The Islamic Legal System in Indonesia
30 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2012
Date Written: December 20, 2011
This chapter describes the historical evolution and current structure of Indonesia’s Islamic legal structure. The current system of Islamic courts in Indonesia is traceable to a late nineteenth century Dutch decree establishing a system of Islamic tribunals on the islands of Java and Madura. The decree created collegial courts in which a district-level religious official called the penghulu acted as chair and was assisted by member judges chosen from the local religious elite. The courts were authorized to decide matrimonial and inheritance disputes, but execution of the courts’ decisions required an executory decree from the civil court. The system was expanded to south Kalimantan in the 1930s, but at the same time the jurisdiction over inheritance was transferred to the civil courts. At independence, the Islamic judiciary was placed under the authority of the Ministry of Religion, which used executive powers to expand the system to other parts of the country. It was not until 1989 with the passage of the Religious Judicature Act that the existence of the courts was guaranteed by statute. The 1989 Act also vested the courts with enforcement powers and mandated changes in the organization and staffing of the courts modeled after the parallel system of civil courts. The substantive jurisdiction of the courts has also been expanded to include inheritance cases as well as a so far little-used power to decide cases involving economic transactions based on Islamic law. In 2004, the administrative supervision of the Islamic judiciary was transferred from the Ministry of Religion to the Supreme Court. In 1999, the province of Aceh was granted special autonomy status that included the authority to enforce Islamic law in areas beyond the established jurisdictions of Shari‛a courts in the rest of the country. These developments add a new dimension to the institutional structures for the practice of Islamic law in the country.
Keywords: Islamic Law, Indonesia, Legal Professionals
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