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The Ransoming Of Prisoners In Medieval North Africa And Andalusia: An Analysis Of The Legal Framework

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the practice of fi dā, the seizing and ransoming of non-Muslims in medieval North Africa and Andalusia. It focuses on discerning how Muslim jurists in the western Islamic lands used formal legal opinions to define the scope of fidāʾ. The opinions of a number of jurists come in for examination, and it emerges that they spoke not with a unified voice, but offered instead a range of often conflicting views. The chapter argues that such diversity of opinion regarding the practice of fidāʾ stems not only from the jurists' personal temperament, but is strongly tied to the changing fortunes of Islam in the western Mediterranean during the medieval period, most notably as the tide of Christian reconquest in Iberia gained momentum. The practice of holding non-Muslim prisoners for ransom, or fidāʾ in Arabic comes for detailed discussion in Islamic legal literature.

Keywords: fidāʾ; medieval Andalusia; medieval North Africa; non-Muslim prisoners; western Mediterranean



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