The BBC has posted an essay on Sharia courts in the United Kingdom. There are voices of support and opposition to the things – mostly centred on the question of whether they’re biased against women. Me, I’m not just interested in specific views of these atypical arbiters but the ideological basis they’re proceeding from. A witness for the defence is Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad, who’s said to represent the Islamic Sharia Council, the largest Sharia body in the UK…

‘Our cases have easily more than tripled over the past three to five years,” says Sheikh al-Haddad.

”On average, every month we can deal with anything from 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that.

”Muslims are becoming more aligned with their faith and more aware of what we are offering them,” he explained.

Being a curious soul, I looked up the Sheikh and found an essay on whether Muslims should vote in the UK. It’s a tough question for many of us but ol’ Sheikh H-H doesn’t approach it from the normal angle – that the Tories, Labour and the Liberals are a pretty miserable bunch of options – but the more outre opinion that it might be contradictory to God’s commandments. His answer is that it’s not. But for interesting reasons…

…it is obligatory for those Muslims living under the shadow of man-made law to take all the necessary steps and means to make the law of Allah, the Creator and the Sustainer, supreme and manifest in all aspects of life. If they are unable to do so, then it becomes obligatory for them to strive to minimise the evil and maximise the good.In democratic countries which are ruled by man-made law, candidates from the various parties compete to attain power. Some of these parties or candidates are working against the benefit of humanity (i.e. against the law of the Creator), while the policies of others are less detrimental. Therefore, it is obligatory on the Muslims to utilise all means to promote the candidate who will best ensure the welfare of the people according to Islam, the law of their Creator, to be elected to the decision-making posts.

“The shadow of man-made law”, eh? You’ll be unsurprised to hear that al-Haddad yearns for a time when “the divine system is dominant”. This is not a rare opinion among such legislators. They don’t think their rulings should be limited to civil cases; they’re just the only ones they’ve got. The website of his organisation throws up some intriguing stuff. Asked about statements claiming that “shariah law [is] barbaric“, an anonymous prosecutor responds

Look at the current systems in placed and see their results and compare them to those countries using Islamic criminal law. The results are overwhelmingly supporting for the implementation of shariah law.

They are, are they? This mildly ironic because al-Haddad is quoted in the Beeb’s article as saying that…

If you ban us, then British Muslims will find somewhere else to go.

Many will go to Muslim countries abroad, where there will be no way to protect them.

Anyone who holds the views that al-Haddad propounds is welcome to go to Muslim countries abroad. I’ll go even further: they’re welcome to remain there. There’s hardly a shortage of countries who’ve instituted Islamic law as the basis of their legislation. If they’re so keen I’m sure they’ll have a whale of a time. Meanwhile, though, I’m supportive of attempts to minimise their influence within our society.

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