The Codification of Islamic Criminal Law in the Sudan

Penal Codes and Supreme Court Case Law under Numayrī and Bashīr


Author: Olaf Köndgen
In The Codification of Islamic Criminal Law in the Sudan, Olaf Köndgen offers an in-depth analysis of the Sudan’s Islamized penal codes of 1983 and 1991, their historical, political, and juridical context, their interpretation in the case law of the Supreme Court, and their practical application. He examines issues that arise in sharīʿa criminal law, including homicide, bodily harm, unlawful sexual intercourse (zinā, liwāṭ), rape, unfounded accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse (qadhf), highway robbery (ḥirāba), apostasy (ridda), and alcohol consumption.

Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, a large number of previously untapped Supreme Court cases, and interviews with judges and politicians, Köndgen convincingly explains the multiple contradictions and often surprising aspects of one of the Arab world’s longest lasting applications of codified sharīʿa criminal law.

Olaf Köndgen won the DAVO Dissertation Prize 2014 for his Ph.D. thesis.

"This extremely well-documented study represents a milestone for the discussion of Islamic criminal law in the Muslim world as a whole and in the Sudan especially. Olaf Köndgen fills an academic void; his work deserves the greatest recognition, for its extraordinary quality, its thoroughness and systematic approach."
Prof. Günter Meyer, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

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Olaf Köndgen, Ph.D. (2013), University of Amsterdam, is Head of Research of the Directorate of Policy Planning at the Council of Europe (Strasbourg). He has published on politics and law of the Sudan, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, including Das Islamisierte Strafrecht des Sudan (Deutsches Orient-Institut, Hamburg 1992) and Jordanien (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1999).
"[Olaf Köndgen] hat...eine Monographie vorgelegt, wie es keine zweite über das islamische Strafrecht in einem heutigen Staat gibt. Er vergleicht die sudanesischen Strafgesetzbücher von 1983 und 1991 in Theorie und Praxis, in ihrem Verhältnis zum fiqh und in ihrer Interpretation durch die höchstrichterliche Rechtsprechung, alles eingebettet in eine Fülle von Bezügen zu Geschichte, Politik, Recht und sudanesischem Alltag. So ergibt sich ein dichtes, differenziertes und anschauliches Bild von einer Materie, die auf den ersten Blick eher spröde erscheint….Dem Autor kann zu diesem gelungenen Werk nur gratuliert werden!"
Silvia Tellenbach in Zeitschrift für Islam und Recht 12 (2020), 137-141.

“[This book] presents a wealth of knowledge about the application of Islamic penal law in the Sudan.
For criminal law this book is on the order of Y. Linant de Bellefond’s work on comparative Islamic family and civil law.
Köndgen is to be congratulated […] for achieving access to interviews with high-ranking justices.
[This book] serves as good teaching material for any future correcting of the application of Islamic law under a possibly new regime. It is a valuable historical documentation of thirty-five years of the state’s contradictory application of contradictory classical penal Islamic law in the Sudan.”
Christina Jones-Pauly in Journal of the American Oriental Society 140.4 (Oct-Dec 2020), 1019-1021.

“The organization of this book, its theoretical nuance, and its attention to case law make it one of the best publications on Islam in Sudan. One hopes for its translation into Arabic in order that it gain a wide readership.”
Asma M. Abdel Halim in The American Journal of Islam and Society 37:1-2 (2020), 137-139
doi: 10.35632/ajis.v37i1-2.853

“Köndgen’s comprehensive and detailed study constitutes a major achievement that opens a rare window into the doctrinal and judicial aspects of the Sudan’s Islamic criminal law. Its in-depth examination of the subject makes it a demanding, and ultimately rewarding read. The Codification of Islamic Criminal Law in the Sudan can be expected to become the main English language reference book on its subject.” Lutz Oette in VRÜ Verfassung und Recht in Übersee 51.2 (2018), 288-291.

“Olaf Köndgen nous offre une étude extrêmement approfondie, sinon exhaustive, de l’histoire autant décriée que méconnue de l’islamisation du droit pénal au Soudan, à partir des années 1980. Cas d’étude particulier, il est en même temps exemple paradigmatique de ce phénomène d’islamisation du droit qui agite le monde musulman depuis un demi-siècle. C’est en cette double qualité qu’il convient d’en faire la lecture.”
Baudouin Dupret in Droit et Société , 11 September 2018.


1 Introduction
The Study of Islamic Criminal Law in the Sudan
Research Questions
Sources Used

2 A Short History of Islamic Law in the Sudan
Law in the Funj Sultanate (1504–1821) and in Dār Fūr (1640–1916)
The Centralization of Justice under Ottoman-Egyptian Rule (1820–1881)
Sharīʿa of Its Own Kind: Islamic Jurisdiction under the Mahdī (1881–1898)
The Condominium and the Introduction of British-Indian Law (1898–1956)
Discussions on the Islamization of Law (1952–1969)
Numayrī and the Islamization of the Sudanese Legal System (1969–1985)
Procrastination under Siwār al-Dhahab and Ṣādiq al-Mahdī (1985–1989)
A Regime with an Agenda: al-Bashīr and al-Turābī Take Over (1989–)

3 Sources, Structures, Procedure, Evidence, and General Principles
Criminal Legislation
Enforcement and Procedure
General Principles in Sudanese Islamic Criminal Law

4 Unlawful Sexual Intercourse (Zinā) and Related Offenses
Zinā and Related Offenses in the fiqh
Zinā and Related Offenses in Sudanese Criminal Legislation
Zinā and Related Offenses in Supreme Court Case Law

5 Unfounded Accusation of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse (Qadhf)
Qadhf in Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh)
Qadhf in the Sudanese Penal Codes of 1983 and 1991
Punishment of Qadhf
Lapsing of Qadhf

6 Alcohol Consumption (shurb al-khamr)
Definition and Punishment of Alcohol Consumption in the fiqh
The Definition of Alcohol Consumption in the Criminal Codes of 1983 and 1991
Punishment of Alcohol Consumption in the Criminal Codes of 1983 and 1991
The Lapsing of the Ḥadd Penalty for Alcohol Consumption

7 Ḥadd Theft (sariqa ḥaddiyya)
Ḥadd Theft in the fiqh
Ḥadd Theft in the Penal Code of 1983
Ḥadd Theft in the Criminal Bill of 1988 and the Criminal Act of 1991

8 Highway Robbery (Ḥirāba)
Ḥirāba in the fiqh
Ḥirāba in the Penal Code of 1983
Ḥirāba in the Criminal Act of 1991

9 Apostasy (ridda)
Apostasy in the fiqh
Apostasy in the Penal Code of 1983
Apostasy in the Criminal Act of 1991

10 Homicide and Bodily Harm
Homicide and Bodily Harm in the fiqh
Homicide, Bodily Harm, and Their Punishment before and after the Penal Code of 1983
Homicide, Bodily Harm, and Their Punishment in the Criminal Act of 1991

11 Taʿzīr
Taʿzīr in the fiqh
Taʿzīr in the Penal Codes of 1983 and the Criminal Act of 1991

12 Human Rights and Sudanese Islamic Criminal Law
Survey of Human Rights Violations
Survey of Severe Sharīʿa Penalties

13 Conclusion
Development in Legislation
Development in Procedure and Evidence
Supreme Court Case Law
Political and Historical Factors
Final Thoughts

Glossary of Arabic Legal Terms
Sudanese Laws and Legislative Projects
List of Quoted Supreme Court Cases
Scholars of Islam, particularly Islam in Africa, those concerned with Islamic (criminal) law in modern legal systems (i.e., legal/political Islamization), scholars of modern Sudan and human rights in Islam.