In early 20th-century Yemen, a sizable Jewish population was subject to sumptuary laws and social restrictions. Jews regularly came into contact with Islamic courts and Muslim jurists, by choice and by necessity, became embroiled in the most intimate details of their Jewish neighbors’ lives. Mark S. Wagner draws on autobiographical writings to study the careers of three Jewish intermediaries who used their knowledge of Islamic law to manipulate the shari‘a for their own benefit and for the good of their community. The result is a fresh perspective on the place of religious minorities in Muslim societies.A few blurbs:
"[A]rticulate[s] brilliantly the complexity of Jewish-Muslim interaction through a series of fascinating and hitherto unexplored court cases and scholars. Wagner convincingly illustrates that these two religious communities were far from being mutually exclusive, but rather were enmeshed in each other’s lives in the most remarkable and unexpected ways, and in a real sense mutually constitutive." —Bernard Haykel, Princeton UniversityMore information is available here.
"In beautiful prose, Mark Wagner explores the complex contours of Yemen's shari’a-based juridical system, considering how individual Yemeni Jewish women and men navigated this legal order and the larger social orbit of Yemeni society. Moving ably between Arabic and Hebrew sources, and between rich case studies and weighty conceptual questions, Jews and Islamic Law in Early 20th-Century Yemen will be prized by scholars of Jewish Studies and Middle East Studies alike for its erudition, clarity, and originality." —Sarah Abrevaya Stein, UCLA