“Justice and Goodness in Marriage” in a Seminar at the BA

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The Bibliotheca Alexandrina organized yesterday the seventh session of its "Alexandria Dialogues" series, which examined the ethics and laws related to marriage from the perspective of the Qur'an, Sunnah, Muslim legal tradition, and with regard to historical practices and contemporary law. It also discussed the ways of strengthening egalitarian marital relations, in light of the traditional view of marriage reflected in conventional societal norms and family laws. 

Prof. Ahmed Zayed, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, inaugurated the session and stated that he admired the book Justice and Beauty in Muslim Marriage, noting that changes to the religious discourse would only emanate from liberal and humanistic movements.

The session was moderated by Dr. Marwa Sharafeldin, Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School. She stated that the discussion revolves around the book Justice and Beauty in Muslim Marriage, which comes amidst the current challenges faced by Muslim families, and raises several questions regarding the marriage system in present-day Muslim societies and Arab laws.

Dr. Mulki Al-Sharmani, Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Helsinki, mentioned that the book is the result of a research project that started in 2018. The project sought to answer the question: "Are there ethical and legal frameworks in Islamic tradition that can establish and consolidate a marriage system based on justice, equality, partnership, and mutual care?"

For her part, Dr. Amira Abu Taleb, Doctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, addressed the ethics in the Qur'an such as affection, mercy, patience, and goodness. She highlighted her attempt towards a comprehensive study of the concept of goodness in the Qur'an due to its frequent recurrence, stressing that it is a Qur'anic message that encourages benevolence, beauty, and the pursuit of perfection.

In addition, Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cairo University, said that through the study presented in the book, she sought to explore the ethical structure of Qur'anic rules and their consolidation. This has been achieved through a holistic approach and analysis to develop a specific conception of the moral structure that establishes marriage as an institution and a relationship based on equality instead of superiority or authoritarianism.

Dr. Yasmine Amin, Representative of Orient-Institut Beirut in Cairo, said that she attempted to identify the reasons for the difference between the Qur'anic and jurisprudential portrayals of marriage, by examining the hadiths and the prophetic biography.

For her part, Dr. Hoda El-Saadi, Adjunct Faculty Member in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilization at the American University in Cairo, discussed her study of marriage norms in Egypt in pre-modern times, pointing to the existence of rich historical sources that uncovered remarkable Islamic legal traditions.

It is worth mentioning that the "Alexandria Dialogues" series was launched at the initiative of Dr. Ahmed Zayed, Director of the BA. It is a periodic meeting through which an open dialogue is held with the public to discuss political, economic, social, and cultural affairs, thus emphasizing the role of the BA as the link between state officials, intellectuals, and the public.


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