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Reinfandt, Lucian: Judicial Practice in Umayyad Egypt (661-750 AD). Version 01

The first two centuries of Muslim rule over Egypt form a key period of what was to become Islamic courts under the Abbasids. It witnessed the gradual emancipation of a specialised judiciary from a jurisdiction that fell more or less under the responsibility of Umayyad administrators, among them the pagarchs. The following study builds on previous research by Jairus Banaji, Petra Sijpesteijn and Mathieu Tillier that have dealt with the pagarch’s jurisdiction and the emergence of Islamic courts on an institutional basis. It addresses a different aspect, however, and aims at clarifying the actual practice of conflict solution, including more covert processes that lay beyond official rules and institutions. Arabic and Greek papyri abound in documents produced on behalf of and addressed to pagarchs in their function of administrators of justice. The narrative parts of these documents reveal a handling of grievance that was heavily reliant on elaborated modes of communication. The documents similarly show a high acceptance among the population – both literate officials and by trend illiterate subjects – of the role of written documents in the settlement of legal conflicts.
 

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