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The Calligraphic StateTextual Domination and History in a Muslim Society$
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Brinkley Messick

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520076051

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520076051.001.0001

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Evidence of the Word

Evidence of the Word

(p.203) Chapter 11 Evidence of the Word
The Calligraphic State

Brinkley Messick

University of California Press

This chapter examines the use of ordinary legal documents such as contracts and deeds, and considers why their value as evidence was questioned. One of the most revealing expressions of the relationship between the spoken and the written word concerns the use of documents and the rules of evidence. Witnessing is an activity grounded in the immediacy and authenticity of the senses. It pertains to the contemporary bonds of a social community. The Shafi'i evidence doctrine operates according to a marketplace theory of free circulation of witnesses, and thus of words. The meaning process of writing and creating texts such as legal documents rests on parallel movements. The first is from the shari'a to text, from the manual to the document; the second is from the world (as event) to text, from a specific human undertaking, such as a sale, to the document.

Keywords:   shari'a, written word, contracts, deeds, witnessing, writing, Shafi'i

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