Tabasarans - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Communal administration and village legal proceedings were based on customary and Quranic law ( adat and Sharia respectively). The latter was the basis for decisions on family relations, the conclusion of marriage, the personal and property relations of spouses, divorce, guardianship, and the division of inheritable property. Adat (customary law) pertained to crimes, relations between clans, and local conflicts. Although customary law was essentially the same throughout Daghestan, every village (jamaat) had its own code; that of Tabasaran consisted of seventy points. The maysum and qadi were the fully empowered rulers in their domains. The governance of the village was conducted by elected officials. Every settlement had its council of elders ( qabidir ), with representatives of each clan. At the head of the council of elders stood the senior representative ( kevkha ). The jamaat administration also included managers and overseers of fields and accounts. The more important questions that touched the entire union of village communes—such as agrarian conflicts, mutual relations between villages, external enemies, and so forth—were decided at the village assemblies that took place two or three times a year. A representative of each family participated in the assembly (but not women). In the second half of the nineteenth century the senior elder acquired more and more weight in the business of the commune. The elders represented official power in the village at the same time that the rights of the ancient popular assembly were being sharply limited. In the village assemblies members of the village court were selected for a period of one year from among the elders. The village judges were inaugurated by the chief of the district. For hearing cases and complaints, the judges assembled every morning at an accustomed place (usually near the mosque). In particularly important cases or if either side was not satisfied with a decision, they turned to their senior elder. In one type of case, questions were decided by a third court chosen from representatives of influential and wealthy clans.

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