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date: 06 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers a comparative analysis of the application of justice in Near Eastern Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities in the first few centuries after the Islamic conquest. The analysis is offered from the perspective of social history with particular emphasis on the interplay between law and society. It unfolds some of the social aspects of judicial authority and institutions by reviewing their diverse forms and modes of practice within the lives of communities that belonged to the three monotheistic traditions under discussion. An underlying premise is that the application of justice was perceived as a form of mediation between God and believers, carried out through the central role of the judge. It is argued that claims for judicial authority and attempts to achieve central and exclusive judicial power mirror not only the common agendas of different communal elites, but also a social diversity that overrode formal institutional arrangements.

Keywords: early Islam, Rabbanite Jews, eastern Christianity, judicial courts, legal pluralism, communal institutions, geʾonim, ecclesiastical leadership

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