Upcoming Seminar on Family/Personal Status Law in Egypt

Sent On: 
Sun, 2023-07-09
Newsletter Number: 

On Thursday, June 15th, I visited Professor ʿEīd Salāḥ at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo located in the historic ʿAbbāsiyya neighborhood. Founded in 1863 by Presbyterian missionaries, ETSC is one of the leading institutions in Egypt for training in Christian theology and ministry. Professor Salāḥ researches and teaches on early Arab Christianity and church policy. He is also the senior pastor at ʿAyn Shams Presbyterian Church.


(With Professor Salāḥ in the ETSC library.)


The primary reason for the meeting was to discuss with Professor Salāḥ an upcoming colloquium on family law in Egypt, often referred to as personal status law (al-aḥwāl al-shakhṣiyya). Although this terminology can be confusing for Western audiences, these categories refer to the way Egyptian law handles marriage, divorce, remarriage, inheritance, alimony, child custody, and other issues related to family or domestic life. On several of these issues (e.g. marriage and divorce), Egyptian law permits Christians and Muslims to practice according to their own religious principles. But even this can become complicated when those involved come from different Christians traditions (e.g. Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant) which have contrasting views about divorce and remarriage or in those less common cases when both a Muslim and a Christian are involved. On other issues, most notably inheritance law, the state has generally followed Islamic legal principles whether the individuals involved are Muslim or Christian, although this has started to shift somewhat in recent years. It is widely reported in local media that the Egyptian government will enact revised family law/personal status law regulations in the coming months. It should be noted that similar legal traditions are found in many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. 


Dialogue Across Borders will be convening experts on family law from the primary Christian denominations in Egypt in late summer or early fall in order to gain deeper insight into these important questions. We are profoundly grateful to Professor Salāḥ for sharing his expertise as we make preparations for the colloquium. 


With best wishes,


Matthew Anderson

Executive Editor

Dialogue Across Borders


July 9, 2023