Shari’ah Court in Thailand: Between Inspiration and Challenge

Sulaiman Dorloh


Thailand is a multicultural society, blending Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures into a single state structure. Within it, however, there are stark contrasts as to what role religion, especially Islam, should play in identity formation and its articulation at different levels and different planes of life. This paper shall discuss the background of the Shari’ah court in  Thailand and the problems that have been encountered through the years. Shari’ah court in Thailand commonly exists inside the ambit of the Thai judicial court system. In fact, the Shari’ah court in Thailand is an ideal Islamic court that explicitly displays the difference between state courts. The establishment of the Shari’ah court was intended to provide an alternative platform for the Muslim people in Thailand in the field of adjudication. In this paper, the author seeks to highlight the position of the Shari’ah court in the south from the point of view of the Thai judicial system and the decision of Dato’ Yuthithams (Muslim judges).  This paper will also explore recent developments in Shari’ah court which is applicable in the Malay-Muslim speaking provinces namely, Patani, Narathiwat, Yala and Satul provinces regarding cases decided by the Dato’ Yuthitham, and its jurisdiction in the matter of matrimonial disputes for the Malay Muslims.


Shari’ah court, Dato’ Yuthitham, Thai court jurisdiction, Islamic family law

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