Muslim Law Courts and the French Colonial State in Algeria

Muslim Law Courts and the French Colonial State in Algeria

ALLAN CHRISTELOW
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 334
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvjz0
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    Muslim Law Courts and the French Colonial State in Algeria
    Book Description:

    Allan Christelow examines the Muslim courts of Algeria from 1854, when the French first intervened in Islamic legal matters, through the gradual subordination of the courts and judges that went on until World War I.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5499-8
    Subjects: Religion, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Note on the Transcription of Arabic
    (pp. xv-xv)
  6. NOTE ON ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  7. GLOSSARY
    (pp. xix-1)
  8. [Map]
    (pp. 2-2)
  9. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-27)

    Modern European colonialism in Africa and Asia was both an agent of change and an impediment to it. It exploited resources and manpower with its mines and plantations, its tax collectors and traders, and, at the same time, it harnessed traditional political hierarchies to its purposes, and paid homage to traditional values. It married modern arms, technology, and organization to traditional social and political forms, and, in the process, denatured tradition, made it archaic, and prevented development and change within a framework of tradition.¹

    But it was not always clear where the exigencies of promoting a capitalist economy and a...

  10. Chapter 1 THE GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND THE LINES OF INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE
    (pp. 28-42)

    To provide the foundations for this study, we need to begin by looking at the pattern of relationships between Muslim religious leaders and the state in Algeria, and then to consider how these were related to the working of judicial institutions in the precolonial period, and to outline how they will affect the main lines of institutional change in the colonial period. In the first part of this task, we will be concerned with the unity of the system, or the lack thereof, and with the autonomy of religious leaders within it.

    In the introduction, a distinction was made between...

  11. Chapter 2 SAINTLY JUSTICE: THE MAJLIS OF MASCARA, 1853–1856
    (pp. 43-81)

    An effective way to move marabouts out of the rarified atmosphere of theoretical discussion down into the context of a lived reality is to observe them in action as judges. For the historian, this means, where possible, sifting through the masses of legal documents which they produced. This chapter is concerned with one quite extraordinary collection of documents, the register of the Bureau Arabe qadi of Mascara and his majlis, for the period 12 Ramadan 1269/18 June 1853 to 1 Shawal 1272/5 June 1856.¹ The register comes to an end with the formal establishment of the new majlis created in...

  12. Chapter 3 THE URBAN MILIEU: SOCIAL “DECADENCE” AND ITS JUDICIAL UNDERPINNINGS
    (pp. 82-106)

    In the 1850s, the Muslim populations of Algiers and Constantine stood respectively at about 18,000 and 22,600. While these figures may strike us as quite small, these two cities constituted by far the largest concentrations of Muslim Algerians found at this time. Only Tlemcen, with a population of 11,300, came close to them.¹ No doubt the Muslim communities of both these cities had diminished in population, grandeur, and prosperity from their pre-conquest states. Yet both had preserved a good many of their urban qualities: they maintained a fair amount of artisanal activity; they had a modest number of schools; and...

  13. Chapter 4 MUSLIM LEGISTS AND THE “MORAL CONQUEST”
    (pp. 107-133)

    In 1845, French officers interrogated a leader of the Dahra rebellion, seeking to understand the motives behind this sudden outbreak of violence. They asked him: “What do you hold against the French? Thefts, exactions, acts of injustice? You can tell us in complete freedom.” And he replied: “None of that. We detest the French because they are not of our religion, because they are foreigners. Today they ask natives for their land, tomorrow they will ask for their virgins and their children.”¹

    The exchange puts in sharp contrast differences in perception. In the French officer’s view, problems arose out of...

  14. Chapter 5 INTERVENTION AND CRISIS, 1854–1859
    (pp. 134-164)

    The decree of 1 October 1854 was at once a concession to the Algerian Muslim community and the first French attempt systematically to intervene in the workings of Muslim justice. The concession—sovereignty for Muslimjustice in all civil affairs—aroused strong opposition from the colons and the French judiciary, and was shortlived. The intervention—the grafting onto Muslim justice of French principles of organization and procedure—marked the debut of a series of enduring changes. These changes would, in the long run, help the Muslim judicial system to survive and find a place in the colonial order, and would contribute...

  15. Chapter 6 FROM CRISIS TO REBELLION TO COMPROMISE: 1860–1866
    (pp. 165-187)

    The years from 1859 to 1867 were, more than any other period, crucial to the forging of the Algerian Muslim judicial system. They were a time of cosiderable turmoil, but also one in which the French and the Algerians came to understand each other better. The period opened with a moralistic tirade against Islam, of the sort which pervades Algerian colonial history. But it came to an end on a rare note, with French and Algerians sitting down to hammer out their differences.

    The majlis scandals provoked a barrage of impassioned rhetoric from the assimilationists. The following, written by the...

  16. Chapter 7 THOSE WHO SUCCEEDED
    (pp. 188-222)

    The first examinations were held in late November 1869. Throughout Algeria large numbers of candidates had signed up to take them. And though many did not appear on the appointed day, some 252 did present themselves to the provincial exam commissions—enough to staff the mahkamas of an entire province. Given the difficulties of transportation and communication, and the reluctance or intimidation which might have arisen due to the presence of French examiners on the commissions, the numbers stand as testimony to the wide and enthusiastic acceptance, on the part of the Algerian fuqaha, of the formula worked out by...

  17. TOWARD A DEFINITIVE COMPROMISE: POLITICS AND THE MUSLIM COURT QUESTION IN THE 1880s
    (pp. 223-243)

    The final phase in the evolution of the Muslim court question in Algeria, leading to a definitive compromise, lasted from the late 1870s, when attacks against the qadis began in earnest, to 1892, when a new decree effectively gave formal consecration to the existence of the qadis within the colonial system. The history of the Muslim courts in this period is different from that of previous phases, for it can no longer be understood as an independent issue. Rather, it needs to be seen in relation to a large, complex web of events, personalities, and issues. The question was no...

  18. Chapter 9 THE AFTERMATH: ALGERIANS AS COLONIALISTS AND FRENCHMEN AS ‘ULAMA
    (pp. 244-261)

    The prospect of eliminating the Muslim courts and the médersas had been deeply upsetting to the Algerian Muslim notables, for these institutions acted as a sort of protective screen. Within the colonial social order, and especially within the colonial town, they helped to mute and conceal the inequalities between Muslim and European by maintaining a separation between the two hierarchies.

    The protests of the urban notables had helped to save these institutions, but the screen which they provided was beginning to wear thin. The Muslim courts had lost jurisdiction over the most lucrative area of litigation, land cases, and there...

  19. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 262-274)

    In the structure of relationships between politics and religion in Islam, the point of maximum stress is located in the office of qadi, a state-appointed religious judge. In a world which is less than perfect, when political authorities pursue their quest for power as an end in itself, where factions within the community are intent on nothing so much as their own advantage, the qadi has a nearly impossible task. It is no wonder that a popular tradition has it that one day the Prophet proclaimed that a camel could pass through the eye of a needle more easily than...

  20. BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
    (pp. 275-282)
  21. ARCHIVAL SOURCES
    (pp. 283-289)
  22. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 290-302)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 303-311)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 312-312)