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The judge as tragic hero: Judicial ethics in Lebanon's shari'a courts



In this article, I present ethnography of judicial practice in Lebanon's shari'a courts and find a tension between the identity of the judges presiding as Islamic religious specialists and their identity as legal professionals. Just applying the rules of the law is incompatible with true religious vocation, which demands personal engagement with the morally needy. But to ignore legal strictures is to be dismissed as a mere sermonizer. I find this case illustrative of a deeper tension between the use of rules and the disciplining of virtuous selves and argue for a new anthropology of rules to set alongside the new anthropology of ethics. [bureaucracy, ethics, Islam, law, Lebanon, rules, shari'a court]