Friday 21 August 2009

A Different Perspective On Shariah in the UK

Usually when Shariah law is mentioned in the mainstream media, we hear about hangings, stonings, amputation and women getting the short straw followed by hysterical rantings from a small section of the public. This is in contrast with the main body of Shariah laws used in British shariah courts to arbitrate. These focus on family law, finance and business. This recent Times article highlights how non-Muslim’s are turning to the Shariah courts to mediate in matters of money as a cheap, fast way of ending disputes.

"Dressed in immaculate white kurta pyjamas and with fingers interlaced, Sheikh Faiz Siddiqui leant back in his white leather chair as he listened.

Before him were two warring businessmen: a Muslim of Asian origins and his white non-Muslim partner, who had come to seek judgment on a dispute. This proved to be a run-of-the-mill squabble over whether the non-Muslim had been cheated out of the profits of their jointly owned car-fleet company by the Muslim.

What made the case out of the ordinary is that it was the the non-Muslim who had chosen to take his grievance to a religious tribunal run by imams according to the laws of sharia — an ancient Islamic code of conduct that dates back to the time of the prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.

As the story of the business unfolded, the sheikh — one of two judges presiding that day — began to suspect the Muslim businessman was not being entirely honest in his evidence. So what happened next, I asked, when I met Siddiqui at his opulent offices in Warwickshire.

“I reminded him of his vows to God,” he said. “I told him, ‘You can lie and you can cheat this other man. But realise this: one day, you will face the Day of Judgment and on that day you will face Allah himself and be punished’.”

The sheikh’s words apparently had a profound effect. The Muslim businessman promptly changed his story, admitting he had cheated, and his non-Muslim partner was awarded £48,000 in compensation by the two Muslim judges. "

Read the whole article here

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