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image of Islamic Law and Society

Reflections on qāḍī-error form part of the early Islamic legal tradition. Growth in the framework of the legal apparatus compelled Muslim jurists to address the notion of fallibility in a more complex manner. From the ninth century onwards, jurists identified particular aspects of qāḍī-error (khaṭa’ al-qāḍī) and gave them independant treatment. The ontological proximity of qāḍī-error to certain theological oncepts did not allow for simple and easy solutions. In general, the jursts focused their attention on the prevention of error, e.g., by establishing standards for the selection of the ideal qāḍĪ. But if a qāḍĪ, once appointed, nevertheless issued a faulty or defective judgment, it was necessary to examine his integrity, the procedure that he adopted, and the role played by witnesses and litigants. Within the MālikĪ school in particular, juristic discussion of these issues resulted in the penetration of pragmatic concepts into the fields of jurisprudence.

Affiliations: 1: Freiburg University


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