US Muslims seek to reconcile Islamic, Western law on adoption to find homes for orphans

Refugee children from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are being resettled here. Muslim couples who can’t conceive want to adopt but don’t want to violate their faith’s teachings. State child welfare agencies that permanently remove Muslim children from troubled homes usually can’t find Muslim families to adopt them because of the restrictions in Islamic law.

The prohibition against adoption would appear contrary to the Quran’s heavy emphasis on helping orphans. The Prophet Muhammad’s father died before his son was born, so the boy’s grandfather and uncle served as his guardians, setting an example for all Muslims to follow.

However, Islamic scholars say the restrictions were actually meant to protect children, by ending abuses in pre-Islamic Arabic tribal society. Advocates for a new interpretation of Islamic law are more hopeful, at least about the prospect for a different approach to the issue in the United States. Mattson argues that the flexibility in Islamic law for accommodating local cultures and customs can lead to a solution.

Order blocking Okla. Islamic law measure extended

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge on Monday said she would rule by the end of the month on a lawsuit challenging an Oklahoma constitutional amendment that would prohibit state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-Le Grange extended a restraining order blocking enforcement of the new law until Nov. 29 during a hearing in the case.

Lawsuit filed in Okla. against Islamic law ban

An Oklahoma Muslim filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to block a state constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters that would prohibit state courts from considering international law or Islamic law when deciding cases. The measure, which got 70 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, was one of several on Oklahoma’s ballot that critics said pandered to conservatives and would move the state further to the right.

“We have a handful of politicians who have pushed an amendment onto our state ballot and then conducted a well-planned and well-funded campaign of misinformation and fear,” said Muneer Awad, who filed the suit and is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. “We have certain unalienable rights, and those rights cannot be taken away from me by a political campaign.” About 20,000 and 30,000 Muslims live in Oklahoma, Awad estimated.

The lawsuit alleges the ballot measure transforms Oklahoma’s Constitution into “an enduring condemnation” of Islam by singling it out for special restrictions by barring Islamic law, also known as Sharia law.

Sharia law being used in Germany in Muslims’ domestic disputes

9 October 2010
A leading law professor has contradicted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement that Sharia law was not practiced in Germany, saying a variety of Sharia-based rulings were being made all the time. “We have been practising Islamic law for years, and that is a good thing,” Hilmar Krüger, professor for foreign private law at Cologne University, told Der Spiegel magazine.
Family and inheritance rulings were often made according to Sharia law, he said, listing a range of examples. Women who are in polygamous marriages legal in their countries of origin can make claims of their husbands in Germany regardless of the fact that their marriages would not be lawful here. They can claim maintenance from their husbands and a share of an eventual inheritance, said Krüger.
Erlangen lawyer and Islam scholar Mathias Rohe told the magazine that the use of laws from various countries was an expression of globalisation. “We use Islamic law just as we use French law,” he said. While Canada, for example, does not recognise any foreign laws, the German legal structure allows some to be upheld — as long as they do not contradict the constitution.

Hassen Chalghoumi Calls for an “Islam of France”

Le Monde – September 30, 2010
This short article profiles the Drancy imam, Hassen Chalghoumi, now often considered an icon of “moderate Islam” in France. Chalghoumi has received a great deal of attention for taking a public position against full-face coverings in France and for a law that would ban them. This position has meant that he has been both subject to harassment and praise from different parties. He has recently published a book, Pour l’Islam de France (For Islam of France, Le CHerche Midi, 424 pgs). With reference to the Qur’an, Chalghoumi offers a new interpretation of questions of Islamic law.

Non-Muslims make increasing use of Islamic law to settle disputes

A spokesman for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) said that there had been a 15% rise in the number of non-Muslims using Islamic law arbitrations in commercial cases this year. Last year, more than 20 non-Muslims chose to arbitrate cases at the network of tribunals, which operate in London, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, Nuneaton and Luton. “We are offering a cheap and effective service for Muslim and non-Muslims,” said MAT spokesperson Fareed Chedie.

The cases mainly deal with settling business disputes without going to court, but lately also include family law and divorce. The increase in marriage and divorce cases comes as one law firm has begun offering advice on civil Scots law and sharia law, making it the first in Britain to offer both civil and Islamic law as part of one service.

“The media get this out of context and hyped up,” said Dr Saba Al-Makhtar, from the Arab Lawyers Association. “Under English law there is room to settle disputes on any ground that it is acceptable to the parties involved, provided it doesn’t conflict with English law… it is an extremely good idea.” Critics like Maryam Namazie, a spokeswoman for the One Law for All Campaign, claim that sharia law particularly discriminated against women and neglects the universality of human rights.

Dutch Muslims send divorce text messages

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that at least two Muslim men in the country have attempted to obtain divorce through digital means, according to comments by Shaikh Amer, a lecturer in Shari’a Studies at Rotterdam’s Islamic University. Amer notes cases in which men repeat the word “talaq” three times in an email, msn or text message. Critical Islamic scholars doubt whether the use of electronic media is secure enough. And under Islamic law, the paper notes, divorce is not legal until confirmed by a judge or imam.

Woman tried in Tarragona “shari’a court”

Seven men have been sent to prison without jail in Tarragona, and two others released with charges, for planning to kill a woman for “adultery” after kidnapping her from her home in Tarragona and holding her in a farmhouse, from which she escaped to a local police station.

The men allegedly created an Islamic Tribunal and illegally tried the woman for adultery using “an extremist version of Islamic law”, sentencing her to death. They were arrested in November.

Shari’a Must Not Break Dutch Law

The government will crack down on attempts to practice aspects of sharia (Islamic) law in the Netherlands which involve compulsion, pressure and a misuse of power, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told parliament on Tuesday. The minister said that some differences may be settled in a manner which does not conflict with public order, so long as they were entered into voluntarily. Nonetheless the cabinet’s job, according to Ballin, is to prevent the establishment of a parallel system in which “people take the law into their own hands or maintain their own legal system which operates outside the framework of our own legal system”.

Halal Increasingly Common on Dutch Shelves

Telegraaf reports that halal foods are gaining Dutch shelf-space in the Netherlands. The halal food includes pork-free snacks such as sausages and meatballs in which the meat is processed according to Islamic law. Manufacturer Mekkafood from Venlo drove up production 25% this year, to 7,800 tons of halal meat. Producers note demand for halal products among non-Muslims, including popular Turkish pizzas, but note that the increase in the total number of Muslims also plays a role.