08
Feb
08

Should national law incorporate Sharia law?

It’s time for the UK to accomodate some aspects of Sharia law… so went a speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury which has proved incendiary. His argument is that if you want social cohesion then a plurality of legal authorities may help. Is he right?

Here’s an edited extract from his speech:

‘It might be possible to think in terms of a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain matters. This may include marital law, the regulations of financial transactions and structures of mediation.

It is uncomfortably true that this introduces into our thinking about law what some would see as a ‘market’ element, a competition for loyalty. But if what we want socially is a pattern of relations in which a plurality of diverse and overlapping affiliations work for a common good, and in which groups of a serious and profound conviction are not systematically faced with the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty, it seems unavoidable.

Here are some questions for you:

Will integrating some elements of Sharia law help social cohesion in your country?

In countries with significant Muslim populations, is giving Sharia law legal authority ‘inevitable’ as the Archbishop says?

If some people’s lives are guided more by religious values and beliefs than by national law, should that be acknowledged in a country’s legal system?


138 Responses to “Should national law incorporate Sharia law?”


  1. 1 keith
    February 8, 2008 at 14:05

    This is such a strange idea. In general it sounds quite impossible to me. If societies and governments become this irrationally accommodating how can any kind of consistent society with a real identity remain? Would a group of British expats in Saudi Arabia expect that the government there should allow them to have whole miniature and separate rule of law based on their beliefs and country of origin?

    One interesting study in this might be the Amish. I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where there is still a very active Amish community. In fact I live on a busy downtown street where I occasionally here the clip clop of horse and buggy going by along with cars and trucks, as the Amish folks head to and from our downtown farmer’s market. The Amish use our healthcare facilities and some public services but generally have an insular society unto themselves, complete with special tax laws and exceptions. They seem to have no interest in imposing their way of life on anyone, but simply maintain it in relative harmony with the rest of us here in the county. So…it seems to work in this way, but the root of Sharia law is dramatically different in spirit from the root of Amish separatism. The Amish fled persecution in Europe and simply wanted to be left alone. If I understand Sharia at all, it is not a thought/belief system that endorses such a “you do your thing and I’ll do mine” way of interacting with the rest of society.

    All that to say, I think it’s a crazy idea, even if it comes from an admirably conciliatory heart.

  2. 2 John in Salem
    February 8, 2008 at 14:08

    The Archbishop makes a very intellectual argument for one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard. “Groups of a serious and profound conviction” need to live in the real world like everyone else.

  3. 3 Peter Dewsnap
    February 8, 2008 at 14:19

    Definitely not. It is yet another nail in the coffin of Great Britain. The country gradually is being destroyed systematically.

  4. 4 M Harry
    February 8, 2008 at 14:22

    Before the good ArchBishop gets ahead of himself he needs to take a good look at other aspects of Ismic laws:

    In Turkey Othodox Christians cannot rebuild their churches
    In Saudi … the less said of the consequences of proselytizing the better, I think. Normally, I am liberal on social issues but this is a CRAZY idea.

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Its a good lesson from history.

  5. 5 George USA
    February 8, 2008 at 14:22

    No. Sharia law should not be incorporated.

    To the contrary, Sharia law should be made illegal and deportation automatic for those who use it.

  6. 6 steve
    February 8, 2008 at 14:30

    Didn’t he just call for Sharia courts, where muslims could choose to pursue legal actions against other muslims? so long as the results aren’t enforceable in civil courts, that isn’t the same as incorporating sharia into British law. Ie, if you’re talkinga about banning alcohol, cutting off hands of thieves, stoning to death fornicators and adulterers, then you really should all jump off a bridge if you really wish to give up your society like that. But I don’t think that’s what the Archbishop was calling for.

  7. 7 Aabi Zaidi
    February 8, 2008 at 14:37

    No, I don’t agree with this at all. The law in any country should be ‘democracy’, not ‘sharia’ (not only Islamic Sharia, but other religions too).
    If Muslim countries incorporate only Sharia Law, it is not going to work, simply because though Islam is a religion based on human rights and equality, imposing religious rights on non-muslims is oppressive.

  8. 8 steve
    February 8, 2008 at 14:37

    I had a debate via email last night with a friend of mine. I commented how tolerance and multiculturalism is a one way street. While apparently the public in the west is apparently debating on if aspects of sharia law should be made law in the west, an American woman was arrested in Saudi Arabia for having coffee in a starbucks with a male coworker. Apparently when in Rome (Saudi Arabia) you do as the romans (Saudis) do, and that is obey their rules, they will not accomodate you. Whereas in the west, we will accomodate others, so much so that apparently we are willing to incorporate their religious views into our laws. So I ask, why in the west do we bend over backwards to accomodate, where in the east, they have no problems with doing the opposite? Is it self loathing in the west? I mean, honest, what’s with the whole diversity thing? Are you saying that a society that is all caucasian is bad, but a society like Japan, which is probably 99% Japanese (plus some Koreana and Ainu) is fine? Why do we feel the need to change our composition? Do we feel some kind of guilt? Do we feel there is something wrong with us and thus we have to change? Or do we think (possibly racist) “wow, their countries suck, we should let them come here”. Which is it?

  9. 9 Ros Atkins
    February 8, 2008 at 14:49

    Dear Ros,

    I have been quite ill and just opened my mail today, about the same time I heard the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting “sharia” ??? for Britain. Has he been abducted by aliens and replaced by the pod people?? I know his position within the Anglican community has become untenable but to say such drivel is really beneath him and the office he holds.

    If, however, that were not bad enough, someone, in the same news story, from an Islamic league in Britain stated that a great percentage of English law was based on laws of the Ottoman Empire. Sadly the interviewer did not ask for specifics and when such statements go unchallenged they can easily become entrenched.

    So, were the Ottoman armies with William the Conqueror or did they build Offa’s dike?? Did they fill the vacuum left when the Romans withdrew?? And did they then hang around to form the basis of English civil law??

    Regarding sharia in England: in Germany, only a state marriage is recognized as legal. Church or other religious ceremonies are fine but not legal. Not once in 30 years of living here have I seen the Lutherans or Catholics demand that their religious practices have the force of law.

    And if anyone thinks that the victimization of women gets too much air play, look at what’s happening in Basra – ask the women there.

    Therese

  10. 10 Brett
    February 8, 2008 at 14:54

    From my initial post:

    John in Germany poses some very interesting questions and comments. I especially agree with:

    “Would a minority in a Muslim land be allowed to imply there law in cases of relationships and money?. i think not.”

    Though Sharia law would certainly benefit Muslim communities within Western Culture, seeing as how the majority of Western traditional law is based upon Christian-esque principles.
    So do ‘we’ as Westerners treat ‘them’ as ‘they’ would treat ‘us’ in their country, as a minority? Or do we accomodate them and their religion and take a step to reach out to the Muslim communities within Western Cultures?
    I would love to see a step in the right direction to accomodate Muslims. However, what happens when Sharia law is rejected by the higher court, since the British law, as stated in the outlined plan would remain paramount? I can see that causing a clash of interests and being a potentially harmful situation to progress between the two cultures.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

    With that said, I believe that if we are to base Western traditional law on Christian Principles, with Muslim communities becomming more numerous in Western Culture, it would only be fair then to incorporate Muslim beliefs into that same law to reflect the religious/moral composition of the population.

    I personally do not believe that religion should dictate law or politics at all. But if we are to inevitibly incorporate one religion into law (Christianity), we need to incorporate them all to reflect the beliefs and morals of the population as a whole. Either that or everyone needs to stop complaining and the religious communities can all start their own states with their own laws, and stay out of one anothers. That way they can all live by their own ideals, beliefs, morals, and under their own Gods I dont see that happening or solving any other issues like relationships amongst religious groups though.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  11. 11 Ros Atkins
    February 8, 2008 at 15:17

    Dear Ros

    Good Afternoon

    In my country some elements of sharia laws had been strong diverging topics from the (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) CPA.

    It could not help in cohesion of two parties to go ahead with negotiations. Instead the other party (Government) accepts the referendum for separation, than confederation where North and South Sudan will unit regardless to the involvement of religion in power and ruling of the nations.

    So nothing can sharia help in integrating with other non Muslim social live. Because sharia preside and prohibits some individuals rights.
    Only sharia law will be inevitable in Countries like Saudi Arabia where the entire citizens are Muslims and Sharia can be simply given legal authority.

    Santo Akuei Akoon
    Juba, South Sudan

  12. 12 John in Germany
    February 8, 2008 at 15:20

    Hello Brett.

    Solid thinking, but i am afraid i would not even attempt to allow a start, even if i was in the position to judge.
    It is hard for the moderates as they see what’s to them, a good system, turned into a cancer by the radicals. But until the day they are able to subdue the radicals, no Government in the Western World would be advised to include Sharia law into there own legal system. As you say the applied law would be Paramount, which would cause problems.

    It would be nice to met all of our brothers and sisters in Shang-ri-la. (did i get that right?). Only one thing we would have no more interesting themes from the team at BBC to write about. We might even get bored, and get fed up with milk and honey.

    John in Germany

  13. 13 Dee in Chicago
    February 8, 2008 at 15:53

    Look at some of the backward societies that allow religion to dicate law: a woman in Saudia Arabia was strip-searched for the offense of having a coffee with a male colleague; again in Saudi Arabia a woman who was gang-raped was sentenced to 90 lashes and prison time for sitting in the car if a man; the middle east is rife with these ludicrous examples! Let’s not reward these so-called religions by allowing them any measure of legal authority. “Separation of church and state” is more necessary than ever now.

  14. 14 Brett
    February 8, 2008 at 15:54

    John in Germany:

    I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, in theory, to be fair, it should be incorporated to reflect population composition. But in reality you have the people factor, and it could cause far more problems than it would solve.
    Just posing another view to it, as it seems almost all of the postings are against it.
    Again, I do not support any religion in law or politics.
    It seems though that the current system of (invalid in the eyes of the law) Sharia Courts that are established in Western Culture seem to fill the void that is present in Muslim cultures in a predominantly Western civilization. While not concrete and final, the Sharia Courts seem to serve as a good means of guidance for Muslim people in a Western Culture. I’m not quite understanding why they are fighting to have it incorporated if, by their faith, a Sharia court should be binding no matter what the legal system says.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  15. 15 Jackson Ajou
    February 8, 2008 at 16:07

    Incorporating or integrating some elements of sharia laws in the national laws would be a disaster for Britain if at all is tolerated. As demonstrated by a Sudanese laws that have created a civil wars it is only acceptable if Britain is going to remain an Islamic and Arabic country.

    For God Sake, the bishop has lost his sight and Christianity. the greatest chaos caused on this world has roots in the Sharia laws. I hope Bishop has ever been to a koranic school to learn what it is about before getting his fingers burnt on this issue.

    Jackson

  16. 16 Ros Atkins
    February 8, 2008 at 16:10

    No, enough already with the religious stuff. Why do religious followers feel the need to jam their beliefs down everyone’s throats? Haven’t we seen enough of the damage this thinking does already? Look at the whole evangelical nonsense here with Bush & Co. Do whatever you want for 40 years and then fall to your knees? It never ends.
    Greg in Oregon
    ville’ romney
    New France USA

  17. 17 gary
    February 8, 2008 at 16:23

    Hello All,
    Regarding: Should Sharia Law be incorporated in National Law?
    The “rule of law” is either universal, or it is nonexistent. There is no “in between.” Sharia Law allows “legal” judgments and substantial, even capital penalties for what peoples of other faiths (or no faith) consider exercise of God-given free will (such as deciding to stop being a Muslim). Half of Muslims (women) are treated as second-class citizens at best, or as chattel at worst. Their majorities act toward Islamic terrorists much as do the owners of vicious dogs. The violence actions are half-heartedly decried; but the terrorists are still fed. Overall, their collective relative silence on this issue is deafening. The fact that there are two billion believers is immaterial! Much of the world has long since grown out of such idiocy. While I’m not personally acquainted with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I can state with certainty he is not competent to discharge the responsibilities of his office.
    Later,
    g

  18. 18 VictorK
    February 8, 2008 at 16:36

    No.

    When you choose to migrate with your family to another country you also undertake to respect its laws and traditions, and not to attempt to replace what’s established with the way of life you chose to leave behind. There are literally dozens of muslim countries that people may live in under full Sharia without trying to undermine Britain’s tradition of one law applied to all citizens.

    Only a hardcore liberal like the Archbishop could delude himself to the point of believing that even limited concessions in respect of marriage and inheritance will benefit all muslims. Gender apartheid is inherent in the Islamic legal system and one must close one’s eyes and hears to what actually happens everywhere under Sharia not to understand that it unavoidably entrenches women’s second class status.

    The talk about ‘inevitability’ is sheer nonsennse and an attempt to panic the gullible into taking up this absurd suggestion. There is, though, a very real logic of inevitability concerning this issue. If you allow sharia in limited fields such as family and inheritance law, there is absolutely no reasonable basis for denying sharia in other, more significant areas, especially if muslims call for it with a united voice. It is arbitrary and irrational to draw a line and state that sharia law may apply to issues on one side of it, but not to issues on the other. There is simply no argument in logic or equity to prevent an expansion of the scope of sharia once it’s been admitted.

    Every country has a character arising out of its historical traditions. But while it is taken for granted that non-Western (and, to be absolutely blunt, non-White) countries are entitled to take pride in their traditions and to preserve their character and values, the nations of Europe and the Anglo-sphere are all expected to repudiate their traditions, to have only a multicultural character, and to have an identity that is inoffensive and ‘inclusive’, i.e. to have no identity at all. As other posters have already noted, where in the muslim world are Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and above all Jews accorded anything remotely like respectful and fair treatment? where is the reciprocity in these calls for sharia to be incorporated into the laws of the West while non muslims are treated as ‘dhimmis’ everywhere in the East? ‘Dhimmi’, btw, refers to the elaborate code of institutionalised harassment and humiliation that sharia law prescribes for non-muslims, including a discriminatory poll tax and being forbidden to testify against non-muslims. ‘Hypocrisy’ doesn’t begin to describe this.

    The argument about promoting social cohesion is risible. Muslims in Britain are SELF-ALIENATED. Many of them choose (except for the women, who are basically compelled) to dress as if they were in down-town Lahore or Jeddah or anywhere but in Britain. By doing so they make a deliberate statement: we are not like you; we do not want to be like you; and, Inshallah, we will never be like you. Muslims enjoy opportunities in Britain that simply don’t exist in their ancestral homelands, which is why so few of them, for all their complaints, ever leave. Some muslims are in a state of rage simply because they live in a non-muslim country and are too few in number to bully the rest of us into obeying sharia. And this state of hostility and even hatred towards their host country is misdescribed as ‘alienation’ and presented as a justification for making ‘concessions’! The proper word for this is ‘appeasement’. Muslims are not integrated into British society largely from choice. They will be even less integrated if any concession to sharia is made. The proposal is self-righteous lunacy that will make for even greater social divisions (and perceptive muslims will have noted from the response to Williams’ suggestion that they are viewed in one way by members of Britain’s liberal elite, and in a very different way by the mass of ordinary Britons. they should draw their own conclusions from that).

    Many muslims will argue for some degree of sharia on the grounds of ‘equality’. But to have dual or parallel systems of law is the very negation of euality, in this case equality before the law.

    Some muslims are atheists. Some are only ‘cultural muslims’. Some hold their religious beliefs very lightly. It is only a minority of muslims who are fiercely orthodox shariaists. Incorporating sharia into UK law will give them the upper hand in their community by, in effect, giving them the legal ability to bully and coerce all muslims, however nominal their faith may be (and a determined minority will always dominate a weak or divided majority). The extremists (i.e. the fully orthodox) already dictate matters within the muslim community; what conceivable benefit can there be to Britain or a large segment of the muslim community to give their unofficial influence the force of law?

    The Archbishop has shown that he is at one with the muslim ‘extremists’ and far right extremists in not considering muslims as British citizens or entitled to the same rights as British citizens. His position is an unwitting expression of liberal bigotry. He has shown himself unfit for his high office and his seat in the House of Lords. He has single-handedly brought a great institution, the Anglican church, into disrepute. It’s time for this well-intentioned blunderer to go.

  19. 19 Rochelle by email
    February 8, 2008 at 16:47

    Sharia law should not be incorporated, because the fanatical followers will understand this is a foot in the door and any aspect of their religion they can see as ok by conventional law.

    For example, If a religious law is accepted in conventional law, but another religious law states the “religion” is above the “state,” then there is definitely going to be a problem with a fanatic who wants the rest of the religious laws to be incorporated and then declares they do not have to listen to the “state” and can carry out any religious dictate, which could mean murder, rape, or oppression, to their liking with no legal repercussions because to their belief, the religion is above the state.

    Thank you in advance

    Rochelle
    Roseville, California

  20. 20 Ros Atkins
    February 8, 2008 at 16:59

    Ros~ This is a lousy choice for a topic, I’m sorry to say. You’ve got a unanimous opposition to the idea, so there’s nothing to debate.

    John in Salem

  21. 21 Ros Atkins
    February 8, 2008 at 17:00

    NO!

    No aspect of Sharia law should be tolerated in the UK or USA.

    And no Westernization of Women should be demanded of Afghanistan and Iraq.
    George in the States

  22. 22 leke by text
    February 8, 2008 at 17:03

    Sharia in the UK? What next? Move over Ronan Williams; welcome Osama the new head of the Anglican communion. Leke, Lagos.

  23. February 8, 2008 at 17:05

    Funnily, as someone who abhors nationalism and has lived outside my home country for 20 years i find my self surprised at my own thoughts of preserving “Great Britain” as some one above mentioned.
    There is no reason why sharia law should not be applicable within Muslim communities but national law must trump all. This is the case in most of the worlds countries even including those who have adopted religious law as national law. As an example. the Jewish community does use its religious law within their communities (my father was subject to this when he got divorced). But to try to impose tsuch communal rules on those outside that community and not respect your host countries law, is arrogant and ignorant. Democracy is not about the wishes of one powerful or otherwise minority group, but of the wishes of the Majority. Until Britain becomes a majority of Muslims who wish such change, then the wishes of the majority must be respected. And i haven’t even thought about the logistical challenges of such a concept!!

  24. 24 by text
    February 8, 2008 at 17:05

    Why should we incorporate Shia law into our legal code. Look at Islamic countries and the way Christians are treated in those countries.

  25. 25 by text
    February 8, 2008 at 17:06

    The old saying when in Rome do as the Romans do applies here. They would not change the laws for up in the middle east would they?

  26. 26 Ros Atkins
    February 8, 2008 at 17:18

    On the contrary Joh (two comments above), we have a number of people who think the Archbishop is right on the money. If 20,000 people contact us in under 24 hours that’s not a lousy topic.

    hope you’re well. cheers,ros

  27. 27 Ros Atkins
    February 8, 2008 at 17:18

    Well, OK then ~ I guess I’m wrong. But I want to hear some real specifics from these people on how to combine secular and theocratic laws without falling back on righteous convictions.

    Thanks for listening,

    John in Salem

  28. 28 viola anderson
    February 8, 2008 at 17:54

    This is a debate that has already taken place with respect to religious law versus secular law. The fact that the term “sharia” has been substituted for the term “Catholic” or “Protestant” does not alter the issues. To the degree Catholic “law” or Buddhist “law” has legal status in Great Britain, so too should Sharia law have such status. No more, no less.

    Canada

  29. February 8, 2008 at 17:58

    The question of integrating cultural loyalty and state loyalty is the very reason why countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Kenya are in turmoil. Hopfully those young countries will develop a rule of law that is faithful to all of it’s people. But, for developed nations with developed laws to begin to make accomidations for certain cultures and not others with result in violence.

    Daniel
    KALW, San Francisco

  30. 30 steve
    February 8, 2008 at 17:59

    Dee, outside of the west, they don’t “embrace diversity” like we do. It’s our own fault if we travel to Saudi Arabia and then not follow their rules. However, I think we shouldn’t bendover backwards to accomodate here then if they don’t do that elsewhere. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But I think we in the west need to start practicing that here.

  31. 31 John by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:05

    @The old saying when in Rome do as the Romans do applies here. They would not change the laws for up in the middle east would they?

  32. 32 Steve by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:10

    This obviously isn’t politically correct, but I don’t care. If you look at countries that have sharia, that don’t have oil, they are dirt poor, third world nations, with no economy, and the people flee those countries because life is so bad because strict religion prevents development and progress. It then makes no sense to do that to the country you then come to. Britain has not the most resources, and if your life becomes religion base, britain will become a third world nation. But isn’t there gas offshore? Sorry to break the news, but religion stifles progress. If you want to live third world style, then implement full sharia law in the UK. At least we’ll have history books to remember what the UK was like when it was a powerful nation. I bet George III would have fought for the Americans if he heard what might become of his nation today.

    Steve
    USA

  33. 33 Chris by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:11

    I think it took long enough to take the law away from from religion to give it back now. The fables of religion should not dictate our conduct.

    Chris from Montreal

  34. 34 Eric in California
    February 8, 2008 at 18:12

    The natural response to Sharia law is of course the 2nd amendment.

  35. 35 Kalypso by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:12

    This goes too far! dr. roman williams is supposed to be a Christian leader, so why, for God’s sake, does he want islamic law in brittain? i agree with one politician who said that you cant run two systems at once. the law of the land should apply for everyone.
    As an Orthodox Christian, I will pray for Roman williams.
    Kalypso – Vienna, Austria

  36. 36 Alex from Sierra Leone
    February 8, 2008 at 18:13

    The arch-bishop’s statement is one of the most irresponsible I have ever heard from a religious leader. Islamaization of Britain or any state whatsoever is a recipe’ for chaos. It is strange a man in Christendom should be recommending not only a non-Christian belief but a belief that is not even in the Quran. What a shame and disgrace.

  37. 37 Sami by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:14

    As a Canadian of Muslim origin, I believe the comment of the Archbishop is a good example of “political correctness” ran a mock. In the name of social cohesion the muddled Archbishop is proposing nothing less than the civic balkanisation of British society. The civic coherence of a societ is its most precious “nonrenewable” asset. What the Archbishop propose is a sure recipe for the dilapidation of such assets giventhe demographic conditions in the U.K, and indeed in Europe.

    Sami
    Montreal

  38. 38 George
    February 8, 2008 at 18:16

    I don’t understand why people move to western or other countries and then expect that country to cator to them. They knew what the country’s laws were before they arrived in the new country, now they want to impose their own laws on the natives of that western country. If their laws were so great, they should have remained in their home country. Why are western countries being pushed to change its laws and way of living and identity, by those who move in. Why not just accept the laws of the new land immigrants say they’ve adopted. Or if they find that they are unhappy with their adopted country, then leave.

  39. 39 Devadas by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:17

    the question i want to ask is will any country opt for international law when there is a conflict between muncipal law and international law over a matter in respective countries ?if the answer is yes then sharia law can be incorporated without battling an eyelid?but if its no then it would be better not to incorporate sects beliefs and practises in national law as they will in the long run do more harm than good for the country .best example is india were in the name of secularism in the shabanu case allowed shariat law to be incorporated in marriage cases of muslims and you see by mere mentioning 3 times talaq,talaq,talq,the marriage is annuled and the married couples are divorsed .this can be done by telephone even .and muslims can marry 4 wives in india too were one is the norm for other religions including majority indians .and family planning measures muslims in india didnt take up they have any number of children when maximum 3 is allowed as per government measures to curb population explosion which has touched 110 crores.
    and they didnt seem to stop at this also now they are clamouring for shariat courts in india ?so if this kind of things happens in britain house of lords and other institutions will be put in the backburner by the mullahs in mosque and will lead to divisions in society .so it would be better to have the muncipal law have the upperhand rather than some beliefs and dogmas taking over the rule and law of the land.

  40. 40 Per by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:18

    I don’t know about the UK, but here in the States our
    Jewish communities had rabbinic courts that decided
    family and financial matters. Why is it such a big deal?

    Per from USA

  41. 41 Mason by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:22

    Religious law, whether Islamic, Christian or any other has no place in secular legal systems. Muslims who live in western secular states can live their personal lives adhering to their religious views (as long as they do not violate the legal system of that country) but they have no right to force their beliefs upon the rest of the community, especially when it is a law that comes from a mythical being with no scientific evidence of his existence. I live in Utah, where the Mormon influence upon government borders upon theocracy and the state government, where much of the representation comes from Mormon communities, continually seek to impose their beliefs upon the rest of the state. The drinking laws are the most well known, and although the State takes up to 60% of the income (due to taxes and fees) they restrict the ability for a person of legal drinking age to go in and have a cocktail if he or she wishes. I believe ALL organized religion should be banned, leaving the individual to form their own views and removing the hate and prejudice that has caused the death of millions and millions over the course of our history as human beings.

    Mason

  42. 42 Steve by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:23

    If the sharia courts are considered arbitration, then The result of arbitration is a contract, which is enforceable in civil courts, unless there is something unconscionable or against British law (ie if something was racist in nature, or some for of prohibited discrimination). So in that case, I don’t see how this is really different than any other form of arbitration. If one of the parties doesn’t abide by the arbitration, then the other party sues for breach of contract in a regular court. If it’s arbitration, then both parties would have to agree to do it. So that parallel legal system is rather a poor argument because in many other cases people choose to arbitrate for many reasons, such as saving money, or by contractual obligation.
    Steve, USA

  43. 43 Bill in Cleveland
    February 8, 2008 at 18:23

    The legal systems in places like the US and England have strong protections for those who we view as weak, either personally or a group.

    Incorporating any legal system that do not have these protections built into their fundamental structure are a huge problem.

    When considering applying Sharia law to Family Legal (marriage and divorce) mattters I see huge concerns that the rights of Women do not have the same protections that we consider critical.

    Just because a Muslim woman may choose a system that does not protect her rights that the country considers critical does not mean that the country should support her decision to give up those rights.

  44. 44 Ray by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:23

    You really believe its ok to have different laws for different groups of people? Ok, then how would you feel about extending this principle to a situation you have been struggling with for decades? In Northern Ireland, would you want to have one set of laws for Catholics and another set for Protestants?

    Ray

  45. 45 Chris by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:24

    The separation of church and state is a fundamental component of freedom. Any influence of religion on state is a contamination and a self interest which undermines our basic right to freedom.
    Chris in Boston

  46. 46 Amir by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:26

    The beauty of western Demcracy is that the law applies to everyone equally. Theocracy tends to impose their law on others of different faith. What is next Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, etc., this means ciaos. If the law and morals of the new country offends the immigrant’s sensibilities, one have a choice learn to live within it, or one free to live else where.

    Amir in Cleveland

  47. 47 Tom by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:27

    Overthrow your many centuries of fighting for and developing your great Common Law and human rights in favor of seventh century superstition?

    Are you daft!

    No!

    Never!

    Tom in USA

  48. 48 Skip by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:28

    We have a set of laws here in the U.S. that are universal and pertinent to our society. Using a religious set of laws would create conflict and would be very dangerous. I would fight this kind of movement with every way I could.

    Skip in Ohio

  49. 49 adam
    February 8, 2008 at 18:29

    Sharia is working in kenya and doesn’t contradict the law of the land!

  50. 50 Douglas by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:30

    The concept of a legal system which is fair and universally applied is a fundamental basis of civilized society. However, one must accept the limitations of current western law. The morality of a judgement is never taken into consideration for instance. Court decisions are based upon precedent and legal technicality only. In consequence judgements can, albeit unintentionally, sometimes be unjust.

    Douglas in Canada

  51. 51 Chuck Hulsey
    February 8, 2008 at 18:30

    Sharia law should not be incorporated or recognized by the UK govenment. It should not be recognized or incorporated into any countries’ secular laws. I think it’s outrageous that any religion would ask such a thing or that the Archbishop of Cantebury would even suggest such a laughable idea. What is he thinking? When religions try to force their ideas on others that’s where I get angry. It happens all the time with religious conservatives who want to take society backwards about 50 years.

  52. 52 John by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:32

    Arch bishop of Canterbury is right. In a multiethnic and multireligious society, which UK has become today, accomodation to customary practices in civic laws brings harmony. The British empire practiced it in its colonies across the world until it was dissolved, so why they have to make a fuss? India practices it and it is her strength in bringing unity in its diversity. The worlds largest democracy has adopted it sucessfully and it works. It is time the west cast their paranoia and holier than though attitude.

    John

  53. 53 Kelly D
    February 8, 2008 at 18:33

    Whether busines or marriage, these are all contracts between people. Contract dispute resolution can be decided by whatever means the contacting parties mutually decide when they enter the contract.

    This practice exists in the US (and I would assume other countries as well) and so there is no plurality of laws by use of Sharia law in this instance, only acceptance of yet another mechanism for resolution.

  54. 54 Shirley by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:34

    As a Western convert to Islam, I also have an interest in the separation of religion and state in Western countries. I feel that it is essential to the nature of democracy in the West to maintain such separation. I think that a happy medium might be achieved by accommodating certain aspects of Shariah Law when Muslims interact with each other and desire to conduct their interaction according to Shariah Law. For example, Shariah Law might be applid for transactions between Muslims, marriage contracts between Muslims, etc.; and a cleric (resident `alim) might be allowed to oversee the contract or other interaction. This way, non-Muslims or even Muslims who do not want to live under Shariah Law would not be affected. It would be very interesting to have this kind of accommodation in the U.S. It would not involve the imposition of religion on a people by the government, but rather the accommodation of peoplpe of a certain religion by the government.
    -Shirley in Chicago

  55. 55 Rory by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:35

    What if a non-muslim wants to use the sharia court? Is there any advantage that someone could exploit?

    Rory

  56. 56 KB
    February 8, 2008 at 18:37

    If the purpose is to have the court validate a Sharia-“mediated” resolution, as one of your speakers said, then JUST HAVE THEM FILE THE APPROPRIATE LEGAL DOCUMENTS (LIKE EVERYONE ELSE). If the parties have agreed on what they will do, regarding property or divorce, what court doesn’t just rubber stamp these anyway? What an invalid argument for letting Sharia in. NO NO NO NO NO

  57. 57 Lyn by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:37

    In general, mediation is a fine alternative to the civil courts, when both parties in a legal dispute choose to mediate.

    And, in general, there is nothing wrong with asking the legal system to support the outcome of mediation.

    But what happens, if the family of a woman or girl says she must request mediation under Sharia law, instead of the courts or the more egalitarian form of mediation that is available in countries such as the United States?

    Females have far fewer rights under Sharia than men do. So mediation under the Sharia system seems likely to be unfair to many litigants. It is common in some Muslim communities for male heads of households to persecute their women in the interest of upholding family honor. One can forsee that such men might force their wives, daughters or mothers to submit to Sharia-based mediation, when the women might expect to get fairer treatment in the courts or from unbiased mediators.

    If this type of mediation were recognized under the law, it should be a requirement that applicants be screened to confirm that they are making a free choice.

    Indeed, any inequalities under Sharia law that conflict with constitutional guarantees of equal treatment under English law should be stricken from consideration by Sharia mediators.

    Lyn from Oregon

  58. 58 Annie
    February 8, 2008 at 18:38

    I just have to say that it’s ridiculous to argue that the Judaeo-Christian tradition is based on “equality and freedom” and therefore “fits” better with Britain’s current law or state form; just look at the history of women in the church.

  59. 59 Justin by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:38

    I think that separation of church and state is important, but that you can’t ignore a people’s culture and how they resolve their own problems. Instead of ignoring their culture, you should try to incorporate those laws and beliefs into the law of the land as appropriate. Civil law, which I think the question posed is pertaining to, is supposed to be (or just manages to be) more flexible and can accept the incorporation of new ideas into it.

    Justin

  60. 60 ryan
    February 8, 2008 at 18:39

    Islamic immigrants to the UK inherently accept the rules that govern the land (UK law, which has nothing to do with Sharia.) If you don’t want to comply with a nation’s law, don’t immigrate. If you want to live under government sanctioned Sharia law, immigrate to Saudi Arabia. Funny though, I don’t see a long waiting list for foreigners eager to get Saudi citizenship. I wonder why that is?

    ryan
    USA

  61. 61 Lyn
    February 8, 2008 at 18:39

    In general, mediation is a fine alternative to the civil courts, when both parties in a legal dispute choose to mediate.

    And, in general, there is nothing wrong with asking the legal system to support the outcome of mediation.

    But what happens, if the family of a woman or girl says she must request mediation under Sharia law, instead of the courts or the more egalitarian form of mediation that is available in countries such as the United States?

    Females have far fewer rights under Sharia than men do. So mediation under the Sharia system seems likely to be unfair to many litigants. It is common in some Muslim communities for male heads of households to persecute their women in the interest of upholding family honor. One can forsee that such men might force their wives, daughters or mothers to submit to Sharia-based mediation, when the women might expect to get fairer treatment in the courts or from unbiased mediators.

    If this type of mediation were recognized under the law, it should be a requirement that applicants be screened to confirm that they are making a free choice.

    Indeed, any inequalities under Sharia law that conflict with constitutional guarantees of equal treatment under English law should be stricken from consideration by Sharia mediators.

    — Lyn, Oregon, United States

  62. 62 Chris by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:39

    No. We cannot have multiple standards. There should be only one law for all. Otherwise, it would be favouritism! It would lead to chaos in the long run. Chris.

  63. 63 Brian by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:39

    I d like aspects of sharia law to be applied when it comes to ladies dressing,its getting out of hand! Brian, Uganda.

  64. 64 Wiri by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:40

    Idealy, law should be dynamic. I cant imagine an ancient law aplicable in the 21st. Cent.

    Wiri in Nigeria.

  65. February 8, 2008 at 18:40

    You can’t have some parts of a law system. Its all or nothing. If you use a Sharia court, you can’t select which laws can be followed or not. If you use a Sharia court for marital issues, do you not go for stealing? If you want to adapt your own local laws, do that… but you can’t give people a choice. That leads to misinterpretation and cultural divides.

  66. 66 Dr. Henning Grosse Ruse - Khan
    February 8, 2008 at 18:40

    Dear all,

    my comment is from a legal perspective: The application and giving effect of foreign law is a concept which (under western legal tradition) dates back to North Italian City-states in the middle ages (and has always been practised in the Islamic State): Under the notion of conflict of laws (private international law) courts have always applied the law of a foreign country in cases where that law is the one most closely connected to the specific matter at hand – either because the parties have chosen this (e.g. the law to govern their contract) or because their legal relationship is seated in a specific jurisdiction (e.g. a marriage by two Saudis celebrated in Saudi Arabia).

    I don’t see why this cannot be extended to cover Shariah Law – as a legal system with a great tradition of several hundert of years. Under the notion of ‘ordre public’ its application by British courts would in anyway be subject to coherence /compliance with core British values and public policies. Overall, applying a foreign law is an indication of tolerance, mutual recognition and ‘comitas’ (=friendliness) amongst distinct legal systems.

    All the best,
    Dr. Henning Grosse Ruse – Khan
    Munich, Germany

  67. 67 Sokol by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:40

    Immigrants are the ones who should integrate & adopt the host country s laws, and not vice versa. They willingly choose to live in that country.

    Sokol, Albania.

  68. 68 Eamonn by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:42

    do not give such indulgence as the Archbishop wishes us to show. Look at the recent controversy regarding the naming of a Teddy Bear. If Muslims wish to live under Sharia Law there are many countries in wish they can do so. No other group in the U.K. asking for such special treatment.

    Eamonn in Kent.

  69. 69 George
    February 8, 2008 at 18:42

    The UK should never consider that; it is a form of mixing religion and secularism, church and state. This has never been a good idea (just take a look at our world history) and would forever change the UK… and not for the best. Every citizen should navigate “THE” law of the state, not be able select which law they’d like to apply their situation to. If that happens, then you’d have people making religious convertions just so that they can apply the law that best suits them, when they forsee themselves facing some legal issue.

    USA

  70. 70 Eric in California
    February 8, 2008 at 18:43

    Sharia law predates the American Constitution which declares immediately, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union..”.

    Governance is an evolving subject. Each government learns from the mistakes and successes of those that precede it. The American Constitution is a more perfect form than Sharia and would be an enormous step backwards.

  71. 71 Ali by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:44

    In things like marriage ,divorce & legacy religion cannot be ignored. In Egypt the personal law is taken from religion

    Ali in Egypt

  72. 72 Daniel Guidry
    February 8, 2008 at 18:47

    In America we have protections for various Native American tribes who have distinct legal systems separate from state and federal systems. A basic way that this works, and I could be wrong, is when a crime is committed by a tribe member–on tribal grounds–the tribal counsel judges, resolves, or punishes the crime if one was committed. The bonus is a minority group is able to protect their cultural identity from the predominate culture, which is an astounding event in the history of western societies (one of the major moves of totalitarian societies is the movement towards silencing minority cultures).
    However, it does lend itself to isolation for various tribes. Journalists reported that Native Americans have limited means to seek legal grievances when people not associated to the tribe have committed crimes to members of the tribe. This poses a major problem with sexual crimes committed against the women in those tribes. And in terms of an inter-cultural attempt to curb the crimes the major state has offered limited means if any for the tribes to counter these issues. This isolation is systematic from having separate legal structures.
    Two more points as well. People in the state legal system have criticized some of the harsh punishments exacted by the tribal legal systems. And historically speaking, when the slaves were freed during the civil war some tribes, because of their separate organization, didn’t free their slaves under their tribal system. When they finally did, those slaves were non-legal members of both systems (a category that has often taken up 10% of most governments through-out history–look at Athens– and something all democratic states should be concerned with). These are effects of two systems governing pockets of land that have relative inclusion. And we often need to be concerned with the effects on the minority cultures that we want to protect equal to the major cultural identities.

    In a separate direction as well with the two laws to one land:

    In the end, if I can decide which legal system should try my case, then why wouldn’t I pick the one that is more favorable to my case? How does that fall into the category of a judicial independence and a right to a fair case for the potentially guilty party? Assuming the guilty party hasn’t a role in the selection of which justice, whose rationality?

  73. 73 steve
    February 8, 2008 at 18:47

    Lyn, you are confusing mediation with arbitration. Mediation is non binding, arbitration is binding by contract. I have no problem at all with sharia based mediation, because there is no enforcement mechanism other than your promise. With arbitration, you can go to the courts and sue for breach of contract if you don’t fufill your obligation. So the British courts in cases of arbitration could be enforcing religious law, which I don’t think courts should be doing.

  74. 74 Tom
    February 8, 2008 at 18:48

    A very interesting discussion – and though its introduction might have been a bit clumsy, I think we can thanks Archbishop Williams for introducing it. I have just one comment to make – a response to the argument (made by a caller) that elements of Sharia law need only apply to Muslims.

    To my mind, the whole point of the law is that you don’t get to choose whether or not it applies to you. The law reflects the national sentiment that defines right from wrong – in a culturally flexible country like the UK (or like the UK should aim to be), a citizen’s only firm commitment is to abide by that law. If particular citizens wish to abide by a different set of rules, they should be allowed to do so – providing that doing so does not violate any of our national laws. As far as I know, Muslims, Jews, and Christians already do this perfectly effectively within the UK. None of these groups should have the right the impose their values on each other, so none should be allowed to impose their systems on common law. There is too much – not too little – religious influence in this area.

  75. 75 Justin by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:50

    I think that separation of church and state is important, but that you can’t ignore a people’s culture and how they resolve their own problems. Instead of ignoring their culture, you should try to incorporate those laws and beliefs into the law of the land as appropriate. Civil law, which I think the question posed is pertaining to, is supposed to be (or just manages to be) more flexible and can accept the incorporation of new ideas into it.

    Justin.

  76. February 8, 2008 at 18:50

    If you want to live your private life by certain laws, do that. If you want to change the law system to match your private beliefs, it has to reflect the communities choice. If you have a problem with local law, you should change it or move to a place that respects that law.

    How do you enforce a law that you have to know someone’s religion before passing judgement. There is a reason why church and state have been separated formally.

  77. 77 Susanna by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:51

    am deeply shocked and very much annoyed. Many people risk their lives to get to a liberal democratic western country. The idea of applying other laws is preposterous. Where does it stop? Maybe we should also allow female circumcision and other practices of cultures different than ours? The day Christians can build a church in Saudi Arabia and Afghans who convert to Christianity are not persecuted, we may talk again, but till then, the difference between dictatorships and other feudal systems is our laws and these should be applied to all people who live in a country.

    Susanna, Dominican Republic

  78. 78 Vicar by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:52

    Good Evening from Chicago:

    I believe we should look at this issue from an alternative perspective.

    Although multinational corporations employ many highly trained and bright people who are involved in the development on new technologies or science, they often realize that they still need to evaluate what is happening in the broader marketplace to see whether there are exciting and leading ideas emerging outside of the domain of their own research centers.

    They do this because they are regularly held acountable for their performance and are measured by reported and projected revenues.

    To complete the metaphor, although Britain has a very well-established legal system, why must we assume that the system is perfect and has no room for improvement? I think it’s because this and most other legal system’s are themselves, never brought to account.

    From this perspective, it’s important for objective and open-minded legal scholars to consider the merits of other legal systems, including Shariah law, particularly if they can promote greater harmony.

    Vicar
    Deerfield, Il. USA

  79. 79 Scott by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:52

    Sharia law should NOT be incorporated into the British legal system. A legal system should strive to be objective adding something subjective is not what democracy is about. Religion is not a handicap, it is a choice, it doesn’t always need to be accommodated.

    Scott
    PORTLAND. OR

  80. 80 Dr Henning Ruse-Khan by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:53

    my comment is from a legal perspective: The application and giving effect of foreign law is a concept which (under western legal tradition) dates back to North Italian City-states in the middle ages (and has always been practised in the Islamic State): Under the notion of conflict of laws (private international law) courts have always applied the law of a foreign country in cases where that law is the one most closely connected to the specific matter at hand – either because the parties have chosen this (e.g. the law to govern their contract) or because their legal relationship is seated in a specific jurisdiction (e.g. a marriage by two Saudis celebrated in Saudi Arabia).

    I don’t see why this cannot be extended to cover Shariah Law – as a legal system with a great tradition of several hundert of years. Under the notion of ‘ordre public’ its application by British courts would in anyway be subject to coherence /compliance with core British values and public policies. Overall, applying a foreign law is an indication of tolerance, mutual recognition and ‘comitas’ (=friendlyness) amongst distinct legal systems.

    All the best,
    Dr. Henning Ruse – Khan

    Munich

  81. 81 Mr Boss by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:54

    I do not feel that two systems can successfully exist side by side, for very long. (“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”)

    Rather than shifting local [British] laws to be all-accommodating, perhaps the focus should just be on best possible, overall human rights and decency.
    Those individuals living in that location should live by the local system (assuming basic civil rights are being observed), or leave. That is their choice. If their belief system is in such conflict with the local system, and if their basic civil rights are being upheld but there is a personal/religious conflict, perhaps it is time they consider going to a place where they can exist comfortably with their beliefs.

    (Of course, we all should absolutely try to respect each others belief system even if we do not agree, but I am not convinced that means writing a new law for everything, or creating a dual system. Where would it end? How, and who would determine what is “right?” At least, that is my view.) As nice as we’d like to be, it is impossible to please everyone all of the time. It can’t be done. Everyone must take personal responsibility.

    Mr. Boss
    USA

  82. 82 by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:55

    Sharia maybe allowed so long it is still within the constitution of any given state and respects fundamental human right

  83. 83 I'd Rather Not Say
    February 8, 2008 at 18:56

    I’m all for people getting mediation and religious counseling on the issues of their choice, but in no way should any religious doctrine cross the line between church/mosque/temple and state, and in no way should the faith-based arbitration have any legal sway.

    As an American and an atheist, I face intense hatred and discrimination from some people when they discover my quiet lack of faith. Under the Bush administration, I feel my right to exist has been threatened. To incorperate specific doctrine from any particular religion leaves me and others like me…where? Besides, when you include sharia law, what’s to stop the Taoists, Baptists, Mormons, Born-Agains, Wiccans, etc. from claiming their right to have their own laws to carry the same weight.

    By all means, sharia counselors should be available, as should counselors of any faith or lack there of. But to allow separate legal courts would allow for less social cohesion and more segregation and misunderstanding, because no one would have to be subject to the same law.

  84. 84 Nathaniel
    February 8, 2008 at 18:56

    I think the UK should be careful about the Sharia law issue. The law is religious and could lead to dire consequences especially when it involves non-muslims. I make this statement owing to the fact that this has cause lots of divisions inmy home country, Nigeria.
    Nathaniel, Cape town

  85. 85 Mike by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:56

    Where do we stop?

    What do we do about the other religious beliefs such as Wicca, Hinduism, or Polyamy?

    Great program by the way, I listen every day.

    Mike in Oregon

  86. 86 Calvin by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:57

    In Zambia, traditional law exists alongside statute law.
    On commission of an offense I agreed to be subject to the traditional court, though I could have had access to the magistrate’s court, which is also available for appeal against decisions taken in the traditional court.
    As a Briton I had no difficulty with this process.

    Calvin

  87. 87 Abdulkadir by text
    February 8, 2008 at 18:58

    Shari,a law must be given muslims in uk in order to judge among the muslims in UK rather than state law.

    Abdulkadir

  88. 88 Lyn
    February 8, 2008 at 18:58

    What happens, if the husband or father of a woman or girl demands that she request mediation under Sharia law, either as a matter of family honor, or as an attempt to gain an unfair legal advantage over her?

    Women have equal rights only if they sue in court or pursue secular arbitration. There is no guarantee that a woman applying for Sharia mediation has not been pressured to do so against her will.

  89. 89 deva by email
    February 8, 2008 at 18:59

    Applying Islamic jurisdiction to marital law would mean getting one step closer to another issue: homosexuality.

    Mainstream sharia schools state death should be the sanction for muslims engaging in homosexual behaviour. Although the British system would prevent anything like that to happen, would the proposed move not be a threat to homosexual muslims?

    And what about the sanction for those choosing to leave the Islamic faith for another religion, which is the death penalty as well, according to all sharia schools, not only the “radical” ones. Even if it will obviously not be acceptable in the UK, what about having Islamic judges running courts when what they truly believe is that homosexuals and former muslims should be executed?

    Deva

  90. 90 Lyn
    February 8, 2008 at 19:00

    Good point, Steve. I just saw your post. You’re right, of course, about the difference between mediation and arbitration.

  91. 91 Uche by email
    February 8, 2008 at 19:00

    What demands urgent attention on the comment of the archbishop is not just inculcating the sharia law but making the people it going to be applied for understand what is afterall,take case of my country nigeria where some state who started the sharia law are loosening up due to the plurality of the society.the mosulem should educate their faithfulls first.
    Uche in Hong Kong.

  92. 92 John Robinson
    February 8, 2008 at 19:16

    The Archbishop of Canterbury talks sense. Sadly it is all too easy to follow the crowd and have our opinions influenced by the usual tabloid media. In a recent TV programme on Sharia courts dealing with Muslim family issues, disputes were settled sensitively and without fuss and a solution found that was accepted as just by all concerned. Compared with all the stress that is inevitably caused in our long-winded legal processes, I think Sharia law can work better in certain circumstances and we should not be too hasty or arrogant to dismiss what the Archbishop has been brave enough to say.

  93. 93 Rashid Patch
    February 8, 2008 at 19:23

    As-Salaamo Aleykum,

    Even the Archbishop of Canterbury would be wary of suggestions that some parts of the UK population should be ruled by Christian canon law. He would ask, “The canon law of which denomination of Christianity? Who decides?”

    This idea from the Archbishop – like all the “parallel shariah law” proposals from many muslims I have ever seen – completely misses the fact that “shariah” is not (and has not ever been) a single, unitary legal system; and it is not precedent-based or codifiable in the way that western legal codes are.

    Besides the four (or 5 or 7 or 14) more or less generally accepted legal schools, there are many localized variations of shariah, and the idea that there is one single shariah that encompasses all of them is a modernist construct, clutched at like a straw by those drowning in a sea of behaviors they desparately desire to prohibit.

    Say a loud “NO” to the proposals of those so uneducated about their own religion; just as you should say “no” to proposals by religious leaders for religions other than their own.

  94. February 8, 2008 at 19:27

    Scott, USA (email)

    Your panelist on today’s show about Sharia law has, thus far, dodged or deflected each important question that has been posed to him. Since Sharia law is the one true law for Muslims, how can partial implementation be possible? It is important for western democracies to keep religiously based edicts out of their legal systems or their will be no liberal western democracies.

  95. February 8, 2008 at 19:28

    Eliel from Brooklyn (email)

    Just get a few of the muslim judges to become legal arbitrators. See problem solved. Its like when a religious leader in USA gets a lisence to marry people. He may invoke his right from god, but he also has a legal lisence

  96. February 8, 2008 at 19:29

    Tom, Oregon (email)

    Religion has always been used as a tool by the wealthy and powerful to oppress their citizenry and human law has been developed to protect the human rights of citizens, so religious law should not be allowed to infiltrate in any way at all!

  97. February 8, 2008 at 19:29

    Nicholas, France (email)

    Sharia law integrated into British Law ?
    But what will British muslims ask for next ? Their own police force ?
    Their own government ? Their own borders ?
    I think it is a dangerous road to go down….

  98. February 8, 2008 at 19:30

    Steve, USA (email)

    If the argument is that sharia will help integrate muslims, it will have the opposite effect, basically having a nation within a nation. Canadian PM described Quebec as a nation within a nation, as the Quebecois have their own language, and a different legal system, and Quebec is going to break off from Canada one day. It’s only a question of time. Created a new legal system will just mean people will segregate themselves more.
    If you want the UK to be unified, this is a horrible idea.

  99. February 8, 2008 at 19:30

    Mark, Holland (email)

    Several contributors have said that they would be open to the idea but only if Sharia included aspects of Western (secular) law. Impossible!
    Islamic law was dictated to Muhammed as the unchanging word of God and not a single word of the Koran may be altered, ever.
    Sharia law in secular societies is a very bad idea.

  100. February 8, 2008 at 19:31

    Emilio, USA (email)

    Dr, Sand, your Muslim guest, is kidding himself that individuals won’t be pressured. The Muslim religion is very biased and self-serving. It is very punitive to women.

    In the U.S., church law has no recognition as force of law. Of course, the state does do the courtesy of recognizing a religious of marriage — as long as the state’s paperwork is completed. The church can excommunicate for egregious acts. But it cannot force compliance in matters other than religion.

    Dr. Sand used a typical Middle Eastern tactic and talks around any valid critique. He just won’t concede that his proposal is fraught with peril.

    If a Muslim wants to let his religious court determine his fate, let him have it and, then have the country’s legal system take the Shera court recommendation before a final determination is made.

  101. February 8, 2008 at 19:32

    Phil, Auckland (email)

    It is completely incorrect to claim that British laws are based on “Judeo-christian principles of equality and freedom”. These are modern secular principles. Both the bible and the Talmud are undeniably very racist (God’s chosen race) and sexist. Religious laws of any kind are archaic and irrelevant. Both Islam and Judeo-Christianity are outdated since we discovered the world is round.

  102. February 8, 2008 at 19:33

    Susan, Portland USA (email)

    Once we begin to separate out the kind of justice we provide to a population, we contribute to the “Balkan-ization” of that population.
    There is no end to the addition that will happen if Sharia law is added, even the “best” of that system. Next will we need to add some Hindu law, some fundamentalist Christian law, some Shinto law???
    In the US there are some churches that have internal policies that provide for adjudication and or mediation. But for the results to have any weight, they must conform to the laws of the state and country.
    Justice must be as neutral as possible to provide for the diversity of the population.

  103. February 8, 2008 at 19:33

    Orlando, Ohio, USA (email)

    Two different legal regimes, each carrying the force of the state’s police powers, must ultimately result in two distinct peoples in the same country, one people following Sharia, the other following the Common Law. Both history and common sense prove that such a thing is ultimately untenable. Minority populations and minority views must move and prevail in the political system to modify the UK’s laws. That is what Muslims most do and be content to either succeed or fail at the ballot box. After all Muslims who immigrated to the UK did so voluntarily with the understanding that they were joining the UK enterprise that included at a minimum accepting the UK’s laws and political system. If not, they lied when they took their oath of UK citizenship.

    While private parties can, within the limits of UK contract law, agree how to settle their disputes. That is voluntary and ultimately depends, as it should and must, on the UK’s courts to enforce those parties agreement.

  104. February 8, 2008 at 19:34

    Uche, Nigerian in Hong Kong (email)

    what demands urgent attention on the comment of the archbishop is not just inculcating the sharia law but making the people it going to be applied for understand what is afterall,take case of my country nigeria where some state who started the sharia law are loosening up due to the plurality of the society.the mosulem should educate their faithfulls first.

  105. February 8, 2008 at 19:35

    Abdulkadir,Somalia. (email)

    Sharia law must be given muslims in uk in order to judge among the muslims in uk rather than state law.

  106. 106 Steve in California
    February 8, 2008 at 19:44

    The Catholics get their own government-paid schools in the UK. The COE does too. In the US, we call that segregation, and it isn’t a good thing! Making special laws for some, but not all, appears to be an expansion of this idiocy.

    I personally thought we were had it bad in the US, with the wacky-right, their cable-TV mega-churches, and their influence on politics. For an Archbishop from Canterbury to create a stir I heard half-way across the world, I can only deduct he has way too much influence on government policy in the UK.

    I mean no disrespect to any man or woman of the cloth… but a lawmakers, they are not! We have a name for that period of time in history when the church and the government were the same… “The Dark Ages”. Lawmaking should be left to people that study law.

    Religion aside… to people in the US, the idea of applying different law to people of different beliefs or ethnicity is abhorrent! The Goddess of Justice wears a blindfold for a reason, we apply the same law to all (though I’ll be the first to admit she peeks and applies it harsher to some than others).

    To have different laws for different people in the same country is just dumb! I think most people in the UK would at least agree with me on that. If not, then feel free to elect some lawmakers into Parliament that will pave your way to Hell… with good intentions, of course!

  107. 107 Andre Carrington
    February 8, 2008 at 20:00

    Sharia law is largely incompatible with British law. Just imagine how difficult it would be in the legal system if one plantiff wants to use British law and the other Sharia law. If a limited amount of Sharia law is allowed into the British legal system, there will always be pressure for more – to go further – by some people. The same arguments used to originally promote Sharia law would be used a means of attempting to extend it.

    I firmly believe that when people emigrate to another country, they have to follow the laws of the land to which they have emigrated. I cannot come to Britain and ask for the implementation of say, the American Fifth Amendment just because I happen to have it here in the United States. Similarly, a person should not be able to come from say, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan and demand Sharia law because that is what they left behind when they moved. This is a clear case of – “if you don’t like what’s in Britain then you can also leave it and go somewhere else”

  108. 108 VictorK
    February 8, 2008 at 20:09

    The studied evasiveness of your muslim speaker over several direct questions should alert the naive – like – Rowan Williams – to what muslim advocates of sharia really represent. Of course he didn’t condemn the fatwa against Rushdie: how could he, as an orthodox muslim? And this is the kind of man that would be empowered by the Archbishop’s suggestion!

    At the moment I’m watching a programme about a subject that I don’t believe WHYS has ever addressed: the treatment of Christians in Egypt. We see all the classic features that figure in how ther muslim countries treat their religious minorities: dead letter laws that officially grant freedom of worship and equal treatment, and a reality of sytematic discrimination against non-muslims; punishment for converting to Christianity; forced conversions to Islam; institutionalised bias against Christians by all state organs – but especially by the police and the courts; muslims regularly inflicting violence against Christians – in one case on the strength of a rumour that they were planning to build a church – and doing so with complete impunity, etc, etc, etc.

    I recall WHYS examining discrimination against miunorities in Italy, Switzerland (repeatedly), the US (repeatedly), France and several other Western states. Is it too much to ask for an examination of the much more acute discrimination that flourishes in Egypt and other parts of the non-Western world (Japan and India would also be interesting countries to examine)?

  109. 109 Chernor Jalloh
    February 8, 2008 at 20:10

    Islamic Sharia law is good for every muslim around the world provided the law itself is applied according to the Holy Quran and Islamic law books(Al- Hadiths).
    According to my own understanding,Islamic sharia law should only be applied on muslims not on non-muslims.
    The proverb which says when you go to Rome do as the Romans do,BUT not in all cases.For example when one goes to a country and the people he/she meets there are all drug dealers should he/she follow the same activities given that there are laws that prohibit the trade?I donot think so.
    For the case of the intervention by the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow British Muslims to practice Islamic Sharia law to settle disputes between married couples and other things;he is perfectly right.But,the Archbishop suggestions might raise serious questions and critisims both by his people and his governments to his ideas.When Western countries see the way in which Islamic Sharia law which for them is a gross human right violations are being operating in certain Arab and muslim countries-like Saudi Arabia,Iran,Iraq (on Christians)Somalia-then,Nigeria and finally Afghnistan before the ousting of the Taleban by the US makes it difficult for any Western country to accept sharia laws in their country.
    Here in Spain, anImam was arrested by the Spanish authority and charged after writing a book about the way a man could beat his wife without inflicting serious injuries on her.The Imam was sent to jail and his book was banned.After serving few months in prison,he was later on granted a bail and released.Also,An Imam from Algeria who was interviewed by a French journalist in France about a book he published on the same issue as the one in Spain,though he had lived in France for so many years together with his family,he had to be deported to Algeria.He too was given clemency and allowed to come back again.That was when President Sarkozy was anInterior minister.As far as Iam concerned,Islamic Sharia law willnot take place in the West hence the religion is seen as a threat to Western civilizations.

  110. 110 janet bratter
    February 8, 2008 at 20:55

    While the archbishop claims to lack sufficient knowledge of Islam and/or Sharia law, he yet feels knowledgeable enough to offer his opinions. As a citizen of the USA I can’t claim full knowledge of Commonwealth law or Sharia law. My understanding however is that your laws are the product of “common law” practices accumulated over the centuries, without a formal constitution and certainly with no pretense of divine decree.

    Even without having read the entire and rather convoluted and murky text of the archbishops paper, it seems clear that to incorporate contrasting value systems into a unified secular legal system presents many problems. And somehow I doubt that a parallel debate is occurring in places where Sharia law is already in place. How ironic that in the pluralistic West it is.

    At one time in our distant past, rulers proclaimed “divine rights of kings”. If Sharia law is dependent on the interpretation of divine law, then those who are its interpreters would be embracing similar “divine rights of kings”. Do we want to step backward into our medieval past by accommodating the medievalists of the present? Hopefully the answer to this question is “no”.

  111. 111 Rob Kroehler
    February 8, 2008 at 21:22

    It’s fantastic to see that the comments posted on this topic are so unanimously opposed to such an idea. It’s really a no-brainer for those of us raised in the West. What’s disturbing, however, is the very real possibility, (despite the lack of comments,) that a large number of Muslims in the UK and around the world are very in favor of this. It appears that the UK (England in particular,) with its very lax borders and laws concerning refugees, has found Itself in a difficult situation. Muslim extremists who weren’t even welcome in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan because of their beliefs have virtually strolled right on into London over the past few decades. There is now a very large and very real constituency of radical Muslims living right in the heart of the UK.

    I realize that this isn’t news to most of the folks who will read this. That said, the point of my comment is that I believe this is a perfect opportunity for the good-hearted people of the UK to unify and stand in opposition to this proposal. VictorK, in his brilliant comment above, made the observation that too many concessions to the demands of minorities made by the host government will eventually suck the identity and culture out of the host country and its people. This couldn’t be more true. I believe there are so many westerners who are living ho-hum, innocuous, directionless, passionless lives, unsure of themselves, their sense of culture and their core values. If Sharia law was incrementally implemented it would only worsen this already existing identity crisis within Western culture.

    So what better time for Westerners to stand in unity and exult the values upon which their countries were founded. I’m certain that there are countless Muslims in the UK who also find themselves in the midst of an identity crisis, stuck between embracing western values or embracing the increasingly popular radicalism that is taking place there; longing, like many Westerners, for something to be truly passionate about. On which side of the fence they fall may ultimately be determined by the response of the native residents in the UK!

  112. 112 Thomas Murray
    February 8, 2008 at 21:26

    In a secular state like the U.K. national law must trump Sharia law, otherwise you’ll Balkanize your legal system.

    And in reply to one of my fellow posters, as we’ve seen in Iraq, not every culture can tolerate ‘democracy.’ We must come to accept that in some cultures, Sharia law works best. In others, public order is only held together by dictatorship. Just not in mine.

    –Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

  113. February 8, 2008 at 23:11

    What a dimwit! Fabulously ill conceived comments from a religious man who you would have thought would understand where his comments would lead.

  114. 114 Jon
    February 9, 2008 at 00:09

    The question should be restated: “Should we set up a legal framework for intolerance in order to appease militant Islam?” Ridiculous.

  115. February 9, 2008 at 00:41

    When our government in its infinite wisdom started to let the ‘World and his wife’ into the UK in any appreciable numbers, namely to suit industries labour requirements, little did they think of the likelihood of their opening a ‘tin of worms’. Which is exactly what they have done. It is bad enough that evermore immigrants are allowed into a country already overpopulated, with the most density in Europe. We have handouts that are the most attractive in Europe, otherwise why bypass other countries to get here?
    Now we have some old dozy do-gooder-Archbishop saying perhaps we should accommodate aspects of Sharia law into our laws, this for those who, of all immigrants are, I feel, most hostile to our way of life. I believe since the atrocities of 9/11, Madrid and London 7/7 Muslims in the UK have been viewed with some suspicion, and accompanying this has grown a desire by the liberal PC do-gooders to fall over backwards to accommodate Muslims at all costs. Where is the accommodating of other ethnic groups to this degree seen? We are in danger of becoming a week fearful society unable to resist alien ideas by those who would wish to dominate us-sad but true! Religion has been the curse of humanity. All aspects of the running of the state should be secular with a humanist approach to life. I would mot expect this latter to be forced on people in the same way much of religion has been, but only to hope that people will in time see it as the means to live their lives knowing that this life is all we have and to make the best of it for all our sakes whilst we are on Earth without constant religious antagonism and bloodshed..

  116. February 9, 2008 at 00:51

    So we cannnot have the deeply held honest views now In case we upset people such as those who demonstrated dispicably over the published cartoons. I resat my case-Yes weak and fearful is our society-shame on you!!

  117. February 9, 2008 at 01:43

    Secular and humanist societies should be the way forward for the World.Religion has always been divisive and has no place in our scientific World.

  118. 118 Des Currie
    February 9, 2008 at 05:56

    If one considers the mugwumps who sit in the high seats of government making all these laws for citizens to be punished by, then I cannot see how a religious substructure can do any harm to the legal system, which already has as its foundation a hillock covered with asses.
    Des Currie

  119. 119 Shakhoor Rehman
    February 9, 2008 at 11:27

    ” Dare any of you,having a matter against another,go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you,are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgements of things pertaining to this life,set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.” St Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians 6:1.
    That is the Judaeo-Christian view of religion and secular law and it does not seem secular at all. In fact it is all about the rule of non-secular powers. Anything relevant to religion is to do with eternal not temporal powers in terms of the administration of justice which from the religious point of view is unobtainable in a secular world ,which is why St Paul refers to the “least esteemed”. Religion is all about the eternal ruling over the temporal,so all this talk about Sharia or Judaeo Christian values is irrelevant because the eternal does not rule currently.

  120. 120 s
    February 9, 2008 at 12:44

    When Islamic countries begin to treat non muslims like 1st class citizens, then the west should consider bending over backwards for Muslims. I still will never forget when the Taliban blew up the giant Bhudda statues in Afghanistan. i’m sick and tired of one way tolerance. From now on it should be tit for tat. Of course the self loathing liberals will never allow this to happen.

  121. 121 Barry McClelland
    February 9, 2008 at 12:47

    no i dont belive the two can successfully coexist…why should a great culture and justice system accept and adopt a lesser culture and judicial system…the evidence is there in the countries that adopt it…remember these people have already voted with their feet.. the went to uk for a better way of life how can this be done by dragging the fundimental freedoms of the magna carta down to the level of the country they have escaped from…?

  122. 122 Dolapo Aina
    February 9, 2008 at 13:22

    No portion of the Sharia law or any other religious laws should be inculcated into any nation’s constitution because these religious laws are laws which were advanced or promulgated by self- fulfilling men.
    And since these laws favour some certain sects or sexes we cant really say the laws were pristinely and divinely recieved without human alterations.
    Dolapo Aina,
    Lagos, Nigeria

  123. 123 George USA
    February 9, 2008 at 15:13

    What goes?

    First the US Episcopals announce a gay clergy.

    Now the Anglicans want Muslim law.

    Could they be being used for an agenda to create reaction,

    for more urban legend “separation of church and state” repetition?

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

    Notice the second half of the sentence Thomas Jefferson wrote the Danbury Baptists-

    “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,”

    The “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” balance to Jefferson’s “not this nor that” sentence removal has made the current use an urban legend.

    Which incidentally reverses the meaning of his intent.

    Of Course The Archbishop’s statement is ridiculous,

    but perhaps it is just a little psyops neurolinguistic word play.

  124. 124 KB
    February 9, 2008 at 18:46

    One suspects that persons in high places who make such comments expect them to be opposed. It is a “conditioning” process by which they gradually introduce the way they, the powers who control the general decline of society, want it to go. To quote the great John Lennon in the Beatles biography dated 2005, government exists only to control people, not to let them be (roughly paraphrased). They lead us around by the nose with such questions. Anyone can see that the debate can be knocked down in 10 minutes, yet it will be debated for years, unless we stop debating such drivel. And, the press is largely to blame! There are so many things worth the public discussion and input, and yet year after year we debate the same non-issues.

  125. 125 Syed Hasan Turab
    February 9, 2008 at 20:36

    Secular state laws need some transformation with due religious influence. Without any doubt religion has some roots & influence in our society along with traditions & values.
    This transformation will take some time, may be understand good news for our society & culture..

  126. 126 aziz khan
    February 10, 2008 at 10:43

    Islamophobia and intolerance is alive and well in Britain as is in other islamophobic nations like Australia- where there has been a “me too” reaction by the righting politicians and shock jocks.

    Anti- Islamic fervor often tries to censor meaningful and constructive debates between world’s great religions and this time it is no different.

    This anti- Sharia moral panic just exposes the cognitive and deep seated hatred the political establishment and the self serving media have for all things” Muslim” or “Islam”.

    Whether Sharia law is incorporated or not in the next 10 to 20 years in the UK- this is immaterial because British, Canadian and Muslim Australians already practice their own Muslim legal arbitration and conciliation in the administration of their civil personal laws.

    These pious Muslims don’t need recognition from secular courts. Just as pious Jewish religious courts do not require recognition from secular Western courts!

    The archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams support for Sharia law have also exposed the hypocrites amongst British Muslim community.

    Any western legal practitioner will tell you that Sharia courts can function as An “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR) mechanism.

    Sharia courts will no doubt reduce the existing burden on traditional secular courts where non- Muslim judges are in no position and above all are illiterate to hear cases dealing with religious matters.

    Alas the archbishop’s intellectual prowess and deeper understanding of Muslim predicament in the secular West shows that he is truly a man of God who have won many hearts in the oppressed Islamic world… it is only a matter of time the leading scholars of Sunni and Shia Islam will have the good opportunity to meet him over a cup of tea.

  127. 127 Iain Connochie
    February 10, 2008 at 10:52

    From what I can gather from Dr Williams speach, his recommendation is confined to the civil system of Sharia law, and only in accordance with English law and agreeable to established notions of human rights. Hence there is no 2nd law or a seperation of Laws. Just as 3 people are entitled to sit at a table & decide upon a mediated outcome from a disagreement so this is available to everyone, whether you call it Sharia or any made up name.

    This debate just shows how easy it is for the media to whip up hysteria by manipulating words.

    Dr Rowan Williams is NOT saying that Sharia Law should be written into English Law or to have 2 seperate Laws.

    What he is saying, in a highly intelectual way is that aspects of Sharia Law can ALREADY be used within UK COMMON LAW legal system.
    If 2 people have a disagreement then they are entitled to ask a 3rd person to decide on the outcome, action & mediation & it be legally binding.

    The MAJORITY of the UKs population are actually ignorant of the availability, and their rights, to English Common Law, which is centurys old. In so many instances there is not an absolute need to use Crown , Criminal & Civil Courts, which employ thousands of expensive solicitors & judges & other staff. Hence due to cost, denys many citizens of easy & cheap remedy to a variety of disputes and problems.

    The way that the media has handled this is quite abhorant, yet again they whip up hysteria by focusing on a small part and twisting it to fit in with uninteligent biased misconceptions of the masses.

    This type of behaviour should have been left behind with the 3rd Reich, and is NOT condusive to a better society that professes to know so much about everything when it actually knows and understands so little.

    There was, and still is, a great opportunity here for people to learn and take control of their own problems/disputes, but at the moment that prospect has been severly damaged by media and politically instigated , biased & ignorant fear of aspects of Sharia, instead of the reality of understanding, long standing rights of every UK citizen which empowers us to solve our own problems and disputes in an agreed and legally binding form, which is freely available within UK Law for and by any religious group

    For so long lions, sharks, elephants, bears and many many other amazing animals were written about and perceived in such a way that the instant buffoonery reaction of many people supposidly of higher inteligence, was to hunt as many of them as possible and destroy them. Even now when the film Jaws is widely shown, the result is that it is retargeted and hunted in greater numbers.

    Human perceptions are so easily distorted, hence the media has greater responsibility in how it reports anything and everything.

    I personally do not like religion, any religion and would much prefer a world without it, a world with common sense of right and wrong, good and bad, a world that is not distorted by mythical happenings or ingrained fear of hellishness, but what I like even less is bullying, blackmail and deception, especially when used as a tool to further the purposes of unseen elements.

    Just what is it that has enabled nearly EVERY media organisation to confine itself to reporting solely on issues that instal fear and paranoia into the population, instead of reporting on the good, and they do it while smiling at the same time.

    We are told to be careful of diets, what we feed ourselves, because there are many dangers of what we digest and the quantity. This can also be said of the media that constantly feeds us so much biased, unrelevant, provocative and deceptive news storys, the dangers are the unquantified reactions of the population. Do we really want the reactionary new beguinings of a variance of the 3rd Reich and similar views to that which was against the Jews, OR reactionary behaviour to that of recent Rwanda.

    People have MANY fears and to continually build those fears I would think WILL at some point lead to an explosion of expression, and that explosion of expression is so easily manipulated into out of control violence. It is so easy to sit in the UK in comfort, watching events in Rwanda or Kenya, or Kosovo, and condemn them and think, that it can NEVER happen here because we are more advanced and more inteligent, have higher morals.

    If you think that then you are in complete denial of rational thought and the realitys of human behaviour.

    Think before you blink, think before you believe, and think before you put all trust in the media and those who purport to speak on your behalf.

  128. 128 David J
    February 10, 2008 at 15:57

    I live in N/W England, in an area where there are 10% Moslem’s.
    Their effect on the community is disproportionate to their numbers. Their insularity brings about a ghetto complex, to the extent that some while ago my teenage , born locally, grand-daughter; when in the centre of our small town was, told by Asian youths to “Get back to White land”. Approx 1/2 mile from her home.
    Where a young Moslem lady, working in the local Police Station, had her back door kicked in in an attempt to take her back home, because she had broken the unwritten rules of non-integration. In any form.
    The Idea of any aspect of Sharia law being tolerated, or respected, within our judicial system is anathema.
    Any incidence of it would be used to extend the intrusion of Moslem practices into a community governed according to westrn secular society principles.
    In our community, in the weekly paper a disproportionate number of reported ‘incidents’ are involving Asian men. i.e at least 3/4’s.
    Where are the Imams in enforcing normal civilised standards ?
    Sharia aspects are not needed for this.
    If it could be shown that they respected normal civil law, then, and only then, would it be worth reviewing the situation.
    This is before we go into the topic of arranged marriages, where it can be shown the familial intermarrying is causing health problems.
    David J

  129. 129 Diane
    February 10, 2008 at 18:32

    Our (U.S.) legal system has mechanisms that allow citizens to challenge, amend and even repeal unjust laws. Are these rights are available to U.K. citizens? How would the system apply to Sharia law? And is it a legitimate legal system in the U.K. if it is not subject to the same checks?

  130. 130 John in Salem
    February 10, 2008 at 21:20

    So… After my first emotional reaction to skimming the article and then listening to the arguments on the show I have since gone back and studied the entire text of the speech.
    Maybe it would work in the U.K.. I don’t know. British law is different in some respects from U.S. law. But the vision I see is of a society being ripped apart by a deepening alienation as each new group began to demand it’s own jurisdictional independence.

    If it were being proposed for the U.S., however, I would have to stand by my initial comment – “Groups of a serious and profound conviction” need to live in the real world like everyone else.
    Here, at least, a religious authority like the archbishop would run head on into a Constitution that was built for just such a fight, and he would lose.

  131. February 10, 2008 at 21:30

    It is an admitted fact that sharia law are strict in nature and on the other hand muslims scholars,by deviding themselves,have explain it no its real form,

    For example,they have different views on jayahd,suicide attack,myrtedom,and the way of worship.

    Many of them support religion as the base of the state and other are not in favour.they have adopted the way resulting in we are facing and looking unrest many part of the world.

    On the other side,what the west have done? discarded negotiation option and ignighted the whole world.power using made peace process.

    In such circumstances, if any english scholar talke about sharia law it mean he is making mistake.people of united kingdom will never accept it.

    United Kindom is a secular state, have its own tradition,history,social system,democracy,freedom,and mother parliment and people are attached with that from generation to generation they never accepte strict sharia law wich muslim rulers can still not be imposed in their own countries.

  132. 132 Juan
    February 11, 2008 at 01:32

    In order to address this issue i think we must draw a line between financial matters and maritals ones. The first ones can already be settled in arbitration courts, where u can choose the applicable law and the arbitrators, whilst the second ones are a public matter. Even the most liberal tolerant person would agree with me that the state has a legitimate interest in prohibiting multiple-simultaneos marriages or that the custody of a small kid should be granted to the mother (default to the most suitable parent).
    However, if the sharia or any other law -whether religious or not- gives a fair solution to a certain problem/dispute, i believe it should be incorporated to the local legal system using the ordinary channels, namely by passing a new legislation.

    Juan from Argentina

  133. 133 pendkar
    February 11, 2008 at 12:08

    Why would Britain want to incorporate sharia? It would be a backward move for many reasons.

    Laws relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance need to change and evolve with time. Human kind has learnt at least that much, by now. Civic laws have to be made and maintained by the civic society. They need to change from time to time keeping the common good in mind. It is possible to be loosely guided by the directives in the scriptures, but not be bound by it.
    Why do muslims(living in britain) need the sharia to be good muslims? Islam allows polygamy, but does not make it mandatory for each man to practice it. Good muslims are not supposed to accept interest. But they are always free to give away the interest in charity to keep their faith. Muslim men may have the privilege of not having to pay maintenance to divorced wives, in muslim societies, but that is hardly a right they can demand as immigrants.

    India has different versions of ‘personal law’ for people of different religions. It happened due to historical compulsions. It leads to some ugly dilemmas. The government, the judiciary and the society at large has to sometimes stand by and watch helplessly as some helpless divorced muslim woman is denied justice (maintenance). They are denied justice just so that rigid religios codes get the last word.

    The ‘personal law’ is also abused on the polygamy angle, mostly by non-muslims.

    Most Indians now want a uniform civil code to apply to all citizens, but it is not going to happen. There is no getting out of these things, once they are in place. This is an issue that causes deep divisions among people. It is seen as ‘appeasement’ of the muslims. Real and imagined instances of ‘appeasement’ cause deep resentment and anti-muslim sentiments and eventually work againt the community. We have seen it all, in India. Britain will see it too, if it goes the same way.

  134. 134 gary
    February 11, 2008 at 21:08

    Hello All,
    Any individual in a position of secular or religious leadership needs be able to think and speak in a clear manner. The current back peddling by the Archbishop of Canterbury suggests he not able to do these things. It does not matter what his point of view is on this issue, his poorly chosen words alone imply incompetence.
    Quite aside from this cathedral controversy, my personal thought on immigrants’ rights under British, or any other country’s system of law: If one wishes to enjoy the benefits of residence; then enjoy the judicial system, or STAY HOME!
    Later,
    gfh

  135. 135 Jennifer in Holland
    February 12, 2008 at 15:19

    No, it should not. Simple as that.

  136. February 12, 2008 at 16:51

    Christianity & other Religions are not allowed in Saudi Arabia,yet Mosques are allowed to be built in Western Countries all over the world.We accept our Islamic brothers & sisters but the Extremist call us “INFIDELS” & by that we all none beleivers of the Muslim faith must be killed.How then can we allow sharia laws in the United Kingdom or any other western countries ? We are too easily taken for a ride by these so called brothers 7 sisters.We see every day the sucide bombers & the burning & the Hate in them for us.These days most Islamic countries humans are been killed like flies.Why so much killing in them ?
    We are hated by them & we must be realstic about the dangers for the future.

  137. 137 Mathew
    February 12, 2008 at 19:23

    Dr Williams might start the islamic sharia law in “small measure” such as to solve marital disputes, etc, soon to find out the imams demanding to introduce beheading, whipping, stoning, and other public execution styles into our civilized society. This makes me to shudder and shiver in my boots. It is better for the Archbishop to join islam, instead of instroducing confusion and trouble to the Christians worldwide and to the United Kingdom.

    Mathew
    USA

  138. February 12, 2008 at 20:59

    Chernor Jalloh will be in my opinon a true Muslim of which I will applaud for his article sent on Friday the 8th. 2008. to “HAVE YOUR SAY” on the sharia law topic.
    If only the Koran is followed in it’s true teaching
    we will have no EXTREMIST MUSLIMS whom are giving the
    Islamic faith a bad name.These ETREMIST go against the true teaching of the Holy Book, The Koran.
    In any faith or anything else in this life to go to the extrem is dangerous.
    The true Good Muslims(Like Mr.Jalloh) should speak out together with the genuine good Muslims whom are the head of the Muslim Religion including the Good Muslim
    leaders of the Islamic states all around the world.
    These extremist praticing the teaching of the Koran in the evil way should be publicly dishoned by the MUSLIM WORLD. I RESPECT ALL RELIGIONS BUT I CONDEM EXTREMIST
    WHO ONLY DO THE EVIL WORK FOR SATAN & GIVE A BAD REPUTATION TO THE GOOD HONEST LOVING & FORGIVEN MUSLIMS.IT IS ABOUT TIME WE ALL OF ALL RELIGION SPEAK OUT AGAINST THESE EVIL PEOPLES.
    WE MUST LEARN TO FORGIVE & FORGET THE PAST & LEAVE IN PEACE IN THE FUTURE.NO MORE HATE OR VENGENCE.
    MICHAEL PRINZ.


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