Home > Constitution, Islam In Kenya, Kadhi Courts, kenya, Only in Kenya > Playing the devil’s advocate-the Church

Playing the devil’s advocate-the Church

We are a nation of peculiar habits, including our Churchmen.

Globally, the Church has always sought to bring religion into the State but it’s the politicians who preach secularism. In Kenya, the Church goes to court fulminating about establishment of religious laws in a secular state, and demands ‘a wall of separation’.
In southern Sudan, our Church was at the forefront demanding the Christian and animist South be freed from the Muslim North on grounds of religious prosecution. Locally, they consider the special constitutional privileges to the Muslim minority an injustice against Christians.

The Church was categorical until last week that they were merely opposed to the constitutional entrenchment of Kadhis’ courts but not the courts’ parliamentary enactment or their existence. Yet, their first statement after the court ruling was to urge the government to scrap the courts immediately.
According to the Church, religious freedom for all was intended to exalt Christianity, not other faiths. It sees itself as the depository of the nation’s moral and social guidance, but seeks justice and quality for the Christians at the expense of the Muslims. The flip side of the political court ruling was however a wake-up call for the Muslims, creating a sense of unity and determination.

In 1960, residents of the Coastal strip wanted to join the Sultanate of Zanzibar whilst the inhabitants of NFD sought join Somalia. In both instances, the Muslim population feared that they would be discriminate against on religious grounds. The British then appointed two commissions, the Kenya Coastal Strip Commission in 1961 and the Northern Frontier District (NFD) Commission in 1962, to survey public opinion regarding their future in the light of the constitutional development sweeping East Africa.
The coastal inhabitants obtained the right to practice their faith under the new regime after the commission’s recommendation for Kadhis’ courts were promulgated by Kenya in 1963. The Somalis in NFD agitated for self determination, leading to the Shifta War. As part of the peace agreement brokered in Arusha by Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda in 1967, residents of NFD were also allowed to access the Kadhi court. The British had recognized the importance of freedom of faith and appointed the first State-funded Kadhi for NFD in 1927, based at Wajir. Clearly, these courts symbolize the most incontrovertible manifestation of the Muslim faith.

At Bomas, Muslims unsuccessfully lobbied that self-determination clause be included in the constitution as in South Africa and Ethiopia. In the latter, that provision allowed Eritrea to secede; while in South Africa the provision safeguarded the rights of the minority should they feel threatened. If these courts are scrapped, won’t Muslims renew their agitation for secession?

Muslims feel it would be a matter of time before the Church declares Kenya a Christian state. Next maybe a campaign to outlaw the call to prayer, halt Islamic Religious Education in schools, regulate mosque/madrassas and ban the Muslim veil. Early this year, the Church ran adverts questioning the growing political, social and economic status of Muslims in the country, raising concerns on such matters as Islamic banks and Halal certification.

The Church’s obsession with the growth of Islam in Kenya irks Muslims. Its perception with the growth of Islam is foreign to Kenya undermines the confidence of Muslims as citizens. The pitched anti-Islam propaganda in rural churches is bound to increase radicalism and resentment among Muslim youth who already feel discriminated against, and underprivileged.
In recent years, Muslims have been targeted and harassed on anti-terrorism related security crackdowns. Muslims are calm. But for how long?
Before the clergy’s impunity drives us to the brink could someone forward their envelope to The Hague?

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  1. Dismas
    June 2, 2010 at 10:52 am

    What are trying to advocate? your sentiments being directly targeted at Christian clergies leaves no room for debate, raising a finger against men of God is an abomination! The almighty God will deal with you.
    On kadhis courts, what value is this court going to add to you as muslims, and why are you fighting tooth and nail to defend it? Don’t you have hidden motives as pertains the same?
    Sorry, we as christians don’t need any religious court in the constitution and we see no need for religious courts in the constitution.

  2. kunemaajabu
    June 2, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Actually, contrary to what you believe, the Kadhi courts have not had any impact on 90% of the Muslims in Kenya. The question is why the sudden campaign to drag them out of the constitution?
    I believe that they are not a determining factor, nor an influence, in regards to whether the Muslim poppulation rejects or supports the new constitution. The draft is 90% good, and to reject it based on its content of a ‘not-so-useful’ kadhi courts will be a bigger loss to the Kenyans than it will be to any Kenyan confessing Islam.

  3. nahashon
    June 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    The question should not be one of Christianity, Islam or Hindu, rather the question should be the interpretation and consolidation of common values n aspirations e.g. what is justice? is it absolute or varied? Should religion and state be separate? What is abortion? Do we want it? How do we reconcile technicalities of law and actual practice i.e. avoid legal loopholes?

    We never theorized, we never discussed,we never debated on these highly sensitive issues. We just imported thoughts, interpretations amongst other foreign ways. Europe, America n Asia debated; e.g.Thomas Hobbes and the social contract theory between the state and its citizens, Martin Luther and the equality of all men regardless of creed or colour and Confucius on the universality of all matters and issues.

    To further elaborate my point, if we decide justice is absolute then there can be no courts for muslims and others for Christians or Hindus or even pagans. However, if we decide justice is a varied and subjective concept then these same courts can exist!

    We are trying out a shortcut by:

    1) Modifying imports of foreign content to suit an African context, this is especially with respect to the Abortion clause and,

    2) Fearing open African discourse on treaties and decisions made by Europeans in our name without our express authority,

    In this the outcome is unknown,the only sure thing is tht we wil have to come back and determine our own values n then define them our own way.

    Remember in Revolution there is no shortcut!

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