ICSRU seminar: Khaled Fahmy on Hisba
Professor Khaled Fahmy (Cambridge) discusses his work on hisba (commanding right and forbidding wrong).
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Within Islamic law, hisba refers to the Quranic principle of "commanding right and forbidding wrong." Accordingly, recent post-secular scholarship has referred to the term as denoting a form of reasoning and practice connected to cultivation of selves. However, down the centuries, the term came to refer to such disparate practices as market inspection, moral regulation and censorship of different forms of intellectual production. This talk sifts through these different, even contradictory, interpretations of the term, and by relying on evidence from Egypt, it attempts to offer a critical reading of how this central Islamic principle was applied in Mamluk and Ottoman times, and explains how it abolished in the 19th century only to see it being reintroduced in the 20th century.
Khaled Fahmy is Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies at the University of Cambridge. His research interests lie in the social and cultural history of modern Egypt, and his publications include a book on the social history of the Egyptian army in the first half of the nineteenth century (All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt— 1997), a biography on Mehmed Ali (Mehmed Ali: From Ottoman Governor to Ruler of Egypt— 2008), and, more recently, an award-winning book on the intersection of law and medicine in nineteenth-century Egypt (In Quest of Justice: Islamic Law and Forensic Medicine in Modern Egypt— 2018).