Sharia and the Courts – Your Views

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Judges process to the Palace of Westminster in central London, as part of a tradition to mark the start of the new legal year. (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP / Getty Images)
Judges process to the Palace of Westminster in central London, as part of a tradition to mark the start of the new legal year. (Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP / Getty Images)

If Clarion readers had their way, civil courts would never be allowed to rule according to sharia law even when there is no conflict with civil law. Read on to see the results of our poll and your comments on sharia and the courts…

In a landmark decision, a court in the UK recently ruled according to sharia law for the first time. We presented you with the pros and cons but you were pretty much united in your opposition:

The Poll

Should civil courts be allowed to rule according to sharia law when it doesn’t conflict with civil law?

Yes 10.20%
No 89.80%

The story in question was about a Muslim woman, Nasreen Akhter, who filed to divorce her husband, Mohammed Shabaz Khan. The couple, from Pakistani background, had married 20 years earlier but only according to sharia law and not according to British civil law.

Now that they were divorcing, Akhter wanted the state to recognize their marriage so she could claim half of her husband’s assets in a settlement, which she would have not been able to do according to sharia law.

Your Comments

Only in cases like this one where it actually helps move forward Western values, not BECAUSE it is sharia.

There needs to be one set of laws only!

The only thing that makes a law just is if it applied equally to all citizens. This principle is too important to sacrifice even if we don’t like the outcome in this particular case.

But, in cases of marriages that took place elsewhere, under sharia law, the marriage should be recognized so that UK law can apply.

When in a country one should conform to the laws of that country, providing they conform to basic human rights. If any marriage takes place in this country it should take place in the presence of a registrar. Anglican vicars are automatically able to register a marriage, Catholic priests can apply to be registrars, and those who don’t must ensure that a registrar is present at all marriages they conduct. This should also be the case for Muslims and for those of any other faith.

No, it sets a precedent for future rulings and divorce should be secular not religious.

Sharia law is what is known as customary law in the UK like club law and can be enforced provided it does not conflict with English law.

This case could have been dealt with in equity to the wife’s advantage, apart from sharia law.

Any country should have only one law to which all its residents should conform. This is a condition of choosing to live in the country in question.

You set out the reasons very persuasively in your ‘cons,’ Indeed recognizing a ‘sharia‘ marriage as legal sets a very problematic precedence.

You don’t say whether the marriage took place in the UK, a fact that would have great bearing on the case and might cause me to say the divorce should also be under sharia law not entitling the wife to anything, which might cause Muslim women to only marry under British law. However by conducting the divorce only under British law could also act as a impediment to men easily divorcing their wives.

The British court should ignore Islam’s rules and follow British rules for division of property under the rules for common-law marriages whatever those rules are. And the British government should advertise the results in Muslim neighborhoods. Tell the Muslims that because their religion does not recognize civil law, Muslims must get their marriage regularized under British law.

Civil law was established over centuries of precedent. It recognizes changing societal and cultural development. It may and does change over time. This may be the way it continues to change.

It’s the thin end of the wedge. Once exceptions are made, in this instance under family law, then other concessions will be demanded, leading to sharia law being applied by stealthy means. Second, third and fourth wives should not be permitted nor should they live as “wives” and be allowed to claim “single parent” benefits. In the West we have been tolerant towards all faiths and cultures.



UK Rejects Recognizing Sharia Marriages Under Law

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