The Place of Islamic Law in Tanzania Mainland

Topics: Marriage, Law, Islam Pages: 11 (3787 words) Published: June 5, 2004

Islam is one of the Universal religions of the world. As a religion, Islam is governed by an assortment of divine laws known as shariah of which its sources are mainly attributed to the divine revelations in the Holy Qur'an and traditions of the Prophet (P.B.U.H). This package is what forms the basis of the spiritual, economic, political and social guidance of Muslims. Thus, all the laws of Islam have to be annexed to and borne of the Holy texts. Contrary to this, such laws would be regarded as un-Islamic. On the other hand, as regards the modern states, the mother of all laws is the constitution. It therefore follows that any law of the land must be in conformity with the Constitution; otherwise, such a law would be declared unconstitutional or ultra vires the constitution and would be of no legal effect. In other words, no state has a right to enact any laws or rather provide for the application of the same, unless such laws have been expressly or impliedly guaranteed by the constitution. Tanzania is governed by the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977.This Constitution provides a right to Freedom of religion which includes inter alia, choice in matters of religion and change of religion. From this provision, it may be inferred that, Islam, as a religion, is recognized in Tanzania. The United Republic of Tanzania is a product of a union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika. The union consists of two governments: the union government and the government of Zanzibar. As a result of this, Islamic law in Tanzania is applied in two different modes. In the isles of Unguja and Pemba i.e. Zanzibar, Islamic law is governed by a separate system of courts known as Kadhi's courts. However, these courts are limited to Islamic matters related to personal status, marriage, divorce and inheritance in proceedings in which all parties profess the Muslim religion. On the other hand, in Tanzania mainland, there are no separate courts for the application of Islamic law. The single hierarchy of courts hears and determines disputes regarding both Muslim and non-Muslim or rather secular matters of interest. This paper will chiefly focus on the application of Islamic law in Tanzania mainland, although reference will be made to Islamic law in Zanzibar where appropriate. Take my hand and let me lead you through this. The paper will discuss the application of Islamic law during colonization and post -colonial period including the present state.

The German period:
History has proven that the people along the East African coast of the Indian Ocean came into contact with Islam long before the advent of European colonization. This was as a result of Arab settlement at the East Coast of Africa. Later on, the Germans colonized Tanganyika (present day Tanzania mainland) and acquired a ten miles coastal strip from the sultan of Zanzibar.Ofcourse this was met with resistance but the Germans managed to subdue it. The colonizers then allied with some Arab and Swahili notables and had them appointed to various administrative positions. In towns, the highest subordinate position was headed by a liwali. Back in the countryside, coloured officials known as akidas who were assisted by small chiefs known as jumbes headed administrative units. Although these titles were the same as used during the sultan's period, the colonial akidas and liwalis performed rather different functions (Makaramba 2000). However, these subordinate heads, in addition to other functions, performed judicial functions, which mainly involved the application of customary law and Islamic law.

The British period:
Following German's defeat in the First World War, Britain took over Tanganyika in early 1919.The British established a system of courts based on the class of the parties, divided...
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