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Legal Pluralism in Muslim-Majority Colonies: Mapping the Terrain

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Abstract This essay aims to provide some analytical foundations for the study of legal pluralism in Muslim-majority colonies. Specifically, we contend that the incorporation of Islamic law into the colonial legal systems should be distinguished from the process of integration and codification of oral customs. As Islamic law constitutes a well-established legal system, based on written traditions and on elaborate institutions of learning and adjudication, its incorporation into the colonial legal system carried with it a number of implications. These are discussed, as are the tripartite relations that often emerge in Muslim-majority colonies between statutory laws, Islamic, and customary laws (ʿādat, ʿurf). The final section of the essay aims to present the articles included in this special issue and to place them within this broad context. Le présent article vise à établir des fondements théoriques à l’étude du pluralisme juridique dans les colonies à majorité musulmane. Il insiste en particulier sur la nécessité qu’il y a à distinguer l’incorporation de la loi islamique aux systèmes juridiques coloniaux, du processus d’intégration et de codification du droit coutumier non écrit. La loi islamique constitue un système bien établi, fondé sur des traditions écrites et pourvu d’institutions de formation et d’exercice complexes. Son incorporation au sein du système juridique colonial a entraîné un certain nombre de conséquences spécifiques, qui sont analysées ici. Une attention particulière est en outre accordée aux relations triangulaires qui se font jour entre loi statutaire, loi islamique et droit coutumier (ʿādat, ʿurf) dans les colonies à majorité musulmane. Enfin, la dernière partie est consacrée à la présentation des articles réunis dans le numéro spécial dédié à ces enjeux.


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