A culture of disputing: how did Cairenes use the legal system?

James E. Baldwin

in Islamic Law and Empire in Ottoman Cairo

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2017 | ISBN: 9781474403092
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781474430425 | DOI:
A culture of disputing: how did Cairenes use the legal system?

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Chapter 6 examines how Cairene litigants navigated the multiplicity of forums and practices with overlapping jurisdictions that constituted Cairo’s legal system. Moving away from the state-centric orientation of much Ottoman historiography, this chapter adopts the perspective of the legal consumer in order to discover how legal institutions were used, rather that the role the state intended them to play. The chapter emphasizes the lack of formal hierarchies or defined relationships between the different legal forums, and argues that this jurisdictional imprecision offered litigants opportunities to manipulate the system’s pluralism to their own advantage.

Keywords: Sharīʿa courts; Dīvān-i Hümāyūn (Imperial Council); Al-Dīwān al-ʿĀlī (Ottoman governor’s tribunal); Petitions; Ṣulḥ (mediation); Fatwās; Extra-judicial dispute resolution; Intimidation; Legal pluralism

Chapter.  9876 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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