News Updates.

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Top Judge in Britain Believes Sharia Law SHOULD Be Used 

By Steve Doughty of Mail Online News
Last updated at 12:05 PM on 04th July 2008 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1031611/Sharia-law-SHOULD-used-Britain-says-UKs-judge.html

Lord Phillips

Lord Phillips

Explosive: The Lord Chief Justice’s endorsement of Sharia law has already created huge controversy

The most senior judge in England yesterday gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.

He declared: ‘Those entering into a contractual agreement can agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.’

In his speech at an East London mosque, Lord Phillips signalled approval of sharia principles as long as punishments – and divorce rulings – complied with the law of the land.

But his remarks, which back the informal sharia courts operated by numerous mosques, provoked a barrage of criticism.

Lawyers warned that family and marital disputes settled by sharia could disadvantage women or the vulnerable.

Tories said that legal equality must be respected and that rulings incompatible with English law should never be enforceable.

Lord Phillips spoke five months after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams suggested Islamic law could govern marital law, financial transactions and arbitration in disputes.

The Lord Chief Justice said yesterday of the Archbishop’s views: ‘It was not very radical to advocate embracing sharia law in the context of family disputes’.

He added there is ‘widespread misunderstanding as to the nature of sharia law’.

sharia law

The Sharia Council of Britain: (from right to left) Dr Suhaib Hasan, Maulana Abu Sayeed and Mr Mufti Barabatullah preside over marriage cases at their headquarters earlier this year

Rowan Williams

Under fire: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. His comments on Sharia sparked a political storm

Lord Phillips said: ‘Those who are in dispute are free to subject it to mediation or to agree that it shall be resolved by a chosen arbitrator. There is no reason why principles of sharia law or any other religious code should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of dispute resolution.’

Lord Phillips said that any sanctions must be ‘drawn from the laws of England and Wales’. Severe physical punishment – he mentioned stoning, flogging or amputating hands – is ‘out of the question’ in Britain, he added.

Lord Phillips’ speech brought protests from lawyers who fear women could be disadvantaged in supposedly voluntary sharia deals.

Barrister and human rights specialist John Cooper said: ‘There should be one law by which everyone is held to account.

‘Well-crafted laws in this country, drawn up to protect both parties including the weak and vulnerable party in matrimonial break-ups, could be compromised.’

Resolution, the organisation of family law solicitors, said people should govern their lives in accordance with religious principles ‘provided that those beliefs and traditions do not contradict the fundamental principle of equality on which Britain’s laws are based.’

Spokesman Teresa Richardson said religious law ‘must be used to find solutions which are consistent with the basic principles of family law in this country and people must always have redress to the civil courts where they so choose.’

Robert Whelan, of the Civitas think tank, said: ‘Everybody is governed by English law and it is not possible to sign away your legal rights. That is why guarantees on consumer products always have to tell customers their statutory rights are not affected.

‘There is not much doubt that in traditional Islamic communities women do not enjoy the freedoms that they have had for 100 years or more in Britain.

‘It is very easy to put pressure on young women in a male-dominated household. The English law stands to protect people from intimidation in such circumstances.’

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: ‘Mediation verdicts which are incompatible with our own legal principles should never be enforceable. One of the key aspects of our free society is equality. This should be understood and respected by all.’

The Ministry of Justice said: ‘English law takes precedence over any other legal system. The Government has no intention of changing this position. Alongside this, it is possible to resolve civil law dispute by other systems.’

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“7 Myths About Islam”

By Timothy R. Furnish

History News Network

http://hnn.us/articles/16536.html

Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005).

One of the few positive effects of 9/11 has been renewed American interest in Islam and the Middle East. Unfortunately, much of the information disseminated in the media about those topics is ignorant and misleading. This is unfortunate because any hope that the predominantly-Christian West and the Muslim world might transcend conflict requires that the former be accurately informed about the latter (and vice-versa, but that’s an issue for another column). There are in particular seven myths about Islam and Islamic history that have been repeated so often in the media that they’ve achieved conventional wisdom status.

First, it is untrue that Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. (Mormonism and Scientology also claim this, but few outside of Salt Lake City and Hollywood believe it.) As Philip Jenkins of Penn State University demonstrates in his work Christianity—in particular Pentecostalism—is the world’s most-rapidly growing faith. Currently there are 2 billion Christians and 1.3 billion Muslims (out of a world population of 6 billion), and in the 21st century Christianity will maintain its lead, thanks to explosive growth in sub-Saharan Africa and China.

Second, despite the claims of even President Bush in a number of public statements, Islam is not solely a “religion of peace.” Yes, there are verses of toleration in the Qur’an: Sura(chapter) al-Baqarah:256 says “there shall be no compulsion in religion;” Sura al-Furqan:65ff says that Allah will be merciful to those who repent and do good works; and Sura al-Nisa’:19ff enjoins Muslim men to provide financially for wives and ex-wives. But verses such as these are arguably outweighed by others: Sura Anfal:12ff and Sura Muhammad:3ff command the beheading of unbelievers; Sura al-Nisa’:34ff allows for beating of one’s wives and in verses 74ff and 94ff, promises great reward for those who die fighting for Allah; Sura al-Ma’idah:51 says “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” Of course there are violent sections in the Bible—or at least in the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament (Joshua and David were military leaders as much as religious ones). But no one denies that, as many—both Muslim and non-Muslim—deny these violent and misogynistic passages in the Qur’an. Many arguments can be made against such verses (they must be contextualized, they are applicable only to that time, they are metaphorical, etc.) but one cannot say they do not exist. Someone who simply rehashs that “the Qur’an teaches peace” obviously hasn’t read it. No doubt most Muslims do not read the passages about decapitation as a blueprint for today. But just as some Christians take literally, for example, the command of to Christ handle poisonous snakes (Luke 10:19), some Muslims take literally the injunction to behead unbelievers. And the latter practice is a bit more injurious to other folks than the former.

Third on the misinformation parade is the allegation that jihad does not mean holy war. This falsehood crops up often in text books and in the media, where the politically-correct tirelessly repeat that jihad actually means only “striving to be a good Muslim.” This is half-right. But early on in Islamic history, jihad came to mean fighting against unbelievers in order to expand the territory under Muslim rule. al-Bukhari lived in the 9th century CE and was the most authoritative compiler of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad; he mentions jihad many times as meaning “holy war.” Jihad as “Muslim piety” is mainly the province of the Sufis, the mystics of Islam, and has become a minority view today. Furthermore, Islamic history is chock-full of leaders declaring jihads against their enemies—even the moderately Muslim Ottoman Empire declared a holy war against the French, British and Russians in World War I!

Fourth is the whopper that Islam spread peacefully from Arabia, as if the followers of Muhammad went door-to-door ringing doorbells and handing out brochures. From the mid-7th century CE Muslims militarily overran regions and then pressured the conquered to convert. (Yes, Christian kingdoms did the same—but, again, no one denies that!) Muslim Arab armies destroyed the entire Persian Empire (modern Iran), replacing its official Zoroastrian religion; about the same time they invaded the surviving Christian Roman (Byzantine) Empire and within a few decades had taken half its territory. In 732 CE a Muslim army from Morocco was in France! By 750 CE Muslims ruled from the Iberian Peninula to India. And Muslim armies would stay on the offensive for the next millennium, with only two exceptions: the “Reconquista” in Iberia and the Crusades.

The fifth tiresome myth is that the European Catholic Crusaders started the war with Islam and that for eight centuries Muslims have been brooding over the horrible injustices thereof. Actually, the Crusades, 1095-1291, were simply the first time that European Christians managed to take the fight to their enemy’s territory. And besides: why are the Crusades being constantly used as a club with which to beat the West—remember the scathing attacks on President Bush when, not long after 9/11, he referred to a “crusade” against terrorism?—when the Muslims won? Usama bin Ladin’s constant references to Americans as “Crusaders” is thus a perfect marriage of historical illiteracy with keen psychological insight into his enemy’s self-hate.

Another fairy tale about Islam is that poverty produces terrorists. This hoary myth tells us more about the worldview of its American adherents than it does about the ranks of the Islamists. Most of the 9/11 and London bombers were university-educated and at least middle-class. The same is true for Palestinian suicide bombers and most likely those in Iraq. Naive Americans take their domestic paradigm about poverty and crime—that the former causes the latter—and apply it to a context where it doesn’t fit Regarding the recent London bombings, a British terrorism expert said that “socioeconomic background does not appear to [have] play[ed] a role.” Poverty may be necessary, but it is hardly sufficient, to explain Islamic terrorism.

And finally, we have politically-correct mendacity number seven, which even British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently repeated: that Islam has been “hijacked” by terrorists. In this view Bin Ladin, the ayatollahs in Iran, the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the Saudis with their Wahhabism (a particularly puritanical brand of Sunni Islam)—all are twisting a “moderate” religion to suit their purpose. The “Islam = peace” brigade essentializes Islam as peaceful. UBL essentializes it as jihad. Although there are Qur’an verses, and sayings of Muhammad, on both sides, many do support Bin Ladin and his ilk. Also, Islamic history is replete with Muslim scholars whom the modern Islamic fundamentalists draw upon. The most famous is Ibn Taymiyah who, 700 years before George Bush said “you’re either for us or against us,” divided the world into the domain of Islam and that of war. The only good ruler is a Muslim ruler, asserted Ibn Taymiyah. And by that he meant one that enforces shari`ah, or Islamic law. Most Muslims do not agree, but some do. (And only 10 percent of 1.3 billion is 130 million.) But it is no use pretending that the UBLs of the world have falsely “hijacked” Islam. Indeed, their view of the faith—however intolerant and violent it may seem—has a basis in Islamic theology and history.

Islam is where Christianity was before the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and then the Enlightenment led the West to divorce religion and state, thereby removing (mostly) the threat of religious-based warfare. As a fellow monotheist with Muslims, I pray that the moderate strands within Islam win out over the more fundamentalist ones, allowing that civilization to follow suit. And for we in the West to help with that, we need to open our eyes to the reality of the harsher aspects of Islam and Islamic history. Anything else is simple—and dangerous—self-deception.

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Published on July 8, 2008 at 5:20 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. The article about the “7 Myths About Islam” is amazing. I was very impressed with this historian/writer’s perspective on Islam. You don’t find an accurate history of Islam and the crusades very often. The only aspect I disagreed with is the last paragraph that I have italicized for you. I don’t believe a moderate side to the doctrine of Islam exists. There are, however, Muslims who do not pay attention to the doctrine of Islam and do not wage Jihad. But, from studying Islamic scriptures (Qur’an, Hadith, Biography of Muahmmad), there is no where found a doctrine of peace when Muslims are in a position of power. It is only when Muslims are in a weak position that they peacefully co-exist with other religions. It would be great for the peace, well-being and safety of all of us if Muslims who do not practice jihad would win over those who do, but this is impossible. Muslims who practice jihad have the Qur’an, Muslim scholars for hundereds of generations, the biography of Muhammad and sayings of Muhammad that all uphold (in an overwhelming way) that, yes, Islam in deed condones violence for those who have power to do so.

    A better solution to the problem would be to uproot them from Islam altogether and win them to the love and accpetance of their God and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus asks them to love their enemies and pray for them, not chop off their heads. From this perspective, I think we can make a lasting (even everlasting) change for the better.


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