Hisba: Is Egypt a civil or religious state?
parts 4, 5, and 6

4. Dar al-Hisba

This was founded by Omar, who assigned Abdallah Bin Oqba to supervise markets, inspecting measurements and scales, and preventing fraud in buying and selling.[endnote 1] During the Ottoman era, Dar al-Hisba became known as the 'municipality,' and the muhtasib became known as the 'head of the municipality'.[endnote 2]

5. Hisba cases

Hisba cases may be described as legal proceedings brought against a violation of God's rights. Every Muslim should work to safeguard these rights.[endnote 3]

6. God's rights in modern legal terminology

Most Islamic researchers, in dealing with hisba, consider God's rights as synonymous with the concept of public order, which is applicable to contemporary law. For example, al-Libidi states that contemporary law has expressed the idea of God's rights as those rights that relate to public order and the common ethics of society, which is considered an integral part of humanity. A Muslim should not contravene public order, even when this involves sacrificing his/her own interests. The concept of public order and common ethics are rules, constituting the minimum required to protect society from disintegration.[endnote 4]

This constitutes a paradox. The secular concept of 'public order' is transformed into the religious concept of God's rights. The former addresses all citizens irrespective of their attitudes towards religion, whereas the latter addresses the followers of a specific religion, and does not appeal to all citizens. This does not conform to reality unless we destroy the religious concept of God's rights, or consider non-Muslims as non-citizens, or partial citizens. This also threatens the rights of women, who are considered, according to the religious concept, not citizens, but Muslim women, with all that this entails with regard to their rights. The concept of expanding hisba cases to all branches of Egyptian law entails, implicitly for some and explicitly for others, the rejection of the fundamentals of the modern civil state and the acceptance of a religious state.


1. Al-Mawsuaa, p.605.

2. Ibid. p.624.

3. Al-Libidi, p.6.

4. Ibid., p.54.

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