Law, Society and Culture in the Maghrib, 1300-1500 by David S. Powers (Cornell University, New York)
Focusing on the Maghrib in the period between 1300 and 1500, in this 2002 book David Powers analyses the application of Islamic law through the role of the mufti. To unravel the sophistication of the law, he considers six cases which took place in the Marinid period on subjects as diverse as paternity, fornication, water rights, family endowments, the slander of the Prophet and disinheritance. The source for these disputes are fatwas issued by the muftis, which the author uses to situate each case in its historical context and to interpret the principles of Islamic law. In so doing he demonstrates that, contrary to popular stereotypes, muftis were in fact dedicated to reasoned argument, and sensitive to the manner in which law, society and culture interacted. The book represents a groundbreaking approach to a complex field. It will be read by students of Islamic law and those interested in traditional Muslim societies.