Re-Configuring Muslim Wifehood in the Fourteenth Century


ACLS Fellowship Program


Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies


Marital law is a central area in which Muslim jurists have articulated their vision of gender and the relationship between the sexes, and the roles of husbands and wives continue to be vigorously debated by Muslims, often enlisting the authority of scholars of the medieval period. This study examines a significant shift that took place in the fourteenth century C.E., when some prominent jurists began to emphasize an inherent wifely duty to perform domestic labor (previously most often assumed to be performed by servants provided by the husband). Housework partially displaced sexual submission as an expression of proper gender hierarchy even for elite women, showing the far earlier social and historical roots of Islamic ideals of domesticity that have usually been associated with the colonial period.