Fatima Essop Visiting Fellow, AY 2022-2023
Fatima Essop is an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa and has practiced as an attorney (solicitor) and advocate (barrister) in the areas of public interest litigation, administrative law, environmental law, torts, and family law. She is an accredited family law mediator with experience in the area of Muslim family law. She holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) Law Faculty. Her thesis focused on the intersection between the Islamic laws of inheritance and the South African laws of inheritance. She has lectured on the Interpretation of Statutes in UCT’s Law Faculty.
Fatima also has a BA degree in Arabic and Islamic law from the International Peace College of South Africa (IPSA) and a Certificate in Islamic Finance from the ETHICA Institute of Islamic Finance based in the United Arab Emirates. She has a keen interest in how usūl al fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) and maqāsid al-sharīa (objectives of Islamic law) can be utilized to derive fair and just substantive rulings in various areas of contemporary fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence).
Her current research focuses on the practice of Muslim family law, by the Muslim minority community in South Africa. She has undertaken socio-legal, empirical research in the areas of Islamic divorce and inheritance in order to identify the disparities between the theory of law and the lived reality of the law, as experienced by the Muslim community in South Africa. She is a strong proponent of making the law accessible to ordinary lay people and was awarded the Yunus Mahomed Public Interest Award for her work in disseminating knowledge on the Islamic laws of marriage and divorce to the general public. During her Fellowship in the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, she will undertake a research project that will make the Islamic laws of marriage, divorce, and inheritance more accessible to legal practitioners, officials at Muslim judicial bodies and the lay public.