Posted tagged ‘British law’

Sharia Councils and Sexual Abuse in Britain

April 14, 2017

Sharia Councils and Sexual Abuse in Britain, Gatestone Institute, Khadija Khan, April 14, 2017

As bad as this is, there is an even darker side to the story: Under sharia law, the second husband is under no obligation to give his wife a quick divorce – allowing him to keep her as his virtual sex slave for as long as he wishes.

If one asks how all of this jibes with British law, the answer is that it does not.

The UK-based NGO, Muslim Women’s Network, penned an open letter — with 100 signatories — to the British government and Home Affairs Select Committee demanding that the Sharia Council be investigated to determine whether its practices adhere to British law. In response, the Sharia Council declared the letter to be “Islamophobic” and accused the Muslim Women’s Network of being an anti-Muslim organization.

It is British law, not sharia, law that protects Muslim individuals and couples, as it does any other citizen. Contrary to what apologists for this travesty say, the plight of Muslim women should be treated as an issue of human rights.

 

The most recent scandal surrounding the sexual exploitation of Muslim women by Islamic religious leaders in the UK is yet further proof of the way in which Britain is turning a blind eye to horrific practices going on right under its nose.

A BBC investigation into “halala” — a ritual enabling a divorced Muslim woman to remarry her husband by first wedding someone else, consummating the union, and then being divorced by him — revealed that imams in Britain are not only encouraging this, but profiting financially from it. This depravity has led to many such women being held hostage, literally and figuratively, to men paid to become their second husbands.

This ritual, which is considered a misinterpretation of Islamic sharia law even by extremist Shi’ites and Saudi-style Salafists, is practiced by certain Islamic sects, such as Hanafis, Barelvis and Deobandis. When a husband repeats the Arabic word for divorce — talaq — three times to his wife, these sects consider a Muslim marriage null and void. For such a woman to be allowed to return to the husband who banished her, she must first marry someone else — and have sex with him — before the second husband divorces her.

These divorce rites, despite the laws of the land, are common in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Asian countries, where a majority of the people belong to the Hanafi, Barelvi or Deobandi sects. Nevertheless, local seminaries, mosques and online services openly advertise and promote halala with impunity; it is accepted by society and rarely monitored by state authorities.

In Britain, halala has emerged as a booming business, with websites and social media sites offering to provide women with second husbands for exorbitant sums of money. As bad as this is, there is an even darker side to the story: Under sharia law, the second husband is under no obligation to give his wife a quick divorce — allowing him to keep her as his virtual sex slave for as long as he wishes.

One Muslim woman, who changed her mind about going through with halala after looking into the process, told the BBC that she knew others who did undergo the process, and ended up being sexually abused for months by the second husbands paid to marry them. According to a report in The Guardian, the Sharia Council of Britain says it deals with hundreds of divorce cases annually.

This infamous council is indirectly responsible for what essentially has become a rape pandemic, since it does nothing to stop or refute halala. In fact, it declares that the practice is completely legal under sharia law. The only caveat, the council states, is that the imams presiding over it are not following the proper guidelines, according to which the second marriage and divorce should not be premeditated, but rather happen naturally.

If one asks how all of this jibes with British law, the answer is that it does not. But young Muslims in the UK are discouraged by their communities from marrying through the British system, and are told to have imams perform their weddings and sharia councils register their marriages. Couples who comply end up being at the mercy of Islamic authorities in family matters, including divorce.

Due to its often unethical practices conducted in the name of religious law, the Sharia Council has come under scrutiny a number of times. Last November, for instance, the UK-based NGO, Muslim Women’s Network, penned an open letter — with 100 signatories — to the British government and Home Affairs Select Committee demanding that the Sharia Council be investigated to determine whether its practices adhere to British law.

In response, the Sharia Council declared the letter to be “Islamophobic” and accused the Muslim Women’s Network of being an anti-Muslim organization. In addition, Labour MP Naz Shah jumped to the defense of the Sharia Council, rejecting the idea of an inquiry, on the grounds that shutting down such councils could mean that more women would be stuck in abusive marriages.

While acknowledging that these councils could be used as a tool to deny women their rights, Shah said that they also serve as valuable arbitrators in marital disputes.

Her claims are totally baseless. It is British law, not sharia, law that protects Muslim individuals and couples, as it does any other citizen.

Haitham al-Haddad is a British shari’a council judge, and sits on the board of advisors for the Islamic Sharia Council. Regarding the handling of domestic violence cases, he stated in an interview, “A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them. Leave them alone. They can sort their matters among themselves.” (Image source: Channel 4 News video screenshot)

Had the British government addressed Sharia Council malpractice when it was first revealed, we would not be facing this pandemic today. Contrary to what apologists for this travesty say, the plight of Muslim women should be treated as an issue of human rights.

It is time for the British government to wake up and take a tough stand on such unethical, and probably illegal, system. And the sooner the better, lest the whole sharia council system go “underground” and out of reach to protect thousands of women from abuse.

Sharia Councils: Taking Liberties

December 19, 2016

Sharia Councils: Taking Liberties, Gatestone Institute, Robbie Travers, December 19, 2016

A report by Machteld Zee, a Dutch Academic raised the issue that sharia councils “frustrate women in their requests [for divorce], especially if the husband is unwilling to co-operate,” and she also suggested that women are treated as “second-class citizens.”

Sharia councils, however, can demand that the parties involved in a dispute sign contracts beforehand, demanding that women agree to the results of the arbitration. To force a woman, who has been denied rights to any legal representation, to agree to an illegal or wrongful contract before trial, is a travesty that the British justice system cannot allow to continue.

As Dr Taj Hargey, Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation argues, “Sharia is not divine law, it is just medieval opinion.”

Is Britain really agreeing to allow women to be sentenced in England, then to be stoned to death elsewhere?

This ruling actually reveals to the husband the process required to have his wife stoned to death. It arguably even encouraging men to have their wives taken abroad and have them murdered. The court has therefore condemned someone to murder solely the words of her husband without allowing her a chance to speak.

How can these groups that not only fail to protect the rights of women but actually undermine them, be considered charitable organisations, funded by British taxpayers?

It is considered a fundamental principle in liberal democracies that individuals should have equality under the law, with equal access to justice, despite race, gender, or religious belief and that the same laws of a single legal system should apply equally to everyone.

To have two simultaneously functioning rules of law, applied on differing judicial bases, would create a challenge of which precedents to follow, or why individuals from different groups should be treated differently. How long before people form one group would claim to be from a different group to be exempt from the first group’s laws? Such a system invites abuse.

Dealing with minorities by differing legal systems rather than creating a more pluralist utopia simply leads to a divided society in which minorities and majorities have justified mutual distrust.

Sadly, these principles which have sculpted a strong judicial system in the United Kingdom for so long are now facing a significant threat.

In Britain, the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) recognises and protects women’s rights to equality, and not to be discriminated against in legal proceedings. But the rule of law in Britain is being eroded by the legitimisation of sharia councils. This has occurred under the Arbitration Act (1996), even though their operation in the Britain has been recorded since 1992.

There are valid reasons why sharia councils and sharia itself should not be given any legitimacy under British law.

First, these alternative judicial systems can mislead Muslim women to believe that sharia, and the fatwas pronounced by clerics, are binding and that such a marriage is recognised under UK law. In fact, it is estimated that 70-75% of all Islamic marriages in Britain are not recognized, according to the findings in the Dame Louise Casey report.

Islamic women also might be misled into believing that they have more marital rights than they actually have – a cruel deception that must end. And they further seem misled into believing they are compelled to approach a sharia council, rather than a UK civil court, for a divorce.

Second, these sharia councils often offer themselves as “an alternative,” to people seeking a civil law judgement, but the elders who hold the proceedings do not use juridical standards compatible with existing British legal ones. In cases arbitrated by sharia councils, as opposed to British law, for example, women lack the legal ability to initiate any divorce proceedings without the explicit agreement of her husband, and often women have no legal representation at these trials.

With little ability even to mount a legal defence, there is always the probability that Muslim women are not receiving equal justice under the law.

A report by Machteld Zee, a Dutch Academic raised the issue that sharia councils “frustrate women in their requests [for divorce], especially if the husband is unwilling to co-operate” and she also suggested that women are treated as “second-class citizens.”

sharia councils can also fundamentally attack the rights of women in arbitration, a device meant to be facilitate resolving issues. sharia councils, however, can demand that the parties involved in a dispute sign contracts beforehand, demanding that women agree to the results of the arbitration. To force a woman, who has been denied rights to any legal representation, to agree to an illegal or wrongful contract before trial, is a travesty that the British justice system cannot allow to continue.

Is it really acceptable that these sharia councils are granted authority under the Arbitration Act of 1996 when they treat women in such a way?

Dr Taj Hargey, Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation argues, “Sharia is not divine law, it is just medieval opinion.”

The right of a woman to be free from abuse should be a paramount consideration. Therefore, a parallel legal system that declines to recognise the law of the land on the abuse of women is fundamentally incompatible with our legal system.

Third, which law? A trial can be considered just in terms of sharia law might well not be considered just under another form of law. Even if women are allowed to attend sharia councils in Britain, their submissions in sharia law are considered worth half of the submissions of a man — not exactly fair.

Fourth, a recent report compiled by Dame Louise Casey suggests that the growth of sharia councils in Britain have increased division and segregation in communities.

What if a woman wishes to appeal the verdict? There is no right to appeal. What if she feels there was irregularity or corruption in the process? As there exists no regulator, Muslim women seem trapped in a system the outcome of which they have to accept, even when there may not even be fleeting chance of justice.

Read this ruling from a British sharia council:

1) Adultery is one of the most heinous crimes in Islamic law, the punishment for which is death by stoning. But as Britain is not a Muslim state such a punishment may not be carried out here. This punishment can only be administered in a Muslim state after due process.

This is cause for concern. This ruling actually reveals to the husband the process required to have his wife stoned to death. It arguably even encouraging men to have their wives taken abroad and have them murdered.

Is Britain really agreeing to allow women to be sentenced in England then to be stoned to death elsewhere? The ruling should instead be considered incitement to violence and reckless endangerment.

The judgement continues to state that, “Allah will punish her for her immorality.” This presumes that the wife is guilty without even hearing her testimony. The court has therefore condemned someone to murder solely the words of her husband without allowing her a chance to speak. This sort of trial has no place in a modern democracy.

It is also hard to hold sharia councils accountable: they do not record their judgements, or transparently display a record of council rulings. Why would an organisation wish not to make its rulings publicly available unless it I trying to hide something?

If cases are arbitrated on any basis that that withhold full transparency or that promotes inequality for women, it is the duty of the state not only to criticise these trials, but to withdraw any legislation that gives these laws legitimacy.

Sharia councils have been known completely to disregard the decrees of civil British courts; some councils are even suggesting that women comply with abusive husbands. More dangerously, sharia councils have even made private statements, supposedly hidden by court decree, concerning individuals in abusive relationships, public. Sharia councils have put these statements on court documents and sent them to the abuser – a practice that has led to death threats, children kidnapped, and even to women being violently raped in retaliation for seeking justice.

1013-1Haitham al-Haddad is a British shari’a council judge, and sits on the board of advisors for the Islamic Sharia Council. Regarding the handling of domestic violence cases, he stated in an interview, “A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them. Leave them alone. They can sort their matters among themselves.” (Image source: Channel 4 News video screenshot)

To add insult to injury, these unaccountable courts that offer judgements which sometimes incite violence and often disadvantage women, are often registered charities that charge around £800 for a divorce. How can these groups that not only fail to protect the rights of women but actually undermine them be considered charitable organisations, funded by British taxpayers?

Even more problematic is this excessive fee, when Islamic women often coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and who perhaps have been discouraged from earning a living outside the home and may therefore have no funds to buy her freedom? Muslim women within abusive marriages can therefore be imprisoned by a process that is unattainable. One might even deduce that perhaps that is the purpose of the fee?

Elham Manea, author of the book Women and Sharia Law, argues that the first Sharia councils were established by Islamists. She also notes that Sharia councils have “been working with a kind of a tacit approval of British establishment. There is a certain kind of hesitancy from British institutions to interfere in what they consider is internal affair to the Muslim community.”

We can no longer be afraid to speak out against a legal system that disadvantages women because of the religion of those who run it, or that criticism may be perceived as hateful.

More alarming is that views on Sharia amongst the UK Islamic community are favourable towards this judicial practice. Sharia is now even being promoted as a solution that should be considered by the British Government. In polls conducted for the Police Exchange: 43% said they supported “the introduction of Sharia Law.” And 16% of British Muslims “strongly support” the “introduction of aspects of Sharia law into Britain”

What aspects of the Sharia do they support? How you can support only “aspects” of Sharia, when Sharia is designed to be followed in its entirety, without concession. Even then, which aspects do they support? Those that instruct that “women are restricted in leaving their homes and driving cars”? Or that “a man may coerce his wife to have sex”? Or the “recommendation of severe punishments for homosexuals?”

48% of the respondents said they would not turn someone they know with links to terrorism in Syria over to the police.

As Denis MacEoin illustrates, Sharia even justifies jihad:

In Sharia Law or One Law for All, I drew attention to another level of sharia rulings that provide fatwas for numbers of British Muslims, in particular of the younger generation. These are online sites: “fatwa banks.” Individuals or couples send questions to the muftis who run the sites, and receive answers in the form of fatwas that are considered authoritative. The questions and answers are preserved in galleries of rulings, which can be browsed by anyone seeking advice. The sites are by no means consistent, differing from one scholar to another. But they do provide an insight into the kinds of rulings that may be given in the sharia councils.

Among the rulings MacEoin details is that “fighting the Americans and British is a religious duty.” Such a ruling, sadly, could be delivered on British soil.

Sharia councils and Sharia both clearly restrict the rights of women, homosexuals, Christians and Jews, and are therefore incompatible with a diverse and tolerant society. They should be granted no legitimacy by the state.

The cessation of Sharia councils in the UK is not Islamophobic, or an “attack on Islamic rights to freedom of expression or belief”. It is the defence of a just legal system that respects diversity but judges all equally. If we are to have a society in which all are equal, then all law must be derived from a single system that applies to all.

Shari’a Law Meets the Internet

December 8, 2016

Shari’a Law Meets the Internet, Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, December 8, 2016

Shari’a councils should not have the right effectively to deny women rights they hold as British citizens under British law.

In the end, the biggest problem is that there is no system of external regulation for the councils. There is no legal requirement for them to keep full records of the cases they adjudicate on, no requirement to report to a civil authority with the right to prevent abuses, and not even a requirement for any council to register with a government agency.

The Muslim Brotherhood in the US itself listed the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) as one of several organizations who shared their goals, including the destruction of Western civilization and the conversion of the US into a Muslim nation.

The “minorities” jurisprudents generally favour a non-violent approach to the encounter of Islam and the West, while retaining a critical stance towards the latter and a conviction that Islam must, in the end, replace it. But on occasion, as in the Middle East, violence is sanctioned.

 

The UK has for several years faced problems with its growing number of shari’a councils (often misleadingly called courts). These councils operate outside British law, yet frequently give rulings on matters such as divorce, child custody, inheritance and more, which are based on Islamic law and in contradiction of the rights of individuals (usually women) under UK legislation. Many Muslim communities in cities such as Bradford, Birmingham, Luton, or boroughs such as Tower Hamlets in London are both sizeable and close-knit; individuals in them are made to live lives in accordance with Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Islamic traditional norms. This means that contact with British life at large is often restricted, with a lack of assimilation that traps many women and girls into lives very close to the lives of their sisters in Muslim countries.

Much of the concern about the “courts” has been expressed by Baroness Caroline Cox, whose bill to limit their impact on Muslim women has passed more than once through the House of Lords and, recently, into the House of Commons. Her personal determination and clear-sightedness have meant that the matter has remained for several years a focus for debate in politics and the media. Her arguments have received widespread support from women’s rights organizations, especially several concerned with the rights of Muslim women.

This year, in addition, two important academic studies of the issue have appeared. First was Machteld Zee’s “Choosing Sharia?: Multiculturalism, Islamic Fundamentalism & Sharia Councils,” which appeared in January. Zee is a Dutch political and legal scholar who carried out research in the UK, where she was given limited access to two shari’a councils, one in Birmingham and one in London. Her book devotes much time to the problems of what she calls “Essentialist Multiculturalism,” specifically the way multiculturalist theorists condemn individuals to be treated according to the culture and religion to which they belong, rather than as people who may wish to reject one or both of these.

An equally pertinent and academically sound treatise appeared in May: Elham Manea’s “Women and Shari’a Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK.” Manea is of Yemeni origin; an Associate Professor in the Political Science Institute at the University of Zurich, a Fulbright Scholar, and a consultant for Swiss government agencies and international human rights organizations. Her book also focuses on the way in which multiculturalism undermines individual rights, especially in a chapter entitled, “A Critical Review of the Essentialist Paradigm.”

“Essentialists” demand that individuals conform to the cultural and legal norms of whatever community they are born into, and apparently prefer a multiculturalist vision of competing cultures and faith groups that maintain social distinctions. rather than mixed but well-integrated societies. The result is that restrictions are placed on the freedom of individuals to take their own path in life. In the instance of close-knit Muslim communities, the heaviest impact is on women. This involves forced and early marriage, first-cousin marriage, restriction of education for girls, rejection of appeals for divorce, denial of a woman’s right to child custody, and enforcement of the rule that women are only entitled to much lower inheritance payments than their brothers. It also means that women are limited in their freedom to work. In fundamentalist communities, their loss of that freedom means that they are forced to stay in the home to cook and look after children. This loss of freedom effectively destroys their opportunity to work (or be educated) alongside men. Women are often forbidden to adopt Western clothing norms even while living in open, Western societies. Shari’a “courts” have a deeply regressive influence on matters such as these.

Baroness Cox does not call for the abolition of the shari’a councils, given that Muslims have a right to turn to their own advisors for advice. But shari’a councils should not have the right effectively to deny women rights they hold as British citizens under British law. Many Muslim women are married purely under Islamic law and their marriages are not registered by civil registrars: this means that they can be denied their right to ask for a divorce or child custody from British courts. In the end, the biggest problem is that there is no system of external regulation for the councils. There is no legal requirement for them to keep full records of the cases they adjudicate on, no requirement to report to a civil authority with the right to prevent abuses, and not even a requirement for any council to register with a government agency — leading to the problem of how many councils exist in the country.

1013Haitham al-Haddad is a British shari’a council judge, and sits on the board of advisors for the Islamic Sharia Council. Regarding the handling of domestic violence cases, he stated in an interview, “A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them. Leave them alone. They can sort their matters among themselves.” (Image source: Channel 4 News video screenshot)

If political reluctance to upset Muslims is not allowed to prevent Caroline Cox’s bill from becoming law, then there is hope that proper regulation will succeed the present chaos and irregularity that surround the councils as they are now operated. But even this may not be enough. Because of this absence of proper supervision, shari’a rulings impact British Muslims from three directions: through the shari’a councils, from the larger bodies to the informal “courts” that are reputed to operate from small terraced houses in Bradford, Birmingham and elsewhere; through the many online fatwa “banks” (websites) to which individuals refer themselves; and through the fatwas issued by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, based in Dublin.

These last two sources of shari’a rulings are usually ignored in studies of Islamic law in Britain, but they do, in fact, account for an undetermined number of responses to questions from individual Muslims in this country, and more formal diktats seen as binding across Europe, including the UK.

What I term “fatwa banks” are websites run either by individual muftis[1] or larger collective sites on an international scale. The sites I used in “Sharia Law or One Law for All” were Sunnipath, Ask Imam (answers from South Africa, but accessed through the Jamia Madina Mosque in Hyde), Madrasa In’aamiyyah, Darul Iftaa Leicester[2], IslamOnline.net[3], Ask the Scholar, Ask an Alim, Leicester, and the Islamic Shariah Council (Leyton in London).

Others operate out of other countries and in different languages, but can be accessed from the UK without difficulty. The most popular is IslamQ&A, which provides rulings in English and fifteen other languages. It is run from Saudi Arabia by the Salafi mufti Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, and is not only one of the most popular Salafi websites, but also, according to Alexa.com, the world’s most popular website on the topic of Islam generally. The impact of its fatwas worldwide cannot be exaggerated. It includes some rulings on jihad.[4] There is no space here to reproduce these in full, but here are a few in brief that show the extent to which shari’a rulings diverge from British laws and values.

  1. Waging jihad against Americans (and other enemies of Islam) is to be encouraged.
  2. Shari’a law takes priority over secular law.
  3. A husband may prohibit his wife from leaving the house.
  4. Shari’a law can override British courts.
  5. A Muslim lawyer should not always act in accordance with UK law where it contradicts shari’a.
  6. Polygamy is acceptable even if against the law.
  7. A man may divorce his wife but keep that a secret from her.
  8. Execution or severe beating for homosexuals is correct.
  9. A wife has no property rights in case of divorce.
  10. There is no requirement to register a marriage according to the law of the country one lives in.
  11. A Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim man.
  12. Insurance is forbidden even if required by law.
  13. Child marriage is justified.
  14. A husband is not obliged to support a childless wife.
  15. A husband has conjugal rights over his wife. “Both partners have the right to have their physical demands met.” The only difference is that the husband may demand this, while the wife cannot.
  16. Divorce does not require a witness.
  17. Taking out insurance is forbidden.
  18. Medical insurance schemes are forbidden.
  19. If being a police officer in West contradicts shari’a, it is forbidden.
  20. Beating one’s wife is permissible (unless it harshly done).
  21. The mere intention to divorce is sufficient to make it valid, regardless of what is said.

Many of the above rulings are shocking, and by no means all websites or British shari’a councils will endorse many of them. But there they are, freely available to Muslims everywhere. If a believer tends towards strict interpretations of the sacred texts or the laws, he or she may well gravitate to fatwa banks such as these, and may well act on their basis rather than on the judgements of the nearest shari’a council. After all, what real authority do the muftis on the councils have beyond that of the other, online muftis? Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, outranks pretty well all other contemporary Muslim authorities, with his TV show “Shari’a and Life” reaching an estimated 60 million viewers, and his learned essays promoting his personal views within the overall context of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most fundamentalist of today’s Islamic organizations.

Let us leave the British councils for a moment. There is another external source of fatwas. In many Muslim states, shari’a laws may be, and often are, imposed, often to the extent of punishing crimes from theft to murder. This means that matters that would not be crimes in Western states, such as adultery, blasphemy, or apostasy receive corporal punishments or the death penalty.

Knowing that there is no freedom in the West to criminalize these latter faults or to apply shari’a punishments for them, it became essential to come up with fatwas that would give authoritative guidance to Muslims in Western countries on how to conduct themselves in the “Land of War” (“Dar al Harb”, the opposite of the “Land of Islam”) while remaining shari’a-observant. The overall aim is to bring shari’a into Western societies by the back door. Even if Western governments like that of the UK were to find ways to register and control shari’a courts, or even abolish them, religious authorities could subvert this by presenting fatwas that would recommend certain behaviours for individuals and small communities.

The deliberations of the jurisprudents resulted in the need to adapt shari’a rulings to the situation of large-scale Muslim communities living outside enforceable Islamic jurisdictions. This endeavour has been termed Fiqh al-‘Aqalliyyat (“Jurisprudence of the minorities“). The purpose of this system — in which the classical system of Muslims ruling non-Muslims has been reversed — is to find a way to use shari’a without incurring the wrath of the indigenous legal system in secular parliamentary democracies. This has some resemblance to Muslim efforts during the colonial era to use shari’a in personal affairs in British and French colonies such as India or Algeria.

In its current form, the jurisprudence of the minorities dates back to the 1990s. It was developed by two individuals, the formerly mentioned Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the late Shaykh Dr. Taha Jabir al-Alwani of Virginia. Al-Qaradawi is, among other things, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a body founded in 2004 with its headquarters in the vastly wealthy Wahhabi state of Qatar. Its close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood have led to its designation by the United Arab Emirates as a terrorist organization. It boasts a membership of at least 90,000 Islamically-qualified scholars from around the world, representing several different sectarian positions.

Al-Alwani (d. 2016) was the founder and former chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America(FCNA), whose 18 members issue religious rulings, resolve disputes, and answer questions relating to Islamic practice. Their declared purpose:

“To consider, from a Shari’ah perspective, and offer advice on specific undertakings, transactions, contracts, projects, or proposals, guaranteeing thereby that the dealings of North American Muslims fall within the parameters of what is permitted by the Shari’ah.”

The FCNA too has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which may, under a bill launched by Senator Ted Cruz, soon be designated by the US as a terrorist organization in its own right. The Muslim Brotherhood in the US itself listed the FCNA as one of several organizations who shared their goals, including the destruction of Western civilization and the conversion of the US into a Muslim nation.

The “minorities” jurisprudents generally favour a non-violent approach to the encounter of Islam and the West, while retaining a critical stance towards the latter and a conviction that Islam must, in the end, replace it. But on occasion, as in the Middle East, violence is sanctioned. When asked in an interview about Palestinian suicide bombings, al-Alwani responded, “We think that the Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves in the way they view as suitable and we will back it and support it.”[5]

That view was, until recently, shared by al-Qaradawi, who has supported terrorism, including suicide bombings.

Dr. Denis MacEoin is the author of Sharia Law or One Law for All as well as many academic books, reports, and hundreds of academic and popular articles about Islam in many dimensions. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.


[1] A mufti (a religious scholar who issues fatwas) is a learned man specializing in Islamic law; he issues judgements on cases, determining what is compliant with his law school, but the sentencing is carried out by a judge (a qadi). Sometimes, the same person performs both functions.

[2] The Darul Iftaa in Leicester was founded and run by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, a graduate of the Deobandi Darul Uloom in Bury.

[3] This important site features a “Live Fatwa” session, where answers are given by Muhammad al-Mukhtar al-Shinqiti, director of the Islamic Center of South Plains in Lubbock, Texas. Al-Shinqiti is a prominent figure in Fiqh al-‘Aqalliyyat.

[4] Examples of fatwas from the above sites (apart from Islam Q&A, which I did not consult at that time) may be found in “Sharia Law or One Law for All,” pages 74 to 127. Unwittingly, they provide insights into the topics to which British Muslims who speak English have access: not just the archives of fatwas that they maintain, but in order to ask questions themselves on matters from oral sex to male doctors seeing female patients.

[5] Cited Fishman p. 11 from the London Arabic newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat.