The Shari’ah in Somalia

An important source of law, jurisprudence and justice norms in Somalia is Shari’ah law. The Constitutions of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Somaliland and Puntland each elevate Shari’ah as the ultimate source of law and guiding principle of governance and it is practiced as a norm in Somali courts. Courts use a combination of statutory law, Islamic jurisprudence and customary law. However, while constituting a broadly acknowledged normative order, the Shari’ah has played a minor role in international assistance to Rule of Law reform in Somalia.

The EAJ has conducted research to provide entry points to the shari’ah and its role in Somali law and justice and to provide nuanced understanding of its integral challenges. This report presents research findings for those who want to learn more about the shari’ah in general; for those who want to learn about the history of political Islam and the concomitant evolution of shari’ah in Somalia; and for those who want to engage with the potential for legal reform based on shari’ah in Somalia. It provides practical recommendations for Rule of Law Programming and support.

The report seeks to spark a dialogue among national and international practitioners with regards to the application of shari’ah in a legally pluralist Somali justice sector, with the aim to service Somalia’s population with increasingly fair and rights-based justice, especially for women and those vulnerable and marginalized groups – and it seeks to equip its readers with the concepts and background to do so in a manner appropriate to its context. 

 Download Full The Shari’ah in Somalia Report