A network of sharia courts has been set up in Britain, headquartered in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. There are now sharia courts in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester. Two more are in the planning stages, in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi thinks these courts are a good idea. He runs them. In a TimesOnline article, he said: "We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are."
I understand how attractive it seems, setting up a separate-but-equal court system for civil cases. Just the same, I'm concerned about what may happen.
For one thing, having two different court systems working the same territory in the same country seems to be asking for confusion.
For another, sharia law has earned a debatable reputation lately. I've written about this before:
- "Don't Like British Law? No Problem!
Set Up Your Own Courts!"
(February 11, 2008)
- "Islam, Christianity, Culture, and Kooks"
(November 26, 2007)
- "Muslims, Terrorism, Islam, PBS, and 'Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics' "
(October 20, 2007)
I sincerely hope that the British Muslims who run Sheikh Siddiqi's courts don't follow Sudan's and Saudi Arabia's lead when applying sharia law to 21st century British cases.
In the News:
- "Britain officially adopts Sharia law on the sly"
Daily News & Analysis (September 15, 2008)
- "MUSLIM COURTS HAVE HEARD 100 CASES IN BRITAIN "
Daily Express (September 15, 2008)
- "Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts"
TimesOnline (September 14, 2008)
Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.