With the UK urging Saudi Arabia not to go ahead with the paralysing of a Saudi man who was given the unusual punishment by a court for an attack which left another man paralysed, a sentence said to be an implementation of Islamic law. Although Amnesty has compared the sentence to torture. It was in speaking to Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight that Princess Basmah Bint Saud, of the Saudi royal family, condemned the sentence. She went on to say that: “Whether that be Christianity, Islam or other religions… we have misunderstood the core of humanity itself. It is all about being human… even in our punishments.”
19 November 2012
The implementation of the Sharia (Islamic law) in the UK has been a very controversial topic. Although certain aspects of Islamic law have been implemented in the UK for a decade, certain sections of the society seem to be resisting the idea.
Rulings under Sharia law are enforced through the 1996 Arbitration Act, which warrants any form of agreement provided that both parties agree to adhere to its decision. Since then practicing Muslims have been seeking remedies from the Islamic law at the Sharia courts to resolve disputes among themselves.
Sharia law was first brought to the attention of the public in 2008 when Dr Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, in a BBC interview remarked that adoption of some aspects of Islamic Sharia law in the UK “seemed unavoidable”. He then received some hostile reactions and his remarks were then followed by a report on Sharia courts. According to the report published by a think thank called Civitas in 2009, around 85 Sharia courts operate in Britain. The report claimed that the decision of these courts most of the time are incompatible with British common law and “inherently discriminatory against women in matters relating to child custody, domestic violence and divorce.”
The use of Sharia in the UK came under heavy criticism from the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), which is campaigning to stop its use in Britain:
”We have spoken to many women and all of them tell us the same story; sharia law is not providing them with the justice they seek. The councils are dominated by men, who are making judgements in favour of men,” said Diana Nammi, a spokesperson for IKWRO.
Further Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, has long opposed the use of Sharia in the UK, and argued the rule of law “must not be compromised by the introduction of a theocratic legal system operating in parallel”.
On 7 June 2011 Baroness Cox introduced a new Bill in the House of Lords that aims to outlaw the Sharia law where it conflicts with English law. In proposing the new Bill she said:
“Through these proposals, I want to make it perfectly clear in the law that discrimination against women shall not be allowed within arbitration. I am deeply concerned about the treatment of Muslim women by sharia Courts. We must do all that we can to make sure they are free from any coercion, intimidation or unfairness. Many women say, ‘we came to this country to escape these practices only to find the situation is worse here’.”
The Bill will receive a second reading later this year.
According to a BBC report however, increasing numbers of British Muslims are using these courts to resolve family and financial disputes. In the report Sheikh al-Haddad, a representative of the Islamic Sharia Council, the biggest Sharia body in the UK states that ”Our cases have easily more than tripled over the past three to five years, on average, every month we can deal with anything from 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that”.
Further, a leading UK barrister Sadakat Kadri supported the use of Sharia law in the UK. He told the Guardian that sharia courts were good for “the community as a whole” by putting Sharia on a transparent, public footing and should be more widely accessible to those who want to use them.
Kadri said they played a role in safeguarding human rights: “It’s very important that they be acknowledged and allowed to exist. So long as they’re voluntary, which is crucial, it’s in everyone’s interests these things be transparent and publicly accessible. If you don’t have open tribunals, they’re going to happen anyway, but behind closed doors.”
8 November 2012
Implementations of Islamic law in the UK and their effect on the integration of the Muslim community have been debated in the public. Many argue that such a move would disturb the secular nature of the society and lead to problems in creating a coherent society. On the other hand, some argue that whether or not it is allowed, it is being implemented by the Muslim community and allowing it would help the further integration of Muslims in the Britain.
The article touches upon these issues while giving examples how the Islamic law that is combined with the British law is implemented to solve the problems of British Muslims.
10 October 2012
Football team Newcastle United cut a controversial £24 Million bound sponsorship deal with moneylender company Wonga. The deal drew immediate criticism from public for the high interest rate that the company charges for the loans. One of the harshest criticisms came from Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle City Council, who said: “I’m appalled and sickened that they would sign a deal with a legal loan shark. It’s a sad indictment of the profit-at-any-price culture at Newcastle United. We are fighting hard to tackle legal and illegal loan sharking and having a company like this right across the city on every football shirt that’s sold undermines all our work.”
The criticism over the deal received a new dimension when Muslim Council of Britain, one of the largest Muslim organizations in the UK, joined the debate and warned the Muslim team players that if they wear the lending company’s logo they would be breaching Islamic law. According to Islamic law giving and taking interest is considered to be a major sin. Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the MCB, said: “The idea is to protect the vulnerable and the needy from exploitation by the rich and powerful. When they are lending and are charging large amounts of interest, it means the poor will have short-term benefit from the loan but long-term difficulty in paying it back because the rate of interest is not something they can keep up with. The Islamic system is based on a non-interest-based system of transaction.”
The statement put the four practicing Muslim team players, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa in a difficult situation, though they have not made any statement on the issue.
New Jersey lawyer Abed Awad has been involved with more than 100 cases that involved some component of Shariah, or Islamic law, and knows firsthand how complicated things can get.
In one of those cases, a woman claimed she was married to a man according to Islamic law in her native West Africa. The man asserted there was no valid marriage, leaving a judge to decide whether the two were ever legally married in the first place.
If the judge rules they were married, there will be a divorce and she will receive alimony and a share of marital assets. If the judge rules that there is no marriage, then the woman will be left with nothing from her relationship.
To make a ruling, the judge will need to consider what Shariah, as understood in one corner of western Africa, says about what constitutes a legal marriage. He will likely have to consult Islamic law experts and apply what he learns to his decision.
But what if American judges were prohibited from considering Shariah and other foreign laws, as many state and national politicians want to see happen?
“How can I bring in testimony of Shariah generally, or Shariah as the law of a foreign country, when it comes to marriage? The judge won’t be able to adjudicate the case,” Awad explained.
“He can’t say yes or no because now it becomes, is he going to apply New York law or New Jersey law on the validity of a marriage that did not take place here but that took place in a foreign country?”
Counselors and activists estimate that roughly one in three Muslim marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Many Muslim Americans who divorce want their marriages dissolved in accordance with Islamic law. That means having dowries and other provisions of marriage contracts enforced, as well as obtaining an Islamic divorce certificate, which imams in the U.S. issue only after a civil divorce has been finalized.
“We recognize the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts,” said Suhaib Webb, imam at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. “We won’t issue a divorce unless they bring a certificate from downtown.”
In the 19th century, Catholicism was regarded by many people in this country as thoroughly incompatible with Americanism. They saw it as a hostile foreign element that would subvert democracy. Today, a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic, and they are taken to be as American as Mountain Dew.
We’ve come a long way in religious tolerance. Or maybe not. The belief that Catholics are irredeemably alien and disloyal has given way to the fear that Muslims pose a mortal threat to our way of life.
That distrust is behind a push in state legislatures to forbid courts from applying Islamic Shariah law in any case. Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma have passed these bans, though the Oklahoma law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.
The chief sponsor, Republican Rep. Peggy Mast, explained, “I want to make sure people understand there’s sometimes a conflict between other laws and the Constitution, and we need to assert our Constitution is still the law of the land.” That’s like asserting that the sun is hot: It will be true regardless.
The change will have about as much effect in Kansas as a ban on indoor co-ed field hockey. It turns out no one has been able to find a case where a Kansas court has actually employed Islamic strictures to reach a verdict.
If, for instance, a Muslim man marries a Muslim woman and then tries to divorce her by saying “I divorce you” three times, in accordance with Shariah, he will find he’s wasted his breath. State marriage law will govern in Kansas just as it has in other states when it conflicts with the dictates of Islam.
29 May 2012
Although with different arguments and suggestions, the Partido Popular and the Platform for Catalonia (PXC) have filed two resolutions that put the spotlight on Muslim places of worship claiming that, they have to pay property taxes for their places of praying.
The three councilors of the PXC want the city Authority of Mataro to support the idea that the Islamic places of worship should be the only temples to be asked to pay the tribute. The political motion argues that Muslims must pay the tax property because “many of the mosques we have in our country are the focus of fundamentalism that spread sharia or the Islamic law as a total law to govern their followers and that shocks directly with the objectives of a religious institution in a democracy.”
TOPEKA, Kan. — A bill designed to prevent Kansas courts or government agencies from making decisions based on Islamic or other foreign legal codes has cleared the state Legislature after a contentious debate about whether the measure upholds American values or appeals to prejudice against Muslims.
The Senate approved the bill Friday on a 33-3 vote. The House had approved it, 120-0, earlier in the week. The measure goes next to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who hasn’t said whether he’ll sign or veto the measure.
The measure doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says that courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.
But several supporters specifically cited the potential use of Shariah law in Kansas as their concern. Though there are no known cases in which a Kansas judge has based a ruling on Islamic law, supporters of the bill cited a pending case in Sedgwick County in which a man seeking to divorce his wife has asked for property to be divided under a marriage contract in line with Shariah law.
Yesterday in Dearborn, Michigan, noted anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer hosted a conference promising to advocate for “human rights” in one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. Geller, writing on her blog on Sunday, warned, “We will meet fierce resistance by Islamic supremacists who will do anything, say anything to impose the sharia and whitewash the oppression, subjugation and slaughter of women under Islamic law.”
But surprisingly, Muslim women found themselves denied entry to the conference and, after patiently waiting in the corridor after being told to wait, were removed from the Hyatt Hotel by the Dearborn Police Department and Hyatt security.
Several of the young women commented that they shared a similar appearance with Jessica Mokdad, the young women who Geller and Spencer claim was murdered in an “honor killing” (a conclusion not shared by Mokdad’s family or Michigan prosecutors).
Sadakat Kadri is an English barrister, a Muslim by birth and a historian. His first book, The Trial, was an extensive survey of the Western criminal judicial system, detailing more than 4,000 years of courtroom antics.
In his new book, Heaven on Earth, Kadri turns his sights east, to centuries of Shariah law. The first parts of his book describe how early Islamic scholars codified — and then modified — the code that would govern how people lead their daily lives. Kadri then turns to the modern day, reflecting on the lawmakers who are trying to prohibit Shariah law in a dozen states, as well as his encounters with scholars and imams in India, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Iran — the very people who strictly interpret the religious and moral code of Islam today. And some of those modern interpretations, he says, are much more rigid — and much more draconian — than the code set forth during the early years of Islamic law.
Islamic law is shaped by hadiths, or reports about what Prophet Muhammad said and did. The hadiths, says Kadri, govern how Muslims should pray, treat criminals and create medications, among other things.