Waheeda Amien


Room 6.41 - Kramer Law Building

BA LLB (Cape Town)

LLM (Western Cape)

PhD (Ghent)

Attorney of the High Court of South Africa
Family Law Mediator


Professor Waheeda Amien's research interests include Religious Family Laws, Gender Equality, Freedom of Religion, Culture, and Legal Pluralism. While her work includes Hindu, Jewish, and customary marriages, her focus is on Muslim Family Law. Her work advocating for the recognition and regulation of the consequences of Muslim marriages was used to form the foundational arguments in the seminal case of Women’s Legal Centre Trust v President of the Republic of South Africa 2022 (5) SA 323 (CC). It resulted in the Constitutional Court ordering the South African state to amend existing legislation or enact new legislation to recognise Muslim marriages and regulate their consequences.

Waheeda is a Member of the South African Law Reform Commission Advisory Committee Project 100E on the Review of Aspects of Matrimonial Property Law. She is also an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa (non-practising) and a Family Law Mediator.

Waheeda holds a South African National Research Foundation (NRF) C2 rating, which acknowledges her, “as an established researcher with a sustained recent record of productivity in the field who is recognised by her peers as having produced a body of quality work, the core of which has coherence and attests to ongoing engagement with the field, and who has demonstrated the ability to conceptualise problems and apply research methods to investigating them. She may also enjoy some international recognition for the quality and impact of her recent research outputs.”


Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • ‘Race-religious discrimination in South Africa’s Hindu marriages’ 118 American Journal of International Law Unbound (2024) 129-133.
  • ‘Freedom of religion and places of worship during Covid-19’, South African Journal on Human Rights (2022).
  • ‘Muslim Personal Law – Finding synergy with civil law’, in Rasool. E (ed) Living Where We Don’t Make the Rules. A Guide for Muslim Minorities (2022) 97.
  • Amien, W., Moosa, N. and Rautenbach C., ‘Religious, Personal and Family Law Systems’ in South Africa’ in C Rautenbach (ed) Introduction to Legal Pluralism in South Africa 6th edition (LexisNexis, 2021) 65-84.
  • Amien, W., Moosa, N. and Rautenbach C., ‘Muslim Personal Law’ in South Africa’ in C Rautenbach (ed) Introduction to Legal Pluralism in South Africa 6th edition (LexisNexis, 2021) 371-412. Updated about 50% of the chapter.
  • Amien, W. and Rajwani, K. ‘Equalizing gendered access to Jewish divorce in South Africa’, The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law, (2020) 1-18.
  • Judicial Intervention in Facilitating Legal Recognition (and Regulation) of Muslim Family Law in Muslim-Minority Countries. The Case of South Africa’, 1 (1) Journal of Islamic Law at Harvard Law School (2020) 65-114 (https://journalofislamiclaw.com/current/article/view/amien/amien)
  • ‘A discussion of Moosa no and others v Harnaker and others illustrating the need for legal recognition of Muslim marriages in South Africa’, 6(1) Journal of Comparative Law in Africa (2019) 115-130.
  • Amien, W., Moosa, N. and Rautenbach, C., ‘Religious, Personal and Family Law systems in South Africa’ in C Rautenbach (ed) Introduction to Legal Pluralism in South Africa 5th edition (LexisNexis, 2018) 61-76.
  • Amien, W., Moosa, N. and Rautenbach, C., ‘Muslim Personal Law’ in South Africa’ in C Rautenbach (ed) Introduction to Legal Pluralism in South Africa 5th edition (LexisNexis, 2018) 345-382.
  • Amien, W., Barratt, A. and Denson, R. ‘Religious Marriages’, in A Barratt (ed) Law of Persons and the Family 2nd ed (Pearson South Africa, 2017) 401-420.
  • ‘South African women’s legal experiences of Muslim personal law’, in Fielder. L and Topidi. K (eds) Religion as Empowerment – Global Legal Perspectives (Routledge, 2016) 53-77.
  • ‘Post-apartheid treatment of religious freedom in the South African public sphere’, in W Sullivan et al (eds) Politics of Religious Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 2015) 179-193.
  • ‘Arendse v Arendse and Others and Isaacs v Isaacs and Another’, Journal of Comparative Law in Africa, Volume 2 Number 1 (2015) 118-126.
  • ‘The recognition of religious and customary marriages and non-marital domestic partnerships in South Africa’, in J Eekelaar and R George (eds) Routledge Handbook of Family Law and Policy (Oxon: Routledge, 2014) 26-44.
  • Amien, W. and Leatt, DA. ‘Legislating Religious Freedom: An Example of Muslim Marriages in South Africa’, Maryland Journal of International Law, Volume 29 (2014) 501-547.
  • ‘The viability for women’s rights of incorporating Islamic inheritance laws into the South African legal system’, Acta Juridica (2014) 192-218. Also published as a chapter in M de Waal and M Paleker (eds) South African Law of Succession and Trusts. The past meeting the present and thoughts for the future (Cape Town: Juta, 2014) 192-218.
  • Amien, W. and Moosa N., ‘Religious Legal Systems in South Africa’ in C Rautenbach et al (eds) Introduction to Legal Pluralism 4th edition (LexisNexis, 2014) 55-88.
  • Amien, W., Moosa, N. and Rautenbach, C., ‘Islamic Law’ in C Rautenbach et al (eds) Introduction to Legal Pluralism 4th edition (LexisNexis, 2014) 349-394.
  • ‘Reflections on the recognition of African customary marriages in South Africa: Seeking insights for the recognition of Muslim marriages’, 13 Acta Juridica (2013) 357-384. Also published as a chapter in A Claassens and D Smythe (eds) Marriage, Land & Custom: Essays on Law and Social Change in South Africa (Cape Town: Juta, 2013) 357-384.
  • ‘Comparative Perspectives: South Africa’, in James Dingemans et al (eds) The Protections for Religious Rights: Law and Practice, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) 241-256.
  • ‘The Gendered Benefits and Costs of Legal Pluralism for Muslim Family Law in South Africa’ in Mavis Maclean and John Eekelaar (eds) Managing Family Justice in Diverse Societies (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013) 107-123.
  • ‘Politics of religious freedom in South Africa’ in The Immanent Frame. Secularism, Religion, and the Public Sphere (SSRC, 2012). Available at https://tif.ssrc.org/2012/07/24/politics-of-religious-freedom-in-south-africa/.
  • ‘A chronological overview of events leading up to the formulation of the Muslim Marriages Bill’ in (ed) Tayob, A. Muslim Marriages in South Africa: From Constitution to Legislation, (Cape Town: Centre for Contemporary Islam, University of Cape Town, 2011) 8-16.
  • ‘A South African case study for the recognition and regulation of Muslim family law in a minority Muslim secular context’, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 24:3 (2010) 361-396.
  • ‘Muslim Personal Law (MPL) in Canada: A case study considering the conflict between freedom of religion and Muslim women's right to equality’ in Eva Brems (ed) Conflicts between fundamental rights (Antwerp: Intersentia Publishers, 2008) 381-420.
  • ‘Overcoming the conflict between the right to religious freedom and women’s rights to equality - a South African case study of Muslim marriages’, Human Rights Quarterly 28 (2006) 729–754.
  • ‘Recent Developments in the Area of Women’s Rights in South Africa: Focus on Domestic Violence and Femicide’ in (eds) Jeremy Sarkin and William Binchy Human Rights: the Citizen and the State. South Africa and Irish Approaches (Ireland: Round Hall Sweet and Maxwell, 2001) 168-183.
  • Amien, W. and Paleker, M. ‘Women's Rights’, South African Human Rights Yearbook 1997 Vol 8 (2000) 321-390.

Edited Books and Special Issues

  • W Amien (ed) Religious Freedom in the Global South (Basel, Switzerland: MDPI, 2021) (ISBN 978-3-0365-2508-2 (Hbk) ISBN 978-3-0365-2509-9 (PDF). Pages: 230. Available at Religious Freedom in the Global South | MDPI Books. This book is a printed edition of the Special Issue published in the journal Religions: W Amien (Guest Editor), ‘Religious Freedom in the Global South’ 2019/2021 Religions 10(3) (https://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions/special_issues/ReligiousFreedomGlobalSouth) (ISBN: ISSN 2077-1444).
  • Amien, W. and Farlam, P. (eds) Basic human rights documents for South Africans (Cape Town: Law, Race and Gender Research Unit, University of Cape Town, 1998).

Book Reviews

  • Of Ezeanokwasa, Jude Oseloka. The Legal Inequality of Muslim and Christian Marriages in Nigeria. Constitutionally Established Judicial Discrimination (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2011). In Religion and Human Rights 7 (2012) 65-69.
  • Of Shabana, Ayman. Custom in Islamic Law and Legal Theory.  The Development of the Concepts of ‘Urf and ‘Ādah in the Islamic Legal Tradition (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).  In Journal for Islamic Studies 31 (2011) 123-125.

Waheeda further publishes in the print media including among others, the Daily Maverick, the Conversation, the Thinker, News24, the Star, Cape Argus, Rand Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Cape Times, the New Age, and Pambazuka News as well as community newspapers such as Muslim Views, The Plainsman, Athlone News, and IPRA E-Newsletter. She has been interviewed on television channels such as Cape Town TV, eNCA and SABC and is regularly interviewed on radio channels including SAFM, Cape Talk, Good Hope FM, Bush Radio, Voice of the Cape, Radio 786, Channel Islam, and Al-Ansaar. Waheeda has made numerous submissions to various ministries, government departments and the South African Law Reform Commission on the need to recognise and regulate Muslim marriages in South Africa and has provided expert opinions to law firms within South Africa and abroad as well as organisations within civil society, local government, the South African Commission on Gender Equality, and the United Nations Independent Expert on Minority Issues.

Keynote Addresses

  • ‘The potential implications of the proposed Single Marriage Statute for Muslim Family Law in South Africa’. Delivered at Faculty of Law, Howard Campus, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal for the Muslim Personal Law Network Workshop (6 July 2019).
  • ‘Gender-nuanced Integration of Muslim Personal Law in a Secular Legal Framework’. Delivered at the 3rd Annual Law and Development Research Network Conference (2018). Organised by the Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden University (19-21 September 2018).
  • ‘Overcoming Adversity - Embracing Empowerment’. Delivered to HERS-SA Academy. Held at the Doubletree Hilton Upper Eastside Hotel, Woodstock (11 September 2014).
  • Delivered at book launch of Najma Moosa Unveiling the mind. The legal position of women in Islam – a South African context 2nd ed (Cape Town: Juta, 2011) at the Centre for the Book, Cape Town (15 November 2011) and Timbuktu Bookshop, Cape Town (26 November 2011).
  • ‘The Muslim Marriages Bill and women’s rights’. Presented to the Orient Ladies’ Culture Group at Taronga Road Mosque Hall, Cape Town (02 June 2010).
  • ‘Muslim family law in South African Muslim communities’. Keynote address for the ‘It’s My Life Celebration’. Organised by the Independent Women’s Forum at the La Vendome Hotel, Sea Point, Cape Town (19 December 2009).
  • Waheeda also regularly presents academic papers at numerous conferences across the world.

Selected Awards/ Recognitions

  • Member of the South African Law Reform Commission Advisory Committee Project 100E: Review of Aspects of Matrimonial Property Law
  • National Research Foundation C2 rating (current)
  • Research Leadership Programme Fellowship Award, UCT (2022)
  • Academic Fellowship in Minority Studies, Institute of Human Rights, Abo Akademi University (November – December 2018)
  • National Research Foundation (NRF) Thuthuka Grant for ‘Muslim Personal Law and Human Rights’ (2013)
  • Received the UCT Law Faculty Research Excellence Award – First Prize (April 2012)
  • PhD thesis passed with an ‘A’ grade; not requiring any corrections (31 May 2011)
  • Awarded UCT Certificate of Recognition For Social Responsiveness (2011)
  • Received the UCT Law Faculty Research Excellence Award – Second Prize (November 2007)
  • Awarded Scholarship through Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds for Ph.D. (2003-2007)
  • Awarded Friederich Ebert Stiftung Foundation Scholarship for LLM (1997)
  • Deans Merit List, Final Year LLB, UCT (1995)

Academic Visits

  • Forthcoming Visiting Professor, University of Warwick (October 2024)
  • Visiting Fellow, Abo Akademi University (November – December 2018)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Helsinki (February 2018)
  • Visiting Professor, University of Maryland (January 2014)
  • Visiting Scholar, Queen Mary University of London (August – November 2013)
  • Visiting Scholar, University of Antwerpen (November 2013)

Member of Editorial and Advisory Boards / Committees

  • Associate Editor: Journal of Legal Pluralism and Critical Social Analysis (Taylor and Francis, 2022)
  • Editorial Board: South Asia Research (SAGE Journals, 2022)
  • Editorial Board: International Journal of Law and Society (Science Publishing Group, 2021 – current)
  • Editorial board: Mediation, Theory and Practice (UK: Equinox, 2014 - current)
  • Senior Editor: International Review of Human Rights Law (2020)
  • Advisory Board: Studying Law in a Global Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2018 - current)
  • Advisory Committee: Law and Society Association (African chapter) Conference (2016)
  • Editorial board: Contemporary Studies in Legal and Applied Research (University of Cape Town, 2012)
  • Editorial board: Handbook on family law and policy (UK: Routledge, 2012)

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Standing Panel on Social Sciences and Humanities (2019/2020-2022-2023)
  • Member of the Executive Body of the Commission on Legal Pluralism
  • Member of the Steering Committee of the International Network of Scholars Researching Unofficial Marriages
  • Member of the Law and Society Association
  • Member of the Oñati Research Committee on Sociology of Law
  • Member of the Cape Law Society (non-practising roll)

Reviewer for Journals

  • Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (2024)
  • International Journal of Law in Context (2023-2024)
  • Journal of Legal Pluralism and Critical Social Analysis (2015, 2024)
  • South Asian Review (2023)
  • South African Journal on Human Rights (2022)
  • Journal on Islamic Studies in South Africa (2022)
  • Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa (2020)
  • International Journal of Law in Context (2017)
  • Tydskrif vir Hedendaagse Romeins-Hollandse Reg / Journal for Contemporary Roman-Dutch Law (2016)
  • Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (2016)
  • Journal for Comparative Law in Africa (2014, 2016)
  • SADC Law Journal (2015)
  • International Journal on Law, Policy and the Family (2012, 2014, 2015)
  • Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (2014, 2015)
  • Acta Juridica (2013)
  • Journal for the Study of Religion Review (2012)
  • The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (2012)
  • Malawi Law Journal (2007)

Other Reviewing

  • Book proposal for Routledge (2023)
  • Thuthuka grant proposal for National Research Foundation (2017)
  • Funding proposals for the Law Schools Global League Seed Fund (2017, 2018)
  • Book proposal for Ashgate (presently Routledge) publishers (2013)
  • Grant proposal for the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESCR) (2009)
  • Book chapters for the Association of Women in Development (AWID) (2009)

Teaching and Supervision

Waheeda is involved in postgraduate supervision of Doctoral theses and Masters’ dissertations and convenes and teaches the following courses:


  • LLM course on International Protection of Human Rights, Department of Public Law, UCT
  • LLM course on Human Rights, Legal Pluralism, Religion and Culture, Department of Public Law, UCT


  • Foundations in South African Law (Interpretation of Statutes module), Department of Private Law, UCT
  • Certified online and self-paced course on Muslim Marriage Contracts, UCT Law @ Work (2021 - current). Available at Muslim marriage contracts | Law at Work (uct.ac.za).
  • Waheeda previously taught the following courses at UCT: African Customary Law (LLB, Department of Private Law), Constitutional Law (LLB 5YP, Department of Public Law), Business Law I and Business Law II (Department of Commercial Law).
  • She further taught Legal Process (LLB, Department of Criminal Justice and Procedure) at the University of the Western Cape, and Legal Pluralism and Human Rights in South Africa at the Universities of Maryland and Helsinki.
  • She has additionally given guest lectures and seminars at international institutions including the New York Law School, Queen Mary University of London, University of Antwerpen, University of Ghent, University of Lucerne, Abo Akademie University, McQuarie University, and the University of Melbourne.
  • She moreover teaches on the certified course on Legal Pluralism offered biennially by the Commission on Legal Pluralism.

Social Responsiveness

Waheeda provided pro bono legal services to indigent people through her involvement with the Southern Suburbs Legal Advice Centre, Cape Town and offered training on Muslim personal law and human rights issues to civil society organisations and government departments. She has also been involved in several non-governmental organisations including being a member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers of South Africa (NADEL); founding member and former Trustee of Shura Yabafazi (Consultation of Women'); founding member and former Chairperson of the South African Recognition of Muslim Marriages Forum; founding member, former Chairperson and former Board Member of Engender; founding member and former Chairperson of the Progressive Professionals Forum (Western Cape); and former Secretary of the Western Cape branch of NADEL.