In 1964, Tanganyika parliament passed the "Islamic Law (Restatement) Act", which empowered the minister responsible for legal affairs to prepare and publish a statement of Islamic Law after consultation with learned persons in the Islamic schools of law According to the Standard Tanzania (13.7.67), "It is understood that Tanganyika is the first country to have undertaken the exercise of codifying the Islamic Law in a statutory form. These statements will greatly assist the courts who have to rely on text books"
The Khoja Shia Ithna-asheri Territorial Council of Tanzania took keen interest in this matter. Mr. Mohamed G. Dhirani then President of the said Council took me to the Attorney Generals Chambers, where I met the lawyer in charge of that project He was a Zanzibarian Muslim. He advised me to write in English the detailed Shi'a law on related matters, for use by his office. Thus I wrote "Islamic Laws, concerning marriage, dissolution of marriage, acknowledgement, will, inheritance and waqf', Mr. Fidahussein Abdallah Hameer, then Secretary of the said Council, arranged for secretarial help.
The papers finally reached Mr. Bashir Rahim, then Senior Parliamentary Draftsman, who finalized four chapters of marriage as accepted by three principal schools of Islamic Law — Shafi’i, Hanafi and Shi'a). It was published, under authority of Mr. Rashidi Kawawa, then Second Vice-President of Tanzania, who was also responsible for Legal Depts. It appeared as the Subsidiary Legislation under the Restatement of Islamic Law Act (No. 56 of 1964), the Gazette Supplement No. 34 of 27 June, 1967. It was understood that remaining chapters relating to custody of children and divorce etc. would be published by end of the year, and then the laws would come into force.
Now the scene shifts to
I had gone to
Prior to this, I had written answers to the Commission's questionnaires which were sent to the Commission beforehand.
Returning to Dar as Salaam, I got the said Islamic Laws (about a hundred foolscap size, closely typed pages) cyclostyled, and dispatched it to the Supreme Council.
In the 3rd week of August, 1967, I was hurriedly called to
That Memorandum was submitted to the Commission and then published in the Light of July-August, 1967. (Late) Haji Mohamedali Meghji, the President of the K.S.I. Supreme Council, wrote a covering note an extract of which is reprinted before the first memorandum.
Mr. Justice Spry was heard saying to his colleagues afterwards that “these people knew what they were talking about.”
Another Memorandum on the law of Succession, written by me, was sent to the Commission and published in the Light of January-April, 1968. It is the second Memorandum in this collection.
When the above developments were taking place in
The Kenya Commission submitted its reports and recommendations sometimes in 1969. On 10.9.69 the Tanzania Govt. published a White Paper. (No 1 of 1969) to the effect that it wanted to enact a Uniform Law of Marriage, and gave the details of the provisions it wanted to be included in the proposed Act.
With the publication of the White Paper, the govt. invited comments and suggestions from communities and individuals. The Christians, the Hindus and the Ismailis published their views in the newspapers. I approached Bakwata for this purpose; they flatly refused to interfere in the Govt.'s plan. I had no alternative but to write on behalf of the Shi'a Ithna-asheris only. The comments were frank and probably the last paragraph was a bit harsh. I sent the draft to Mr. Anverali M. Rajpar, then President of the Khoja Shia Ithna-asheri Territorial Council of Tanzania. He told me to go ahead and get it published in the Standard on behalf of the Tanzania Council. It appeared in the Standard (Dar-es-Salaam) on 8th December, 1969 (Monday) and later its extracts were printed in the Light of December, 1969. This appears as the third Memorandum in this booklet.
When months later, the Supreme Council sent to me the two reports of the Kenya Commission, I was amused to see that most of the proposals of the Tanzanian White Paper were lifted from the Kenya Commission's recommendations.
While drafting the Law of Marriage Act,
Meanwhile in 1990, various Muslim associations (other than Bakwata) began a campaign for the Muslim girls to be allowed to use hij’ab in schools. Their representatives met several times, and based on their discussions, I wrote a Memorandum on Hij'ab and succession, which was ultimately presented to the President Al-Haj Ali Hassan Mwinyi. It is included in this booklet as the 4th Memorandum. It is gratifying to note that the President announced in a public speech on 10/8/1995 that Muslim girls were now allowed to wear hij’ab in schools; and the Acting Commissioner of Education issued a directive to this effect to educational institutions, the original of which may be seen on the next page, and its English translation is given at the end of the book.
The Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania feels that these Memoranda contain clear arguments to prove that the Islamic Laws, emanating from the Divine Wisdom, cannot be changed; and that the Islamic jurisprudence is the only system which can promulgate justice and fair play in a society.
It is for this reason that the
Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi,
31st October, 1998