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Peters, Rudolph

Rudolph Peters

Abstract

Until the introduction of French law in 1883, Egyptian criminal law during the nineteenth century had been governed by both statute law and Islamic law. The criminal codes were enforced by administrative and judicial bodies called majālis or councils; Islamic law was applied by the qadi. In this article, I define the qadi's competence in criminal matters and analyze his role and function as revealed in the texts of the criminal codes and nineteenth-century court records preserved in Egyptian archives. I conclude that the judicial councils dealt with criminal offenses from the point of view of public order and security and that the main task of the qadi was the adjudication of private claims connected with crime. Such claims were either punitive (e.g., retribution for manslaughter, punishment for violation of a person's honor), or financial (bloodmoney, revindication of stolen property).

Rudolph Peters

Abstract

Until now, the first criminal legislation promulgated by Mehmed Alī has been available only in an unreliable Arabic summary. In this essay, I edit and translate the original Ottoman Turkish text, as found in the Egyptian National Archive. The edition and translation are preceded by an analysis of the code in which I argue (1) that this code is best regarded as an expression of Mehmed Alī's attempt to centralize and rationalize the governmental apparatus and the administration of justice, in order to tighten his control over Egypt; and (2) that the document can be read as an articulation of the perceived social distance between the Turkish-speaking ruling class and other groups in Egyptian society.

Rudolph Peters

Abstract

An analysis of fatwas issued by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Muhammad al'Abbāsī al-Mahdī (d. 1897), and of related legal texts, indicates that during the second half of the nineteenth century, the Grand Mufti played an increasingly important role in ensuring the correct and uniform application of Hanafi law, thereby preventing him from serving as an agent of legal change.

Rudolph Peters

Abstract

The institution of qasāma has intrigued both Muslim jurists and western scholars. The first were puzzled by its violation of essential legal principles, the latter by its apparent pre-Islamic origins. Because of its archaic and irrational character, western scholars assume that the institution was not applied in practice: "[I]t does not appear that this institution functioned much, even in the past, when the penal law of Islam had a certain practical application." However, the evidence of fatwa collections shows that the qasāma was indeed enforced by courts as late as the nineteenth century, and the rules connected with it have now found their way into some modern Islamic criminal codes. The qasāma, it appears, was a living institution in Islamic law and not just theory. In this essay I will try to shed some light on the origins of this institution and its reception into Islamic law. I will attempt to chart the earliest developments of Islamic jurisprudence by analyzing the available hadith material and the statements of the first generation of jurists. In the conclusion I will suggest that my analysis of the material on qasāma corroborates Motzki's and Powers' revision of the chronology of the development of Islamic jurisprudence first put forward by Joseph Schacht in The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (1950).