Saturday, July 12, 2008

Speaking of fundamentalism...

"Don't Waste Food"
Political Cartoon with Sharia Article?
(Image from The Spectator)

Speaking of fundamentalism, some possibly good news appears in the July 9th issue of the British magazine The Spectator, in which Irfan al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz report that "Our survey shows British Muslims don't want sharia":
Our survey was made easier by Muslim debate over the Williams affair. The overwhelming majority of our sample -- we estimate a minimum of 65 per cent -- brusquely repudiated the imposition of sharia in Britain and even expressed resentment at the interference of individuals like the Archbishop in British Muslim affairs. (page 2)
That sounds reassuring . . . though the down side is that about 35 percent of British Muslims do not repudiate the imposition of sharia in Britain. Nevertheless, I'm happy to see so many Muslims disagree with Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, who serves as Britain's Lord Chief Justice, and Rowan Williams, who heads the Church of England as Archbishop of Canterbury. Because both of these major establishment figures in Britain have recently spoken of the 'need' for some aspects of sharia to be introduced to serve Muslims' special Islamic requirements, I read with great interest the following remark:
Sharia has always held that Muslims emigrating to non-Muslim lands are obliged to accept the laws and customs of their new homes, and must not attempt to change them in an Islamic direction.
I'd like to see more evidence of this -- chapter and verse, so to speak. Over the years, my impression has been that sharia says a lot of things, depending on which hadith are used and on which school of Islamic law is followed, but even assuming that this claim is solidly grounded, I have a question, the same one that one commenter, Nicholas Storey, poses to the article's writers:
Turning to the article, several points do arise: first of all, you say that Muslims are told that they should abide by the Laws of the land into which they go. However, what if they find the very core of the State into which they go, so lacking in moral fibre that it has lost its own sense of identity and desire to uphold its own laws; that it bends with the wind and shows eager to adopt the healthier parts of Sharia, even to a restricted extent? Would Islamic scholars then deny Muslims the right to exploit this weakness, this rottenness to the very core in the State into which they have gone? (Nicholas Storey, July 11th, 2008 1:36pm)
Good question, but while we're waiting for an answer to that, we can at least take comfort in the pragmatic views of the many Muslims who work in Britain's secular legal system:
At the Madina Mosque in Bolton it was pointed out to us that tens of thousands of British Muslims practise as solicitors and barristers, and have no interest in surrendering their positions to sharia advocates. A parallel system of sharia law would be a disaster for the British Muslim community, producing legal chaos, according to the barrister Aseid Malik. British Muslim legal professionals observe that Islamist radicals prefer to enter the scientific and medical professions, because there they can avoid participation in the British 'unbeliever' state required of solicitors and barristers. (page 2)
Nobody likes retraining, I suppose, so the bulk of those who've mastered the secular legal system and advise on its rules have little desire to change the system. That, by the way, is a strong argument for integrating Muslims rather than celebrating the 'difference' encouraged by radical multiculturalism -- as the writers themselves perhaps imply in rejecting those non-Muslims who are given to unreflectingly "discussing sharia in a vague, multiculturalist manner apparently intended to project warm feelings toward British Muslims" (page 1).

But all that and all the findings of this survey aside, even if the vast majority of Muslims in Britain strongly wanted sharia, Britain's secular law should make no provisions for such an Islamically based law.

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