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In: Histories of the Middle East
In: The Mamluks in Egyptian and Syrian Politics and Society
In: The Journey of Maps and Images on the Silk Road

Sultan Baybars' decision to appoint four Chief


, one from each of the Sunni schools of law, has long been recognized as a turning point in the history of the


To date, historians have explained this decision only in political or ideological terms, paying little attention to its implications for the judicial system. Here I argue that the purpose of the new quadruple structure of the judiciary was two-fold: to create a uniform but at the same time flexible legal system. The need for predictable and stable legal rules was addressed by limiting


discretion and promoting


, i.e., adherence to established school doctrine. The establishment of Chief


from the four schools of law, on the other hand, allowed for flexibility and prevented the legal system from becoming too rigid. The quadruple judiciary enabled litigants, regardless of personal school affiliation, to choose from the doctrines of the four schools.

In: Islamic Law and Society
In: Islamic Legal Thought