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The Birth of a Custom: Nomads, Sharīa Courts and Established Practices in the Tashkent Province, ca. 1868-1919

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In colonial Central Asia qādīs played a key role in establishing customary legal practices. In adjudicating claims of horse theft, qādīs operating in the Tashkent province under Russian rule had recourse to customary rules of evidence known in the local Kazakh communities. If a qādī ascertained that an animal was not stolen, but had been acquired from a third party by a bone fide purchaser, he routinely used a probative procedure unknown of in the Central Asian judicial manuals of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Based on an examination of sharī'a court registers from the Tashkent province, Bukharan shurūt works and unpublished archival material, I argue that the establishment of Russian rule in the region and the introduction of triennial elections for choosing judges made it necessary for each qādī to meet the demands of the community that had elected him, thereby encouraging him to confer shar'ī legitimacy on local legal practices.

Affiliations: 1: Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter der Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg Orientalisches Institut Mühlweg 15, 06114, Halle/Saale, Deutschland


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