Abstract

The social malaise produced by thousands of children born out of wedlock and abandoned is widely understood in the Maghreb. It has opened a breach in traditional Islamic legal discourses as well as social practices regarding the establishment of filiation in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. Analysis of Islamic jurisprudence and opinions, court decisions, and state laws since 1999 shows that the crisis of abandoned children combined with the biological truth revealed by DNA testing have helped produce a paradigm shift. Islamic legal opinions now argue for the need to grant paternal filiation and rights for children born out of wedlock in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Majority juristic opinions do not always determine state legal practices, and contemporary Islamic legal positions are neither monolithic nor static.

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