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date: 23 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article traces the origins of mazalim, a term that refers to a specific institution, also called wilayat al-mazalim or al-nazar fi al-mazalim, which was expected to adjudicate complaints regarding “injustices.” The mazalim are usually regarded as the expression of the sovereign’s direct justice in Medieval Islam. The concept of the mazalim institution does not fall into any modern legal category, and has no equivalent in Occidental languages. This article begins by discussing problems of terminology and definition associated with mazalim, with particular emphasis on whether it is a judicial court and the extent to which the mazalim, when regarded as a judicial institution, can be compared to an appellate court. It then examines mazalim in theory and practice, along with its nature according to modern classifications. Finally, it considers the symbolic and political uses of mazalim and how it is related to ordinary justice dispensed by the qadis.

Keywords: mazalim, wilayat al-mazalim, al-nazar fi l-mazalim, justice, Islam, judicial court, appellate court, qadis

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