The first female qadi in Israel’s shari`a (Muslim) courts: Nomos and narrative

Tanya Zion-Waldoks, Ronit Irshai, Bana Shoughry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Given the multifaceted obstacles facing Palestinian Muslim women in Israel, this article aims to understand what enabled the impressive sea change marked by the 2017 appointment of a Palestinian Muslim woman to the position of qadi (judge in a Muslim Shari’a court of law). The article describes some of the events leading up to this historic moment and analyzes what led to this shift in policy. The 2017 appointment is a groundbreaking achievement for the feminist struggle of Palestinian women in Israel, which primarily affects the status of Muslim women, yet it also impacted Jewish Israeli women. As understood all too well by ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) elements who hold sway in Israeli politics and strongly objected to the move, allowing Muslim women to serve in this role threatens male hegemony within the state-run rabbinic courts as well, where Jewish women are currently barred from serving as judges [dayanot]. This article analyzes the legal struggles of Muslim and Jewish feminists in Israel via Robert Cover’s theoretical perspective of nomos and narrative, which explores links between sociocultural and legal transformation. Applying Irshai and Zion-Waldoks’s concept of a narrative ripeness test, our analysis sheds light on complex processes involved in struggles for Palestinian women’s rights in Israel who, as a minority within a minority, must overcome multiple intersecting layers of discrimination. The article argues Jewish and Muslim cases interconnect—to women’s detriment or benefit—yet when women achieve rights for themselves, the principle of gender equality can potentially be expanded to benefit others as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-261
Number of pages33
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Activism
  • Israel
  • Jewish feminism
  • Jewish law
  • Muslim feminism
  • Shari’a
  • Social change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies


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