So said Sheik Haitham Al-Haddad, one of the most senior imams in Britain. It is, of course, what many people have been trying to tell the Western public for years: that Islamic values and Western values are different in many ways, that many Muslims will never compromise on Islamic values or assimilate into Western societies, and that many will work toward subjugating the non-Muslims in their new lands under the rule of Islamic law. Consequently Muslim communities that are already here should be called upon to discard and work against, in honest word and in verifiable deed, those elements of Islam that are in conflict with Western values, and further immigration of Muslims into Western nations should be halted.
Saying this, of course, gets one branded “Islamophobic” and worse. But Sheik Haitham Al-Haddad can say it, and not only does no one bat an eye, but no one even still considers the implications of his statement.
“Sharia law UK: Mail on Sunday gets exclusive access to a British Muslim court,” by Edna Fernandes in the Daily Mail, July 4 (thanks to all who sent this in):
[…] The Islamic Sharia Council also rules on individual cases, primarily in matters of Muslim personal or civil law: divorce, marriage, inheritance and settlement of dowry payments are the most common.
However, in the course of my investigation, I discovered how sharia is being used informally within the Muslim community to tackle crime such as gang fights or stabbings, bypassing police and the British court system.
A few hardline leaders would like it to be taken even further. One told me that Britain should adopt sharia punishments such as stoning and the chopping off of hands to reduce violent crime.
There are 12 councils or courts operating in Britain under Dr Hasan’s group, based in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Rotherham and Bradford. Scores more imams dispense justice through their own mosques.
A study last week by the thinktank Civitas claimed that there could be as many as 85 sharia courts in Britain, although Dr Hasan says most of these are not formal courts. But it is certainly a growing network. […]
The Islamic Sharia Council is listed as a charity but people seeking a divorce, or talaq, must fill in a form and pay a fee. For a man it is Â£100; for women, it is Â£250 because the imams say it takes more work to process a woman’s application as her word has to be corroborated.
The literal meaning of sharia is ‘source of water in the desert’, meaning the source of all spiritual life for Muslims. This is not just a code of law, but a way of life.
In sharia-based societies, such as Saudi Arabia or the old Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, crimes against society are punished by beheadings, stoning to death and amputations. Women are kept in purdah and limited to child-rearing and caring for the home.
All Western influences, from alcohol, music, television and movies, are banned. It is a rigid prescription for Islamic life that seeks its guidance from the days of the Prophet in the 7th Century.
In Britain, sharia courts are permitted to rule only in civil cases, such as divorce and financial disputes. Until last year, these rulings depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims. But now, due to a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996, they are enforceable by county and high courts.
Sharia courts are classified in the same way as arbitration tribunals – with rulings binding in law provided both parties in the dispute agree to give them the power to rule on their case.
However, a Muslim couple must still be divorced in the British courts for it to recognised under British law. The same provision in the Arbitration Act applies to Jewish Beth Din courts, which resolve similar civil cases. […]
The mood turns black as Dr Hasan continues that under Islam, the woman is seen as someone who needs the protection of a man. In matters of divorce, the right of ending a marriage lies with the man because ‘women have emotions, whereas a man thinks first before he speaks’.
At this, one white woman berates Dr Hasan. ‘If you had said these things about a Jew or a black person, it would be totally unacceptable. Yet you think it is OK to say women are inferior. I cannot listen to this without making a stand.’ […]
I ask if he believes sharia is the best code of law. ‘People say it’s harsh, but we say it’s a deterrent. In Saudi Arabia very few hands are cut. People will not commit the crime as they know the punishment is so horrible, unlike the UK system where people are jailed and the prison system does not work.
‘But we cannot ask for sharia in Britain for criminal cases,’ he concludes. ‘For that to take place, the State needs to support sharia and I recognise Britain does not.’
Despite the feminists’ fury, Dr Hasan is a relative moderate on the subject. Some hardliners want Islamic law to be extended to all criminal cases, tackling problems ranging from knife crime to robbery and under-age sex.
One such figure is Sarfraz Sarwar, leader of the Basildon Islamic Centre in Essex. His views have attracted controversy – his mosque was torched three times and eventually destroyed, and his home has also been attacked.
He tells me the windows of his living room are smashed every six months but the police have never caught the perpetrators. He now leaves the windows permanently broken in defiance.
Mr Sarwar insists sharia should be adopted to address rising crime in Britain. ‘The British legal system is fair, but it’s also very sweet for criminals,’ he tells me.
‘Sharia is the ultimate deterrent. If you commit a crime and you’re punished by sharia, you won’t commit it again. But if we praise anything from Islam, people jump down our throat.’
When I suggest that many people in Britain would find some of sharia’s provisions extreme and difficult to accept, he agrees. ‘We need to adapt sharia for British law. We could use some of the more moderate measures.’
Such as? ‘Child abuse, under-age sex, teenage pregnancy, for example.’
I ask what the penalty would be for under-age sex. ‘You won’t like it. But sharia says if they’re caught doing it, you stone the woman.’
Mr Sarwar’s other suggestion is to adapt the ‘three strikes’ policy on crime. Instead of being jailed on the third conviction, a criminal could face having a hand chopped off.
‘That would fit in with the way of life here. I’m not being extreme. This has to be used in moderation, for serious crimes, not petty robbery. In this country, people get away with murder.’
He refuses to accept the notion that values of human rights are enshrined in the British way of life.
‘In Victorian days they applied sharia. They held people in stocks – there were public floggings, hangings. Why not go back to it? What’s the big beef now? Too many goody-two-shoes talking about human rights.’
Mr Sarwar adds that the violence and intimidation he has faced will not silence him. ‘I am not a sheep. I am a British Muslim. I pay my taxes, I obey the law.
‘People break my windows but I say to you, why can’t we mix and match? Take the best from both worlds. The law is like a curry. Different elements improve the flavour. Why not help improve the law of this country with elements of sharia?’ […]
Last week, Keith Porteous Wood, director of campaign group One Law For All and the National Secular Society, raised the issue with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, in Brussels.
Hitting out at the use of Muslim arbitration tribunals, he said: ‘Women are particularly vulnerable as they’re forced to submit to these tribunals and Islamic law treats women less favourably than men.
‘It’s essential that it is one law for all in every country and that the law is democratically established and human rights compliant. Sharia fails that test.’ […]
As I prepare to leave Leyton, office staff are cheering on Andy Murray at Wimbledon, a scene being played out across the country. Meanwhile, in a back room, Sheik Haitham Al-Haddad, one of the most senior imams in Britain, is once more contemplating the fundamental split between religion and state.
‘There is a conflict between these two sets of values,’ he concedes. ‘ Muslims believe our values are best. The non-Islamic British believe theirs are better. But at the end of the day, understand this: Muslims are never going to give up certain principles, even if they are in conflict. That is a fact.’…