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Title: Ḥisba: religious duty or practical job? Some considerations on an islamic institution between morals and markets
Authors: Vercellin, Giorgio
Issue Date: 1998
Publisher: Padova, Editoriale Programma
Abstract: The Qur'an refers many times to the duty for the believer to "order Good and prohibit Evil", a duty known as ḥisba for reasons that have not yet been explained by scholars. A first aspect must be analyzed : in the original Arabic formula (al-amr bi ’l-ma'ruf wa 'l-nahy 'an al-munkar) there is absolutely no idea either of "Good" or of "Evil". As a consequence an initial point of my article will discuss what ma'ruf and munkar refer to in this expression. Parallel to this there was in the Arab-Muslim world the āmil al-sūq, an officer in charge of the control of the market that since the 'Abbasid caliphate was called muḥtasib. Slowly the role of this muḥtasib became primarily that of market controller, and this officer became one of the top members of the government, while his duty regarding the amr bi'l-ma'ruf wa 'l-nahy' an al-munkar appears at a first glance to have been reduced. But the "old" ḥisba, intended in a "moral sense" still works, for instance in today's Saudi Arabia and in Egypt, with the stress only on the sheer control of the "public morals".
Appears in Collections:Annali di Ca' Foscari. Serie orientale

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