Shari‘a and Qanun in Egyptian Law: A Systems Theory Approach to Legal Pluralism

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Shari‘a and Qanun in Egyptian Law: A Systems Theory Approach to Legal Pluralism

in Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law Online


  • 1AnIntmductionto"IslamicLaw, Oxford, 1964, p. 1.

  • 2Al-qanunal-madani, promulgated as Law 131/1948. 3 Ziadeh, Lawyers, the Rule of Law and Liberalism in Modern Egypt, Stanford, 1968, p. 146. 4 Published as special issue of theMadbatatMajlis al-Sha'b [Proceedings of the People's Assembly] under the tideAl-mudhakkira al-idahiyya lil-iqtirah bi-mashru' al-qanun al-madani tibgan li-ahkam al-shari'a al-Islamiyya, Cairo, 1982. 5The terms "traditional"/"modern" law are everything but satisfactory. Nevertheless, they will be employed for the purpose of this paper as there is no better alternative. The terms "indigenous law"/"state law", for example, ignore the fact that "indigenous" legal systems may have been administered by the state as well. The notion "colonial" law (to denote "modern"/"state" law) disregards the fact that particularly in the Middle East law reform was not necessarily tied to colonial rule. Moreover, the term "customary law" cannot be applied to Islamic law because the principles of Islamic law (ahkam al-shari`a al-Islamiyya) are strictly distinguished from customary law ('urf). Finally, Islamic law cannot be described as "unofficial" law because it used to be administered by the state and produced a vast body of legal literature. 6 See previous note. See already Schacht, "Shari'a und Qanun im modernen Agypten", Der Islam, 30, 1932, pp. 209-236; recent studies based on this paradigm include: Rayner, The Theory of Contracts in Islamic Law: A Comparative Analysis with Particular Reference to the Modern Legislation in Kuwait, Bahrain and The United Arab Emirates, London, Dordrecht, Boston, 1991; Amereller, Hintergrilnde des "Islamic Banking". Recbtlicbc Problematik des riba-Verbotes in der Shari`a und seine Aunvirkungen auf einzelne Rechtsordnungen arabischer Staaten, Berlin, 1995. 8For a survey of literature on the "classical version" of legal pluralism (produced by research on colonial and post-colonial legal systems) and "new legal pluralism" (studies applying the concept of legal pluralism to the industrial societies of Europe and North America) see Merry, "Legal pluralism", Law and Society Review, 22, 1988, pp. 869-896; Griffiths, "What is legal pluralism?", Journal ofLegal Pluralism, 24, 1986, pp. 1-55. E.g. Hooker's comprehensive survey of "colonial" and "neo-colonial" laws (Legal Pluralism: An Introduction to Colonial and Neo-Colanial Laws, Oxford, 1975) does deliberately omit the legal systems of the (Arab) Middle East (see p. 361). However, he deals briefly with French colonial law in Algeria (see pp. 203-216).

  • 10 For an overview over theoretical approaches in the field of Middle Eastern law in general (including the application of the concept of legal pluralism) cf. Botiveau, "Droit islamique. Du pofitique a I'anthropologique", Drait et Socieii, 15, 1990, pp. 161-174. 1� E.g. J. N. D. Anderson, "The shari'a and civil law", The IslamicQuarterly, 1, 1954, pp. 29-46; Brugman, De betehenis van het mohammedaanse recht in hethedendaagse Egypte, s' Gravenhage, 1960, pp. 157-161; Chehata, "Les survivances musulmanes dans la codification du droit civil egyptien", Revue international de droit compare, 17, 1965, pp. 839-853; Hill, "Al-Sanhuri and Islamic law",Arab LawQuarterly, 3, 1988, pp. 3 3-64, 182-218; Linant de Bellefonds, "Le droit musulman et le nouveau code civil egyptien", Revue algerienne, tunisienne et marocaine de legislation et de jurisprudence, 72, 1956, pp. 211-222; Ziadeh, Lawyers, p. 146. 12 E.g. Edge, "Shari'a and commerce in contemporary Egypt", in Mallat (ed.), Islamic Law and Finance, London/Dordrecht/Boston, 1988, pp. 31-55. �3 Botiveau, Ioi islamique et droit dans les sociitis arahes. Mutations des systèmes juridiques du Moyen Orient, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, 1993. 14 On social autopoiesis in general see Luhmann, Soziale Systeme. Grundri�3 einer allgemeinen Theorie, paperback edn., Frankfurt, 1987. ls On autopoietic law in general see Luhmann, Dos Recht der Gesellschaft, Frankfurt, 1993; Luhmann, "Operational closure and structural coupling: the differentiation of the legal system", Cardozo Law Review, 13, 1992, pp. 1419-1441; Teubner, Law as an Autopoietic System (transl. Bankowska et al.), Oxford, 1993; Teubner, "How the law thinks: towards a constructivist epistemology of law", Law and Society Iteview, 23, 1989, pp. 727-757. 16 See e.g. Teubner (ed.), Autopoietic Law: A New Approach to Law and Society, Berlin/New York, 1988. 17 See e.g. Teubner, Law, pp. 64-99; Teubner and Febbrajo (eds.), State, Law, and Economy as Autopoietic Systems: Regulation and Autonomy in a New Perspective, Milan, 1992 and Teubner, Farmer and Murphy (eds.), Environmental Law and Ecological Responsibility: The Concept and Practice ofecological Self-Organization, Chichester, New York, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore, 1994. 18 However see Teubner, "The two faces of Janus: rethinking legal pluralism", Cardozo Law Review, 13, 1992, pp. 1443-1462.

  • �9 Teubner, Autopoietic Law. zo Not to speak of the criticism whether the concept of autopoiesis, originally developed in the field of biology, can be transferred to social sciences in general and the law in particular. See, for example, Rottleutner, "Biological metaphors in legal thought", in Teubner ,Autoj�oietic Law, pp. 97-127; Lempert, "The autonomy of law: two visions compared", in Teubner, Autopoietic Law, pp. 152-190; Zolo, "The epistemological status of the theory of autopoiesis and its applications to the social sciences", in Teubner and Febbrajo (eds.), State, Law and Economy, pp. 67-124. zl Luhmann, Soziale Systeme.

  • zz Cf. note 15. z; Cf. Luhmann, Recbt der Gesellschaft, Chapters 2 and 10. z4 Teubner, Autopoietic Law, 2S Cf note 17. 26 Merry, "Legal pluralism", p. 870. 27 Teubner, "Rethinking legal pluralism", p. 1451.

  • zs Chehata, Droit Musulman: Applications au Proche-Orient, Paris, 1970, p. 7; Anderson, Law Reform in theMuslim World, London, 1976, p. 1. z9 E.g. Schacht, Introduction, pp. 4, 203. 3o Wichard, Zwischen Markt und Moschee. WirxschaJ3liche Bediirfnisse und religidse Anforderungen im fruhen islamischen Vertragsrecht Paderborn, Miinchen Wien, Ziirich, 1995, p. 81. 31 Weber, Wirtschaft und GesellschaJt. Grundriss der verstehenden �oz;o/�M, 5th edn., Tiibingen, 1972, p. 564. For a critique of the Weberian conceptualization of Islamic law see Schacht, "Zur soziologischen Betrachtung des islamischcn Rechts", Derlslam, 22, 1935, pp. 207-238; Makdisi, "Formal rationality in Islamic law and the common law", Cleveland State Law Review, 34, 1985-86, pp. 97-112; Crone, "Max Weber, das islamische Recht und die Entstehung des Kapitalismus", in Schluchter (ed.), Max Weben Sicht des Islam, Frankfurt, 1987, pp. 294-333; Schneider, Das Bild des Ricbters in der "Adab al-Qadi"-Literatur, Frankfurt, Bern, New York, Paris, 1990, pp. 248-252.

  • 3z E.g. Zweigert and Kotz, An Introduction to Comparative Law, 2nd edn. (transl. Weir), quoted according to paperback edn., Oxford, 1992, pp. 331-334; David, Lesgrands rystemes de droit contemporains, 8th edn., Paris, 1982, pp. 464-471. 33 Zweigert and Kotz, Introduction, pp. 329-334. 34 Chehata, Droit musulman, p. 7. For a case study see e.g. Powers, "Kadijustiz or Qadi-justice? A paternity dispute from fourteenth century Morocco", Islamic Law and Society, 1, 1994, pp. 332-366. For an examination of the interplay of various genera of legal literature sec Johansen, "Legal literature and the problems of change: the case of land rent", in Mallat (ed.), Islam and Public Lam, London, Dordrecht, Boston, 1993, pp. 29-47; Hallaq, "From Fatwas to Furu': growth and change in Islamic substantive law", Islamic Law and Society, 1, 1994, pp. 29-65. 3s Schacht, Introduction, p. 209. 36 Chehata, Etudes de droit musulman, 2 vols., Paris 1971-1973, vol. 1, pp. 34-42; Linant de Bellefonds, Traiti de droit musulman comparé, 3 vols., Paris, 1965-1973, vol. 1, pp. 31-34. 37 Weber, Wirtschaft und GesellschaJl, pp. 563-564. 38 Schacht, Introduction, pp. 120-121; Linant de Bellefonds, Traite, vol. 1, pp. 78-115. 39 Linant de Bellefonds, Traitd, vol. 1, pp. 83-85; Schacht, Introduction, pp. 121-123; Johansen, "Die siindige, gesunde Amme. Moral unde gesetzliche Bestimmung im islamischen Recht", Welt deslslams, 28, 1988, pp. 264-282 (at pp. 267-273).

  • 4o Cf. Teubner, Law, pp. 21, 30-36. 41 Luhmann, "Operational closure", p. 1431. 42 Cf. Linant de Bellefonds, Traité, vol. 1, p. 32. 43 Ziadeh, Lawyers, pp. 13-14; Shihata [Chchatal, Al-ta'tikh al-'amm lil-qanunfi Misr al-gadima wa-'l-haditha, n.p., n.d., pp. 402-406. '� Cf. Cannon, Politics of Law and Courts in Nineteenth Century Egypt, Salt Lake City, 1988; Hoyle, Mixed Courts ofEgypt, London, 1991; Brinton, TheMixed Courts ofEgypt, rev. edn., New Haven, 1968; Roberson, "The emergence of the modern judiciary in the Middle East", in Mallat (ed.), Islam and Public Law, London, Dordrecht, Boston, 1993, pp. 107-139. 4s Cf. Ziadeh, Lawyers, pp. 30-34; Shihata, Al-ta'rikh, pp. 421-432; Anderson, "Law reform in Egypt 1850-1950", in Vatikiotis (ed.), Revolution in theMiddle East and Other Case Studies, London, 1972, pp. 14Cr176. 46 Cf. Linant de Bellefonds, "Immutabifit6 du droit musulman et rdformes legislatives en Egypte", Revue internationale de droit compare, 7, 1955, pp. 5-34.

  • 4� Cf. Brinton, TheMixed Courts, pp. 87-96; Hoyle,Mixed Courts, pp. 15-21; Ziadeh, Lawyers, pp. 28, 35. 48 In 1955 the shari'a courts were abolished by Law 462/1955. 49 See e.g. Qadr[,�4/- 3rd edn., Cairo, AH 1329, Art. 582, ss. (1) and (2).

  • 50 For an overview see Badawi, "La transmission hereditaire en droit musulman", L'Egypt contemporaine, 5, 1914, pp. 14—40. s� Bulletin de legislation et de jurisprudence egyptiennes. Table alphabétique des sommaires des arrits et jugements, 5 vols., Alexandria, 1926-1939, vol. 1, p. 349, Case 4484 (6 February 1896); see also e.g. ibid. Case 4488 (15 December 1897); ibid. Case 4490 (19 January 1898); ibid., vol. 2, p. 396, Case 4231 (13 June 1900); ibid., vol. 3, p. 566, Case 6204 (11 February 1914). sz See e.g. Bulletin, vol. 1, p. 348, Case 4480 (4 March 1891) stating "En droit musulman, les heritiers ne repondent de la dette de leur auteur que dans la mesure de leur quote-part hereditaire ... not taking into consideration that - strictly speaking - such a case can impossibly arise under Islamic law: prior to the settlement of the debts the heirs are not entitled to the estate. Therefore there is no room for a personal liability of the heirs for the debts of the prepositus" (cf. Badawi, "Transmission hereditaire", pp. 32-33). s3 In particular Clavel, Le Wakf ou habous d'apres la doctrine et la jurisprudence, 1896; Statut personnel et succession en droit musulman. s4 E.g. Schacht, Introductian, pp. 94-99. Cf. M. R. Anderson, "Islamic law and the colonial encounter in British India", in Mallat and Connors (eds.), Islamic Family Law, London, Dordrecht, Boston, 1991, pp. 205-223; Christelow, Mudim Law Coum and the French Colonial State inAlgeria, Princeton, 1985. The transformation of Islamic law under the impact of colonial legal administration parallels observations concerning the transformation of "custom" and "customary law" in African law. Recent scholarship in African law argues that "customary law" was a product of the colonial encounter, i.e. nothing but a construct of the colonial legal system (see, for example, Snyder, "Colonialism and legal form: the creation of `customary law' in Senegal", Journal ofLegal Pluralism, 19, 1981, pp. 49-90; Chanock, Law, Custom and Social Order: The Calonial Experience in Malawi and Zambia, Cambridge, 1985, and the various contributions in The Construction and Transfonnation ofAfrican Customary Lawjournal of African Law, 28, 1984, nos. 1 and 2).

  • ss At least according to die majority opinion, Bakhit, Fi ahkam al-sawkurtah, quoted in al-Qilqili, "`and al-ta'min", p. 425, in Abu Zahra (ed.), Usbu` al-fegh al-Islami wa mahrajan al-imam Ibn Taymiyya, Damascus, 1961, pp. 417-432; al-Jabali, "Sharikat al-ta'min 'ala'l-hayah", Nur al- Islam, 1, AH 1349, pp. 679-681; al-Sadfi, fatwa in Wizarat al-Awqaf (ed.),Al-fatawa al- Islamiyya min Dar al-Ifta' al-Misriyya, vol. 4, Cairo, 1981, pp. 1399-1400. Cf. on insurance under Islamic law, e.g. Nallino, "Delle assicuracioni in diritto musulmano hanafito", Oriente Moderno, 7, 1927, pp. 446-461; Mankabady, "Insurance and Islamic law: the Islamic insurance company", Arab Law Quarterly, 4, 1989, pp. 199-205; Klingmiiller, "Einige Bemerkungen zur Behandlung der Versicherung in der neuen islamischen Rechtsliteratur", Yersicherungsrecht, 1967, pp. 303-306. sb On the prohibition of aleatory contracts (contracts that containgharar) in general cf. Saleh, Unlawful Gain and Legitimate Profit in Islamic Law: Riba, Gharar and Islamic Banking, 2nd edn., London, Dordrecht, Boston, 1992, pp. 62-106; Wichard, Zwischen Markt und Moschee, pp. 148-179. s� Al-Mahkama al-'Ulya al-Shar`iyya, al Muhamab, 7, 1926-1927, p. 937 Case No. 545 (27.12.1906). Cf. the cases referred to in A. F. A1 Sanhoury, "Insurance", pp. 288-289, in Al Azhar, Academy of Islamic Research (ed.), The Seventh Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, Cairo, 1973, pp. 283-312. 58 The Codes of the Mixed and National Courts did not contain any provisions concerning insurance with the exception of maritime insurance (Arts. 173-234 Code de CommerceMaritime Indigene; Arts. 173-234 Code de CommerceMaritimeMixte). The courts therefore relied on the terms of the policy or applied general rules. Cf. Wahl and Malache, Droit commercial Egyptien. Miscte et indigène, vol. 2, Alexandria, 1936, pp. 49-113. s9 Bulletin, vol. 2, p. 53, Case 571 (11 February 1900). See also ibid., p. 54, Case 572 (28 November1901); ibid., vol. 3, p. 63, Case 714 (7 April 1910); ibid., vol. 5, p. 86, Case 25 (14 May 1938). 60 Bulletin, vol. 1, p. 44, Case 562 (25 April 1895).

  • 61 Inspired by Mallat, The Renewal of Islamic Law: Muhammad Baqer as-Sadr, Najaf and the Shi'i International, Cambridge, 1993. 62 On family law see e.g. Schacht, "Shari'a und Qanun"; Anderson, Law Reform, pp. 100-162; Linant de Bellefonds, "Immutabilité du droit musulman"; Coulson, History, pp. 163-217; Botiveau, Loi islamigue, pp. 190-200; Hatem, "The enduring alliance of nationalism and patriarchy in Muslim personal status laws: the case of modern Egypt", Feministlssues, 6, 1986, pp. 19-43. 63 On the process of drafting the Civil Code see Ziadeh, Lawyers, pp. 123-147; Hill, "A]-Sanhuri and Islamic law", pp. 182-184. � Al-Sanhuri, Nazariyyat al-'aqd, 1936, quoted according to Al-Sanhuri, Al-warit fi sharh al-qanun al-madani, 3rd edn., Cairo, 1981, vol. 1/1, p. 10; similar Sufi Abu Talib, Tatbig al-shari`a al- Islamiyya fi'l-bilad al-'arabiyya, 4th edn., Cairo, 1992, pp. 5-6. On the "Egyptianization" of the law (tamsir al-qanun) cf. Brugmann, Betekenis, pp. 151-157; Ziadeh, Lawyers, p. 136; Botiveau, Loi ulamique, p. 148. 65 On �te importance of Islam as "new foundation" of Egyptian nationalism after the failure of the liberalist concept cf. Johansen, Muhammad Husain Haikal. Europa und der Orient im Weltbild eines dgyptiscben Liberalen, Beirut, 1967, pp. 160-212; Gershoni and Jankowski, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search for Egyptian Nationhood,1900-1930, New York, Oxford, 1986, pp. 256-269. bb Cf Zweigert and K6tz, Introduction, pp. 144-146.

  • b� On the paradoxes of nationalism in general cf. B. Anderson, Imagines Communities: Reflection on the Origin and Spread ofNationalism, 2nd edn., London, New York, 1991, p. 5. bs Sanhoury [al-Sanhuri], Le califat. Son evolution vers une société des nations orientales, Paris, 1926, pp. 580-581; idem, "Le droit musulman comme element de refonte du code civil égyptien", in Introduction a l'étude du droit compare. Recueil d'itudes en /�OMWM� d'Edouard Lambert, Paris, 1938, vol. 2, pp. 621-642. 69 See e.g. Linant de Bellefonds, Traiti, vol. 1. pp. 54-57; Saleh, "Definition and formation of contract under Islamic and Arab laws", Arab LawQuarterly, 5, 1990, pp. 101-116; Chchata, Théoriegénerale de lobli�ation en droit musulman banifite, Paris, 1969, p. 41; Wichard, Zwischen Markt und Moschee, p. 235. 70 Qadri, Kitab murshid al-hayran ila ma'rifat ahwal al-insanfil-muamalat al-sbatiyya, 3rd edn., Cairo, 1891. 71 Qadri, Murshid al-hayran, for instance, contains a chapter on contracts in general (ICitab al-'uqud 'ala'l-'umum, Arts. 168-248). However, this chapter is not a general theory of contract proper. The general principles concerning consent, etc. are reiterated when Qadri deals with the various nominate contracts. The systematic task of developing a coherent system of general rules applicable to obligations in general remains as yet untackled. 72 Al-Sanhuri, Masadir al-haqq fi'l-fiqh al-Islami. Dirasa muqarina bil-fiqh algharbi, reprint, Cairo, n.d., vol. 1, p. 1 and also Chehata, Théorie générale, p. 46. Cf. on the influence of comparative jurisprudence Botiveau, Loi islamique, pp. 98-99; Hill, "Al-Sanhuri and Islamic law", pp. 44-5 1. �3 On life and work of Al-Sanhuri see Hill, "Al-Sanhuri and Islamic law". �4 See note 71. 'S Cf. Linant de Bellefonds, "Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanhuri: Masadir al-haqq fil-fiqh al-Islami", Revue internationale de droit comparé, 10, 1958, pp. 476-479 and 11, 1959, pp. 633-639.

  • Al-Sanhuri, Masadir al-haqq, vol. 1/1, p. 1. " Such a link between the elaboration of abstract legal concepts and an adaptation of the law to changing economic conditions has already been pointed out by Max Weber who argues in favour of a similar development in the field of Roman law (Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, p. 466). '$ Other pressing issues where Al-Sanhuri adapted the principles of traditional Islamic law to what he perceived as the requirements of a modern (capitalist) economy include a limitation of the restrictions Islamic law imposes on aleatory transactions (Masadir al-haqq, vol. 1/3, pp. 54-58) and transactions that contain the stipulation of interest (ibid., vol. 1/3, pp. 269-272). 79 The majority of Islamic jurists of the classical era did not acknowledge freedom of contract. Instead, transactions had to be concluded in accordance with the nominate contracts provided for by Islamic law (cf. Linant de Bellefonds, Traiti, vol. 1, pp. 224-242; Schacht, Introduction, p. 144; Chehata, "Le concept de contrat en droit musulman , Arcbives de philosophie du droit, 13, 1968, pp. 129-141; Wichard, Zwischen Markt und Moschee, pp. 231-255. Al-Sanhuri, Masadiral-haqq, vol. 1/1, p. 81.

  • 81 See notes 64 and 65. az Cf e.g. Mallat, Renewal, pp. 1-7 ("Law as Lingua Franca"); Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, London, 1969, pp. 223-224, 234-245, 260; Brugman, Betekenis, pp. 130-150. 83 Cf. Linant de Bellefonds, "Kanun", The Encyclopedia of Islam, new edn., vol. 4, Leiden, 1987, pp. 556-557. a4 On the so-called Ottoman Civil Code (The Majallat al-ahkam al-'adliyya) cf. Onar, "The Majalla" in Khadduri and Liebesney (eds.), Lam in the Middle East, vol. 1, Washington, 1955, pp. 292-308; Tedeschi, "Le centenaire de la majalla", Revue internationale de droit compare, 21, 1969, pp. 125-133. ss E.g. Anderson, "The shari'a and civil law"; Botiveau, Loi islamique, pp. 288-291; Brugman, Betekenis, pp. 157-164; Chehata, "Les survivances musulmanes"; Hill, "Al-Sanhuri and Islamic law", pp. 185-190; Linant de Bellefonds, "Le droit musulman"; Ziadeh, Lawyers p. 146 (all on the Civil Code (1948)) and Brinton, TheMixed Courts, pp. 87-96; Hoyle,Mixed Courts, pp. 15-21 (on the Codes of the Mixed Courts). sb Cf. note 2. 87 Cf. note 4. ee Cf. on the debate concerning the application of Islamic law Botiveau, Loi islamique, pp. 271-302; Peters, "Divine law or man-made law? Egypt and the application of the shari'a", Arab LawQuarterly, 3, 1988, pp. 231-251; Edge, "Shan and commerce"; Najjar, "The application of sharia law in Egypt", Middle East Policy, 1, 1992, pp. 62-73; Flores, "Secularism, integralism and political Islam: the Egyptian debate", Middle East Report, July/August 1993, pp. 32-38.

  • s9 Cf. note 56. 90 Cf. on the sharikat al-mudaraba Saleh, Unlawful Gain, pp. 126-143; Udovitch, Partnership and Profit in Medieval Islam, Princeton, 1970, pp. 170-248. 91 Al-mudhahkira al-idahiyya, p. 295. The prohibition ofgharar is generally restricted to bilateral contracts (cf. Ai-Sanhuri,Af vol. 1/3, p. 54; Saleh, Unlawful Gain, pp. 70-75). 9z The conseil d'administration is the board of directors of a joint stock company under French company law. Its members are nominated by the general assembly of the share holders. The conseil d'adminiszration is in charge of running the company (cf. Ripert and Roblot, TrRité de droit commercial, 14th edn., Paris, 1991, vol. 1, pp. 955-1000).


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