In this court record from Cairo, dated 3 August 1667, two connected disputes are resolved by ṣulḥ (mediation). Shukr ibn ʿĀmir accuses Shaʿbān ibn Nāfiʿ of theft, while Shaʿbān accuses Shukr of assault. Shukr fails to provide evidence to substantiate his claim, while Shaʿbān provides two witnesses for his claim. If the dispute had been adjudicated, the judge would have dismissed Shukr's claim of theft and held him liable for the assault. However, the litigants choose to enter mediation, which results in a very different settlement: Shaʿbān makes a modest payment to compensate Shukr for the alleged theft, and drops his claim of assault. This case shows that ṣulḥ enabled Ottoman courts to resolve disputes in ways that departed significantly from those allowed by the procedures of adjudication. It suggests that ṣulḥ may have been one of the key mechanisms by which Ottoman courts were able to accommodate local values and expectations, a dynamic of the Ottoman legal system that many historians have remarked on.
Ibn Ḥārith al-Khushanī recorded the following case as a ḥikāya, an anonymous report: A Christian appeared before the judge Aslam b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, petitioning to be executed. The anecdote offers insight into the historical role of judges during a period of religious dissent in the Umayyad Caliphate, while the author's narrative voice demonstrates past judicial approaches to rationality, humor, and violent penalization.
This text is part of Maribel Fierro, The Judges of al-Andalus, forthcoming.