The hell it isn’t, if you’ll pardon the language. And the fact that Hasan can’t see that is just one reason why this court should never have opened in Britain.
Amazingly, that quotation, from a video at the Guardian (around 4:00 — note how he almost chuckles), appears in commentary by Guardian writer Afua Hirsch in a piece that primarily defends Sharia, pooh-poohing anti-Sharia measures in the U.S. and saying “there are ways in which the English courts are playing catch-up with what these tribunals have been doing for years.”
From “Time for the sharia courts to open up,” by Afua Hirsch for the Guardian, March 9 (thanks to Twostellas):
[…] The result is not exactly a PR dream, as far as busting myths about Islamic law are concerned. Dr Suhaib Hasan, who is seen presiding over one woman’s request for a divorce, asks her whether her husband has ever subjected her to violence.
The video link above identifies Hasan as a member of the Sharia Council.
“He has hit me in the past, yes,” she replies. “He hit me once.”
“Once only,” Hasan replies. “So it’s not a very serious matter.”
Qur’an 4:34: Allah says you can hit your wife.
This is exactly the kind of thing that prompts alarm about giving religious tribunals authority in some sensitive areas as marriage and divorce — it’s hard to think of a clearer example of how sharia can diverge from English law, which now requires much less than hitting a woman once to constitute domestic violence.
On the other hand, there are ways in which the English courts are playing catch-up with what these tribunals have been doing for years. “Our role is not like an English court where if [a couple] are asking for divorce, we proceed at once, we try to find any possibilities for a reconciliation,” says Hasan, displaying the mediatory approach towards divorce that the English family courts are now desperately trying to adopt.
There is no excuse for ignorant prejudice against sharia law, but this film shows that there are valid concerns about the way sharia tribunals operate. And if they really want to demonstrate their compatibility with a modern, secular society, then greater openness — of the kind this film demonstrates — must be the way forward.
No excuse for ignorant prejudice. That’s fine. We deal in the informed refusal to compromise on human rights.