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A tale of two courts: the Sharia of Allah and the custom of the Patriarch

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyzes the correspondence exchanged between the sharia courts authorities and the British colonial officers in Sudan between 1927 and 1934 to work out the relationship between the qadi and native courts after the imposition of Indirect Rule. It describes the response of the qadis, and their ultimate resistance, to the policy of endowing native courts with sharia jurisdiction, especially after being repulsed from participating in shaping this policy. The chapter investigates the issues at stake in the conflict between the qadis and the British administration over the relation between sharia and native courts. It speculates on what the relation could have been had the colonial officers took into consideration the input of the qadis. The chapter also investigates the discourse of custom at the heart of the policy of native administration as a sign of colonial fatigue, or, in Mamdani's words, 'colonial moral surrender'.

Keywords: British administration; Qadis; sharia court; Sudan



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