Family Law in Lebanon: Marriage and Divorce among the Druze by Lubna Tarabey
Much of the life and ritual of the Druze in Lebanon appears mysterious to outsiders, as this esoteric sect remains closed to non-members. Lubna Tarabey, herself a member of this community, is ideally placed to offer insight into the family life, tradition and religious practices of the Druze. She looks back to the 1970s, and the start of a civil war that shattered Lebanon along confessional lines, to explore how the substantial social and political changes that have shaken the country have affected marriage and divorce practices. Family Law in Lebanon highlights the social ramficiations of this civil war, as Lebanese society divided according to sectarian affiliations, strengthening this facet of identity to the detriment of a wider 'Lebanese' identification. It was through this process that the internal cohesion and solidarity of a group such as the Druze became even more important. Thus, for generations, the Druze way of life was characterized by a high degree of 'traditional' practices and customs. Examining the development of attitudes towards marriage and divorce uncovers the extent to which these traditions are being developed, negotiated and even cast aside. Through analysis of court records, Tarabey explores established and emerging patterns of marriage choices and grounds for divorce. She thus focuses on two interconnected trajectories: one that considers the changes in these overall family patterns and another that places these changes within the legal context in which they occur, focussing on the interplay between the social and the legal. It is through this that she highlights a complex web of change and continuity, of traditional values competing with enhanced individualism and personal freedoms.