A survey has revealed that four in ten British Muslims want to implement Sharia, or Islamic law, in Muslim-majority parts of the country. One in five of those polled for the Sunday Telegraph also said they sympathized with the “feelings and motives” of the attackers who killed 52 people in attacks on the London transport system in July. The survey came a day after 10,000 Muslims took to the streets of London to express their anger and sorrow over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
They were first published in a Danish newspaper in September and were reprinted by papers in other countries, but not in Britain. The use of Sharia, or Islamic religious law, is on the rise in Britain, with thousands of Muslims using it each year to settle disputes, but women’s groups and some others are objecting to it. “You must tell the truth, sister. Because Allah is listening to everything you say, you can lie to us but not to him.
British Muslims want to implement Sharia, or Islamic law to settle disputes
” The bearded sheikh is instructing his first customer of the day to explain why he is unhappy with his marriage. Sitting behind a small table in the back room of a converted terrace house, Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad is the representative of the Islamic Sharia Council, Britain’s largest Sharia body, based in Leyton, east London.
The woman has come to the council for Islamic divorce because her husband has refused to divorce her. ”I am not happy. He is never home and I have seen messages from other women on his phone. “He doesn’t even pay to take care of the children,” the woman tells the sheikh. In Islam, it is easy for a Muslim man to end a marriage, but if the wife opposes the divorce, she must ask the judges to grant a divorce.
Will have to be persuaded to give permission. This matter is similar to those dealt with by Sharia councils, as thousands of Muslims are turning to them for help in solving family, financial and business problems in accordance with Sharia principles. According to a 2009 report by the think tank Civitas, there may be an estimated 85 Sharia councils operating in the UK.
Many bodies, such as the Islamic Sharia Council, have seen a large increase in their cases over the past five years. “Our cases have easily more than tripled in the last three to five years,” says Sheikh al-Haddad. “On average, every month we deal with 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that.
“Muslims are becoming more engaged with their faith and more aware of what we are offering them,” he explained. The principles of Sharia govern all aspects of a Muslim’s life. It is derived from a combination of sources. It includes the Quran, Hadith, which are based on the example of the Prophet Muhammad, and fatwas, which are rulings of Islamic scholars.
Sharia in Britain is being managed by locally appointed councils, parallel to the British legal system. Since 1982. But informal councils have no legal powers and cannot impose any penalties. They deal with civil matters alone, but many Muslims are preferring to willingly accept the rulings given by the scholars.
Omar Hannan, 28, from Solihull turned to Sharia rather than British courts after an ownership dispute broke out between British Muslim partners in his industrial cleaning company. “It fulfilled my Islamic spiritual principles, which was the main reason I went to the Muslim Tribunal.
“But it was also very fast. “We sorted it out in three to four months,” he said. “It only cost a few hundred pounds, and you can imagine how much that would have cost to get through the English legal system.” As the demand for Sharia continues to grow, many British law firms are beginning to take advantage of the rapidly growing market. Muslim lawyer Aina Khan has launched one of the first Sharia departments at her London-based law firm. She advises clients in accordance with both English and Islamic law.
”I am surprised that most of the people I deal with are under the age of 50. They are British Muslims who want to satisfy their British identity as well as their Muslim identity. ”So I give them a solution to their problems that satisfies both legal systems in one place.
” Despite growing demand for Sharia law in Britain, there is also growing opposition by some groups who argue that it The practice discriminates against women. The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization (IKWRO) is campaigning to end this practice. “We have spoken to several women and they all tell us the same story; Sharia law is not able to give them the justice they want.
Diana Nammy said, “Councils are dominated by men, making decisions in favor of men.” Such concerns have prompted crossbench peer Baroness Cox to introduce a bill before the House of Lords , which aims to introduce regulation of Sharia organizations in the UK.
The bill has had its first reading and is expected to have a second reading later this year “We believe that any religious law in BritainShould not apply – All Hariya bodies should be banned. This is the only way we can ensure equality of justice for all women,” argues Diana Nammi. But while calls for Sharia continue in Britain, Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad says the practice cannot be banned.
”We’re not forcing people to walk through our doors. They are coming to us voluntarily,” he said. “If you ban us, British Muslims will find somewhere else to go.” “Many people will go abroad to Muslim countries, where there will be no way to protect them.”
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