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On British IslamReligion, Law, and Everyday Practice in Shari'a Councils$
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John R. Bowen

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158549

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158549.001.0001

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Unstable Performativity

Unstable Performativity

(p.88) Chapter 6 Unstable Performativity
On British Islam

John R. Bowen

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the anxiety of performativity, which asks about the capacity of scholars or judges to successfully perform an Islamic act and to divorce a couple. Performativity can be distributed in differing ways between religious and state authorities. People are used to the idea that a religious marriage may have legal effects, because in many countries such is the law. Conversely, in many countries with Islamic courts, a court divorce is also—immediately and automatically—an Islamic divorce, because the laws say so. The shariʻa councils do not have that legal legitimacy. No state laws back them up, and the religiously performative quality of their acts is nowhere made explicit. Ultimately, the uncertainties around shariʻa council performativity point toward a much broader problem regarding the capacity of a state to say when a religious act has taken place.

Keywords:   performativity, Islamic act, divorce, religious marriage, Islamic courts, court divorce, Islamic divorce, shariʻa councils, religious act

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