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6 Berkeley J. Middle E. & Islamic L. 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/bjme6 and id is 1 raw text is: 1    BERKELEY J. OF MIDDLE EASTERN & ISLAMIC LAW

Shlomo C. Pill'
Legal systems tend to draw critical distinctions between members and
nonmembers of the legal-political community. Typically, citizens, by virtue of
shouldering the burden of legal obligations, enjoy more expansive legal rights and
powers than noncitizens. While many modem legal regimes do offer significant
human rights protections to non-citizens within their respective jurisdictions, even
these liberal legal systems routinely discriminate between citizens and non-
citizens with respect to rights, entitlements, obligations, and the capacity to act in
legally significant ways. In light of these distinctions, it is not surprising that
modern legal systems spend considerable effort delineating the differences
between citizen and noncitizen, as well as the processes for obtaining or
relinquishing citizenship.
As nomocentric, or law-based faith traditions, Islam and Judaism also
draw important distinctions between Muslims and non-Muslims, Jews and non-
Jews. In Judaism, only Jews are required to abide by Jewish law, or halakha, and
consequently only Jews may rightfully demand the entitlements that Jewish law
duties create, while the justice owed by Jews to non-Jews is governed by a
general rule of reciprocity. Also, according to Jewish law, only Jews can marry
other Jews, and only Jews have the legal capacity to perform certain religious
acts, such as leading a congregation in prayer, slaughtering an animal for kosher
consumption, and serving as a witness to create legal realities by formally
certifying certain acts. The question of who is a Jew has thus loomed large in
Jewish law and thought for millennia.
1. S.J.D. candidate in Law and Religion, Emory University School of Law and Emory
University Center for the Study of Law and Religion; L.L.M. in Law and Religion, Emory
Law School, 2013; J.D., Fordham University School of Law, 2012. The author thanks
Vincent Cornell and Devin Stewart for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article,
and the staff of the Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern & Islamic Law for their excellent
editorial comments, which have greatly improved this piece.


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