Scholars, Jurists and the Legal System

Authored by: Maribel Fierro

The Routledge Handbook Of Muslim Iberia

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138649149
eBook ISBN: 9781315625959
Adobe ISBN:


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The trial for heresy of the Toledan Ibn Ḥātim in the year 457/1064 was recorded by Ibn Sahl (d. 486/1093) in his collection of nawāzil (legal cases brought to the judge’s court) and judicial rulings, a rich source about the legal history of al-Andalus that offers valuable insights into the political, social, economic and religious context of his time. Ibn Sahl was then the secretary of the judge’s court in Toledo, and at the time of Ibn Ḥātim’s execution in Cordoba eight years later, he was one of the consultant jurists at the judge’s court in the former caliphal capital. Later, Ibn Sahl became judge in both Ceuta and Granada, serving during his life both the Taifa kings and the Almoravids. His trajectory sheds light on the existence of a complex and highly developed judicial system throughout al-Andalus and of a legal profession well integrated in chains of teachers and students, sharing an ancient legal tradition – Mālikism – that was acted upon while being subject to changes and debates. How jurists and, more generally, scholars understood the interplay between their knowledge and the society in which they lived, and their relations with rulers and the common people is explored in this chapter.

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