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Elyse Semerdjian: Off the Straight Path: Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo

Elyse Semerdjian: Off the Straight Path: Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo

USA 2016, 247 pp., brochure,  29.95
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Elyse Semerdjian (teacher of Islamic and Middle Eastern history, Whitman College) analyzes how the shari'a courts of Ottoman Aleppo treated the crime of zina, which has been defined as »any sexual intercourse between persons who are not in a state of legal matrimony or concubinage,« and is thus an umbrella category for adultery, prostitution, procurement, abduction, incest, bestiality, sodomy, rape, and more. After conducting an archaeology of the treatment of zina in Islamic juridical writings, she then compares the juridical literature of the fatwas of Ebu's Su`ud Efendi, supreme religious leader of the Ottoman Empire from 1545 to 1574, and the imperial law codes, the kanunnames, to the actual practice of the courts of Aleppo. Her study shows how the Islamist courts of Aleppo were flexible in their interpretation and application of doctrine and how they often favored local societal norms for treating deviancy over regulations laid down by the state and religious authorities.
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