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First Woman Licensed to Perform Marriages in Palestine

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Ramallah: Holding the young couple’s identity cards in one hand and the Quran in the other, the Palestinian Justice of Peace pronounces Thaer and Rawan, man and wife. It is an everyday scene at the Islamic Shariah law court in the West Bank city of Ramallah except for one glaring difference, the justice is a woman, the first in the Palestinian territories licensed to perform Muslim marriages. Wearing a long black robe decorated with the Palestinian flag and with a keffiyeh scarf draped over her shoulder, Tahrir Hamad, 33, is leading a quiet revolution in the Palestinian society. On July 29, she became the first, and so far the only, woman appointed as a “mazouna,” a Muslim official authorized to carry out marriages and divorces. Until now in the Arab world, only Egypt and Abu Dhabi have appointed women to the post. The reason there are not more, she says smiling, is cultural rather than theological. “The only obstacle comes from our patriarchal society, because there is no religious or legal reason that prevents women from filling this post.”