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Pre-emption and Private Land Ownership in Modern Egypt: No Revival of Islamic Legal Tradition

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This essay examines “Islamic” influence on modern law, with special reference to the introduction of pre-emption (shuf'a), ostensibly of Islamic origin, into modern Egyptian legislation. In Egypt, the institution was maintained, not as part of the Islamization of laws, but for practical purposes, namely the “establishment of full landownership,” which led to the creation of new forms of pre-emption. The Pre-emption Laws of 1900-01 assigned the right of pre-emption to the “usufructuary” and the bare owner, probably as part of the late nineteenth-century policy of transferring state landownership to individuals defined in official law as “usufructuaries.” With the disappearance of state landownership as its theoretical basis, this type of pre-emption was reinterpreted by jurists in general terms of the establishment of landownership. The New Civil Code of 1949 assigned the right of pre-emption to both parties to a long lease (hikr), as an indirect attack on the family waqf.

Affiliations: 1: J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo, 2-4-8 Nishihara, Shibuya-ku 151-0066 Tokyo, Japan;, Email:


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