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Abstract

This Comment compares the politics and dynamics of recent family law reforms in Iran and Morocco. In both countries, reforms have in effect crippled men's privileges in marriage under Islamic law by restricting their unilateral and extra-judicial rights to divorce and polygyny. In Morocco, the 2004 reforms are radical in that they admit the principle of equality in marriage and cast classical Maliki School of Sunni law in a new light; the result of prolonged efforts by the women's movement, these reforms were finally achieved by the intervention of the King who claimed the right of ijtihad as the Commander of the Faithful. The Iranian reforms, on the other hand, have been incremental, they retain the patriarchal provisions of Shi 'a law, yet they are neither justified nor achieved through the exercise of ijtihad. This is ironic given that, since the 1979 revolution, political power has been in the hands of Shi 'a jurists who claim that the gate of ijtihad is open in Shi 'a law. This Comment explores the different configurations of internal and external political circumstances and their impact on women's movements that led to "opening the gate of 'ijtihad" in Morocco and closure in Iran..

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