Great New Book on Islamic Law in the Mamluk Era by Kristen Stilt

The book is probably a year old by now, but as with academic book reviews generally, mine is delayed, and doesn't come out for a few months yet.  But my review, which points out considerable areas of strength and things I find foibles is here.  Overall really interesting consideration of exactly how the Mamluks managed to apply, manipulate, evaluate shari'a during the period they controlled Egypt. 

I also think it helps to put to rest some of the silly romanticism that often arises respecting the historic conduct of Islamic states.  If anything, I think Kristen was a little too soft on the Mamluks, as the review makes clear.  Their use of religious rules was designed to ensure existing social stratifications, and their official charged with "enjoining virtue and forbidding sin" was really nothing more than a glorified rent seeker, utterly despicable fellow I think.  Oh, and their treatment of religious minorities was "tolerant" only if your prevailing standard is the Inquisition. By any modern standard, they were appalling.  Not fair to judge earlier civilizations by modernity's values really, though it is important to bust up historical myths wherever they appear. 

Read the book.  No, first read the review. Then read the book.



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