Islamic Law in Action: Authority, Discretion, and Everyday Experiences in Mamluk Egypt

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9780199602438: Islamic Law in Action: Authority, Discretion, and Everyday Experiences in Mamluk Egypt

"Islamic Law in Action is a valuable contribution to law and society studies and at the same time a marvelous introduction to pre-modern Middle Eastern society generally. By focusing on actual cases, this first comprehensive study of the muhtasib, the official most intimately involved in the regulation of public life, shows vividly how the actions of ordinary people, the laws of jurists, and the policy dictates of the ruler were interwoven. Stilt's book is a triple hit, speaking as it does to specialists and students of Islamic cultures as well as to historians of other world cultures." --Leslie Peirce, author of Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab"Using the figure of the muhtasib or inspector of public spaces as a lens through which to analyze the lived experience of the law in Mamluk Egypt, Kristen Stilt takes us into the streets of Cairo and Fustat and into the lives of their inhabitants: merchants, millers, and bakers, consumers of bread, young men playing games of chance, female mourners and women in public spaces, tax payers, and religious minorities. The result is a rich tapestry of Egyptian daily life and a fine demonstration of how state agents worked to regulate society by marking the boundary between lawful and unlawful behavior." --David S. Powers, Cornell University"Professor Stilt's work on the muhtasib during the Mamluk period explains the role played by this important functionary who was entrusted with maintaining law and order in the markets. In addition to shedding light on important aspects of daily life in Mamluk Egypt, the book also deals with a central question that Muslim societies raised since the time of the Prophet Muhammad, namely, how to negotiate the boundary between the religious and the secular. Relying not only on fiqh manuals but also on a wide array of original sources, Professor Stilt's book is a solid piece o


a well-documented work in which the author reconstructs the way the muhtasibs were appointed during the Mamluk period in Egypt, the legal manuals they might have used, and the conflict that prevailed between the ruler and the ulema. ( Faizal Ahmad Manjoo, The Muslim World Book Review)

Stilt's book is an important contribution to the legal and social history of the Mamluk period, and its full significance will become apparent when a comprehensive history of the hisba institution in the Islamic West and East is written. ( Yaacov Lev, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam)

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