The popular image of the family and the court of law in Muslim societies is one of traditional, unchanging social frameworks. Iris Agmon suggests an entirely different view, grounded in a detailed study of nineteenth-century Ottoman court records from the flourishing Palestinian port cities of Haifa and Jaffa. She depicts the shari’a Muslim court of law as a dynamic institution, capable of adapting to rapid and profound social changes indeed, of playing an active role in generating these changes. Court and family interact and transform themselves, each other, and the society of which they form part.
Agmon’s book is a significant contribution to scholarship on both family history and legal culture in the social history of the Middle East.
Iris Agmon is a professor in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. She is the author of many articles and is a contributor to Women, the Family, and Divorce Laws in Islamic History, also published by Syracuse University Press.