This article draws from the author’s study of marital breakdown in South Asian Muslim families in Britain, in which she found women engaging with an Islamic advice literature about marriage, much of which develops themes which were established in the reformist literature from colonial India, but redirects these themes to stem a recent tide of divorce. In the long haul of difficult marriages, she found women to be educating themselves about and working themselves into the mould of this literature, but also using these teachings in ways that diverge from the stated intentions of the authors, taking this literature as a benchmark of what a wife should expect from a husband and considering their infraction just cause for ending their marriages, or finding legitimacy for remarriage, rather than reversing the contemporary swell in divorce. Engaging debates over the work of Saba Mahmood and her critics, the everyday here appears to be resistive, in contrast with the patient submission of the religious virtuoso. It becomes clear, however, that women inscribe their moves towards divorce and remarriage within, rather than in opposition to, Islamic norms and values.
- everyday life