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Public Violence in Islamic SocietiesPower, Discipline, and the Construction of the Public Sphere, 7th-19th Centuries CE$
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Christian Lange and Maribel Fierro

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748637317

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637317.001.0001

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Qāḍīs and the political use of the maẓālim jurisdiction under the cAbbāsids

Qāḍīs and the political use of the maẓālim jurisdiction under the cAbbāsids

(p.42) 2 Qāḍīs and the political use of the maẓālim jurisdiction under the cAbbāsids
Public Violence in Islamic Societies

Mathieu Tillier

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses the mazālim jurisdiction and its relation to qādīs during the Abbasid period. The role of the mazālim jurisdiction is generally regarded as three-fold. As ordinary courts, the mazālim symbolized the discretionary power vested in the ruler who could at any time exercise a power that he would delegate to other judges. Moreover, the mazālim offered the possibility to claim damages for the unjust acts committed by public servants and high-ranking dignitaries against whom the qādīs would find it difficult to take punitive actions. Lastly, the mazālim acts as a court of appeal against the judgment of the qādīs. The mazālim were not recognizable only by their name or by the judges sitting in the court but also by their procedures which were often free from the limits of ordinary jurisdictions. Hence, the mazālim provided rulers with several ways of regaining control of justice without the qādīs involvement. Above all, as the highest body representing sovereign justice, the mazālim served as a tool for the legitimisation of the Abbasid dynasty. While the mazālim rectified prejudices, the institution also served as a means to hide some forms of state violence. The mazālim served as a privileged instrument of coercion and physical violence insofar as they represented a political justice guided by the immediate interests of the rulers of the state.

Keywords:   mazālim jurisdiction, qādīs, Abbasid period, state violence, violence

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