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Muhammad v. Muhammad

Supreme Court of Mississippi
622 So. 2d 1239 (1993)


Robert Muhammad (plaintiff) and Debra Muhammad (defendant), who initially bore the surname Wilson, married in Michigan in 1983. In 1987, they moved to an Islamic community in Mississippi known as the University of Islam (University). At the time of the move, the couple had a baby; a second child was born the following year. Life at the University was very restrictive, especially for women: they were required to submit to their husbands and to breastfeed, and denied the ability to leave the area without permission or to make other decisions regarding their lives. Members of the community were restricted to a limited diet, with just one meal a day, and forbidden from using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Mail was censored and phone calls withheld. The Muhammad family lived in a single room. Mrs. Muhammad was unhappy at the University because of the conditions imposed. In 1989, with the help of her mother, Mrs. Muhammad left the University with the couple’s two children and moved back to Michigan. Mrs. Muhammad’s mother stated that her daughter was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Mr. Muhammad remained at the University. He filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion. Mrs. Muhammad countersued for divorce on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment. The chancellor of the trial court awarded a divorce in Mrs. Muhammad’s favor. Mr. Muhammad appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Banks, J.)

Dissent (Smith, J.)

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