BILQIS is a five-year (2023-2028) European Research Council Consolidator Grant. The PI is Professor Roja Fazaeli, Irish Centre for Human Rights, University of Galway.

BILQIS investigates Muslim women’s access to justice in Europe by studying of how Muslim women in Europe have navigated questions of agency and authority from the long 19th century to the present day. Comparative studies are organized with general reference to the Ottoman Balkans and the contemporary states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden.

BILQIS interrogates how the gendered development of Islamic family laws (IFL) in each of these contexts can be better understood in order to produce new contextual, conceptual, and constructive knowledge that will advance access to justice.

In order to secure access to a full spectrum of justice for Muslim women across instruments of shari’a and civil law the contemporary stalemates around questions of legal pluralism, shari’a councils and councils of arbitration must be opened up by a new conceptual approach to Muslim women’s access to justice in Europe. BILQIS will work to do this by gaining perspective on these dynamics at Europe’s peripheries where historical IFL developments and new IFL possibilities will be compared. These studies, in coordination with the development of a new methodology to address gender gaps and power imbalances, will help reframe questions of Islamic leadership in relation to state structures in Europe and provide new conceptions of IFL that are historically informed, contextually relevant, and inclusive of women’s agency and authority.

BILQIS aims to resolve some of the more significant epistemic, conceptual and methodological impasses around shari’a, conflict of laws, and cultural pluralism in Europe, and will use the sum of this new knowledge to suggest a new methodological framework capable of helping transform the study of gender gaps and power imbalances related to agency and authority in other disciplinary, cultural, and political contexts.