Safina Namukose, a 30-year-old mother of three, was happy to have won a lawsuit against her husband, who had stopped child support and left the family after marrying a woman from a neighboring village.
She initially fought for months but said she had received no justice and accused her husband of bribing police officers in response to her complaint at a local police station.
“My husband married another woman in the next village. He refused to support me and the children and even did not come home,” Namukose told the Anadolu agency.
She filed a complaint against her husband with the local police station and he was summoned. “He allegedly bribed the police and their case was closed without further action,” she said.
“After I was disappointed with the police, I went to the district Sharia court where he was being treated and he came to his senses. He has now returned home and started looking after the family,” she said.
Now everything is settled and family life has returned to normal, she said, referring to the August 20 ruling in her favor by the local Sharia court.
Sharia is a religious law that has its origins in Islamic tradition. It is based on Islamic religious regulations, mainly the Koran and the hadiths. In Arabic, the Sharia refers to Allah’s immutable divine law, which was created with the help of fiqah, which refers to human intellectual interpretations.
The East African country of over 46 million people and a Muslim minority totaling more than 13% passed its constitution in 1995. Although it cited Muslim Sharia laws, it took time to implement it properly due to a lack of guidelines. In 2019, the government officially established Sharia courts in all counties of the country, which are gradually gaining popularity among the Muslim population.
In the past three months, 140 cases have been settled in the Sharia court in Bugiri, one of the country’s most Muslim districts.
In a telephone interview with the Anadolu Agency, Ashraf Muvawala, spokesman for the Supreme Council of Muslims in Uganda, claimed that Sharia courts are growing in popularity across the country.
“The Sharia courts are very busy these days,” he noted, adding. Many people come to report cases every day. “
Muslims were initially reluctant to petition Sharia courts for legal reasons, he said. “They trust it now because it has a better judicial system than other courts,” he added.
“There is too much corruption in the police and local courts, which has resulted in Muslims losing confidence in them,” said Muvawala, citing the reasons why more and more Muslims are turning to the Sharia courts.
He stated that some civil cases involving Muslims are now being referred from civil courts to Sharia courts. He explained that each district has a Sharia secretary and that there is a Shari’a directorate at the national level, which is headed by a director.
– Sharia laws deal with civil matters
“The country’s constitution contains Sharia law. However, it only regulates civil and no criminal matters,” said Shiekh Habib Lugaya, the prayer leader or imam of the Kitodha Mosque in the eastern district of Mayuges, describing the situation.
Many Muslims did not report cases to Sharia courts because of concerns about the legality and enforceability of the remedies obtained from Sharia courts. Article 129 (1) (d) of the Constitution provides for the establishment of Gadhis courts for marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody matters for persons professing the Muslim faith, according to the Muslim Center for Justice and Law (MCJL) , local not-for-profit organization that deals with Muslim family affairs.
“Although there is no specific law operationalizing the courts of Gadhis, Section 2 of the Law on Marriage and Divorce of Mohammedans provides that Muslims can regulate their marriage and divorce matters in accordance with their customs (Sharia),” she added .
In a recent article, Hajji Abdul Nsereko Mutumba, a former spokesman for the Supreme Council of Muslims in Uganda, wrote: “In Sharia law, courts can be used as a way for Muslims to resolve their disputes promptly. They’re fast, cheap, and can meet the justice needs of vulnerable people.
Ugandan Muslims have advocated Sharia law to solve these important problems because secular laws cannot solve them for the satisfaction of our consciences. Therefore, Sharia is inevitable in any community where Muslims are represented. “