Prospects for Muslim Law in South Africa: A History and Recent Developments

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Prospects for Muslim Law in South Africa: A History and Recent Developments

in Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law Online


TheSouthAfricanLawReports (1917) , Apellate Division (ed.), A.F. Russell, Johannesburg, Digma Publishers, 1973, pp. 302-316; Ismail v. Ismail, 1983, 1 SA 1006 A. 130

2 SaHy Humphreys, "Law as discourse", History and Anthropology, 1, 1985, p. 242. Nathaniel Berman, "Modernism, nationalism, and the rhetoric of reconstruction", in Dan Danielsen and Karen Engle (eds. ), After Identity: A Reader in Law and Culture, New York, Routlcdge, 1995, p. 230. 4 see Achntat Davids, The Masgrscs of the Bo-ICaa(t: A Social History of Islam at the Cape, Athlone, Cape: The South African Institute of Arabic and Islamic Research, 1980; Achmat Davids, The Histoiy af the Tana Baru, Cape Town: The Committee for the Preservation of the Tana Barn, 1985; Yusuf da Costa and Achmat Davids, Pages from Cape Muslim History, Pietermaritzburg, Shuter and Shooter, 1994. Sec also Abdulkadcr Tayob, Islamic Resurgence in South Africa: The Muslim Youth Movement, Cape Town, University of Cape Town Press, 1995; Farid Esack, Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective of Interreligious Solidarity against Oppression, London, Oneworld Publications, 1997.

Albie Sachs, "The future of Muslim family law in South Africa", in Adiancing Human Rights in South Africa, Cape Town, Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. 83-90; Firoz Cachalia, "The future of Muslim family law in South Africa", Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Occasional Paper 12, August 1991. See Winnitred Fallers Sullivan, "Finding a true story of American religion: comments on L.H. La Rue's Constitutional Latv as Fiction: narrative in the rhetoric of authority", Washington and Lee Law Review, 53 (3), 1996, pp. 981-994; "Diss-ing religion: is religion trivialized in American public discourse?" in journal ofReligion, 75, 1975, pp. 69-79; "Religion, law and the construction of identities", in Numen, 43(2), 1996, pp. 128-138; "Competing theories of religion and law in the Supreme Court ofdie United States: an Hasidic case", Numen, 43(2), 199b, pp. 184-212. 8 J. A. Naude, "Islam in South Africa: a general survey", in journal ofMuslim Institute of Minority Affairs (JIMMA), 6(1), 1985, p. 21. 9 Albie Sachs, Justice in South Africa, London, Catto/Heinemann, 1973, p. 18. 10 G. G. Visagie, Regspleging en Reg aan die Kaap van 1652 tot 1806, Kaapstad, Juta en Kie, 1969, p. 67; C. H. Van Zyl, "The Batavian and the Cape Plakaten: an historical narrative", The South African Law journal, 24, 1907, pp. 241-383 is of the opinion that the Batavian and Cape Plakaten issued by the Dutch East Indian Company dealing with Muslim laws could only have been instructions and rules applicable to company officials or they were documented in collections "more for administrative purposes than for any positive law". Also see J. de V. Roos, "The statute law of the Cape in pre-British days, and some judicial decisions in relation thereto", The South African Law journal, 23, 1906, pp. 242-254; J. de V. Roos, "Mohammedan law in South Africa", The South Afiican Law journal, 24, 1907, pp. 176-186.

1 ' See Shamil Jeppie, "Leadership and loyalties: the imams of nineteenth century colonial Cape Town, South Africa",Journal of Religion in Africa, 26(2), pp. 139-162. �z Imam `Abd Allah bin Qadi 'Abd al-Salam, means Imam Abd Allah, son of qadi 'Abd al-Salam. From this it appears that Tuang Gum's father was a judge or magistrate in Tidore. 1 Robert C. H. Shell, The Establishment and the Spread of Islam at the Cape from the Beginning of Companv Rule till 1938, unpublished University of Cape Town thesis, 1974, p. 34; Davids, The Mosgues of the Bo-Kaap, p. 44. �4 Maya Brandcl-Syrier, The Religious Duties of Islam as Taught aud Explained bvAbu Ballr Effendi, Leiden,, Pretoria Oriental Studies, 1960.

�5 This involved the adaptation of the Arabic alphabet with additional Turkish vocalizations to produce a phonetic Afrikaans.

16 South African Law Commission (SALC), "Islamic marriages and related matters", Project 59 Questionnaire, p. i. "The Cape-based, Muslim Judicial Council in its founding statement issued in 1945 included among other goals to have Muslim personal law recognized by the state. 18 SALC, Project 59, p. ii. 19 The inquiry included (a) an investigation into the position of illegitimate children (Project 38); (b) marriages and customary unions of black persons (Project 51); (c) a review of the law of evidence (Project 6); and, (d) the law of intestate succession (Project 22), SALC. salt, op. cit. My emphasis on "recognition" is to point out that the language employed presumes that a regime of legal pluralism will prevail. A dominant legal system "recognizes" a subservient legal system, but the former is accepted without question. 21 SALC, op. cit.

zz Here I have in mind Professor S. Habibul Haq Nadvi's proposal published as a working paper titlcd: "Problem of safeguarding Muslim personal law in South Africa"; S.H.H. Nadvi, "Towards die recognition of Islamic personal law", in A.J.G.M. Sanders (ed.), The Internal Conflict of Laws in South Africa, Durban, Buttenvordis, 1990, pp. 13-24; Advocate A.B. Mohamed's research, Human Science Research Council Section for Political Science Research, ResearchProjed-Muslirn lam, Ret: No 3/10/12!, I984;atsosccthecditoria)ofmeJo!<� Centre for Islamic Studies, Rand Afrikaans Universiny, which took unkindly to criticism directed at the Centre by Muslims critical of its conference on personal law. ' 23 "Announcement: Muslim Personal Law", title of an undated pamphlet issued by the Secretary, Central Committee, 'ulama of South Africa. 24 An indication of government awareness of Muslim resistance is well encapsulated in this quotation of the then President, P.W. Botha who addressed Parliament after a group of

cont. insurgents consisting of several Muslims were arrested in their attempt to enter the country from Botswana: "As you are aware we have a large Muslim community who, like all other religious denominations, enjoy complete freedom of religion. Furthermore, you also know that South African Muslims are respected citizens. However, a small group has emerged within this community who, under the influences of Libya, Iran and with funding from these quarters, have committed themselves, with the ANC (African National Congress) and PAC (Pan-Africanist Congress), to terror and violence ... I have already issued instructions in this regard and our security and intelligence services are taking necessary countermeasures". (Republic of South Africa, Debatcs ofthe House ofAssemblv, Hansard, Third Session - Eighth Parliament, 14-18 April, p. 3590). 25 Pamphlet on MPL issued by Central Committee, 'utama of South Africa previously cited. -6 Ibid.

27 For the position of the Muslim Youth Movement see the organization's mouthpiece, Al-Qalam, "Comment, Muslim Personal Law: quo vadis?", 13, 1988, pp. 1-2. The Call of Islant's view was recorded in an undated pamphlet titled: "Ask the Ummah", issued in 1988. Part of the pamphlet read: "We must not and will not allow them [the state] to use our Personal Law to control and co-opt us ..." 2a See note 24. 29 The nottl'eatt.'( 'ttlama are South Africans who were trained in traditional Muslim seminaries abroad. They differ from their general ''ulama counterparts in so far as their juristic-theology is also informed by the social sciences and they critically engage with the tradition.

3o Sec Ebrahim Moosa, "Muslim conservatism in South Africa",joIl17lal Of Theology 101' Sotttbem Africa., 69, 1989, pp. 73-81.

3t See Cesar Adib Majul, "Problems in the implementation of sharia personal laws in Muslim minority countries in the Far East", Journal oflslamic and Comparative Law, 7, 1978, pp. 107-132. 'z J.N.D. Anderson, "The role of personal statutes in social development in Islamic countries", Comparative Studies in Society and History, 13, 1971, p. 18. 33 See Sherman A. Jackson, Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihab al- Din al-Qarafi, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1996, pp. 124, 126.

'4 Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstrudion of Religious Thought in Islam, Lahore, Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf, reprint 1960, pp. 166-168. Iqbal was acutely aware of the need for intellectual fonvard movement in Islam, namely ijtihad, while also considering the principle of conservation. 35 See Herbert Liebesny, "English common law and Islamic law in the Middle East and South Asia: religious influences and secularization", Cleveland State Law Review, 34(3), 1985-86, pp. 19-33. ;" See Allan Christelow, Muslim Latv Courts and the French Colonial State in Alqeria, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 3-27. 37 See Nadvi, "Towards the recognition of Islamic personal law", pp. 13-24. The author uncritically asserts that Islamic law is an integral part of Divine Revelation without distinguishing between shati`a and fiqh. 3R Farida Shaheed, "Controlled or autonomous: identity and the experience of the network, women living under Islamic laws", Sigm, 1994, p. 999.

.>9 See David S. Powers, "Orientalism, colonialism, and legal history,: the attack on Muslim family. endowments in Algeria and India", Comparative Studies in Society and Histoty, 31, 1989, pp. 535-571. 40 Mu'mJ1J!ad 'Abd al-Tatvivab Mansu'a al-AhIVal al-Sha/zsiyya (Encyclopedia of Personal Law - Arabic], 6th cdn., Alexandria, Mansha' al-Ma'arif, 1995, p. 22. 41Asaf Fyzee, "Muhammadan law in India", Comparative Steadies in Societ7� and History, 5, 1963, p. 409. 42 Gregory C. Kozlowski, "Shah Bano's case, Britain's legacy and Muslim politics in modern India", in Yogendra Malik and Dhirendra Vajpeyi (eds.), Boeings and Bullock-Carts: Lalli, Politics and Socictv in India, Studies in Change and Continuity in Indian Civilization: Essays in Honour, of K. Ishwaran, vol. 3, Delhi, Chanakya Publications, 1990, p. 99. 43 Gamal M. Badr, "The recent impact of Islamic religious doctrine on constitutional law in the Middle East", in Barbara Freyer Stowasscr (ed.), The Islamic Impulse, London, Croom Helm, 1987, pp. 251-261. 44 See Michael O. Mastura, "Legal pluralism in the Philippines", Law and Societv Rerierv, 28(3), 1994, pp. 461�87, esp. 462�163.

45 Ebrahim Moosa, "Islam", in John W. de Gruchy and Martin Prozesky (eds.),A Southern Afi-ican Guide to World Religions, Cape Town, David Philip, 1991, pp. 216-220. 46 Lawrence Rosen, "Equity and discretion in a modern Islamic legal system", p. 217; also see Lawrence Rosen , "Islamic 'case law' and the logic of consequence", in June Starr and Jane F. Collier (eds.), History and Power in the Study of the Lam, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 1989. 4� Ronald Dworkin, "Law as interpretation", Criticallnguirv, pp. 179-200. 48 Not to be confused with canon law which is the opposite of "secular" qanun law.

49 I am indebted to some of the novel insights of Hans-Dieters Evers, "The bureaucratization of Southeast Asia", Comparative Studies in Society and History, 29, 1987, p. 667. Also see Amira El Azhary Sonbol, "Introduction", in Amira El Azhary Sonbol (ed.), Women, the Familv and Divorce Laws in Islamic History, Syracuse, Syracuse University Press, 1996, p. 11. 50 See Clristelow, Muslin2 Law Courts. 5� See Raymond Suttner, "African customary law: its social and ideological function in South Africa"; also by Suttner, "Legal pluralism in South Africa", International and Comparative Law Quarter�1', 19, 1970. 5z M. B. Hooker, Legal Plur^alism: An Introduction to Colonial and Neo-Colonial Laws, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1975, p. 1. 5:1 M. G. Smith, Corporations and Society, London, Duckworth, 1974, p. 121.

54 Fazlur Rahman, "Islamic modernism: its scope, method and alternatives", Intel7lational Joumal ofMiddle East Studies, 1, 1970, p. 320. 55 See Christelow, Muslim Law Courts, p. 22, where the 'ulama lose power as a result of changes to the judicial system and a loss of autonomy. s� See Stephen L. Carter, The Csrlturc of Disbelief How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion, New York, Anchor Books, 1993.

57 See Lourens du Plessis, "A Christian assessment of aspects of the Bill of Rights in South Africa's final Constitution",Journal of Theology fOr Southern Africa, 96, 1996, pp. 59-74; S. Nadasen, "The search for national values in a transforming South Africa: a dialogue between law and theology" Journal of Theology fir Southern Africa, 96, 1996, pp. 75-83. S8 Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Paying the Words Fxtra: Religious Discourse in the Supreme Court af the United States, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Universiry Press, 1994, p. 37. 59 Marc Galanter, Law and Society in Modern India, Delhi, Oxford Uuiversity Press, 1989, p. 249. 6() Sullivan, Paying the Words Extra, p. 182. AJso see Andrew W. Austin, "Faith and the constitutional definition of religion", Csemberland Law Review, 22(l), 1991, pp. 1-47.

61 Balraj Puri, "Muslim personal law: basis tor a dialogue", Islam and the Modern Aye, 16(4), 1985, pp. 205-214. 62 Shahecd, "Controlled or autonomous", p. 1002. In the words of Tahir Mahmood: "fp]ersonal law is regarded as a distinctive possession symbolising the foundations of Islamic culture. To discm�n it, is in the view of those who so believe, to give up their cultural identity, their cherished traditions", see S. Tahir Mahmood, "Uniform civil code and Islamic law", Religion, and Society, 26(4), 1979. 63 See Peter du Preez, The Politics of Identity, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1980, p. 48. �4 See the fatwa dealing with this question issued by the Shaykh al-Azhar, Jad al Haqq 'Ali Jad al- Haqq titled: "Fatwa on some rules affecting Muslim minorities", Ma�'alla-t a/-Azhar, Jamad al- Akhira 1411/ January 1991, pp. 617-619. The fatwa was solicited by by the Director of the Institute of Islamic Shariah Studies in South Africa. 6S See Christefow, Mteslint Lam Courts, p. 15. 6(1 Albic Sachs, Protecting Human Rights in a Nem Sauth Africa, Cape Town, Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 44.

67 Dan Danielsen, "Identity strategies", in Dan Danielsen and Karen Engle (eds.), After Identitil: A Reader in Laia and Culture, New York, Routledge, 1995, p. 58. 68 For further details of this judgment handed down by Justice Y.V. Chandrachud joined by Justice Murtaza Fazal Ali and Justice A. Vardarajan on 23 May, 1985 see Janak Raj Jai, Shah Bano, New Delhi, Rajiv Publications, 1986. Also see Gregory C. Kozlowski, "Shah Bano's case, Britain's legal legacy and Muslim politics in modern India"; A. R. Momin, "Conflict of law and religion in contemporary India", Social Compass, 33(2-3), 1986, pp. 223-237; Arun Shourie, "The Shariat", a two-part article in the Ilunrated Weekly of India, 12 January 1986 and 19 January 1986. Also a see a rejoinder by Rafiq Zakaria, Illustrated Weekly of India, 9 March 1986. o° Momin, "Contlict of law and religion", p. 228; also see F.R. Faridi and M.N. Siddiqi (cds.), Muslim Personal Law, Bombay, Taj Publishers, 1985. See in particular the views of Maulana Said Akbarabadi, pp. 174-175 and 177-178.

70 See du Preez, Tbe Politiu of Identity. 71 The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 published in Islamic and Comparative Laip Qiiarterly 6(l), 1986, pp. 96-100. Also see Janak Raj Jai, Shah Bano, New Delhi, Rajiv Publications, 1986; Kozlowski, "Sbah Bano's case"; Momin, "Conflict of law and religion", pp. 223-237; Arun Shourie, "The Shariat"; also see Rafiq Zakaria's rejoinder in The Illitstrated Weell�V /If l1¡dia, 9 March 1986.

72 F. R. Faridi and M. N. Siddiqi (eds.),Muslim Personal Lam, Bombay: Taj Publishers, 1985. See in particular the view of Moulana Said Akbarabadi, pp. 174-178; also Momin, "Conflict of law and religion", p. 228. '3 The South African Law Reports (1917), Apellite Division (cd.), A.F. Russell, Johannesburg, Digma Publishers, 1973, pp. 302-316; Ismail Ismail, 1983, 1 SA 1006 A; also see Kalla and Another The Master and Others, The South African Law Reports (1995) 1, January, Cape Town, Juta, 1995, pp. 261-271. '4 While some would dispute that apartheid South Africa was a secular state, J.D. Van der Vywer, Die Beske¡7ning van Mmseregte in Suid Afiilza, Cape Town, Juta and Company, 1975, observes that whilc the Roman-Dutch law may not be Christian in its origins, it unambiguously imprints the cultural values of Christianity on the law. Also sec bv the same author, "Religion", in W.A. Joubert and T. J. Scott (eds. Then Law of South Afrlca, vol. 23, notes 222-224. 'S See Smith, Corporations and Society, p. 121. 1. 76 David Dyzenhaus, Hard Cases in a Wicked Legal System: South African Law irt the Perspectije of Legal Philosophy, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991, 217. " See John Hund, Hendrik W. van der Mere, Legal Ideology and Politics in South Africa: A Social ScienceApproach, Cape Town, Centre for Intergroup Studies, 1986, p. 53 .

'x Joan Church, "Constitutional equality and the position of women in a multi-cultural society", Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, 28, 1995, pp. 289-301. '9 Sec Norbert Rouland, LcgaIAnth1'Op°/o..l1.v, Phillipe G. Planel (trans.), London, The Athlone press, 1994, p. 123 and p. 228. x° J.N.D. Anderson, "The role of personal statutes in social development in Islamic countries", Comparative Sttidics in Society and History, 13, 1971. 81 Sonbol, Wornen, the Family and Divorce Laiis, p. 11. Also sec John R. Schmidhauser, "Introduction: the impact of political change upon law, courts, and judicial elites", International Political Science Review, 13( 3), 1992, pp. 223-233. x2 Sonbol, Women, the Family and Divorce Lams, p. 2.

8.1 F. Cacahlia, "Legal pluralism and constitutional change in South Africa: the special case of Muslim family laws", unpublished paper. The author is attached to the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, at the University of Witwatersrand. RQ Yusuf Beita, "Legal pluralism in the northern states of Nigeria: conflict of law in a multi-ethnic environment", PhD, Department of Anthropology, State Universit5· of New York, 1976, p. 293. Also see David Pearl, "Cross-cultural interaction between Islamic law and other legal systems: Islamic family law and Anglo-American public policy", Clereland State Law Review, 34,

cot. 1985-86, pp. 113-127; Carlos Esplugues, "Legal recognition of polygamous marriages", Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, 17, 1984, pp. 302-321. 8S Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996, as adopted by the Constitutional Assembly on 8 May 1996 and as amended on 11 October 1996.

86 du Plessis, "A Christian assessment", p. 69.

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