Jews and Islamic Law in Early 20th-Century Yemen

Mark S. Wagner (Author)


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.

Product Details

Indiana University Press
Publish Date
November 19, 2014
5.62 X 0.76 X 9.83 inches | 0.98 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Mark S. Wagner is Associate Professor of Arabic at Louisiana State University and author of Like Joseph in Beauty: Yemeni Vernacular Poetry and Arab-Jewish Symbiosis.


"Mark S. Wagner has made an important and original contribution to the growing body of adaemic studies on Yemenite Jewish history and culture... Although the book's theme is how Jews negotiated life in a traditional Muslim society in which the Sharia was theoretically the overarching governing framework, Wagner also offers fascinating insights into the complexities of daily social, economic, and political life in Yemen."

--AJS Reviews

"A fascinating study indispensable to students and libraries interested in the tentative relationship between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East."

--AJL Reviews


This book is broad and interesting and opens a new window for the study of the legal status of the Jews of Yemen in the twentieth century.

"--Journal of the American Oriental Society

"Jews and Islamic Law in Early 20th-Century Yemen... is a monograph that draws on literature studies, Islamic legal studies, history and anthropology. Students and scholars from all these fields as well as Yemeni studies in general will find this a rich and well written book."

--Arabian Humanities


This book offers an important contribution to the understanding of Jewish-Muslim relations under the shari'a, and to the study of Yemeni Jews.

"--Journal of Modern Jewish Studies

"During the early twentieth century, Yemeni Jews operated within a legal structure that defined them as dhimmi, that is, non-Muslims living as a protected population under the sovereignty of an Islamic state... Wagner's work deepens our understanding of Muslim-Jewish relations in Yemen and the place of non-Muslims in Islamic law in general.6/20/15"

--New Books in Jewish Studies