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By E. Stiles

Stiles makes use of in-depth ethnographic learn of judicial reasoning and litigant job in Islamic kinfolk courtroom in Zanzibar, Tanzania to attract new and significant conclusions on how humans comprehend and use Islamic felony rules 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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The Marriage and Divorce (Mohammadan) Registration Decree of 1935 and 1936, amended in 1944, provided that all marriages and 18 An Islamic Court in Context divorces and revocations of divorce be registered with local authorities. In the original decree, the courts were not to recognize unregistered marriages, but this was repealed in 1944. Also, it stated that a woman could sue for back maintenance in the Shafi’i school but not in the Ibadhi. In this period, neither Ibadhi nor Shafi’i judges could grant a divorce for reasons of a husband deserting his wife unless it could be proved that he did not leave adequate maintenance.

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.

Unlike the previous act, the new law also permits a woman to return to school after delivering the baby. Fathers are required to support the child, and also perform community service (Fluet et al. 9 Issues relevant to the custody of these children would be handled in the secular rather than the kadhi’s courts. During the time of my research, all of the kadhis in Zanzibar’s primary courts were nominally appointed by the president of Zanzibar, though they were recommended by the Chief Kadhi and then underwent an interview and examination process; although the Kadhi’s Act cites the authority of a Judicial Service Commission to appoint kadhis in conjunction with the Chief Kadhi, I did not hear reference to this body (Bierwagen and Peter 1989: 407).

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