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The Art of the Judicial Opinion: On Tawlīj in Fifteenth-Century Tunis

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In an effort to circumvent the constraints of Islamic inheritance law, a Muslim proprietor may attempt to shift assets to his or her desired heir/s by means of an inter vivos transaction, e.g., a gift, acknowledgement of a debt, sale, or creation of a family endowment. In the present essay, I analyze a case that occurred in fifteenth-century Tunis in which a father, taking advantage of his role as the guardian of his minor children, engages in a series of financial transactions that appear to have as their goal the disinheritance of certain other children. The differing responses to this case by two Mālikī jurists provides an opportunity to explore the relationship between the choice of a judicial style and the direction of a judicial outcome.

Affiliations: 1: Cornell University

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