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.
The wife argued that the couple had a marriage ceremony in Damascus, and, should that Islamic ceremony not be legally recognized, that a valid marriage should be presumed because of the couple’s long cohabitation and public reputation as husband and wife. The husband argued that the couple was not present in Damascus at the time of the alleged marriage, and that they instead had an Islamic marriage ceremony at a flat in London. Accordingly, while the ceremony was religiously recognized as a marriage, it was not valid under English law. In its judgment, the Court ruled that where, as here, the only known or proven ceremony was one which might not have constituted a marriage under English law, then a marriage could not be presumed.