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The rules of Barat. Tribal documents from Yemen

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Paul Dresch

Part 2. Customary law in context

Law and the moral system

Texte intégral

  • 1 For Iceland, W.I. Miller, Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: feud, law and society in saga Iceland (1990) (...)

1If a principle emerges from the Baraṭ documents it is that of personal protection. This is not a form of individualism, however, nor even of the endlessly disputed household-power apparent in for instance early Iceland.1 The condition of a tribesmanʼs ability to protect is its recognition by fellow tribesmen, and people are conceived of as implicated by nature in their fellowsʼ actions: families thus fall within sections, and sections within tribes, which is loosely expressed in a language of shared descent. Much of customary judgement (ḥukm ʿurfī) deals with when such relations are binding, when they can be suspended or denied. They are always there, however. Famously, these “nested” identities are not hierarchical, in the sense that, quite unlike the modern state, a larger set of people in the usual course of things has no authority over constituent sections and families; but it is only by having a place in the larger scheme that, to borrow Ḥabshūshʼs phrase, “one has a price”.

  • 2 The principles that result recur widely in northern and eastern Yemen. Apart from al‑ʿAlīmīʼs Qaḍāʼ (...)

2Between tribesmen at odds this means exact restitution for material damages, including wounds and death. Further amends are prescribed for moral damages.2 “Weak” people and the learned are both reckoned under tribal protection, and offences against them attract moral damages usually paid in some part to tribesmen; the distinctions among societyʼs estates, meanwhile, with tribesmenʼs position as in effect the norm, are marked by supposed genealogy. Both tribal standing, which descends through the male line, and the proper amends for offences against that standing are treated as indefinitely old, from the father and forefather (min ab wa-jadd). Such standing is what both requires and allows the settlement of wrongs.

  • 3 A shaykh of Nihm says naṭlub al‑sinnah min ahl al‑maqtūl, Rossi ʻDirittoʼ p. 7, Ḥabshūsh Ruʼyah (19 (...)

3The ambiguities of the term sinnah (translated consistently below as “right”, though I must also use the English word for other purposes) are indicative of the issues in texts A and B. Sinnah (classical sunnah) of course means that which is right because established practice. Apart from its use to describe the Prophetʼs practice, sinnah might often in tribal contexts be treated as a synonym of silf or ʿurf, in other words, of ancestral precedent or custom. But Rossi, citing Ḥabshūsh, gives the phrase yaṭlub al‑sinnah, meaning to ask someone to accept amends, or specify the amends they wish, and thus allow a dispute to be settled, making sinnah the customary amends due.3 This presumably is the meaning –or part of the meaning– in text B section 2 (part six, below), where “there is no sinnah to wounding a woman: no settlement is possible, no customary payment is recognized, unless conditions are met.

  • 4 al‑ʿAlīmīʼs Qaḍāʼ qabalī p. 118. The term sinnah, one should note, seems still to be current in Suf (...)
  • 5 There are several ways one might approach the problem in archaic English, by speaking for instance (...)
  • 6 Historians of law might be drawn to the term “immunity”; but in ordinary-language terms, a tribesma (...)

4A further meaning is apparent in that passage, however, and in other passages where sinnah is attributed grammatically not to a wrong but to a man, as for instance in text A sections 5, 10, text B sections 5, 6, 16, and 22. Al‑ʿAlīmī gives two distinct glosses: a connection (ṣilah) and a way or a means (ṭarīqah).4 The word also denotes a status. The ambiguities of the English term “right” allow us to mimic the essential idea that correct action and an individualʼs standing as legal subject, which here turns on giving protection, are equally involved with some collectivity,5 as in two copies of text A section 13 where a man invokes a claim bi-sinnat qabīlat-ah, the sinnah of his tribe. Someone takes responsibility on the basis of tribal identity. He may also, however, in the judgement of fellow tribesmen, lose his ability to do so. If a tribesman loses the ability to give protection then he loses the ability to claim protection, and through text B there runs a refrain that a man who commits a wrong intentionally or defaults on an obligation has “no right (sinnah), no obligation [to call on], and no fellowship”. The logic is particularly striking in text B section 19 where a man “has no sinnah except to an escort. He does not have right of refuge. Here we seem to be dealing with a generic right, of which escort (siyār) and refuge (qiṭār) are contrasting instances, and the general condition of good standing as a tribesman which allows one to seek or to offer protection can be suspended.6 It is only when that status is recognized that settlement can be made of material damages, or compensation be exchanged for wounds or killing. At this seemingly “procedural” point, custom and morality become law in the sense that actionable rules emerge.

  • 7 That men were in most respects not equal is obvious. To ignore their formal equality, however, whic (...)
  • 8 Dresch Tribes p. 55. The terms show some resemblance to what Pitt-Rivers called honour as precedenc (...)

5Arguing solely from terms would be unwise. But to judge from all we have on the subject, the logic of tribal morality seems consistent and worth brief summary as the basis of law or sharʿ. A tribesman in good standing is morally equal to other tribesmen, whatever the practical inequalities of wealth or influence may be,7 and his standing consists in his right and ability to give protection. In the first instance this means protecting his women-folk and children, his house and land. These elements form the core of “honour”, or more exactly of the couple sharaf / ʿarḍ.8 The first of the two terms marks honourʼs external or public aspect (something close to “reputation” or oneʼs worth in the eyes of others); the second refers to the vulnerable, private aspect of honour on which oneʼs worth in the eyes of others rests. To claim moral standing on the basis of protection one must have something worth protecting. To be fully a man one has to have related women-folk and children, who themselves, we should note, do not have sinnah in the sense discussed.

  • 9 The jīrān share certain characteristics of servitors elsewhere, cf. Hocart Kings and Councillors p. (...)
  • 10 This is despite the fact most jīrān attach only to particular small sections, cf. Ḥabshūsh Ruʼyah p (...)

6To be fully a tribe, it seems, one has to have protected people, the jīrān or neighbours (pl. of jār) whom we mentioned in part one. They do not have sinnah either. They cannot escort or shelter others, traditionally they did not bear arms, and they are always under tribal protection, all which is true of women also. A tribesman who wrongs one of them both commits a disgrace or shame himself (ʿāba) and insults or disgraces (ʿayyaba) those under whose protection the person lives. Women are often situated between marital and paternal kin; the two sets of family may be placed at odds, if only in routine property-transactions, and the role of third parties is limited to mediation unless wrongs against women involve outsiders from beyond the tribe (text A sections 9, 16). In the case of “weak” protégés, however, the divisive effects of offences within the tribe are denied (how well the denial worked is a separate question).9 In the documents at hand it is specified that tribesmen not take sides with one jār against another (text A section 19), and if a member of Dhū Muḥammad wrongs any jār under Dhū Muḥammadʼs care, he has one week to make amends, after which responsibility falls on his section, then on the half of the tribe his section belongs to, then on the whole tribe (text A section 20, text B section 18).10

  • 11 Serjeant ʻLaw casesʼ (part one) p. 42.

7If an outsider wrongs a jār, this is one of the definitive cases where the tribe fights and pays, or is paid, as a unit: text A section 16 (cf. sections 11, 15, text B section 11) lists specifically the market, jīrān (i.e. “weak” people) and shawfah, the most salient meaning of the last term being women. A certain association of protected status with the female is widely evident. Serjeant, for instance, discussing a law-case from Wāḥidī in southern Yemen, notes the phrase “that which shames and blames” (shāyim wa‑lāyim) and says “into this category would enter presumably any dispute relating to a woman, or an attack on a protected person, etc”.11 The two, in some formal way (not substantively, of course), are equated.

  • 12 al‑Ḥibshī (Ḥaw1īyāt p. 10 n.) misunderstands nakfah slightly as “coming out” (khurūj) against an op (...)
  • 13 For the same moral logic in a different setting, G. vom Bruck, Being worthy of protection: the dial (...)
  • 14 jazazna nawāṣī-hunna li-l-tankīf fī khurūj maḥābīs-hunna, Ḥusām al‑Dīn Tārīkh a1-yaman p. 496. See (...)

8This association of moral vulnerability with the female is part of what draws one to words such as “shame” in English, but the principle underlying that association does not depend on language. A call for support or a call to arms (nakfah)12 can be as simple as firing spaced shots from a meeting-place. If one feels oneself oppressed one can slaughter animals (ʿaqāʼir, usually bulls) to demand support; if the case is desperate one can slaughter dogs, perhaps with the implication that tribesmen are dogs without honour if they do not respond. For a woman to bring slaughter-beasts as nakfah or tankīf, let alone to bring a dog, or for a woman of a noted family to appear in such roles at all, intensifies the claim still further, for in an ordered world a woman should not have to represent herself publicly.13 No insult need be threatened to claim support. There is a generalized ideal of right and wrong at issue, such that not to uphold the right is to be in the wrong oneself, hence the power of for instance the daughter of an imprisoned sharīf in the 1840s slaughtering horses to seek help from unrelated men. Certain parts of womenʼs physical presence are particularly charged, not least their hair. The women of Radmān in Arḥab thus went on their own to Baraṭ in the eighteenth century to have Nājī Juzaylān intervene with the Imam of the day and get their men-folk released from prison: they cut off their own forelocks to “urge” or “shame” (tankīf) the shaykh into meeting a just demand.14

  • 15 Perhaps the oddest example I have come across is in Ḥusām al‑Dīn Tārīkh (al‑Ḥibshī ed. 1990) p. 492 (...)
  • 16 al‑Wazīr Ṭabaq al‑ḥalwā p. 223, Ḥusām al‑Dīn Tārīkh p. 391. Classically this might well be derived (...)

9In much of northern Yemen, as at Baraṭ, a common everyday term for a woman is shawfah, and it is therefore no surprise that in the present documents tashwīf means amends for an offence against a woman. But it is also used of offences against houses and land, and even (text B section 4) of cutting a fellow tribesman in the face, as well as of compensation for such offences; conversely it means shaming or degrading someone for evil action.15 The word ʿār suggests a similar logic. Apart from its association with private parts of the body (ʿawrah), ʿār is used colloquially of a manʼs womenfolk, yet it is also on occasion a synonym for “black shame” (ʿayb aswad) that has nothing to do with females. In the case mentioned earlier (part one, above) of Baraṭ tribes attacking a caravan in the 1660s, Sufyān wanted ʿār, amends for the insult suffered; in AD 1717 men from near Baraṭ fought in Ḥaramawt in part because they had suffered ʿār from the tribes there, “disgrace” in an earlier defeat.16

10These terms for being wronged can be distinguished, certainly. But they can also run together, as in the market guaranty (text 1 section 15: part four, below) where the three passive participles muʿayyab, mushawwaf, and muʿawwar are all but synonyms, meaning simply a person who has suffered a loss other than dam ṣāfī, that is, other than “clean blood” which is taken in a straightforward fight or vengeance. Where someone is muʿawwar or mushawwaf what should be protected or hidden, if only menʼs vulnerability, is exposed. Particular amends are due.

  • 17 Dresch Tribes p. 57. The related terms ʿurr and muʿawwar are explained as concerning mumtalakāt, th (...)
  • 18 For wajh with this sense see e.g. Dresch Tribes pp. 59-60. For making a commitment, particularly pu (...)

11Overlapping with this one finds elsewhere than Baraṭ the term muʿawwarāt, which refers to those vulnerable things on defence of which honour rests: women and the family, obviously, but also land, the house, the market or borders of a tribe, and everything that properly is sacrosanct.17 I have not heard the word muʿawwarāt used spontaneously in Dhū Muḥammad or Dhū Ḥusayn. One often hears the cognate ʿurr; however, and in discussing reparations for moral damage friends from Dhū Muḥammad say ʿurr concerns matters of ʿar or ḥurmah, that is, questions which impinge on the private, protected aspect of honour associated with for instance women and the house; ʿayb, they say, strictly speaking concerns matters of sharaf, those questions that impinge more on honourʼs public aspect, where for instance one “gives one face” (yadī wajh-ah)18 and promises to escort a traveller or protect a refugee. Such undertakings do not always involve weak dependants. Indeed usually they involve potential reciprocity, and someone wronged in such a case would not be muʿawwar or mushawwaf but muʿayyab.

  • 19 J. Pitt-Rivers The Fate of Schechem (1977), chapters 5 and 6. Hospitality is also important in syst (...)

12A tribesman may protect his moral equals, that is, protect a fellow tribesman.
The logic is explored by Julian Pitt-Rivers in his classic essays on the law of hospitality and on women and sanctuary,
19 which also explain how dependent or protected status so often connects with female objects, spaces, and linguistic terms. Many societies have been depicted by anthropologists (some in fact depict themselves) as groups of men linked through their exchange of women. Male and female are here opposed symbolically, and in exogamic systems women mediate between male-defined groups: “exogamy ... serves to structure relations between social groups that recognize each other as different but capable of being associated”. In the Middle East and the ancient Mediterranean, by contrast, one finds an interest in close-range marriage. The symbolic opposition between male and female is at least as marked, but the terms are arranged differently, the female being identified not with the spaces between males but with the interior of a male space.

  • 20 This reversal of value informs more than tall stories. In a battle, where the combatants are not to (...)

13Guests, protégés, and dependants are thus in the same position conceptually as are women. All are in a space defined by a male name, be it that of a living person or that of an “ancestor” who defines a set of persons. Such spaces are opposed to each other, and the relation between opposed men or sets of men is potentially one of hostility. But a fugitive “failing to escape out of the masculine order ... can”, in Pitt­-Riversʼs phrase, “escape in”: if he gains the interior space identified with females then, logically, he has either committed an appalling affront or renounced the very power to affront. In the latter case the refugee becomes part of what his host must defend, part of the hostʼs own honour (his sacra, one might want to say), even if the two men were previously at daggers drawn.20

  • 21 The term “open” (mubāḥ) is used of, for instance, unrestricted grazing, but it also used, both in ʿ(...)
  • 22 Literal‑mindedness is a curse of much contemporary anthropology, perplexingly where “gender” is use (...)

14In less dramatic circumstances, the law of hospitality rests on the same logic. A stranger from beyond the moral system may be taken in, of course, or equally may be treated as fair game (mubāḥ, “open” to robbery and even killing),21 but people of the same type as oneself yet from different social units, opposed to oneʼs own in the same moral universe, are defined as potential guests. A permanent guest who can never be host is a dependant, obviously (the more literal‑minded might say he is “feminized”).22 A moral equal, by contrast, is one who, at least in theory, can be guest on one occasion, host on another. The reciprocity that defines such equality “resides, not in an identity, but in an alternation of roles” (again, Pitt-Riversʼs phrasing), and the status that allows reciprocity must be recognized by others. The formal ability to act as host –or escort or protector– is precisely sinnah in texts A and B, below, or what tribesmen north of Ṣanʿāʼ more usually would call ʿarḍ.

  • 23 Classically honour is ʿirḍ. In several places I have tried having literate tribesmen write in the v (...)
  • 24 The rules about who recognizes whose ʿarḍ and thus how far collective responsibility extends for su (...)
  • 25 The terms ʿarḍ and sinnah are not quite synonyms. The former overlaps with meanings of vulnerabilit (...)

15This is the same term, ʿar or ʿir, as signifies the protected, domestic aspect of honour (the aspect identified so heavily with women), but it also refers to a manʼs formal ability to give protection.23 In short, it denotes his standing as a tribesman. The rights and obligations that derive from that individualʼs standing are conceived of as applying to or implicating other tribesmen in varying degrees, and people say for instance yā maʿṭirī mā la-k ʿar ʿalā l-muḥammadī; meaning someone in Dhū Muḥammad denies the right of a man from al‑Maʿāṭirah to protect one Muḥammadī against another or to intervene in Dhū Muḥammadʼs affairs. Brotherhood pacts, on the other hand, may assert that ʿar is shared by a whole tribe. One hears more generally the phrase al‑ʿarī meaning the right to protect others (or to be protected) is “effective” or “current”, recognized by fellow tribesmen.24 Slightly oddly, this term occurs once in text A (section 2) but nowhere at all in text B, where either more specialized terms are used or the term employed is sinnah.25

16To single out the term sinnah, as texts A and B themselves do, is to pursue a specific view of tribal law. As we shall see, the usual image of tribes as solidary blocs that coalesce unthinkingly against their neighbours is a long way removed from the documentsʼ concern with when rights are recognized by whom, and with what should be counted a breach of right. Much turns on the distinction between amends (for moral damages) and simple compensation. Across the whole corpus of tribal law, in fact, runs a line betwen different types of relation and of conduct.

Document 6: Dhū Ḥusayn and Hamdān (1275/1858)

Document 6: Dhū Ḥusayn and Hamdān (1275/1858)

Notes

1 For Iceland, W.I. Miller, Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: feud, law and society in saga Iceland (1990). Between households and the Allthing came quarters and quarter-courts (post­-AD 962), but whatever the arrangements, there seems a quite un-Yemeni assumption that freemen belong with chiefs (ibid. pp. 17,22-3, 116-17); and the nested implication of agnatic language is of course displaced by open-ended cognatic claims.

2 The principles that result recur widely in northern and eastern Yemen. Apart from al‑ʿAlīmīʼs Qaḍāʼ qabalī and Rossiʼs classic ʻDirittoʼ, Muḥammad al‑Sudumīʼs Naẓarīyat al‑ʿuqūbah fī l-sharīʿah wa-1-aʿrāf al‑qabalīyah (1993) deserves consulting. This presents a detailed analysis of ʿurf drawing mainly on al‑Sudumīʼs home-area of Khawlān al‑Ṭiyāl. He constantly uses the word text (naṣṣ) and seems often to be quoting from documentary sources, but unfortunately never tells us what the sources are.

3 A shaykh of Nihm says naṭlub al‑sinnah min ahl al‑maqtūl, Rossi ʻDirittoʼ p. 7, Ḥabshūsh Ruʼyah (1992) p. 54, see also pp. 38, 103. Naïm-Sanbar (Ḥabshūsh Yémen p. 92) has, I think, slightly mistranslated this as “nous demandons à la famille de la victime de se comporter conformément à la législation. What the shaykh is asking them to do is specifically to accept compensation and thus allow the tribe as a whole to pursue claims against outsiders. We shall describe the case itself later.
Conversely, one hears yadī al‑sinnah meaning someone says to another that he will accept payment for an offence: he “gives” sinnah, i.e. specifies (or agrees he will specify) the amount due. And in discussing the texts below, people have often used sinnat-ah miʼat riyāl interchangeably with ḥukm-ah miʼat riyāl.

4 al‑ʿAlīmīʼs Qaḍāʼ qabalī p. 118. The term sinnah, one should note, seems still to be current in Sufyān, around Baraṭ, and in the Jawf with the meaning of right of refuge. It is not familiar with this meaning further west and south in Arḥab, Khārif or Bani Ṣuraym.

5 There are several ways one might approach the problem in archaic English, by speaking for instance of a man having or losing “law”. But friends from Dhū Muḥammad have often explained sinnah precisely as ḥaqq, which falls naturally into English as “right”: e.g. lī sinnah an usayyir-ak they explain as lī ḥaqq an usayyir-ak (“I have the right to escort you”). Note the convention used here that the pronominal suffix is transcribed -ah in colloquial.

6 Historians of law might be drawn to the term “immunity”; but in ordinary-language terms, a tribesman is not immune from wrongs, nor is someone whose rights are suspended fair game for third parties. To talk of “legal personality” is easier, but not without problems. Although normally claims and counter-claims are conducted between tribesmen, a “weak” person, who has no sinnah, can nonetheless make claims in law. It is best if we try simply to follow the shape of the Arabic.

7 That men were in most respects not equal is obvious. To ignore their formal equality, however, which is just as plain, is to refuse understanding of the world they lived in, cf. Miller Bloodtaking p. 33.

8 Dresch Tribes p. 55. The terms show some resemblance to what Pitt-Rivers called honour as precedence and honour as virtue: J. Pitt-Rivers, Honour and social status in J.G. Peristiany (ed.) Honour and Shame (1965). The closer parallel, however, is with Bourdieuʼs account of the Kabyle, ʻThe sentiment of honourʼ, in the same volume. ʿArḍ and sharaf are much like ḥurmah and nif, which Bourdieu calls (perhaps too grandly) honour of the left hand and of the right.

9 The jīrān share certain characteristics of servitors elsewhere, cf. Hocart Kings and Councillors p. 115. Tribes sometimes took pride in their prosperity (Ḥabshūsh Ruʼyah 36, 40, Yémen pp. 68, 73). But, apart from protected status, perhaps the most striking feature of “weak” people in Middle Eastern cases is the way they often insulate tribesmen from the appearance of direct interdependence. See P. Dresch, Mutual deception in W. James and N. Allen (eds.) Marcel Mauss: a centenary tribute (1998) pp. 126-7.

10 This is despite the fact most jīrān attach only to particular small sections, cf. Ḥabshūsh Ruʼyah pp. 102-3. They are described at Baraṭ as jār al‑qaṣr. Only a few families enjoy wider formal links. The same sequence of responsibility recurs, however, in the market­-guaranty (text 1, below) and in documents for the protection of learned persons (al‑Akwaʿ al‑Madkhal ilā maʿrifat hijar al‑ʿilm p. 37).

11 Serjeant ʻLaw casesʼ (part one) p. 42.

12 al‑Ḥibshī (Ḥaw1īyāt p. 10 n.) misunderstands nakfah slightly as “coming out” (khurūj) against an opponent: daʿwah (a “summons” or “call for help”) would be the better gloss. But for interesting cases that employ the phrase ḍarab a1-nakaf see ibid. pp. 227, 296, 388.
For a sound interpretation of the term, Muṭahhar al‑Iryānī al‑Muʿjam a1-yamanī fī a­1-lughah wa‑l‑turāth (1996) p. 882. Examples below come from Serjeant ʻTribal affinitiesʼ pp. 36­7, ʻHistoryʼ p. 89. The case of the sharīfʼs daughter, further on, Serjeant takes from ʿAbd al‑Wāsiʿ al‑Wāsiʿīʼs Tārīkh a1-yaman.

13 For the same moral logic in a different setting, G. vom Bruck, Being worthy of protection: the dialectics of gender attributes in Yemen, Social Anthropo1ogy vol. 4/2 (1996).

14 jazazna nawāṣī-hunna li-l-tankīf fī khurūj maḥābīs-hunna, Ḥusām al‑Dīn Tārīkh a1-yaman p. 496. See also op. cit. p. 333. For a range of less dramatic nakaf in the 19th century, Ḥusayn al‑Sayāghī (ed.) Ṣafaḥāt majhūlah min tārīkh a1-yaman (1978) pp. 60, 67, 81, 116.

15 Perhaps the oddest example I have come across is in Ḥusām al‑Dīn Tārīkh (al‑Ḥibshī ed. 1990) p. 492. Nājī Nāṣir Juzaylānʼs companions from Dhū Muḥammad had killed 12 men and four women in Dhayfān. To shame (tashwīfan li-) Juzaylān the people of Dhayfān dug up the grave of Mahdī Aḥmar al‑Shaʿr, also from Dhū Muḥammad, who had died there of illness some time before, and scattered his bones on the ground.

16 al‑Wazīr Ṭabaq al‑ḥalwā p. 223, Ḥusām al‑Dīn Tārīkh p. 391. Classically this might well be derived from ʿarā but in colloquial usage one finds the verbs yuʿawwir and yuʿīr linking ʿār and ʿawrah as if they are from one root.

17 Dresch Tribes p. 57. The related terms ʿurr and muʿawwar are explained as concerning mumtalakāt, things that “belong” to or attach to a man. The word ḥurmah, often used of a man to describe his wife, works slightly differently. It can describe, as it were, the inviolable moral space of a man, a house, or a tribeʼs territory; but it is not used like ʿurr to equate directly honour and recompense. In text B section 40, one thus finds ghālī ḥurmah al‑shaykh, the cost of the shaykhʼs honour.

18 For wajh with this sense see e.g. Dresch Tribes pp. 59-60. For making a commitment, particularly putting oneʼs name to a document, one also finds gharasa l-wajh, to “plant” oneʼs face, name, or reputation.

19 J. Pitt-Rivers The Fate of Schechem (1977), chapters 5 and 6. Hospitality is also important in systems with very different marriage rules, see e.g. F. Kelly A Guide to Early Irish Law (1988) pp. 36-7, 139-40. But Pitt-Rivers provides a particularly neat approach to the (non­-exogamous) Arab cases, setting the rhetoric of marriage itself within a pattern of potential hostility and “undifferentiated” exchange.

20 This reversal of value informs more than tall stories. In a battle, where the combatants are not too panicked to respond, the phrase hajīt wa-najīt transforms one from enemy to guest, much as proffering oneʼs sword used once to do among officers of European armies.
The more profound reversal of sexual privacy is explored in W. Dostal, Sexual hospitality and the problem of matrilinearity, Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies vol. 20 (1990), though the evolutionary assumptions the author uses will seem exotic to those not immersed in German ethnology. For one of the famous cases that Dostal cites see Ibn al‑Mujāwir Tārīkh al‑mustabṣir p. 67. Op. cit. p. 38 is also of interest.

21 The term “open” (mubāḥ) is used of, for instance, unrestricted grazing, but it also used, both in ʿurf and in more formally Islamic contexts, of people and property denied the moral right of protection: see e.g. P. Dresch, A letter from Imam Yaḥyā concerning the Idrīsī, New Arabian Studies vol. 3 (1996) p. 63.

22 Literal‑mindedness is a curse of much contemporary anthropology, perplexingly where “gender” is used of what used to be called “sex” and no men or women exist but thinking makes them so. In the present case, however, “feminized” has analytic sense. The dawāshīn (heralds) and mazāyinah (servitors such as barbers) are reckoned “deficient” or nuqāṣ by tribesmen, and therefore always protégés or dependants: they may enter the events and spaces peculiar to tribal women in a way that tribal men cannot.
Also, in a world of male-defined family spaces collective hospitality to outsiders poses a problem in that the individual tribal host may claim prominence over his fellows. It used to be common practice (see e.g. Serjeant ʻSouth Arabiaʼ p. 231) to lodge guests who were strangers with the muzayyin or dawshān.

23 Classically honour is ʿirḍ. In several places I have tried having literate tribesmen write in the vowels, but ʿarḍ seems nearer to the Baraṭ pronunciation. There is no doubt that the general term for honour and the term for rights of protection are, so to speak, one word, cf. the entry for ʿirḍ in F.H. Stewart Texts in Sinai Bedouin Law part two (1990).

24 The rules about who recognizes whose ʿarḍ and thus how far collective responsibility extends for such questions as escorting strangers vary from one tribe to another, cf. E. Glaser ʻMy Journey through Arḥab and Ḥāshidʼ ([1884] 1993) p. 5. As in Glaserʼs day, al‑ʿUṣaymāt recognize a single ʿarḍ: any member of the tribe can escort a stranger in the name of all. In Banī Ṣuraym escort is the specific concern of each “ninth” unless otherwise agreed. In Sufyān, meanwhile, there is one ʿarḍ for Ṣubārah and another for Ruhm, Sufyānʼs other half.

25 The terms ʿarḍ and sinnah are not quite synonyms. The former overlaps with meanings of vulnerability in a way the latter does not. But in such phrases as al‑ʿarḍ māḍī and al‑sinnah māḍīyah (more usually al‑sinnah tamḍī) the grammatical constructions are often exactly parallel. For examples of ʿarḍ or ʿarḍah from Baraṭ at the period which concerns us here see al‑Akwaʿ Madkhal pp. 29, 35. A recent example from Sufyān is given later.

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Titre Document 6: Dhū Ḥusayn and Hamdān (1275/1858)
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© Centre français de recherche de la péninsule Arabique, 2006

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