Qadis and Their Social Networks: Defining the Judge’s Neutrality in Abbasid Iraq

in Journal of Abbasid Studies
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Abstract

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.

Qadis and Their Social Networks: Defining the Judge’s Neutrality in Abbasid Iraq

in Journal of Abbasid Studies

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