Sharī'a court records (sijills) are legal documents that summarize discussions that took place in the courtroom. They also contain a wealth of detail on various aspects of Muslim society. Drawing on different sijills from nineteenth-century Palestine and fatwās of Khayr al-Dīn al-Ramlī, I examine the phenomenon of child marriage and the practice of khiyār al-bulūgh, literally "option of puberty". If a natural guardian contracts a marriage for a minor child, male or female, the child may not subsequently have the contract annulled. Whereas a boy enjoys the right to divorce his wife through the mechanism of talāq as soon as he reaches his majority, a girl who reaches her majority must approach the court if she wants to dissolve a marriage (faskh), and she may do so only if she was married while a minor by a non-natural guardian. In this case, she may exercise her right of khiyār al-bulūgh immediately upon reaching her legal majority, i.e., at the onset of her first menstruation. But she must make a public declaration of the occurrence of menstruation so that the persons who hear the declaration may serve as witnesses on her behalf.
Bibliographical noteMahmoud Yazbak, "Osmanli Filisini'nde Küçük Yaş Evlilikleri Ataerkil Toplumlarda Kadin Stratejileri Üstüne Bir Not," Kebikeç, Insan bilimleri için Kaynak araştirmalari dergisi, 13/1 (2002), pp. 49-64.(Turkish).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science