David Powers Lecture
Tuesday, April 29, 2008 - David Powers, Adjunct Professor of Law and Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Cornell University spoke on The Case of Haskuri, the Mocking Jurist. The seminar examined a lawsuit that took place at the beginning of the 8th/14th century in Fez, Morocco. The defendant, a man named Haskuri, was accused of engaging in illicit sexual relations with his former wife after having divorced her. Haskuri was a distinguished jurist. In response to the charge of fornication, al-Haskuri used--some would say, abused--his knowledge of the law in an effort to extricate himself from his predicament. The qadi or judge who heard the case solicited legal opinions from two muftis or expert jurists. Each mufti issued a detailed opinion in which he provided a reasoned justification for a specific punishment. The two recommendations were widely divergent, forcing the qadi to choose between the death penalty or a lesser punishment. In the seminar, we will attempt to assess these two opinions and to determine which one should have been implemented.
The Department of History and the Program in Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies hosted a program with Professor Powers on Fathers Without Sons: The Making of the Last Prophet.