Britain’s Muslim community of 2.8 million souls is currently in the middle of the season of Ramadan when individuals fast from sunrise to sundown taking no food or liquid. During this time, the faithful are supposed to focus on God and the things of the spirit in a disciplined way. For most British Muslims Ramadan is a serious time.
Ultra zealous Muslims however complain that they are unable to enjoy the full panoply of their faith in Britain. For this minority, the consummation of their faith would entail the full implementation of Sharia or Islamic law.
Away from the media spotlight, pro-Sharia lobbying is already taking place. In a recent BBC Panorama programme, a spokesman for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal said that he was engaged in talks with the Crown Prosecution Service and police to find an "alternative form of resolution" for domestic violence cases involving Muslims. This organisation openly acknowledges that it is aiming for the full establishment of Sharia family law in the UK.
Many commentators see this as an alarming development given the long struggle for womens’ equality and rights in the UK. Writing in the June issue of STANDPOINT ONLINE, Anne Marie Waters argues that Sharia threatens all women, Muslim and non-Muslim.
“Sharia law is turning back the clock on hard-won rights for women in the West. This is a system which treats women as second-class humans who should be obedient and who, if they are beaten, only have themselves to blame............Domestic violence is not the only area of Sharia family law that causes concern however. Women have little right to divorce under Sharia. Children go in to the custody of fathers from a preset age (regardless of the circumstances) and marital rape was described as "impossible" by the President of the ISC Maulana Abu Sayeed.
So what is the response to all of this ? Absolute unequivocal condemnation ? Not a bit of it.”
Waters goes on to highlight some of the more pathetic ‘mealey-mouthed’ responses of respected establishment figures to the vocal demands for Sharia.
“Instead, we have respected figures like Rowan Williams reiterate his white-washing of Sharia family law at Temple Church in Fleet Street recently. He again hinted at future integration of Sharia law when he said ‘it needs to be made accountable and professional in ways which the legal establishment and statutory authority is best placed to take forward’.
He is of course not the only public figure to sanitise Sharia. Former Lord Chief Justice Nicholas Phillips also argues that there is ‘no reason why Sharia principles, or any other religious code, should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution".
Foreshadowing possible developments in Scotland, a Glasgow law firm has become the first in the country to offer clients advice on Sharia law alongside its conventional legal services.
According to the Christian Institute: “the firm offers Islamic guidance on areas of civil law such as divorce and child custody, but opponents of Sharia law have warned it is inherently discriminatory.
Maryam Namazie, spokesperson for the anti-Sharia campaign group One Law for All, said: “It is antithetical to laws that have been fought for and hard won by progressive social movements, particularly in areas of family matters............The civil matters Sharia law decides on here are an extension of the criminal matters it decides on in Islamic states, such as stoning, amputations and so on”.
In an age of reason it is hoped that most Scots of all faiths and none would take a similar view to the ‘One Law For All’ campaigners.
As a Christian and a historian the facts are clear. Our laws have always been made by Parliament not by religious leaders. Superimposing an alien religious legal system which promotes inequality onto what already exists to satisfy the demands of a tiny minority is a recipe for division and disaster. It must be avoided at all costs.
Postscript: There is an e-petition to ban all Sharia law in the UK.
Responsible department: Ministry of Justice
This is to stop all 85 Sharia courts that are open and to stop anymore from opening. People residing in this country should obey by British law. No other law should ever be used in this country not now and not ever. I want to see all Sharia law banned and any one found performing these acts should be prosecuted by British law.
The closing date for signature is April 11 2014. Click on the link below to sign the petition: