Competing frameworks of Islamic law and secular civil law in Turkey: A case study on women's property and inheritance practices

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Toktaş Ş., O'neil M. L.

Women's Studies International Forum, vol.48, pp.29-38, 2015 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 48
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.wsif.2014.10.011
  • Journal Name: Women's Studies International Forum
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.29-38
  • Police Academy Affiliated: No


© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.The article stems from empirical research conducted with a group of women living in Istanbul who have conservative life styles bounded by an Islamic worldview. It attempts to illuminate the negotiation and contestation between the official civil law and Islamic law. The findings demonstrate that women inherit and bequeath property in a social setting where their gender roles are defined by their adherence to Islam. We argue that in Turkey women's inheritance practices are not determined solely in accordance with the secular civil law, but rather are the result of a complex and intertwined combination of legal sources, where an Islamic worldview often leads to the adoption of Islamic law. In other words, the application of the secular civil law in Turkey is limited by the common practice of Islamic law. Rather than follow the gender equality mandated by the civil law, the inheritance practices of many Islamic women are constituted with a deference to some aspects of Islamic law creating a situation of legal pluralism in Turkey.