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Legal and Cultural Aspects of Ignominious Parading (Tashhir) in Islam

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Ignominious parading (tashhīr) was a crucial element of Islamic punitive practice well into the 19th century CE. In the context of a cultural-legal tradition for which the distinction between private and public was all-important, a punishment consisting, literally, in "making someone public" had a fundamental role to play. However, tashhīr has gone largely unnoticed by historians of Islamic law, despite the fact that it features prominently in legal discussions as the penalty for perjury (shahādat al-zūr). This essay, based for the most part on sources from the late-classical period (5th/11th and 6th/12th centuries), not only analyzes the place of tashhīr in fiqh, but it also takes into account instances of tashhīr in Islamic historiography and in the eschatological literature, thus uncovering the symbolic structure that underlies the tashhīr ritual.

Affiliations: 1: Christian Lange, Edinburgh University, School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX, U.K.


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