Dr Suhaib Hasan is pushing for personal sharia law to be integrated into the British legal system
* What happened to ‘Rule Britannia?’ Is this once proud nation going to succumb to the 7th century barbarism of the Koranimals?
Amnah is a modern British Muslim. She is dressed in a denim skirt and her head is covered in a hijab. Poised and self-assured, she has come to meet Dr Suhaib Hasan, a silver-bearded sheikh who sits behind his desk, surrounded by religious books.
“But why would I have to observe the waiting period?” she asks him. “What are the reasons?” There is an urgency to her questions.
“These reasons don’t apply to me, that’s what I’m very confused about. If you could give me the reasons why I have to wait three months, then I’ll understand.”
Amnah is going through a divorce and is baffled at being told that she must wait for three months to remarry, considering that she hasn’t seen her estranged husband for two years.
She twists her sock-clad toes into the carpet, grasping one hand with the other in her lap, and fixes Dr Hasan with an intense look. He meets this with a simple reply: “These rulings are all in the Koran. The rulings are made for all.”
Amnah has little choice but to comply: Dr Hasan is a judge, and this is a sharia court – in east London. It sits, innocuously, at the end of a row of terrace houses in Leyton: a converted corner shop, with blinds on the windows, office- style partitions and a makeshift reception area.
It is one of dozens of sharia courts – also known as councils – that have been set up in mosques, Islamic centres and even schools across Britain. The number of British Muslims using the courts is increasing.
Islamic courts meet every week in the UK to rule on divorces and financial disputes. Clare Dwyer Hogg and Jonathan Wynne-Jones report on demands by senior Muslims that sharia be given legal authority .
Dr Hasan, who has been presiding over sharia courts in Britain for more than 25 years, argues that British law would benefit from integrating aspects of Islamic personal law into the civil system, so that divorces could be rubber-stamped in the same way, for example, that Jewish couples who go to the Beth Din court have their divorce recognised in secular courts.
“Penal law is the duty of the Muslim state – it is not in the hands of any public institution like us to handle it. Only a Muslim government that believes in Islam is going to implement it. So there is no question of asking for penal law to be introduced here in the UK – that is out of the question.”
Despite this, Dr Hasan is open in supporting the severe punishments meted out in countries where sharia law governs the country.
“Even though cutting off the hands and feet, or flogging the drunkard and fornicator, seem to be very abhorrent, once they are implemented, they become a deterrent for the whole society.
“This is why in Saudi Arabia, for example, where these measures are implemented, the crime rate is very, very, low,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.
In a documentary to be screened on Channel 4 next month, entitled Divorce: Sharia Style, Dr Hasan goes further, advocating a sharia system for Britain. “If sharia law is implemented, then you can turn this country into a haven of peace because once a thief’s hand is cut off nobody is going to steal,” he says.
“Once, just only once, if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all.
“We want to offer it to the British society. If they accept it, it is for their good and if they don’t accept it they’ll need more and more prisons.”
These sentiments, and the vast cultural gulf they expose, alarm many in the West and go to the heart of the debate about the level of integration among Muslims living in Britain and their acceptance of British values.
Many are uncomfortable with the idea of linking sharia to civil law in Britain. In The Sunday Telegraph earlier this month, Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, wrote: “Attempts have been made to impose an “Islamic” character on certain areas?… There is pressure already to relate aspects of the sharia to civil law in Britain. To some extent this is already true of arrangements for sharia-compliant banking but have the far-reaching implications of this been fully considered?”
There are also issues around the Islamic approach to equality and human rights that make integration with British law problematic and contentious.
* Mass-Internment & deportations could solve many of these problems. Unfortunately the dhimmi Brits are not quite there yet…