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Shariah

 

 

The greatest need of the time is for Muslims to strive hard to remove these misconceptions by both putting forward the real teachings of Islam and, more importantly, by acting on those teach­ings and setting their faces totally against the social evils, such as ‘honour crimes’, which not only reflect badly on their religion but are causing so much hardship for their own community.



       

Muslims and Shariah in U.K.

 

 

The Light - U.K. Edition March 2008

As has been only too well publicised, the Arch­bishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in a speech in early February, suggested that Muslim religious bodies in the U.K., which Muslims approach in certain civil matters to give decisions according to Islamic Shariah, should have their religious judgments recognised in U.K. law. The kind of matters meant are, primarily, marriage and divorce. It is a regrettable fact that so hideous and misconceived an image of Islam prevails in the wider community that even otherwise reasonable people, under the influence of this false picture, are horrified by any suggestion of this kind. They oppose with great passion and vehemence what they think is Islam. In this atmosphere there is more shrieking and shouting rather than calm, rational discussion. However, we must point out that this false image of Islam persists mainly due to the self-serving actions and practices in the name of Islamic Shariah by certain Muslim regimes abroad, as well as by Muslim religious leaders and some of the Muslim public here in the U.K. These are the same quarters which make the demands referred to in the Archbishop’s speech.

The first point we may raise is that there are many key aspects of the teachings of Islam which Muslims can freely follow in the U.K., without the incorporation of any Shariah into U.K law, and if they did follow these on a large scale it would greatly enhance their esteem in the eyes of others. For example, a Muslim is required by Islam to be scrupulously truthful and honest in his dealings with others, both when taking his due from them or when giving to them what he owes them. To make false claims and misrepresent your circum­stances in order to obtain some benefit from the state illegitimately, such as some financial gain or entry and residence in the country on a false basis, is entirely opposed to the basic teachings of Islam. Yet we do not see Muslims providing a shining example of truthfulness in these matters nor their religious leaders urging them to do so. In fact, the religious leaders seem to be fulfilling the descrip­tion in the Quran: “Why do not the rabbis and the doctors of law prohibit them from their sinful utterances and their devouring unlawful gain?” (5:63)

It seems that financial gain and profit is placed above following the Islamic Shariah. There is profit to be made from selling alcohol in shops, and as a result there are Muslims in every city who have obtained, from the U.K. authorities, licences to sell alcohol in their shops. These shopkeepers could have chosen, instead of this, to abide by the Islamic Shariah, which they are free to do even without Shariah being incorporated in U.K. law.

Turning specifically to marriage and divorce, these are exactly the areas in which what is called Islamic Shariah, by the very people who are demanding its recognition in British law, deviates greatly from the real teachings of the Quran and Hadith and even runs counter to them. It is, in fact, used to entrench certain cultural and social mal­practices which have brought Islam into disrepute.

The most basic example is that Islam requires that the two individuals getting married must freely give their consent to the marriage. No incor­poration of Shariah law into British law is needed in order for Muslims to abide by this teaching, or for their religious leaders to exhort them to abide by it. But both the followers and the leaders are reluctant to adopt this Islamic teaching, for the sake of preserving the existing traditions. There are not only cases of forced marriages, but in other cases also various ways are used to deny the right of consent to the two individuals, and to set aside this teaching of Islam under all kinds of pretexts. At nikah ceremonies, those officiating consider it unnecessary to directly ask the girl if she consents to the marriage and they accept in its place the word of the guardian. That is a sure way of confirming the misconception that in Islam the bride’s view and voice have no value. In the field of divorce, they have reduced Islam to a laughing stock of the whole world by their belief that all that a man has to do is utter three times to his wife “I divorce you”, and an irrevocable divorce follows. On the other hand, the wife in order to claim divorce faces insurmountable obstacles.

The greatest need of the time is for Muslims to strive hard to remove these misconceptions by both putting forward the real teachings of Islam and, more importantly, by acting on those teach­ings and setting their faces totally against the social evils, such as ‘honour crimes’, which not only reflect badly on their religion but are causing so much hardship for their own community. This cannot be done by Muslims of the U.K. alone, for the events reported from countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, in connection with how Islamic Shariah operates, are naturally attributed to the teachings of Islam by the wider public.

With the criticism and hostility he has faced, the Archbishop may have found himself in a posi­tion akin to a persecuted Christian of old being stoned by mobs! Muslims ought to ponder whether in a Muslim country a Muslim religious leader would risk speaking up for the rights of Christians.

 

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