The Evolution of Third-Party Mediation in Sharīʿa Courts in 19th- and early 20th-century Central Asia

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient


While in the Ottoman Empire reconciling disputing parties in sharīʿa courts occurred without the direct involvement of state officials, in modern Central Asia functionaries appointed by the ruler’s chancellery acted as mediators and mediation procedures were consistent with the state’s intervention in the resolution of a conflict. This ended with Russian colonization. Conflict resolution was left to the sharīʿa courts; mediation continued to be important but state appointees were no longer officially involved in bringing it about. The Russian colonial and Soviet administrations made the community responsible for seeking amicable settlements. Only afterwards did they realize how easy this made it for local groups to circumvent the state’s supervision.

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