The application of Islamic inheritance law in independent and contemporary Kenya: A Muslim’s right to equality and freedom from discrimination

Authors Moza Jadeed, Attiya Waris and Celestine N Musembi

ISSN: 2521-2613
Affiliations: TBC
Source: Africa Nazarene University Law Journal, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 1, p. 30 – 64


This article argues that the observance of Islamic inheritance law (IIL) by Muslims in Kenya while the rest of the citizens employ a universal inheritance law is legitimate. It is within the Muslims’ right to equality and freedom from discrimination both under the now-repealed 1963 independence Constitution and the present Constitution of Kenya 2010. Through analysis of previous works, cases (local and foreign), statutes, international human rights instruments, international consensus documents, other international agreements, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, the article justifies the application of IIL in the country. It also conducts a thematic reading of the Qur’an, the Muslim Holy Book and the primary source of Islamic law, to demonstrate that IIL is a matter of exceptional importance to Muslims and therefore deserves accommodation in the Kenyan legal system under the right to equality and freedom from discrimination. The article, therefore, allays fears and misconceptions that the recognition of IIL in the country’s normative structures gives Muslims special treatment, makes them lucky and/or disunites Kenyans. Instead, it shows that such an arrangement is lawful and aligns with the principle of separation of the state and religion. It also makes Kenya inclusive and cohesive as it respects the rights of all its citizens, including the minorities. And because the enjoyment of this right is personal, the article highlights that the hesitance by other minority groups (locally and abroad) to assert it during their countries’ lawmaking or law reform processes does not estop Kenyan Muslims from doing it.