate subject of study". Law and Society Review, 7 (4): 719–746.

Roy, O. (2006). Globalized Islam: the search for a new Ummah. New York: Columbia University Press. (n.d.). Entrez en islam - Cas Particuliers - Couple marié civilement. Http:// (retrieved 21 September 2012).


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Transnational Press London

Copyright © 2003-2018 Migration Letters / Transnational Press London | All rights reserved | Contact Us