BTS 136

Das beduinische Rechtssystem: Konzepte – Modelle – Transformationen

Ahmed Abd-Elsalam

Beirut 2015, 181 pp., german text

Can bedouin law be considered a separate group of jurisdiction? What are its historical dynamics? These are the guiding questions of Ahmed Abd-Elsalam's study on the legal norms and practices of bedouin groups from the 17th through the 20th centuries. 

This monograph starts by introducing the essential tendencies of bedouin judicial conceptions, before focussing on the historical changes of these concepts. Resulting from social, economical, and political developments, both regional and functional specificities emerged within this juridicial group. 

Based on case studies from the Western Desert (Egypt) and geographical Syria (Syria, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Saudi Arabia), Ahmed Abd-Elsalam demonstrates how tribal groups employed diverging strategies of legal development, which led to different degrees of specialisation of judicial functions and institutionalisation of the judiciary. Abd-Elsalam distinguishes three models of these developments.

The study is grounded in the author's own fieldwork as well as the analysis of reports by state officials from the first half of the 20th century and pertinent texts from the Islamicate tradition. 


Ahmed Abd-Elsalam is currently working at the Center for Islamic Theology (ZIT) at Münster University. His research focus is the historical perspective on legal norms and its doctrines between theory and practice.