Shukr b. ʿĀmir vs. Sha'ban b. Nāfiʿ: A Dispute Resolved by Mediation in Late Seventeenth-Century Cairo

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In this court record from Cairo, dated 3 August 1667, two connected disputes are resolved by ṣulḥ (mediation). Shukur ibn ʿĀmir accuses Shaʿbān ibn Nāfiʿ of theft, while Shaʿbān accuses Shukur of assault. Shukur fails to provide evidence to substantiate his claim, while Shaʿbān provides two witnesses for his claim. If the dispute had been adjudicated, the judge would have dismissed Shukur's claim of theft and held him liable for the assault. However, the litigants choose to enter mediation, which results in a very different settlement: Shaʿbān makes a modest payment to compensate Shukur for the alleged theft, and drops his claim of assault. This case shows that ṣulḥ enabled Ottoman courts to resolve disputes in ways that departed significantly from those allowed by the procedures of adjudication. It suggests that ṣulḥ may have been one of the key mechanisms by which Ottoman courts were able to accommodate local values and expectations, a dynamic of the Ottoman legal system that many historians have remarked on.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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