The Status of Shari'ah Courts in Zanzibar and Malaysia: A Comparative Exposition

Mwinyi Talib Haji


The existence of Sharī’ah Courts with specific jurisdiction in Zanzibar and Malaysia is a reflection of their importance towards the administration of justice among the Muslims. However, these courts have passed through different phases of development prior to colonialism and the period when these countries gained independent. This comparative study shows that Sharī’ah and Kadhis’ Courts have suffered a considerable intervention of British influences which to the great extent affect the jurisdictions of these courts. The problem is further piled with the introduction of multi-court systems by the British. Though the Sharī’ah and Kadhis’ Courts are retained after independent, the colonial legacy of the British common law still can be viewed as the hindrance towards the proper administration of Islamic law before these courts. Alongside this backdrop, the paper seeks to examine the current status of Sharī’ah and Kadhis’ Courts in Zanzibar and Malaysia. To achieve this, this paper examines the historical backgrounds of these courts, their jurisdictions and the procedural laws applied by them. This is made purposely in order to access the effectiveness of these courts particularly after these two nations decided to retain the multi-court systems after independent. The paper concludes by giving some recommendations which if adopted, will enhance the administration of Sharī’ah and Kadhis’ Courts in the jurisdictions under examination.

Keywords: Sharī’ah Courts, Kadhis’ Courts, Zanzibar Constitution, Malaysian Constitution

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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