Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/92

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73
PERSIA.

tice. This tribunal is in general a large room open towards a court or garden, and raised two or three feet above the ground. A kind of alcove of lattice-work is constructed in it, for the accommodation of females. The judge sits at the extremity of the apartment, in the eastern fashion: his head is covered with a large turban; the lower part of his face is concealed by a very black bushy beard; while his body is wrapped in an ample robe. He studies to assume an air of dignity, speaks little, gravely smokes his pipe, and by a happy silence, avoids those mistakes into which loquacious ignorance frequently falls. Long experience has given him a correct eye; and before he has even heard the parties, he can discover from their dress which of them is right and which wrong. Not a motion, not a gesture escapes him; he readily comprehends their signification, and in his decision he is guided much less by conscience than the expectation of a present. It is, indeed, the custom to make him one; the wealthy give stuffs, confectionary, or coffee; the artisan or the husbandman, a lamb, a sheep, or fruit; and it is necessary to conciliate the favour of his servant also, by some gift or other.

We have before adverted to the ourf, or common law. While the Sheik-ul-Islam and the Cadis decide according to the text of the Koran alone, the civil magistrates, such as the kelaunter, and the darogha, pronounce judgment in causes of minor importance, agreeably to the, common law. They even give their decisions in civil matter, here She text of the cheriet would not always be conformable with justice. It is often the case, that the two authorities, at of the. ecclesiastical magistrates and that of the civil magistrates, clash with one another; but the latter, having the effective force at their beck, carry their point without much difficulty.

CHAPTER III.

OF THE LAW OF MARRIAGE.

There is no celibacy in Islamism: your wives are to you, and you are to your wives, what the garment is to the body.” Such are the terms in which the Koran speaks of marriage. Every male, on attaining the proper age, is therefore expected to take a female companion; whether it be a slave that he purchases, a woman whom he hires, or a legitimate wife whom he marries. His religion allows him the choice of these three modes; but at the same time, forbids him to hold intercourse with loose women, and to covet the wife of another.