Karachays - Sociopolitical Organization

Social life was regulated by adat (customary law). Only in certain spheres—family and inheritance—was Muslim law (Sharia) given preference: the Sharia court reviewed cases of divorce, guardianship, division of property, and adoption. Adat allowed for punishment by fines and other sanctions: the guilty individual could be barred from the mosque, prevented from entering the home of a deceased person to pay condolences, excluded from attendance at village festivities, subjected to a general boycott, and deprived of Muslim burial rituals. In cases of murder, the commune attempted to reconcile the hostile parties and have the matter resolved by payment of a blood-price. After rendering this payment, the murderer—bareheaded, wearing a cerement over his shoulder, his hair and beard unshorn as a sign of mourning—crawled through the crowd of villagers to the parents of the victim. The latter, as a token of reconciliation, would cut his beard with scissors. If the victim's parents did not agree to the payment, then the murderer would try somehow to touch his lips to the nipple of a breast of the murdered person's mother (or of any woman of that family). Should he succeed in doing so, the murderer was considered a relative and the hostilities came to an end.

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