Early Abbasid qadis were appointed not only to dispense justice but also to manage properties. They needed, therefore, to know the business of their district’s population, and their integration into local society facilitated their understanding of social dynamics. However, their membership in local and tribal networks could threaten their judicial neutrality. How could the relations a qadi maintained with his social environment be reconciled with the imperatives of Islamic justice? This article proposes that two types of solutions were experimented with. On the administrative level, qadis designated from outside their judicial district reduced the influence of their family and tribal networks, which led them to rely on new networks, through professional witnesses in particular. At the same time, Islamic legal theory came to discuss a qadi’s ability to base his legal judgment on his personal knowledge of a case, which allowed defining a strict separation between a qadi’s social individuality and his judicial function.
Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānīRafʿ al-iṣr ʿan quḍāt Miṣr ed. by ʿAlī MuḥammadʿUmarCairo: Maktabat al-Khānjī1998; French translation by Mathieu Tillier Vies des cadis de Miṣr (257/851-366/976): Extrait du Rafʿ al-iṣr ʿan quḍāt Miṣr d’Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī Cairo: Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale 2002