Communicating justice: Shari'a courts and the Christian community in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ottoman Greece

Source of Publication

Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations


Using Shari'a court records from Ottoman Salonica and Karaferye, this paper examines the nature of justice as articulated by the state and judges vis a vis Christians. As arbiters of local and state/local relations, the courts were responsible for defining and promoting the state's desire for social harmony, efficiency, and order at the local level while also overseeing the rights and obligations of local populations vis a vis state and local officials. The paper examines the standards of evidence and legal reasoning employed by judges and the relationship between religious law and state law, particularly in the realm of criminal justice. Furthermore, in a bid to assess Christian familiarity with the workings of the law, the paper explores how and when Christians used the courts and the strategies employed by them in the court setting. Ultimately, the Shari'a courts provided a public forum for strengthening communal networks and resolving disputes between Christians and between Muslims and Christians.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Sabrina Joseph, Zayed University