Legal competence in Shari’a courts in Israel

Oren Asman, Ido Zelkovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The activity of the Shari’a Court in Israel reflects a complex reality of ‘legal hybridity’. The Muslim tribunal serving the traditional Arab community is influenced by local circumstances and processes of internal change alongside the influence of Western modern culture. As a result, legal rulings and Shari’a terms that may sometimes express conservative perceptions operate alongside general state law that may sometimes reflect other perceptions. In this article, decisions of Shari’a courts in Israel are examined on questions of ‘legal competence’ in a sample of 24 cases from four Israeli local Shari’a courts as well as a couple of decisions from the Shari’a Court of Appeals (between 1993 and 2009). In view of competence being a key legal issue, examining the court decisions on this issue makes it possible to examine the complexity of the application of Israeli law and Shari’a law within a system of courts that on the one hand, are integral to the state’s formal legal system while on the other they see themselves as representatives of the Muslim minority and its culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-322
Number of pages16
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Israel
  • Muslim minority
  • Shari’a courts
  • legal competence
  • mental capacity assessment
  • religious courts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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