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The Ancient Near East and Islam: The Case of Lot-Casting

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Chapter Summary

This article is a contribution to the question how far there was continuity between ancient Near Eastern and Islamic culture. It focuses on the practice of using lot-casting to allocate inheritance shares, conquered land, and official functions, and briefly surveys the history of this practice from ancient through Hellenistic to pre-Islamic times in order to examine its Islamic forms as reflected in historical and legal sources. It is argued that the evidence does suggest continuity between the ancient and the Islamic Near East, above all in the first century of the hijra, but also long thereafter, if only at a fairly low level of juristic interest. The article concludes with some general consideration of the problems involved in the study of the two disconnected periods of Near Eastern history.



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