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The ancestral Andalusian water courts: a resilient model for contemporary Islamic banking and finance

Pedro Antonio Martín-Cervantes (Department of Economics and Business, University of Almería, Almería, Spain)
Salvador Cruz Rambaud (Department of Economics and Business, University of Almería, Almería, Spain)
María del Carmen Valls Martínez (Department of Economics and Business, University of Almería, Almería, Spain)

Journal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research

ISSN: 1759-0817

Article publication date: 8 March 2021

Issue publication date: 21 June 2021




This paper aims to examine the functioning and organizational structure of the historic Andalusian water courts, institutions of Islamic origin whose basic model should be considered in light of the regulation of modern Islamic banking and finance.


The methodology of this study has been focused on the contextualization of al-Andalus during the European Middle Ages, highlighting its enormous contributions and implications in the creation of Western knowledge. In the same way, the ordinances of the Castilian-Aragonese kings, aimed at the persistence of the Andalusian water courts in the Southeast of Spain after the Muslim period, have been used as the main sources of reference.


This research has detected that the main features of the Andalusian water courts, i.e. integrity, democracy, transparency, credibility, moral authority or simplicity (among many others), can be conveniently replicated in the scope of the current Islamic banking and finance.

Research limitations/implications

Several implications can be derived from this study: first, it highlights the total resilience of a regulatory model that “it was already there,” given by the history of the Andalusian civilization. This model will be always welcomed by the Muslim community in Western countries as it is a matter of regulating themselves according to the way their ancestors did. The main limitation faced by this research is the relative scarcity of original sources, which is justifiable given that most of the royal ordinances come from the 13th century, having unfortunately lost a good number of sources over time.


This paper seeks a feasible alternative to the controversy arising from the resolution of possible disputes in Islamic banking and finance taking into account that Western judges do not know (nor do they have to) the principles on which this discipline is based. The application of the historical Andalusian model would allow the creation of an independent jurisdiction, while subordinated to the established juridic power, without contravening the principle of “jurisdictional unity.” The last element that gives an added value to this research is spreading the achievements of the Andalusian culture and civilization, unjustly omitted by a great part of the existing literature.



Pedro A. Martin-Cervantes would like to thank Pr. Abdul Azim Islahi for having given him, during a now distant 2017, some brief indications about the study of Islamic Banking and Finance: the most important element is respect and rigor, guidelines that I will never forget.


Martín-Cervantes, P.A., Cruz Rambaud, S. and Valls Martínez, M.d.C. (2021), "The ancestral Andalusian water courts: a resilient model for contemporary Islamic banking and finance", Journal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 320-339.



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