In rural agrarian environments, such as Akka, an oasis in southeastern Morocco, ownership of land and water shares represents an important capital asset that can be pledged as security for a debt. Given the importance of water as a commodity, Jews lent money to Muslim neighbors through the shari’a legal system run by a local Qadi, who applied Maliki law in matters within their jurisprudence. Prof. Boum argues that although Jewish lenders still profited from the mortgaged water shares, Maliki law saw the transaction as a legal operation unlike regular usury where a party lends money in return for interest.
About the speaker: Aomar Boum received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Cultural Anthropology in 2006. His main research interests revolve around the Jews of North Africa.