On the Meaning of Ownership: The Problematic of Property in Moroccan Culture

in Varieties of Muslim Experience

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780226726168
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226726182 | DOI:
On the Meaning of Ownership: The Problematic of Property in Moroccan Culture

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Concepts of ownership among Muslims in the Arab world may appear deceptively like those in the West—or simply as examples of the universals some philosophers impute to all ideas of property. This chapter examines the meaning of property ownership in the specific context of Morocco to further understand the very range of variation to which one must attend. The chapter begins with land. The classic concept of Islam on property holds that all land is rahmaniya: it belongs to God, and what mankind has is the right to its use. The standard theory of land ownership in Morocco, according to the school of Imam Malik, therefore holds that all areas conquered by Muslim armies are held in trust for the Muslim community, as represented by the constituted authority of the state, and thus ultimate title (that is, the capacity to alienate the land through sale or gift) lies with the sovereign alone. Individual or collective landholders, by this conceptualization, may have considerable possessory or usufructory rights, but they do not have full control of the land.

Keywords: property ownership; West; Morocco; land; Islam; Imam Malik; Muslims; state; landholders; usufructory rights

Chapter.  5813 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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