In December, Edinburgh University Press will release Islamic Law and Empire in Ottoman Cairo by James E. Baldwin (University of London). The publisher’s description follows:
What did Islamic law mean in the early modern period, a world of great Muslim empires? Often portrayed as the quintessential jurists’ law, to a large extent it was developed by scholars outside the purview of the state. However, for the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire, justice was the ultimate duty of the monarch, and Islamic law was a tool of legitimation and governance. James E. Baldwin examines how the interplay of these two conceptions of Islamic law – religious scholarship and royal justice – undergirded legal practice in Cairo, the largest and richest city in the Ottoman provinces. Through detailed studies of the various formal and informal dispute resolution institutions and practices that formed the fabric of law in Ottoman Cairo, his book contributes to key questions concerning the relationship between the shari‘a and political power, the plurality of Islamic legal practice, and the nature of centre-periphery relations in the Ottoman Empire.