Customary Law, Religion and Legal Pluralism in Israel: Islamic Law and Shari'a Courts in Constant Motion
Revista General de Derecho Público Comparado 26 (2019)
19 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020
Date Written: December 13, 2019
Similar to the colonial reality, some States maintain a compartmentalized arrangement of their societies, where religious groups are subjected to communal laws that form part of the ‘official’ State legal system. These same States endorse these ‘parallel’ legal systems as a means to keep control over competing communities. Israel is one of these States. Ethno-religious communities in Israel are for the most equipped with their own communal courts, where communal judges sit. Any attempted reforms in personal status law are tainted in the Israeli context by the majority versus minority cleavage between Jews and Arabs. The focus of this paper is therefore to explore how, within a state-endorsed pluralist legal framework, minority religious systems evolve, navigate and reform, emphasizing the role played by actors in the judicial process, in particular judges (qadis) sitting in shari’a courts and adjudicating on family law cases.
Keywords: Islamic law, minority, shari'a courts, Israel, legal pluralism, customary law
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