Annual Report 2002 - Cornell University
004 Selected Books by Faculty

15 David S. Powers, Near Eastern Studies

Law, Society, and Culture in the Maghrib, 1300-1500 (Cambridge University Press, 2002). Powers uses six legal cases that took place in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Muslim societies in the Maghrib (present-day Morocco and Algeria) in order to illustrate a tradition of rationality and balance in Islamic law. The book presents cases on diverse subjects—paternity, fornication, water rights, family endowments, the slander of the Prophet, and disinheritance. Powers shows that Muslim judges and jurists were highly sensitive to society and cultures and based their judgments on rational thought and argument. Although there may be reasons for the rise of fundamentalist societies in modern times in places such as Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban, the book clarifies that Islamic legal heritage is closer to Western values than realized.

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