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PhD defence

Matrilineal Islam

  • A. Farabi
Wednesday 13 December 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. L.P.H.M. Buskens
  • Prof.dr. A.W. Bedner


This dissertation has approached marriage and divorce among Muslims in ‘peripheral’ areas in Indonesia from various angles, employing legal analysis as well as historical and ethnographic research. The study seeks to understand the intricate relationship between the interpretation of Muslim family law as promulgated by the state, and the different forms of empirical laws or norms operating within Indonesia’s multicultural Muslim society. Focussing on Mukomuko in Bengkulu province, on the west coast of Sumatra, this study discusses marriage and divorce practices in three different but connected sites: i.e. everyday practices at societal level; relevant cases available in the first instance Islamic courts of Arga Makmur and Mukomuko; and landmark decisions and developments within the Islamic Chamber of the Indonesian Supreme Court, at the national level. On the basis of ten months of fieldwork I conducted in this region and during several subsequent shorter visits to the research sites from 2017 to 2019, this study shows that Mukomuko’s adat, which is ‘matrilineally-inclined’ in nature, and its institutional actors (the assembly of orang adat) have persisted, even though marriage and divorce practices are now increasingly influenced by the state. Mukomuko is a case in point, in which the state’s patriarchally-inclined Islamic law conflicts with matrilineal community traditions.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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