So, why does the UK permit sharia courts in the first place? The logic seems to be that, if the two contending parties are willing to abide by the decision of a third party, in this case, the sharia court, and both parties concerned do so willingly, then it must be fair and balanced. But, as this report points out, what of those veiled Muslim women in Britain who know no English, don’t know their rights as citizens of Britain, and simply do what their men — fathers, husbands, brothers — tell them to do, that is, let a sharia court decide? Are they truly “free” in the matter?
“Some Imams ‘biased against women,'” by Sanjiv Buttoo for BBC, December 15:
A Muslim think tank has found some UK Imams discriminate against women when enforcing Islamic Sharia law.
Scholars at the Centre for Islamic Pluralism (CIP) interviewed 90 Muslims in London, the West Midlands, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
They found some women did not get fair hearings in forced marriage, arranged marriage and domestic violence matters.
It comes after an NHS doctor was freed in Bangladesh following claims she was being held there for a forced marriage.
Sharia law governs every aspect of a Muslim’s life, and Imams or scholars give out rulings on how to live by God’s wishes. Some mosques hold Sharia courts.
The CIP’s international director and its report’s author Dr Irfan Al-Alawi said women seeking help in situations like forced marriages often turned to Imams for a ruling on what to do.
“Our research shows that domestic violence and forced marriages seem to be the dominant problems that women are facing and seeking Sharia rulings on.
“In every case it is a male who is the defendant coming from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
“Some ladies have approached the Imams and the Imams… have encouraged the ladies to stay with their husband or with their in-laws, whereby they have a duty bound under the Sharia.”
He said he knew of a 15-year-old girl in Pakistan who was tricked into marriage over the telephone with a 40-year-old man from Sheffield, who had the mental age of a four-year-old child.
“The Home Office refused to recognise the validity of the marriage but the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain accepted it,” said Dr Al-Alawi…
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