I watched with some dismay Dr Rowan Williams suggest British Law should accommodate certain aspects of Islamic Sharia. While this issue has been grossly exaggerated, and I believe Dr Williams is well intentioned. One has to be careful when considering changes to our established legal system. I do accept Sharia Law is greatly misunderstood in Europe, and can be implemented in ways which are certainly consistent with human rights. However, in Britain we already have an established legal system, which is based upon the Rule of Law. British Common Law is based upon principles of fairness, justice, civil rights and innocence until proven guilty.
When Prophet Muhammad introduced Sharia into Arabian society 1400 years ago, this was in place of tribal ‘justice’. Muhammad’s intentions were to implement a legal system which is as fair and unbiased as possible, a system based upon the Rule of Law. As we already have a well established legal system in the UK, I cannot see how it would be beneficial to jeopardise it. Mixing elements of Sharia with British Common Law has the potential to cause many problems, misunderstanding and we could end up with a legal system that is inconsistent with either.
I say this as a British Muslim, I live in Britain and uphold Common Law. Even though I eat Halal food and follow certain guidelines from Sharia in my own personal decisions, I see no reason why they need to be incorporated into this country’s legal system. British Law already recognises my personal freedom and respects my civil liberties. I do not wish to see a situation in this country where we end up with a rule for one, and a rule for another. A situation like that has too much potential for anarchy and is ultimately no law at all!