Abstract

This article examines the legal bargaining of Armenian women in the dual Armenian and Islamic legal system in Aleppo. This study based on twenty-two cases of Armenian conversion to Islam informs how conversion, while rare, affected women who found themselves suddenly married to Muslim men and mothers of Muslim children. The archives document women who appeared in the sharia court seeking either to remain tied to their religious communities by resisting conversion or to escape unwanted marriages through conversion to Islam. Particular to Aleppo’s courts were Armenian women’s requests for Christian burial rites. This study shows that in some cases the sharia courts offered those converted women a legal option for divorce that was absent in Armenian canon law. The products of these conversions were hybrid Armenian-Muslim families, which challenge the often static presentation of Armenian identity.

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