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

By Erin E. Stiles

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This perceptive ethnographic examine bargains perception into the workings of the modern Islamic criminal process. according to fieldwork in Zanzibar, Stiles sheds gentle on how humans comprehend and use Islamic criminal principles in marital disputes and at the judicial reasoning and litigant task in Islamic kin court docket. providing exact interpretations, this ebook exhibits that Islamic judges (kadhis), clerks, and litigants cause utilizing not just their understandings of Islamic legislations but in addition their perspectives of actual and excellent marital habit, neighborhood authority, and the court’s position in the neighborhood. Stiles’ account offers a compelling and far-reaching contribution to socio-legal scholarship.

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The mwinyi mkuu asked people whether “the candidate was the man they wanted as sheha, and the people would dutifully reply in the affirmative” (Gray 1963: 165). If he did not make the outright appointment, then the candidates were likely subject to his confirmation and approval (1963). Although the last mwinyi mkuu died in 1865 and no other was appointed (Ingrams 1931), shehas have remained inf luential throughout Unguja and Pemba; Elke Stockreiter notes their role as mediators in kadhi’s courts during the colonial period (2008), and I will take up their role today in later chapters.

I always sat on a chair against the wall near Shaykh Hamid’s desk; I was often unlucky and got the worst chair in the room with the broken rattan seat. Until a typist was hired in the middle of 2000, the one very old and very noisy typewriter sat on the clerks’ desk and the chief clerk, Bwana Fumu, did most of the typing by hunting and pecking with two fingers. Clearly, the courts lacked funding for new furnishings and updated equipment. As a thank you gift to the staff, I eventually ordered simple bookcases from a local furniture maker to shelve the case files, which were previously stacked on the f loor.

Although most people would agree that, according to sheria and local norms, the children’s father had the duty to support his children, a case was not opened right away. In fact, it was only after many long days in court that the kadhi and clerks eventually agreed to open a case to address the problems. Working with a representative from the district commissioner’s office, they decided it would be most effective to open the case as if Amina’s former husband was suing for child custody. The claim document, which was the only official piece of paperwork produced for this case, specified the father of the children as plaintiff suing for custody of the children.

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