The Sharia Courts


The Sharia Courts have existed since the time of the Ottoman Empire when they functioned as the official court of the State. During the British Mandate, the legal situation which preceded it was left in place; however changes were introduced which limited the jurisdiction of the Sharia Courts to personal status issues within the Muslim community.

The State of Israel recognized the Sharia Courts, their powers and rulings in accordance with the Law and Administration Ordinance, and even enacted the Kadim Appointments Approval Law which recognized the jurisdiction of the Kadim who served in the Sharia Courts before the State of Israel was created.
After the State was established, the Sharia Courts came under the authority of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, a situation which continued until its responsibilities were transferred to the Ministry of Justice on 21.2.01.

 The jurisdiction of the Sharia Courts

Under  the Palestine Order in Council 1922-1947, the Sharia Courts were given jurisdiction to adjudicate the following matters in accordance with the Sharia Courts Procedure Law for the year 1333 E:  


  • Marriages - Proof of marriage, annulment of marriage, ratification of marriage, bride prices and dowries.
  • Divorce - Proof of divorce, arbitration, separation and dissolution of marriage.
  • Maintenance - Wife, son, father and grandfather.
  • Legal capacity and guardianship.   
  • Custody of children - visitation and accommodation arrangements.
  • Genealogy of children - paternity. 
  • Administration of assets belonging to missing and legally incompetent persons. 
  • Compliance - reconciliation.
  • Wakf - religious endowments.
  • Prevention of domestic violence - Prevention of Domestic Violence Law, 5751-1991.
  • Conversion of religion to Islam - Religious Community (Conversion) Ordinance. 
  • Financial relationships between spouses - Financial Relationships between
    Spouses Law, 5733-1973.
  • Inheritance - Inheritance Law, 5725-1965.


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