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A Call for Muslims to Support the Integration of Parts of Shari’ah into the British Judicial System

The incredulous debate about Shari’ah and its implementation in Britain followed the release of a number of reports that have concluded that many Muslims would like to see Shari’ah implemented in the UK. I would like to draw the attention of all Muslims and non-Muslims to a few issues concerning this topic.

From the onset it should be understood that Shari’ah in its general form is synonymous to Islam. Once this is understood, we can realise that there are many parts of Shari’ah i.e., Islam, that have already been implemented in the UK. Furthermore, in terms of recognition, it is also common knowledge that Sharia compliant financial institutions have been recognised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

It should be made clear that Muslims are not asking for all of the aspects of Shari’ah to be implemented in the UK (as it is not an Islamic state) but that Muslim personal law be embedded or integrated within the national legal framework. In addition to this, we only expect shari’ah to be applied to proceedings in which Muslims opt for an Islamic solution to their disputes. In other words, this is no more than a system of arbitration which is an extremely beneficial method of dissolving disputes among Muslims whilst alleviating the burden that these respective disputes have on judicial institutions such as public courts.

It should be emphasised that it is an essential part of a Muslim’s code of conduct to refer all disputes to the Qur’an, the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the legacy of Muslim scholars. It is not accepted of any Muslim, who, having the capability to do so then chooses not to. Allah The Most High states in the Quran, ‘It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error.’ [33:36] To that extent, we find that Allah states, ‘And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the disbelievers (i.e., disbelievers of a lesser degree as they do not act upon Allah’s laws).’ [5:44] And ‘Have you not seen those (Hypocrites) who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down, and that which was sent down before you, and they wish to go for judgement (in their disputes) to the taghut (false judges) while they have been ordered to reject them. But the devil wishes to lead them far astray. And when it is said to the “come to what Allah has sent down and the Messenger”, you see the Hypocrites turn away from you with aversion.’ [4:60-61]. Accordingly, scholars have agreed that it is an act of disbelief to refuse to refer to Shari’ah (Islam) while being able to do so. Therefore, supporting the call to have Muslim personal law recognized by the British judicial system is in itself an Islamic obligation and a basis of faith.

The act of opting for the Shari’ah is so ingrained in Muslim culture that it is clearly manifested even in Muslims who observe only the mildest of Islamic practices, yet turn to the Shari’ah in matters of divorce, khula’ (divorce by abdication), and inheritance. For example, a woman who has received an uncertain irrevocable divorce from her husband does not accept her return unless the permission of a reputable Imam is granted, thus, we would like to emphasise that the recognition of Islamic personal law by the British Judicial system is mainly going to improve the welfare of Muslim women in the UK. At the Islamic Shari’ah Council, we have encountered many women who are left in a state of limbo for years without being able to remarry as they could not obtain a divorce. It is a simple fact that Muslims do not and will not practically accept marriage dissolution by any non-Islamic judicial body, thus, the presence of Islamic bodies that judge in such matters and end the suffering of these women is an integral part of the welfare of any society. Social cohesion can only be achieved when the essential social needs of all aspects of society are fulfilled in a way in which no harm is caused to others. Therefore it is reasonable to see that many non-Muslim intellectuals such as Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, have recognised this need, whereas some Muslims have aligned with many other non-Muslims in the prejudice and extremism currently displayed, exaggerating claims without fully comprehending the issue at hand.

The criticism that the implementation of shari’ah in the UK fuels the notion of separatism is extremely contradictory. Muslims are not asking for a complete Islamic system to run alongside British law, but rather that the British judicial system accommodate minor changes in specific Acts. There have already been a number of changes in some of these Acts to accommodate Jewish, Hindu and Sikh personal law. Additionally, we must accept that there are already a number of laws incorporated into British law which have already effectively been drawn for shari’ah. Examples include Halal meat and food which requires alternative regulations (to that of British law) for slaughtering and processing afterwards. It also requires specific arrangements in regards to catering for Muslims in schools and universities. There were some difficulties encountered to accommodate this essential need for Muslims, yet once overcome the result was an effective system which facilitated the integration of Muslims and overall wellbeing and satisfaction. We should remember that Jews also have their own system of producing kosher meat, and thus the facilitation of ease for religious minorities makes the British legal system superior to many other non-Islamic legal systems.

The row that took place in reaction to comments made by Dr Rowan Williams uncovered the stark reality of many western values. It was shocking to see the amount of criticism made against the Archbishop, where ironically Muslims are usually accused of intolerance when criticising the defamation of their prophet and religion. Another fallacy which has been revealed is that many members of Britain’s ‘liberal’ society are at heart right-wing radicals who hold in contempt any peaceful and civilised call for acceptance, although it is usually claimed that Muslims attempt to impose their views on others. Yet contradictorily, we notice that many of these same individuals pay no mind to the illegal British and American invasion and occupation of foreign countries while shedding the innocent blood of its population and destroying its infrastructure in order to enforce their own version of ‘shari’ah’.

In the spirit of cooperation we ask all individuals and organisations who are in favour of retaining family values, facilitating minority rights and wellbeing to support our call.


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About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Sharia Council (UK & Eire). He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Sharia Council as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

10 comments

  1. !!You do not have to stay!!
    If I received a pound for every time I have read or have been told ‘I do not have to stay’, I would be a wealthy man. As a Muslim it’s imperative I do stay and what is wrong with being critical of the way in which the society we live in if that way is wrong. After all, woman fought for the vote, should we have said to them to leave the country? Of course not, that would be absurd.

    Muslims should stay and implement as much of the Shariah as they can so that we make the society we live in a better place. Allaah, Most Great has made us the bastions of explaining the difference between right and wrong according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. We have an obligation to impart the laws of Islam. I would like the UK, in which I live in, to be free of many evils such as usury, alcohol, gambling, drugs, etc.

  2. Grant S McCulloch

    One Law
    I read this article with interest to see could I find any common ground with the Shari’ah version of law and it’s incorporation into British Law. My conclusion is that I can not. We have a Common Law system, this is the same for every one. This Law is not held hostage by any racial or religious subjectivity.
    One of the cornerstones of British Law is in finding people guilty of any crime is that the verdict must be beyond reasonable doubt. This immiediatley means that any religious based laws have no place within its structure.
    Religion requires faith, something which the law can not abide. You can not prove the religious aspects of law, ‘because Mohammed/Allah says so in the Koran’ does not count as evidence any more than a Christian siting Biblical references would.
    As an athiest I have great difficulty in any religous based law. The Law is created by man for the defence of man based upon evidence and fairness for all.
    I understand if the British Law is not attractive for devout followers of the strictest form of Islam, however understanding does not mean I sympathise. It may be a simplistic answer and may even sound aggresive but my view is, if you have been allowed to settle in the UK then you should embrace the freedoms all our people enjoy. It is the reason we are so succesful that men and women have the freedom to do as they please. That’s why we are world leaders in so many areas.
    I do not want any kind of religious influence brought to our law. If you find you are incompatible with our way of life, then the choice is clear. You do not have to stay.

  3. GANIEF HENDRICKS

    Integrating shariah
    The article serves as an inspiration to the AL JAMA-AH political Party in South Africa. Sharing the shariah with lawmakers giving them more options can only benefit the country.

  4. Cant Live With It, Wont Live Without It.
    JazkAllahkher Shaikh, a thought provoking piece. I think the FSA issue is a great example of contemporary British society, where we will embrace absolutely anything if we can have some benefit from direct material benefit from it, and not embrace the tiniest of things, if we do not see the direct material benefit. Isnt it amazing how the word Shariah is so much more compliant in the square mile than in whitehall?

  5. hopefully non-Muslims will actually read this

  6. Classic!
    MashAllah, Now thats a article! Nice1 Sheik Haitham. You hit the nail on the head when you said

    ‘…The row that took place in reaction to comments made by Dr Rowan Williams uncovered the stark reality of many western values. It was shocking to see the amount of criticism made against the Archbishop, where ironically Muslims are usually accused of intolerance when criticizing the defamation of their prophet and religion….’

    And of course ‘La Creme de La Creme’ was where you mention the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan to implement their own ‘Shariah’. An instant Classic.

  7. Yet contradictorily, we notice that many of these same individuals pay no mind to the illegal British and American invasion and occupation of foreign countries while shedding the innocent blood of its population and destroying its infrastructure in order to enforce their “shari’ah”.

    Masha’Allah, excellent point, sounds like something Malik el Shabbaz would have said had he been around.

  8. expelling the myths
    I think it hit bang on the nail. I think its really important that we explain to people the fact that the shariah law is more than just the myths people have on it: thats its a system that stands up for the rights of women, promotes good in society e.g. giving money to the needy and aims to preserve the core principles needed for a society to function well i.e. all members of society taking on their roles and responsibilty. Also that much of the shariah law is already upheld by jews and christains anyway like no pre-marital relations, charity, and even captial punishment.

    We’re like Doctor pepper… so misunderstood!

  9. Abu Bakr Ramsey

    Well worded!!
    mashallah, extremely diplomatic and palatable for non-Muslims yet does not give up anything by way of Islamic tenets…May Allah preserve Ahlus sunnah.

  10. Interesting
    Interesting perspective.

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