DETROIT — A New America Media Women Immigrants Fellowship story on the difficulties of getting an Islamic divorce has sparked dialogue among local Muslim religious leaders on how to make divorce easier for women.
The article, by Natasha Dado of The Arab American News, describes the difficulties that Muslim women experience when their husbands refuse to grant them a religious divorce. Many are forced to go “imam shopping” and travel across the country to find an imam willing to grant them an Islamic divorce.
On Sept. 25, about 15 imams met in metro Detroit to discuss the article, which was published Sept. 19.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, said many imams at the meeting agreed that injustice existed, surrounding the issue and discussed establishing an arbitration system that would help prevent women from having to go “imam shopping.” Walid said the subject was bought up as a result of the article.
The new system would consist of an arbitrational body that handles divorce disputes to prevent women from having to turn to multiple religious leaders when seeking a divorce. One issue with establishing such a system is that only approximately 20 imams attend the monthly meeting, and it would be necessary for all Muslim religious leaders in metro Detroit to agree on it.
The meetings between imams are held every month throughout the year to discuss important issues in the community. No follow-up meeting was held in October, because it is the time that Muslims around the world make the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
A lot of Muslim women are denied a divorce, even when their husbands are very physically abusive towards them. Many women believe their rights are being violated and it is unjust imprisonment when they are not granted a divorce.