Kadhi’s Courts in Kenya go back many centuries. The Constitution of Kenya provides for Kadhi’s courts to decide disputes of personal law among Muslims — marriage, divorce and inheritance.

The courts existed in the East African coast before colonization. In Kenya, the coast was under the Sultan of Zanzibar. In 1895, he gave the British power to administer the 10-mile coastal strip if they respected the courts. But he retained sovereignty. During the independence talks, the courts were legislated.

Kadhi’s Courts in Kenya deal with Islamic matters. The court is composed of a Chief Kadhi and at least three other Kadhis or as may be prescribed by Parliament. Each kadhi’s court is subordinate to the high Court. A Kadhi is proficient in Islamic law.

A person shall not qualify to be appointed Kadhi unless, in the opinion of the Judicial Service Commission, he professes the Muslim religion and has knowledge of the Muslim law applicable to any sects. For a kadhi’s court to have jurisdiction over any person, parties to the dispute must profess the Islamic faith. Jurisdiction is limited to personal matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. It does not have any criminal jurisdiction.