Islamic and Christian Legal Systems: Autonomy and Convergence
For the medieval Muslim the law, or Shariah, was of essential importance, the very foundation of religious identity. The Shariah derived from two sources: the Qur'an[*] , God's revelation; and the Sunnah , the statements and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, preserved in the hadith[*] , orally transmitted statements by and about the Prophet eventually written down by legal scholars. Encompassing both the religious and the secular, and Shariah guided religious practice, set forth moral values, and created a framework for private and, theoretically at least, public life. The Christian authorities had long recognized the Muslim and Jewish minorities' legal identities, often referring to them as adherents of distinct "laws" instead of different religious beliefs. Royal enactments applicable to subjects of all three faiths were therefore often addressed to persons "of whatever law or status."
As stipulated in the thirteenth-century treaties between Jaime I and the conquered Muslims of Valencia, the latter were granted legal autonomy and the ability to administer justice according to çuna and xara (Sunnah , here probably meaning the Muslims' local customary law, and Shariah). Pedro IV confirmed this basic Mudejar right, commanding that all cases between Muslims, both civil (see tables 16 and 17) and criminal, were to be judged according to the Shariah (1337). Of course, if Islamic law were to remain in force among the Mudejars, the Islamic courts had to be maintained and manned by Muslim judges, or qadi s[*] . Alfonso IV provided for the establishment of a sufficient number of qadi s in royal towns and on those seigneuries where the lords had criminal jurisdiction over their vassals (1329). Furthermore, Alfonso permitted the qadi s to delegate their powers to substitutes competent to administer justice in their absence. The measures taken by the jurates of Alcoy, and approved by Juan II, for the creation of a new morería there (1468) attest to the continuing importance of Mudejar qadi s:
let there be made or created a qadi[*] in the said morería , who may judge and have the power and faculty to judge the litigations arising between the said Moors, who will live in the said morería , according to Sunnah and Shariah, just as is accustomed among Moors of other morerías of the said kingdom.
At the pinnacle of Valencia's Islamic judiciary was the qadi general, or royal qadi . During the years covered by this study this post was held by various members of the Bellvis family—Mahomat until 1484, and Ali from 1484 until at least 1501—who resided in the capital. Along with a
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variety of other duties, the qadi[*] general exercised appellate jurisdiction over the kingdom's Islamic courts. Beyond his court, the Mudejar dissatisfied with the decision of a local qadi could have recourse only to the bailiff general or the king.
Although in the thirteenth century accusations against Muslims by Christians were heard in Islamic courts, by Fernando's reign it was established procedure to try all cases between Muslims and Christians (see table 18) in Christian courts according to the Furs . Confining our present discussion to those cases involving only Muslims, it appears that even they were frequently adjudicated in Christian courts. This was far truer of criminal than of civil litigation. This state of affairs may be explained in part by the legislation of Jaime II, which provided that the bailiff general was to have ultimate jurisdiction over all criminal and civil cases between Muslims resident on royal and ecclesiastical lands (1298). The governor general was later granted a similar jurisdiction over the cases of seigneurial Muslims. The qadi s were still supposed to have primary jurisdiction in these cases.
However, by the midfourteenth century the intervention of Christian magistrates in Mudejar litigation was far more frequent than the occasional ruling by bailiff or governor warranted by Jaime II's legislation. Boswell found that Christians were constantly meddling in the Muslims' judicial proceedings. Between 1355 and 1365 89 percent of all cases involving only Muslims were heard by Christian judges, and often were decided according to Christian and not Islamic law. Put in an advantageous bargaining position by the fortunes of Pedro IV's war with Castile, a number of the kingdom's aljamas were able to wrest from the king guarantees that henceforth they would be judged according to the Shariah.
The picture derived from the documentation of Fernando's reign contrasts strikingly with the Mudejars' juridical woes in the midfourteenth century. There was only one complaint about Christian interference in Muslim cases, and this was voiced by the aljama of Valencia. The aljama began by recalling the allegedly long-established judicial procedures: "for the past great while by ancient custom and practice observed without contradiction in all the present kingdom of Valencia the cases and litigations which involve Moor against Moor, both civil and criminal, were decided according to Sunnah and Shariah." Now, however, the aljama complained, "sometimes obstacles and impediments are placed so that such litigations are not judged or decided in the aforesaid form," which was manifestly prejudicial to the Muslims of Valencia's morería . The king responded with the command that "all the litigations, both civil and criminal, involving Moor against Moor should be determined according to Sunnah and Shariah." Anyone violating this
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order was to pay the heavy fine of 1,000 gold florins. As is evident from Boswell's study, the aljama exaggerated the supposedly ideal conditions of earlier days, for there certainly had been frequent and excessive "contradiction" of the "ancient custom."
At any rate, the articulation of only one complaint does not mean that elsewhere Christian officials remained aloof from all Mudejar litigation. On the contrary, they were often active in the conclusion of such cases. The point of contrast between the midfourteenth century and Fernando's reign is not that in the latter period Christian intervention was lacking; rather, it is that in the late fifteenth century the Mudejars for the most part did not perceive such Christian involvement as interference or as a violation of their privileges. The exception, the aggrieved aljama of Valencia, may be explained by the greatly reduced population of the morería (since 1455) and the burgeoning Christian population of the city, perhaps more apt to interfere in Muslim affairs than previously.
It is difficult to explain this contrast, or to trace a clear line of development from the midfourteenth to the late fifteenth century. Boswell's concluding remarks on the judicial process provide a useful point of departure. He argues that even though Christian officials frequently violated the judicial autonomy that had been promised to the Mudejars in the thirteenth century, "the system of interlocking justice prevailing under the Crown of Aragon in the fourteenth century may represent a successful departure from the general pattern of institutional separation between Christians and Muslims." This system ultimately satisfied the needs of the greater part of both communities. Indeed, at the root of the Mudejars' acceptance of the judicial status quo was likely a progressive accommodation between the Islamic and Christian legal systems. Such accommodation paralleled and contributed to the Mudejars' increasing sufferance of Christian rule reflected in their relative political quiescence under Fernando. In other words, Valencia's Muslims became more accustomed to the participation of Christian magistrates in their judicial affairs and more willing to plead their suits before Christian courts.
One must also take into account the chronological focus of Boswell's study, which covers the years of the war between Castile and Aragon (1355–1366). The upheaval and disorder of these years likely afforded unscrupulous Christian officials an unusual freedom to abuse Mudejars and to usurp their judicial prerogatives. Perhaps the restoration of order and Valencia's greater stability in the fifteenth century were less propitious for the blatant violation of Mudejar privileges. In any case, the Mudejar grievances expressed to Fernando were scarcely concerned
with infringements on their judicial autonomy. Given the active role still played by Valencia's Islamic judiciary and the persisting importance of the Shariah among the Mudejars, it may be supposed that many of the fourteenth-century abuses had been corrected. Islamic justice continued to be administered in Valencia, and the posts of qadi[ *] and faqih[*] were not mere sinecures apportioned among the king's Muslim favorites. This being the case, it is necessary to establish in what areas the Islamic courts still had exclusive jurisdiction, in which types of cases the jurisdictions of Islamic and Christian courts overlapped, and in such cases of jurisdictional convergence, how Muslim and Christian magistrates divided their juridical labors.
Almost all criminal cases between Muslims were tried before Christian tribunals: royal and ecclesiastical vassals in the courts of the bailiff general or local bailiffs, seigneurial vassals of lords with only civil jurisdiction in the court of the governor, and seigneurial vassals of lords with criminal jurisdiction in the court of the lord and his justice. However, this did not thereby exclude the qadi s[*] and Islamic law from the judicial process. Burns describes how in the thirteenth century the exercise of criminal justice by Mudejar courts was placed under the supervision of royal bailiffs. Gradually, as it came to be viewed as a function of the bailiff's court effected with the assistance of Muslim jurists, the nature of the court was transformed. Thus, by 1329 Alfonso IV could command that on royal lands and seigneurial lands with criminal jurisdiction the Christian magistrates "ought to exercise [their] jurisdiction and inflict penalties with the counsel of Sarracen judges, commonly called qadi s[*] " In those cases requiring a qadi 's[*] participation, which were, of course, judged according to Islamic law, the qadi 's role necessarily would have been central, not merely advisory. Documentary references to the "counsel of the qadi " are misleading and ought not to obscure the fact that Islamic justice was being administered, even if under the auspices of a Christian court. In such cases the presiding Christian official served to ensure that the qadi 's sentence was duly executed, for Muslims were not permitted to administer capital or corporal punishment themselves. He also saw to it that the proceeds from any monetary fines imposed were delivered to royal or seigneurial treasuries.
For our purposes there are two categories of criminal cases to be considered: those in which a qadi intervened and which were decided according to Islamic law, and those which were handled only by Christian judges according to the Furs . An understanding of the development of judicial institutions in Islamic lands will help to clarify how Mudejar criminal cases were apportioned among the Islamic and Christian courts.
In Islamic lands there was a practical distinction between those criminal offenses for which God had defined a punishment—known as hadd[*] offenses—which fell under the jurisdiction of the qadi 's[*] Shariah court, and those concerning which neither the Qur'an[*] nor the Sunnah made explicit provisions, and which, therefore, were handled either by the police (shurtah[*] ) in their judicial capacity or by the court of complaints (mazalim[ *] ) of the ruler. Outside of the hadd offenses, the Muslim ruler had discretionary powers to determine, for the public good, what constituted an offense and the punishment it merited.
The hadd[*] offenses, for which there were divinely ordained penalties, were illicit sexual relations—premarital sex and adultery—slanderous accusations of unchastity, theft, wine drinking, and armed robbery. Mudejar qadi s, as the dispensers of Shariah justice, probably would have been most insistent on retaining their competence in such cases. This is precisely what the documentation indicates. Almost all of the criminal cases that mention the activity of a qadi concern hadd offenses, particularly illicit sexual relations and theft. The Shariah prescribed harsh penalties for these crimes. The penalty for adultery was death by stoning, and that for the sexual misconduct of an unmarried woman was one hundred lashes. In such cases the intervention of a Mudejar judge is usually explicitly indicated in the documents, and if not, it may be presumed by the invoking of Shariah penalties. For instance, the lord of Gilet, "with the counsel of our [royal] qadi Bellvis," sentenced his adulterous vassals, Mahomat Vaquer and Marien Tagormia, "that according to Sunnah and Shariah they should be overwhelmed by stones [unto death]." Mahomat Bayrini of Onda paid to the bailiff a fine of 100s in lieu of the twenty-five lashes his unwed daughter was to receive "because she was found in a room with a Christian of the said town and was judged by the qadi of Villarreal with the license of the qadi de Bellvis [qadi general]." Corporal and capital punishments were normally commuted either to the payment of a fine, or, more often, to enslavement to the king or lord. Despite the show of mercy here, royal and seigneurial justice was nevertheless cruelly exploitative. These royal and seigneurial slaves were later sold to the highest bidder, the payments going to the coffers of the king or lord.
Although some cases of Mudejar theft were judged by Christian officials alone according to the Furs , most involved a qadi 's counsel and Shariah penalties, either the amputation of the right hand or flogging. As with adultery, the sentences were often commuted to a monetary fine or enslavement. The accounts of the bailiff of Játiva record the receipt of 600s from Çuleymen Alahuy "because he was condemned to have his hand amputated for having stolen, along with others, a large pot from the hostal ... for which sentence was given by the qadi by Sun -
nah and Shariah." Two Muslim thieves, from Málaga and Oran, were made royal slaves after the qadi[*] general passed sentence. Ironically, the Muslim from Oran had just recently been manumitted.
Another case of theft from Játiva sheds further light on the place of Islamic law in such cases. Ali Yalle of Benillup appeared before the bailiff of Játiva and denounced Yuçeff and Çatdon Zam Zam, who lived in the area of Játiva, for having stolen goods from his home. Two days later the royal prosecutor intervened in the case, to which Yuçeff Zam Zam objected, maintaining that the case must be decided according to the Shariah, inasmuch as it was "Moor against Moor," and citing a provision of Pedro IV to that effect. The bailiff agreed with Yuçeff, recalling a recent precedent in which the bailiff general had ruled on another case of Muslim theft in concurrence with Pedro IV's provision. However, just as the bailiff began to try the case as Yuçeff requested-presumably with the counsel of the qadi —the bailiff general ruled that since the royal prosecutor had already initiated proceedings the case should be decided by the Furs . Most likely the bailiff general was attempting to obviate additional legal expenses. In the end, because Yuçeff Zam Zam refused to relent, the case was brought before the bailiff general's tribunal.
The prosecution of those Mudejar criminals for whose offenses there were no prescribed Shariah penalties does not seem to have required the participation of a qadi . The great majority of such crimes that appear in the documentation are homicides and other acts of violence. The Muslim perpetrators of such acts were tried in the courts of the royal and seigneurial magistrates whose task it was to maintain the public order—bailiffs, governors, and seigneurial justices. Furthermore, since murderers seldom remained at the scene of the crime, it was necessary to bring into play the kingdom-wide network of royal officials to apprehend them. Mudejar judges did not have such manpower at their disposal. Thus, when a Muslim of Valldigna, sentenced by the local justice for the murder of another Muslim, fled from the valley, the viceroy ordered royal officials to hunt him down. In another case, a royal constable was commanded to bring to justice fifteen Muslims who had broken into the home of a Muslim widow, abusing her and her daughter. Mudejar judges seem to have been content to allow their Christian counterparts to proceed in such cases howsoever the Furs required.
While royal and seigneurial justice in Valencia certainly differed from that administered by Muslim rulers, it is nevertheless worth noting by way of comparison that it was also the non-Shariah courts of the latter that meted out punishment for homicide and other such disturbances of the public peace. Originally, homicide had been more a matter of private justice, as allowed for by the Qur'anic[*] maxim of just retaliation
(qisas ). However, it eventually became a public concern, at which point justice in such cases was administered by the courts of the police (shurtah[*] ). As will be seen in chapter 6, local bailiffs not only punished Mudejar murderers but also supervised settlements between the victim's family and the murderer through the latter's payment of compensation, or blood money. In a sense, the local bailiffs were asserting their public authority to encourage feuding Muslims to reach a private settlement. The Crown, of course, received its share of the compensation payments. It appears, then, that Mudejar judges participated in those criminal cases which in Islamic lands pertained to the jurisdiction of the Shariah courts, while they left in the hands of royal and seigneurial officials those cases over which the jurisdiction of the qadi 's[*] court had been superseded by that of the shurtah or mazalim[ *] courts of Muslim rulers.
The amount of civil litigation between Muslims that comes to light in the documentation, and therefore somehow involved the Christian courts, is relatively small in comparison with the far greater number of civil and criminal cases between Muslims and Christians, and the criminal cases involving only Muslims. The obvious explanation is that the majority of Mudejar civil suits were heard in the Islamic courts and, consequently, did not come to the attention of Christian officials. Royal provisions, while granting to Christian judges considerable leeway to preside over Muslim criminal cases, are much less ambiguous in their position that in civil litigation between Muslims the court of first instance should be that of the qadi . In 1337 Pedro IV ruled that the bailiff general was to have jurisdiction over the criminal cases of the Muslims of Valencia's morería , but that their civil cases were to be handled by the qadi of the morería . It is doubtful that the small number of Mudejar civil cases referred to in the Christian documents is an accurate indication of either the amount or the variety of cases tried by the Islamic courts. The high degree of violent conflict in Mudejar society (see chap. 6) hints at a wide range of civil litigation involving only Muslims. It is probable that most Mudejars preferred to settle their differences peacefully in the forum of the qadi 's court or through the arbitration of the ubiquitous faqih s[*] .
A handful of Muslim civil suits never came before a qadi 's court and were treated by the Christian courts alone. Usually there was good reason for this. Legal controversies pitting one Muslim aljama against another were best resolved by the laws of the kingdom. The claim of some Muslims of Geldo against the aljama of Segorbe was judged by the lieutenant bailiff general in Segorbe, though with the counsel of a doctor of law, whose opinions were meant to counterbalance any bias the lieutenant bailiff, a resident of Segorbe, might have in the aljama's favor.
In some instances lords identified their Muslim vassals' interests so strongly with their own that lawsuits that originally might have been solely between Muslims soon involved a lord as one of the claimants, and so found their way into the Christian courts. This seems to have occurred when the knight Gracian de Monsorin took up the cause of his Muslim vassal in her dispute with Çahat Piten of Petrés concerning the ownership of land. Of course, the loss of the land might have affected Monsorin, the probable real owner of the land, as much as it would have his vassal, who rented the land from him.
Muslims most often pleaded before Christian courts against their fellows in order to set in motion the executive machinery of the royal bureaucracy against recalcitrant debtors and those who lived at a distance from them. Mudejars sought the king's justice for its relative efficiency and coercive power. Even the decisions of the qadi[*] general carried little weight without the backing of the bailiff general to enforce them. For example, when Abraym Xativi fled from Alcira with the 500 goats at issue between himself and Çahat Ageg, Çahat prompted the bailiff general to have his officials find Abraym and the flock. When Mahomat Roget took his sister's robe (aljuba ; Arabic jubbah ) and gave it as security to a Jew of Murviedro, Mahomat's father and sister requested that the bailiff see to the robe's return, since it had not been Mahomat's to give away. Fuçey Zignell of Valencia was informed by the bailiff that his property in Valldigna would be sold if he did not pay to his relatives in Tabernes the money he owed "for the causes and reasons contained in a Moorish letter and/or obligation."
Two other civil cases indicate that Mudejars found the Furs to have applicability in questions concerning commercial transactions and property rights. One case concerned an alleged debt owed by the purchaser of some cloth. In the other, the plaintiff, Yuçeff Rodona, demanded that the mulberry trees of Azmet Beniale be removed from his land. It is significant that Yuçeff based his claim on the "constitution of Játiva." Through the conduct of commerce and the exchange of property with Christians as well as with Muslims, the Mudejars of necessity acquainted themselves with the details of the Furs and local customary law as they applied to their particular transactions. Still, it is unlikely that in such matters there would have been much substantial difference between the Furs and Islamic law as it was administered by Mudejar judges. The Mudejars'wide-ranging economic activities made it unfeasible for them to operate, even among themselves, by a different code of commercial law. Moreover, since so few of these commercial cases were judged in Christian courts, one must presume that the qadis had adapted their legal practices to meet the needs of a situation in which the regional economy was regulated by a framework of Christian law. Even in Isla-
mic lands it was in the area of commercial law that the Shariah had proven most malleable and Muslim jurists most innovative.
In those civil cases decided by Islamic law but involving Christian magistrates there was a clear division of labor: the qadi[*] passed judgment and the Christian official saw to the execution of the qadi 's sentence. This can be seen in the judicial disputes over inheritance. In one case, the lieutenant of the qadi general ruled that two Muslim sisters should receive a carob orchard allegedly bequeathed to them by their father. The bailiff of Murviedro was then ordered to put them in secure possession of the land. Also revealing is the litigation "over certain inheritances," which aligned a Muslim vassal of Cárcer and a resident of Játiva's morería against some other Muslims of the morería . The bailiff general's order to the lieutenant bailiff of Játiva is couched in terms that obscure the qadi 's essential judicial function: "do justice in the said matter with counsel of the qadi of the lord king in that morería ." The bailiff general's concluding remarks indicate, however, that it was the qadi who handed down the decision in the case: "And if the said qadi [of Játiva] is considered suspect [i.e., biased] by one of the said parties, you [the lieutenant bailiff] should determine whether the said suspicions are to be admitted, and in such case that they have to be admitted you should administer prompt and expeditious justice with the counsel of another qadi unsuspected by the said parties." The royal official's function was primarily supervisory and executive.
As the above case indicates, the royal official's role was nonetheless of great importance. The presence of royal authority encouraged the equitable administration of justice by the qadi . Furthermore, the royal official could be turned to as a board of appeal, at which point the case was ushered through the appropriate channels of the royal bureaucracy to the tribunal of the qadi general and bailiff general. Thus, when Çaat Siquuti appealed the sentence of the qadi of Játiva (literally, of the lieutenant bailiff with counsel of the qadi ), the case was sent on to the qadi general for a final ruling. When Çaat argued that the qadi general, due to family connections with the qadi of Játiva, was predisposed to confirm the sentence, the king commanded the bailiff general to reexamine the case, this time with the counsel of the lieutenant of the qadi general, a neutral party.
The guidance and supervision of the royal bailiffs were crucial for the conclusion of another extremely complex litigation. The case between Azmet Xerica, the vassal of a canon of Játiva, and the Muslim vassal of the lord Lançol de Lançol, was initially ruled on by the qadi of Játiva in favor of Azmet. Lançol then brought to the bailiff of Játiva the letter of another qadi that demanded the revocation of the first qadi 's sentence. Perplexed, the bailiff turned to the bailiff general. The latter, along with
the qadi[*] general, decided that if the second qadi 's revocatory letter was based on the testimonies of new or reinterrogated witnesses, then the first sentence should stand (this decision was based on a recent precedent in which the qadi general had counseled the bailiff general that witnesses could not be reinterrogated once sentence had been given); however, if there was a just cause for appeal without the introduction of new testimonies, then the bailiff of Játiva, counseled by the local qadi -and faqih[*] , was to consider the appeal. More than two months later the case was still unresolved. The bailiff was now ordered to attempt to bring the parties to a settlement, but, failing that, he was to hear the opinions of the qadi and faqihs Lançol had introduced into the case and to render judgment, again with the counsel of Játiva's qadi and faqih . Finally, the bailiff general, seconded by the qadi general and his lieutenants, one being the faqih of Valencia, ordered that the sentence (of the qadi of Játiva?) be executed.
The procedure through which Muslim magistrates judged cases between Muslims under the auspices of the bailiff's court is referred to in the documents as "the Moorish process." The Muslim officials involved were remunerated for their juridical labors. After having collected a 5,000s fine from Muslim thieves of Játiva, who had been judged according to the Shariah, the bailiff of Játiva was commanded, by way of general principle, that "if some Moorish process will be made by the çalmedina or the qadi of the said morería see to it that they are paid for the writing of the said Moorish process according to their labors." Anxious to keep court costs at a manageable level, the Crown frowned on the unnecessary intervention of royal officials in the cases of Muslims. Thus, when the royal prosecutor meddled in a case under the consideration of the qadi general, the bailiff general expressed his disapproval in this manner: "I stand amazed that the process which was made against that [Muslim] is Moorish and that the prosecutors and the notary [nevertheless] are asking for a salary." The prosecutor had no business interfering in a case not being judged according to the Furs .
One can only surmise the kinds of cases treated by Valencia's Islamic judiciary without any Christian intervention. It is probable that much of this litigation was in the area of family law, which, in the words of Noel Coulson, was "generally administered in accordance with strict Shariah doctrine.... because [it] ... was regarded as a particularly vital and integral part of the scheme of religious duties." As indicated above, qadis were often called on to resolve any problems associated with the execution of Mudejar wills. Evidence from Aragon, where, owing to their greater degree of acculturation, Muslims were probably more willing to plead their lawsuits before the Christian authorities, suggests that problems stemming from marriage—divorce or breach of contract—
and guardianship of minors also came before the qadi 's[*] court. In Valencia qadis were instrumental in the drawing up of marriage contracts. In attending to such matters Mudejar judges were probably much less flexible in their interpretation and application of the law than they were in the area of commercial litigation.
Beside the formal judgeship of the qadi , one must also take into account the juridical activity of the faqih[*] , or jurist. In Valencia's Mudejar communities the jurists were accorded great status, largely on account of their knowledge of the law. In fact, in 1526 the newly converted Moriscos stated that the faqihs devoted their lives to the study of jurisprudence. They utilized their knowledge in two ways, formally, in the qadi 's court, and, informally, in the community at large. Regarding their formal function, the detailed discussion (see above) of the case involving the participation of the qadi of Játiva, a second qadi , and finally the qadi general shows that each qadi was attended by at least one faqih . In other words, the jurists acted as advisors to the judges in the Islamic courts. According to Maliki[*] law, the school of law long dominant in both Spain and North Africa, the qadi was required to consult jurisprudents before passing judgment. The Mudejar faqih's formal role may be viewed as a survival of the institutionalization of the qadi 's council (shura[*] ) in al-Andalus.
Equally, if not more important, was the faqih 's role as an informal arbitrator in the Mudejar community. There is evidence of jurists, outside of court, executing wills, offering legal advice to parties involved in litigation, and counseling couples with marital problems. The faqih s played a role, analogous to that of the Maghriban mufti s[*] , who offered their legal opinions (fatwa[*] ) either verbally or in writing to both the populace and the qadi s when requested. The importance ascribed by historians of Islamic law to the mufti s in bridging the gap between the strict orthodoxy of the Shariah and the changing necessities of daily life seems applicable to the position of the faqih s in Valencia. In their adjustment to life as a minority in a Christian society, Valencia's Muslims needed guidance from those possessed of a legal acumen sufficient to interpret and modify the substance of the Shariah as the exigencies of their situation required, while preserving the law's spirit. The dearth of documentary evidence about the faqih s is due probably as much to their informal and largely verbal adjudication as to the almost complete loss of Arabic documentation.
In sum, Muslims and Christians appear to have arrived at a system of sharing judicial responsibilities in cases involving only Muslims, which both minority and majority found satisfactory. The Islamic courts, manned by qadis and their faqih advisors, handled the hadd[*] criminal offenses and handed down decisions according to the Shariah in a large
portion of the civil cases coming before them, especially those in the realm of family law and to a lesser degree those concerning commerce and property. Royal and seigneurial magistrates helped to ensure the execution of the decisions of Mudejar judges, and administered the king's justice to those Muslims who, by their violent acts, were a threat to the common good. Meanwhile, the faqih s[*] , scattered throughout the Mudejar population, met the legal needs of many Muslims. Owing to their good offices it may be that many of the disputes between Mudejars never reached the courts as litigation.