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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Canada’s Shariah experiment opens religious can of worms


    by Al-Hack on 12th September, 2005 at 5:24 pm    

    A political storm is brewing, and getting bigger, in Canada over Ontario’s decision to let Shariah law courts settle family disputes.

    Protests have already been held around the country and more are planned in North America and Europe.

    The government is only giving Muslims the same rights that Jews and Catholics already have. Some Muslims say that because Canada is a secular country, its legal system makes it difficult for them to govern themselves by the laws of their religion. It can be important, for instance, for a Muslim to be granted a divorce under Islamic law if he or she intends to move to a Islamic country and re-marry.

    Those opposed argue that the move will lead to discrimination against women. Justifed?

    First - the status of women in Arabic countries is in a dire state. Saudi Arabia still doesn’t give them the full vote, Kuwait only recently allowed them. Let’s not forget regular stonings for ‘adultery’ and gang-rapes in Pakistan, supposedly certified by local panchayats.

    Second - Shariah law itself is subject to a great deal of interpretation, so it will become a tussle between conservatives and liberals Muslims there. It will also gives xenophobes better ammunition to get at Muslims.

    In Muslim nations a man can bring about a case against the most innocent of woman just out of sheer spite and have a good chance at a successful prosecution. The lack of woman in legal affairs is an indicator as to how bad things really are. Very often the defence will be appointed by corrupt local officials who can quite easily persuade the lawyer to mount a “poor” defence if the right price is met. With this in mind if a wife is taken to court by her husband you can forget any sort of justice being seen as the court will the vast majority of time side with him.”

    “There is a great deal of work to be done for the rights of woman in Muslim nations. The trends seen abroad may affect procedures in Canada. Say for instance a decision cannot be reached the prosecution may ask for outside “expert” that will in turn lead to bias.”

    And that is from someone who is a Muslim living in the UK.

    Because the government in Ontario will look biased if it doesn’t allow Shariah courts, they are now planning to scrap all of them. Premier Dalton McGuinty told the Canadian press today that the government will move quickly to outlaw all existing religious tribunals. Probably the best decision.



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Culture, Religion




    10 Comments below   |  

    1. rkay — on 12th September, 2005 at 5:32 pm  

      Sensible decision.

      I don’t know why people fail to understand that organized religion is just lik any other organization. They can have their own set of governing rules, membership etc..

      But they should not be allowed to govern over their members civil and criminal disputes.

    2. Kulvinder — on 12th September, 2005 at 5:56 pm  

      I don’t know why people fail to understand that organized religion is just lik any other organization. They can have their own set of governing rules, membership etc..

      Which people fail to understand? besides that would support the position of sharia law in this context not oppose it.

      But they should not be allowed to govern over their members civil and criminal disputes.

      If their members accept the ruling and the laws (read rules) do not contradict the overriding laws of Canada i don’t see what the problem is. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms can’t be violated by this, its simply a civil agreement that the various parties come to.

      All it does is accept that consenting adults can live according to whatever customs/rules they wish, the law of canada cannot be overriden. Implementing sharia law (rules, not being derogatory simply distinguishing) doesn’t allow anyone exemption from Canadian justice.

      If two parties accept a set of rules and wish disputes within limits to be settled against those rules there isn’t any liberal libertarian society that would (or should) oppose them. Something similar already happens in britain

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/special/islam/3198285.stm

      Mr McGuinty is doing little more than popularist tubthumping.

    3. rkay — on 12th September, 2005 at 6:53 pm  

      If their members accept the ruling and the laws (read rules) do not contradict the overriding laws of Canada i don’t see what the problem is.

      I don’t see a problem either. But do you agree with me that organized religion is like any other organization, nothing more.

    4. Jay Singh — on 12th September, 2005 at 7:17 pm  

      This is a bold and good step that the Ontario government made - well done I say.

    5. Kulvinder — on 13th September, 2005 at 3:08 am  

      I don’t see a problem either. But do you agree with me that organized religion is like any other organization, nothing more.

      If we’re talking in terms of a structure with a hierarchy and rules etc, yes.

    6. Siddhartha — on 13th September, 2005 at 1:09 pm  

      By banning all religious tribunals, the province of Ontario have done a good thing in my opinion. Given the lack of consensus in interpreting Shariah to a modern context, it would have simply divided the Muslim community in Ontario. And this, as you’ve written, would bound to be used by Islamophobes as another stick. I’ve blogged on this myself.

      I think its a good move. But whats even more surprising is how well the Muslim Congress of Canada has handled themselves in this whole debate. If only the MCB could be as mature in representating Muslims in Britain.

    7. Ahmad — on 13th September, 2005 at 9:44 pm  

      Very mixed sentiments about this to be honest.

      The way I see it shariah is quite simply the laws that are applied to Muslims in non Muslim lands and the laws applied to Muslims and non Muslims in Muslim lands.

      Muslims are urged to follow the Shariah, but you don’t need Shariah law in non Muslim lands to achieve this.

      I must admit that if it’s only based for civil cases I don’t see what the problem is with regards to marriage and divorce.

      In the UK an Islamic marriage is legal enough, you don’t need to have the marriage registered as long as the marriage has been authorised by an Imam. So if Muslims can help in the marriage process they should be given the right to help in the divorce process aswell.

      I think issues of property ownership, and financing could help Muslims in non Muslim lands if there is a Shariah facility. Also issues regarding the burying of the dead has been a barrier for many Muslims in the UK. I know that my local community have tried to appeal to bury the Muslim dead without a coffin as a coffin contradicts Islamic practice.

      I think on these issues a Shariah law on civil issues wont affect anyone on a major scale. The official law of the land will be obeyed and I don’t see this as opening a can of worms when other laws can be passed for people of other faiths.

      The main negatives that I will see, just like any piece of legislation is that there will always be people who will want to abuse the system and try and find a loophole. The system can work great if the people abide by it sincerely.

    8. Kulvinder — on 14th September, 2005 at 3:10 am  

      I may be mistaken but in the UK only church/christian marriages are recognised by the state. In sikh weddings that ive been to the couple have a seperate civil ceremony before or afterhand.

    9. Ahmad — on 14th September, 2005 at 1:02 pm  

      As long as a marriage certificate is issued by the priest, I presume it’s legitimate.

    10. Sunny — on 14th September, 2005 at 1:17 pm  

      You can sign a quick legally binding agreement in front of a Sikg priest during Sikh weddings, I’m pretty sure.

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