Termination of Muslim marriages in the South African legal context: Understanding the challenges

Author: M Osman-Hyder

ISSN: 1996-2193
Affiliations: BA LLB LLM Honorary Research Fellow, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Source: Stellenbosch Law Review, Volume 33 Issue 2, 2022, p. 91 – 109


Muslim marriages are not recognised in South Africa and therefore divorces are not regulated by the courts. There are multiple methods of terminating a Muslim marriage; this is not the position with civil marriages in South Africa which are terminated through the divorce proceedings set out in the Divorce Act 70 of 1979. Due to the non-regulation of Muslim marriages, many abuses occur when parties terminate their marriages. With regard to the implementation of Sharī`ah in South Africa, much has been written about the recognition of Muslim Personal Law (MPL). There is a need for research which goes beyond identifying individual challenges and which aims to achieve a more holistic analysis, exploring the root causes of the abuses that could arises in the event that a Muslim marriage is terminated. The purpose of this enquiry therefore is to examine these possible systemic causes and to suggest proposed solutions. This contribution commences with a review of the laws, procedures and institutions regulating the termination of Muslim marriages in South Africa. Challenges with regard to such terminations are then explored and analysed. In conclusion, some remarks are made in respect of addressing the challenges holistically.