Brinkley Messick

in The Calligraphic State

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076051
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520917828 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


This chapter investigates the transformation of the recitational and open character of authoritative shari'a texts through processes of codification and legislation. It discusses the pioneering nineteenth-century Ottoman code. It also addresses the colonial-period contexts for such discursive shifts, and the shari'a legislation by the Yemen Arab Republic in the late 1970s. Among Ottoman reformers, the shari'a was considered archaic and unsuited for modern purposes. The new authority of codified texts would rest not only on abstraction and generalization, but also on the development of related conceptions of the state and of individuals as responsible legal subjects. Translations produced under the auspices of colonial administrations were informed by reigning philological methods and understandings about the nature of texts. In the absence of a colonial rupture with the past, change has seemed to involve critiques of the old regime and systematic installations of new institutions made possible by the Revolution.

Keywords: shari'a texts; codification; legislation; Ottoman code; Yemen Arab Republic; translations; Revolution

Chapter.  7547 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.