Public violence, state legitimacy: the <i>Iqāmat al-ḥudūd</i> and the sacred state

Robert Gleave

in Public Violence in Islamic Societies

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637317
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653164 | DOI:
Public violence, state legitimacy: the Iqāmat al-ḥudūd and the sacred state

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Iqāmat al-hudūd or the implementation of punishments specified in revelation is subject to many caveats within the Islamic legal theory. The caveats include the unrealistic demands of testimonial evidence for the hudūd, the suspension of punishment when the presence of the slightest doubt (shuba) is detected and the highly restrictive definition of the crime. All of this implies the Muslin jurist's general attitude of extreme caution on the implementation of hudūd punishments. Also among the caveats is the presence of a legitimate authority to carry out the punishments and the question of state legitimacy. However, hudūd in Sunni and Imāmī Shī'ī traditions are often seen as a ritual rather than the simple administration of justice. This justification for categorising hudūd as a ritual can be found in their stubborn refusal to be subjected to the processes of legal reasoning. The hudūd are not seen as unjust and they are non-negotiable. This inflexibility has led to their being fenced in practical terms through the caveats mentioned above. This chapter examines the link between iqāmat al-hudūd, the Imam's authority and political theory within Imami theory by employing Sunni theory as a point of comparison. It then details the requirements concerning the implementation of hudūd punishment in Imami fiqh by exploring whether these rules comprise a conception of legitimate public violence which can be distinguished from those present within the Sunni juristic tradition.

Keywords: Iqāmat al-hudūd; implementation of punishments; Islamic legal theory; hudūd; Sunni theory; Imami theory; legitimate public violence; fiqh

Chapter.  9495 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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