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The Codification of Shari'a Law

Questions for Seminar:
  • How does codification change the structure of authority behind the law?
  • Compare the codification projects in the Ottoman Empire and French colonial Algeria. How similar were the motivations and methods of a Muslim empire on the one hand, and a European colonial government on the other?

Assigned Reading:
Brinkley Messick, The Calligraphic State: Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society (University of California Press, 1993), chapter 3, “Disenchantment.”

Oussama Arabi, "Orienting the Gaze: Marcel Morand and the Codification of le droit musulman algerien," Journal of Islamic Studies 11 (2000), 43-72.

Primary Source:
Compare the chapter on evidence from the Ottoman Mecelle with the corresponding chapter in al-Marghinānī's Hedaya (vol. 2, book XXI, "Of Shahadit, or Evidence"), a twelfth-century fiqh text that was still widely read during the early modern period. Both excerpts deal with the law of procedure and evidence - how do they differ from one another?

(NB: the same translation of Marghinani's Hedaya is available in hard copy in the library, as well as via Eighteenth-Century Collections Online).

Further Reading:
J.N.D. Anderson, Law Reform in the Muslim World (Athlone, 1976).
Marcel Morand, Introduction a l'etude du droit musulman algerien (J. Carbonel, 1921).
Rudolph Peters, "For His Correction and as a Deterrent Example to Others: Mehmed Ali's First Criminal Legislation (1829-1830)," Islamic Law and Society 6 (1999), 164-192.
Rudolph Peters, "From Jurists' Law to Statute Law, or What Happens when the Shari'a is Codified," Mediterranean Politics 7 (2002), 82-95.