NAIROBI—The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) should not be used to undermine the position of the Kadhis Courts in the country’s judicial system.
The Imam of Landhies Mosque Sheikh Ahmad Uthman pointed to a sinister ploy by churches using the BBI initiative to expunge the Kadhis courts from the constitution.
In his Friday sermon last week at Jamia Mosque, Sheikh Ahmad said the courts were of fundamental importance for Muslims and have played a key role in the acceleration and dispensation of justice in the country.
He said while Muslims were not opposed to Christians or Churches coming up with their own judicial systems, they should respect the rights of Muslims and not interfere in issues which are irrelevant to them.
“It is highly regrettable that some people with bad intentions want to use the BBI to remove the courts which have all along
been in the constitution. We will not ac- cept this,” he said.
“We call upon leaders of other faiths not to interfere in our religious affairs. Do not attempt to snatch from our hands of what rightfully belongs to us,” he said while addressing thousands of congregants who turned up for the Friday prayers at the country’s largest mosque.
In their presentation to the BBI task force, Churches under the auspices of the United Clergy Alliance objected to the presence of the Kadhis Courts in the constitution on the basis that it would be unfair for Christians to pay for courts that are “irrelevant” to them.
The spokesperson Bishop Margaret Wanjiru said the government should leave out the Kadhi courts and instead hire more judges and magistrates to enhance on the dispensation of justice in the courts.
The Deliverance Church also made the same call to scrap the Kadhi courts fromthe Constitution on the arguments that Kenya is a secular country and the courts are funded by taxpayers’ money.
The courts have been in existence along the East Coast of Africa for more than one thousand years and they were incorporated in the country’s legal framework by the British colonialists and after the country’s independence.
They are established under Article 170 of the Constitution as subordinate court under the superior courts of Kenya (Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court).
Their jurisdiction is limited to the determination of questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance in proceedings in which all the parties profess the Muslim religion and submit to the jurisdiction of the Kadhi’s court.
In their proposal to the BBI, Muslim leaders had proposed the creation of an appellate late structure in the Kadhi courts system. In the present framework, appeals in the Kadhi courts are heard and determined by the High Court and this has led to growing concerns from Muslims that while the cases were adjudicated under Islamic law, often times the
High court fails to take consideration of the Islamic judicial system during the appeal process.
Recently, the High Court annulled a divorce issued by the Kadhis court which had dissolved a marriage where a wife had who had converted to Islam went back to her Christian faith.
While the couple got married under Islamic law and the dissolution of the marriage was also conducted under Islamic law, the High Court ruled that the Kadhis court had no jurisdic- tion in the matter as the woman no longer professed the Islamic faith.