Islamic Law as Indigenous Law: Sharīʿa Courts in Israel from a Postcolonial Perspective

In: Legal Pluralism in Muslim Contexts
Ido Shahar
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This chapter offers a post-colonial perspective on sharı̄ʿa courts in Palestine/Israel. It argues that the transformations in these courts from the late nineteenth century onwards are reminiscent of transformations that occurred in indigenous or “customary” law in colonial settings. More specifically, these courts underwent processes of modernisation, bureaucratisation, systematisation and subordination of the sharı̄ʿa to state hegemony. It is further argued that sharı̄ʿa courts in Israel – like “indigenous” legal institutions in colonial settings – have come to constitute, at one and the same time, an instrument of state hegemony and control and an arena of indigenous resistance. This argument is briefly illustrated with examples from the sharı̄ʿa courts of Beersheba and Jerusalem.

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