Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I could not have conceived the ideas explored in this book without Bernard Haykel, with whom I studied as a graduate student at New York University. In a 2002 Arabic paleography tutorial, Bernard led me through Shawkānī’s treatise on forcing the Jews of Yemen to collect excrement. Chapter 2 of this book revolves around this work. In October 2002 Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School convened a workshop that focused on Sālim Sa‘īd al-Jamal’s relationship...

Note on Transliteration

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pp. xi-xiv

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Introduction

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pp. 1-15

Imagine a state ruled by a sovereign who enforced Islamic law (sharī‘a). It was never conquered by a European imperial power, so its legal institutions survived the advent of the modern era more or less intact. The state is home to a sizeable population of non-Muslims. What could these non-Muslims expect from the Islamic legal system? Like any legal system, Islamic law applies to all people, yet it is predicated upon the superiority of the believer over the nonbeliever. Would non-Muslims in this imaginary state be humiliated, or treated fairly, or would...

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1 The Islamic Judicial System and the Jews

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pp. 16-37

According to a Syrian who visited Yemen in the mid-1930s, Imām Yaḥyā, then in his late sixties, used to sit each morning under a pepper tree in the courtyard of one of his palaces, with his qadis, issuing legal rulings to a line of impoverished supplicants.1 For Muslim and Jewish Yemenis who look back nostalgically to the prerevolutionary period, this image evokes the imām’s learning, compassion, and personal touch. It calls to mind Justice Felix Frankfurter’s...

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2 Changing God's Law

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pp. 38-62

The ways in which Muslims and Jews in Yemen distinguished themselves from one another could be interpreted in two contradictory yet perfectly plausible ways. They represented either fairly arbitrary traditions accrued over a long period of time or norms derived from a general principle or principles. For example, the fact that Jewish men in urban areas wore sidelocks, dark-colored robes that exposed their calves, and black caps likely predated attempts to legislate their...

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3 Muslim Jews and Jewish Muslims

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pp. 63-95

The sharī‘a imposed explicit handicaps upon non-Muslim litigants. Since the system was hierarchical in nature, those suppositions did not require justification. Nonlegal codes that were operative in the context of social relations also pointed to a person’s Muslimness or Jewishness. These were no less relevant to participants in legal proceedings than those described (or legislated) by substantive law....

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4 Concord and Conflict in Economic Life

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pp. 96-123

In Yemen entire industries and trades were dominated by Jews. Architects, builders, carpenters, masons, metalworkers, plasterers, whitewashers, cotton carders, mattress makers, dyers, weavers, gunsmiths, gunpowder makers, tar makers, recyclers of used cartridges, sieve makers, tobacconists, snuff grinders, cigarette rollers, makers of water-pipe parts, well diggers, and forgers of antiquities were...

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5 Intercommunal Violence and the Sharī‘a

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pp. 124-150

In theory, Muslims and Jews in Yemen could not behave violently toward one another. In practice, violence across the hierarchical boundaries between Muslim and Jew seems to have been relatively common. Jewish sources provide contradictory answers to the question of whether Yemen under the imāms was a particularly violent place. Some credit Imām Yaḥyā with the virtual elimination of crime through his focus on law and order. Others (some of the same people)...

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Conclusion

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pp. 151-156

Despite the varied provocations to the sharī‘a system that they had in common, the Jewish intermediaries Ṣāliḥal-Ẓāhirī, Sālim Manṣūrah, and Sālim Sa‘īd al-Jamal articulated strikingly distinctive political personae. Ṣāliḥ al-Ẓāhirī’s grim yet amusing anecdotes of confrontation (often violent), disguise, imprisonment, and escape demonstrate the great lengths to which he went in affirming his manifold and contradictory passions. He was at once royalist, revolutionary, and...

Notes

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pp. 157-188

Bibliography

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pp. 189-200

Index

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pp. 201-209