This paper examines Muslim oaths found in Christian legal texts in late medieval and early modern Iberia, especially in the Crown of Aragon. Whereas lawmakers in Castile used Castilian to record Muslim oaths, in the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia these formulas appeared in Arabic, though written in Latin characters. This paper traces the evolution of these Arabic formulas during four centuries, from the abbreviated forms of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, such as “baylle ylloe,” to the more elaborate forms of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which include references to the qibla (the direction of prayer), the Qurʾān, and Ramadan. Comparing these formulas with those found in Muslim legal compilations produced in Christian Iberia shows that despite different emphases (on location, timing, and manner of oath taking), both Christian and Muslim legal texts recognized and established that Muslims swear by God. Although attitudes towards Muslims grew increasingly hostile in the latter Middle Ages, this analysis of Muslim oaths shows that Arabic continued to mediate the legal interaction between the two communities and that Islamic rituals, as mentioned in the oaths, were still very much a part of the multicultural landscape of late medieval and early modern Iberia.
Madrid Facultad de Derecho MS7068322; Luis María Marín Royo El Fuero de Tudela: unas normas de convivencia en la Tudela medieval para cristianos musulmanes y judíos (Tudela: L.M. Marín 2006). Translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
The first was a decree issued in1260May 3 from Uclés addressed to “todos los concejos alcaldes jurados aportillados omnes que nos pusiemos en las villas.” Francisco Martínez Marina Ensayo Histórico-Crítico sobre la antigua legislación de los Reynos de León y Castilla especialmente sobre el Código de las Siete Partidas (J. Ibarra 1808) 259. The second was a letter issued in 1260 June 21 from Córdoba addressed to the council of Úbeda. Manuel González Jiménez Diplomatario andaluz de Alfonso X (Sevilla: El Monte Caja de Huelva y Sevilla 1991) 249.
Melchert“The History of the Judicial Oath”312. To the question of whether an oath ought to be taken on the Qurʾān and inside the great mosque of Sousse the tenth-century Tunisian jurist al-Qābisī responded that pronouncing the standard oath was enough. However other Maliki scholars argued for the validity of swearing upon the Qurʾān. al-Wansharīsī’s Miʾyār Fes II 59; Vincent Lagardère Histoire et société en occident musulman au Moyen Ȃge: Analyse du Miʾyār d’al-Wansharīsī (Madrid: Casa de Velázquez 1995) 22; Ibn Abī Zayd Al-Qayrawānī Compendio de derecho islámico ed. Jesús Riosalido (Madrid: Editorial Trotta 1993) 107 187.
Melchert“The History of the Judicial Oath”311-312. Ramon de Penyafort in his Summa de penitentia 1.9.8 (col. 370) forbids Christians from using the Jewish or Muslim oath formulas when pronouncing their own. David M. Freidenreich “Muslims in Western Canon Law 1000-1500” in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History ed. David Thomas Alex Mallett Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala Johannes Pahlitzsch Mark Swanson Herman Teule and John Tolan 5 vols. (Leiden: Brill 2009-2013) 3:55-56. Najwa Al-Qattan has found similar oath formulas for dhimmīs in the records of sharīʿa courts of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ottoman Damascus. Al-Qattan “Dhimmis in the Muslim Court: Legal Autonomy and Religious Discrimination” International Journal of Middle East Studies 31 no. 3 (August 1 1999): 429-444 at 438 and footnote 47.
Joseph F. O’Callaghan“The Mudejars of Castile and Portugal in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries,” in Muslims Under Latin Rule 1110-1300ed. James M. Powell (Princeton nj: Princeton University Press 1990) 11-56 at 38-39.
Ferrandis“Rendición del Castillo de Chivert”29. Decree 25 of the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) describes what appears to be the Ḥajj thus: “ad locum insuper ubi olim quidam sepultus exstitit Sarracenus quem ut sanctum Sarraceni alii venerantur et colunt magna Sarracenorum earundem partium et etiam aliarum confluit publice multitudo ex quibus nostrae fidei non modicum detrahitur et grave in cordibus fidelium scandalum generatur.” Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils ed. Tanner 1:380.