UK sharia courts not adopting Islamic law in its entirety — “We’re taking a bit of it, which is civil Islamic law”
Islamic tribunals have been set up in the West Midlands to resolve disputes among the Muslim community.
Special hearings, comprising of an Islamic scholar and a lawyer, are hearing arguments before making rulings which are legally binding before proceedings start. A Black Country judge has been appointed to advise the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (MAT) on how to make their rulings fit in with English law.
Shamim Qureshi, a district judge who lives in Wolverhampton and regularly sits at the city’s magistrates court, said they were not Sharia courts and were legally binding under the Arbitration Act 1996.
He told the Express & Star today: “That suggests it’s a court and that Sharia law is adopted in its entirety. We’re taking a bit of it, which is civil Islamic law.
“MAT is arbitration and that exists in this country. Any two people can agree to it, just like a contract with an insurance company for home insurance.”
He highlighted one case where one man was found by the panel to owe money to another man.
The panel highlighted the fact that the debtor spoke Arabic and ruled that he should teach the language to the son of the man he owed money to.
Mr Qureshi said: “Both sides were happy to deal with it in that way.
And this solution could only have been reached by relying on sharia? A Solomon-like figure arbitrating according to “common sense” — not Islamic principles — could come up with the same sort of solutions. But obviously that would never do: what sort of Muslim is willing to abide by judgments pronounced by kuffara living in a state of jahiliyya?
Britain’s Sharia CourtsÂ Â Â
ByÂ Kathy Shaidle
Muslim Sharia courts have been operating throughout England for more than a year. This startling fact came as news to not a few UK residents when theÂ Sunday TimesÂ broke the story last week. Officially called “arbitration tribunals,” these courts already have ruled on over 100 cases, including divorces, financial disputes and domestic violence cases â€“Â even though the latter is a criminal and not a civil matter.Â As such, they represent a worrying advance for Islamic law into the heart of Europe.
According to theÂ Times, the rulings of these courts are now legally binding. Previously, their judgments could not be enforced unless all parties involved agreed to abide by them. As of August 2007, however, “[r]ulings issued by a network of five Sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.” To match their growing authority, the courts themselves are proliferating: Two more Sharia courts are planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Those who monitor the spread of radical Islam throughout the Western world were quick to take note.Â Robert SpencerÂ warned, “Britain will come to regret this, but whether or not it will before it’s too late is an open question.” Author Melanie Philips, while cautioning against undue alarmism, observed that, “Sharia law is not compatible with English law or the principles of equality and human rights that it embodies. The result â€“ regardless of the fact that this is not, as theÂ Sunday Timesclaimed, anything new â€“ is that Britain is allowing the development of a de facto parallel legal system in Britain, thus destroying our society’s cardinal principle of one law for all.”
How did it come to this? Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs these courts, told theÂ TimesÂ that he and other Sharia supporters were simply exploiting a legal loophole: “We realized that under the Arbitration Act  we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals.” Indeed, Jewish Beth Din courts have operated in UK for more than a century. “If the Jewish courts are allowed to flourish,” insisted Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, “so must the Sharia ones.”
This plausible-sounding defense is in fact specious. AsÂ Robert SpencerÂ points out, “Jewish courts do not rule on the basis of a law that Jews are laboring to impose upon the whole of British society. Sharia courts are.” Therein lies a crucial distinction, and one that Sharia advocates fail to mention.
Sheikh Siddiqi and Bunglawala may have been inspired on by the example of some Canadian Muslims. Back in 2004, Muslims in the province of Ontario also used the existence of long-standing provincial Catholic and Jewish arbitration tribunals to campaign for the establishment of Sharia courts. When some expressed concern, Sharia supporters accused their critics of “Islamophobia” and paranoia. Undaunted, one intrepid reporter took the time to visit the website of theÂ pro-Sharia Canadian Society of Muslims. What he found there was chilling.
“As Canadian Muslims, you have a clear choice,” wrote the group’s president Syed Mumtaz Ali. “Do you want to govern yourself by the personal law of your own religion or do you prefer governance by secular Canadian family law? If you choose the latter, then you cannot claim that you believe in Islam as a religion and a complete code of life actualized by a prophet who you believe to be a mercy to all.” The punishment for apostasy under Sharia law is death.
Eventually, Ontario’s Liberal Premier Dalton McGinty responded to the controversy â€“ whichÂ included anti-Sharia protestsÂ in London, Amsterdam, Paris and Dusseldorf, and local protests by Canadian Muslim feminists — with a decidedly un-Solomonic gesture: he shut downÂ allÂ religious tribunals, even though Catholic and Jewish arbitration had operated without controversy for generations.
(Interestingly, two vocal Canadian Sharia law proponents, Syed Soharwardy and Mohammed Elmasry, went on to sueÂ publisher Ezra Levant and author Mark Steyn,Â respectively, for “Islamophobia” using Canada’s Sharia-like Human Rights Tribunals. As well,Â Elmasry recently endorsed the socialist New Democratic PartyÂ (NDP) in the upcoming federal election. It was aformer NDP attorney generalÂ who first proposed bringing Sharia to Ontario.)
The “Labor government has colluded with extremist Muslims” before, wroteÂ A. Millar in the Brussels Journal, “Ken Livingstone, the former Left-wing Mayor of London, has openly embraced Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who believes that wives can be beaten into submission, that homosexuals should be executed, and pregnant Israeli women should be murdered.”
Earlier this year, Archbishop of CanterburyÂ Dr. Rowan WilliamsÂ shrugged that the formal adoption of Sharia law “seemed unavoidable” given Britain’s ever-growing Muslim immigrant population. Shortly thereafter, Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips endorsed the use Islamic courts to deal with family, marital and financial disputes. Thus was the path for the mainstreaming of Sharia cleared by left-leaning members of Britain’s political and religious establishment.
Among the many troubling issues raised by this new parallel Muslim justice system is the fact that Sharia law doesn’t not recognize the equality of men and women. Sheik Siddiqi admitted as much to theÂ Sunday TimesÂ when he conceded that “the courts can favor men.” TheÂ TimesÂ reported that already, “in the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.” Each woman subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police, who then called off their criminal investigations. For his part, Siddiqi viewed these outcomes as a triumph because “marriages were saved and couples given a second chance.” Similarly,Â in a recent inheritance disputeÂ heard before a UK Sharia court, a Muslim father’s estate was split unevenly, in compliance with Sharia law: each son received twice as much as each daughter.
Violent crimes, too, have fallen under the purview of Sharia courts. Last month, theÂ Evening StandardÂ revealed that “a teenage stabbing case among the Somali community in Woolwich had been dealt with by a Sharia ‘trial’” instead of by the secular justice system. Incredibly, after the victims told police that “the matter would be settled out of court,” officers released the suspects in the violent attack on bail.
Perhaps most disturbing of all isÂ Patrick Sookhdeo’s assertionÂ in his book,Â Faith, Power and Territory: A Handbook of British Islam, that the “Sharia Council of the Darul Uloom London even appears to assume the possibility of child marriages, as there are instructions on its website for how to deal with the divorce of a girl who has not yet reached puberty.”
Surveying these developments, it seems that Britain has failed to heed the warnings of a 2005 study on “Islam and World Domination” by the U.K.’sÂ Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, which monitors the advance of Sharia in England. Back then, said the ISIC, Sharia was “already practiced unofficially.” The institute warned that, “Muslims find it difficult to assume minority status in a majority non-Muslim society. More than other minority communities, they constantly, sometimes subconsciously, strive to redress the balance and assume an expanding and dominant position in their host countries.”
That conclusion may have been dismissed as unfounded speculation in 2005. But with Sharia courts growing in stature, the verdict is decidedly in.