By Petra Sijpesteijn (Leiden University) This essay is part of the Islamic Law Blog’s Roundtable on Islamic Legal History & Historiography, edited by Intisar Rabb (Editor-in-Chief) and Mariam Sheibani (Lead Blog Editor), and introduced with a list of further readings in the short post by Intisar Rabb: “Methods and Meaning in Islamic Law: Introduction." Two … Continue reading The continuum approach: Multiple legal solutions to run a diverse empire
By Yossef Rapoport The burying of the hatchets was part of the diplomatic culture among the Iroquois Five Nations of northeastern North America. In negotiating with outsiders, they refer to burying hatchets in a deep hole, over which they planted a tree to symbolize peace. This localized Iroquois custom was encountered by European settlers in … Continue reading Bury the Hatchet, Bedouin Style
By Yossef Rapoport In his introduction to his influential and widely-cited survey on tribal law in the Arab world, Frank Stewart posits that weak pre-modern Muslim states were unable to extinguish the customary laws of the Bedouin, and even allowed these customary laws to take hold in village communities. Following Schacht, Stewart leads us to … Continue reading On the Disinheritance of Women
By Yossef Rapoport Was custom a valid source of law for Muslim jurists? The straightforward, formal answer is no, as customary practice is not one of the classical four sources. But the historically-grounded answer, based on recent extensive scholarship, is that the Islamic legal tradition developed several mechanisms to grant approval to customary practices, even … Continue reading Whose Custom is it?
By Yossef Rapoport Recent scholarship on Islamic law tends to accord a positive value to custom. In Wael Hallaq’s compelling narrative, custom and customary law were the medium by which the universal principles of the Sharīʿa were localized and translated into the social order: "Having evolved over the millennia, and adapting to every political, dynastic and … Continue reading Problematizing Custom and Customary Laws