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Notes on the Anomaly of the Shari'a Field in Israel

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A close scrutiny of the Islamic religious field in Israel reveals that those responsible for the application of shari'a rules (i.e. judges presiding in shari'a courts), do not possess the "symbolic capital" that is required in order to distinguish them from laymen. Since shari'a judges in Israel enjoy unprecedented centrality within the Islamic religious field, the field itself is not well-distinguished from the secular legal field. This situation results not only from the fact that persons without proper shari'a training have been appointed to the office of shari'a judge (qadi), but also from the fact that the qadis are appointed by a non-Muslim authority and that the shari'a courts are subordinated to Israeli legislation. I argue that the Islamic religious field in Israel is an anomaly, characterized by lack of autonomy, ambiguous boundaries and lack of competition between actors (due to the monopolization of power by qadis).

Affiliations: 1: Law Faculty, Haifa University, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel


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