An Islamic Court in Context: An Ethnographic Study of by E. Stiles

By E. Stiles

Stiles makes use of in-depth ethnographic research of judicial reasoning and litigant task in Islamic relatives court docket in Zanzibar, Tanzania to attract new and critical conclusions on how humans comprehend and use Islamic criminal principles in marital disputes.

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Extra info for An Islamic Court in Context: An Ethnographic Study of Judicial Reasoning

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Chwaka 5. Mfenesini 6. Mkokotoni Pemba’s Primary Kadhi Courts 1. Konde 2. Wete 3. Mkoani South Zanzibar Town Central Central East North B North A Central North South Today, the codified laws relevant in Zanzibar include British and Indian laws, which are considered applicable until replaced by local law. In addition to imported law, the constitution establishes that different types of local laws are also authoritative. These include those Sultanic decrees from the past that were countersigned by the British Resident, decrees of the revolutionary council, customary law, union legislation, and Islamic law.

The 1923 decree declared Islamic law to be the fundamental law of the protectorate, although this was limited by Sultanic decrees concerning criminal law and other regulations concerning procedure, like the 1917 Evidence Decree (Stockreiter 2008). In the British courts, common law ruled. Ibadhi and Shafi’i law both were to be administered in the Sultan’s court, and Anderson writes that litigants were able to choose between madhhabs (1970). However, as Stockreiter notes in citing Vaughan (1935), this was unlikely because only one district in 1935 had both kadhis (2008).

All litigants are asked to state their kabila (ethnicity) when preparing court documents, and I only rarely heard people describe themselves otherwise in court or elsewhere. Scholars have often described the Watumbatu as one of the original peoples of Zanzibar, along with the Wahadimu and Wapemba (Campbell 1962, Trimingham 1964, and Middleton 1992). Many Zanzibaris who identify as such, like the Tumbatu people I worked with, describe their ancient origins in Shiraz, sometimes via Somalia or Ethiopia.

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