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Women before the Qādī under the Abbasids

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In this article, I examine the appearance of Muslim women before the judge during the Abbasid period (132-334/750-945), both in theory and practice. The cases involving women found in law books suggest that they came freely to the court, especially for familial or marital purposes, and that the judges employed some women as court auxiliaries. However, a comparison of judicial manuals and the biographical literature shows that a woman's appearance before the judge could create a social disturbance and that not all women were allowed to appear in court. I argue that the social distinction between those who could leave their houses—and thus come before the judge—and those who could not correlated with the social hierarchy.

Affiliations: 1: The Oriental Institute, Pusey Lane, Oxford, OX1 2LE, United Kingdom


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