Akhbār Miṣr

Akhbār Miṣr (History of Egypt), a chronicle written by al-Musabbiḥī (d. 420/1030), contains a new literary genre for Islamic criminal justice: criminal reports. Throughout the extant sections of the chronicle covering 414-415/1023-1025, al-Musabbiḥī will narrate in astonishing detail, with a dry and restrained tone, criminal cases that occurred in the Fatimid-era cities of al-Fusṭāṭ and Cairo along with crimes in rural areas. Al-Musabbiḥī’s criminal reports give a unique look on criminal law in action without significant literary embellishments in their portrayal. This criminal report is a rare example of a cold case where a murdered cloth merchant found in the desert is never solved. Such a narrative aptly illustrates the realities of criminal justice where solving some cases was extremely difficult, if not impossible, a fact that holds true today.

The source is edited by W. G. Millward in al-MusabbiḥīAkhbār Miṣr fī Sanatayn (414-415 H.). Cairo:al-Hayʼah al-Miṣrīyah al- ʻĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1980. A scan of this criminal case has been made available. 

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