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By Erin E. Stiles

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This perceptive ethnographic examine deals perception into the workings of the modern Islamic criminal method. in response to fieldwork in Zanzibar, Stiles sheds mild on how humans comprehend and use Islamic criminal rules in marital disputes and at the judicial reasoning and litigant job in Islamic relations courtroom. featuring special interpretations, this booklet exhibits that Islamic judges (kadhis), clerks, and litigants cause utilizing not just their understandings of Islamic legislation but in addition their perspectives of actual and excellent marital habit, neighborhood authority, and the court’s function in the neighborhood. Stiles’ account offers a compelling and far-reaching contribution to socio-legal scholarship.

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Sample text

It is evident that local forms of authority changed throughout the period: kadhis became salaried appointments of the Sultan, and village elders were subsidized as well, which Pouwels describes as “buying the loyalty” of subjects (1987). Whereas in the past, town elders had much say over who had legitimate authority to resolve disputes, local level leaders in this period were appointed by the Sultanate, and were thus Ibadhis, not Shafi’is. However, Allyson Purpura writes that even though kadhis were appointed as Ibadhi experts by the Sultan, other kinds of religious expertise and Islamic knowledge were still important, for example, the Sufi shaykhs in Zanzibar Town (1997).

1057/9780230103115 - An Islamic Court in Context, Erin E. 5 Outcomes in the Mkokotoni Court, January 1, 1999–July 15, 2000 Plaintiff Win Loss None Settle Women N = 57 25 (44%) 8 (14%) 7 (12%) 16 (28%) Men N = 13 7 (53%) 4 (31%) 2 (15%) 0 Note: Table includes disputes between wives and husbands that did not involve child custody as primary complaint, N = 70. Columns “win” and “loss” refer to kadhi’s rulings; “settle” refers to an agreement reached between husband and wife; “none” refers to cases in which litigants stopped coming to court.

Stiles 34 An Islamic Court in Context the dispute and the shari’a” (1996: 132). What is necessarily absent from historical studies is a close look at the process of creating documents in a working court: how are clerks and judges deciding what information to include, and what to leave out? Although prepared documents and records reveal how the record-keeper, most often a clerk in Zanzibar’s courts, understands a case, I have found that they can differ significantly from what happened in court, and from what the claimants or the kadhi understand as the essential legal issues of a dispute.

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