A Fatwā by al-Māzarī (d. 536/1141) on a Jewish Silk Merchant in Gafsa

In: Jewish-Muslim Relations in Past and Present
Author: Camilla Adang


This contribution presents and analyses a fatwā (legal opinion) issued by Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Māzarī (d. 536/1141), a well-known Tunisian scholar of Sicilian descent, concerning a Jewish silk trader who was accused of having obtained his merchandise by unlawful means. In the fatwā, apparently issued at the request of the qāḍī of Gafsa, al-Māzarī argues that since the accusers have been unable to produce incontrovertible proof, the Jewish defendant should be given the opportunity to clear himself of all suspicion by swearing an oath in the synagogue. By objectively applying the rules of evidence prevailing in Islamic law, al-Māzarī quashes the claim of the accuser, although he was in all likelihood a Muslim.