17 June 2011

Kenya: Groups Split Over Calls for Female Kadhis

Nairobi — Two Islamic organisations have clashed over calls for the appointment of female Kadhis in the Judiciary. Muslim for Human Rights (Muhuri) said the appointments should be made as part of the ongoing judicial reforms in the country.

But the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) opposes the move saying religious matters, especially touching on the Islamic religion, are best left to religious scholars, reported a local daily The Star.

There are 17 Kadhis in the country, all of whom are male. They have been posted to Kisumu, Mombasa, Garissa and other parts of the country. Kadhis are law officers who deal with disputes relating to the Islamic religion.

The Kadhi courts raised a storm during the referendum campaigns. A section of Christian leaders were opposed to the inclusion of the courts in the new constitution.

Their Muslim counterparts on the other hand lobbied for the inclusion of the courts in the constitution. According to the Islamic religion, no woman should lead any religious issue where there are men.

Muhuri's executive director Hussein Khalid argued that Kadhis are judicial officers and not religious leaders and thus there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender in their appointment. "Muslims must understand that Kadhis are not religious leaders but judicial officers. They are meant to interpret the Islamic Sharia. Women too can interpret and apply the law just like men," he said in a statement.

CIPK however dismissed the notion saying religion should not be driven by a single entity that does not represent a larger whole. "This matter is only best left to the Islamic scholars to decide. It is not anybody that can make decisions on such weighty matters," said CIPK organising secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa.

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