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Islamic Sharia Courts Legally Binding in UK

Taking advantage of the 1996 Arbitration Act, a new network of sharia law courts in Britain have legal authority in some marriage, financial, inheritance, or domestic violence disputes. Even the UK's High Court must enforce the decisions of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal panels set up in five major cities.

The lawyer who set up the courts last Summer explained:

We realized that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and High Courts. The Act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are.

To see how the panels' decisions can impact women differently than men,


In a recent inheritance case, two sons got twice as much as the daughter according to sharia law. And in domestic abuse cases, which are usually treated as criminal cases in Britain, husbands were ordered to take anger management and receive mentoring from elders.

Businesses use alternative dispute resolution contracts all the time — perhaps the Muslim community just wants to work towards more expedient and culturally appropriate results, too. Even so, should rules based on Muslim or other religious law be signaled out as an unacceptable basis for alternative dispute resolution?


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MissyB1984 MissyB1984 7 years
I think its great they have an option to deal with their issues within their religion, and like zeze said if they dont want to they can always go to court instead. Muslims have an entire belief system that may just confuse the courts and waste their time, I say kudos to England for being so forward thinking.
zeze zeze 7 years
I don't see the problem, people agree to the arbitration, it is not like you can't have your day in court, you must use the arbitration of Sharia law - those who agree to the stipulations of sharia law will go these knowingly and willingly, because their beliefs say that is what is right - and those who don't like it can refuse and go to court.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 7 years
This is going to be a major setback for muslim women in the UK, and probably establishes a precedent for other countries. I posted some comments to this effect quite some time ago. There should not be any separate law for any sub-group within a country. I hope the British authorities are embarrassed.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
This isn't a good thing. Why do we need a different law for a different religious group? Which other religious group is going to get their own set of laws next?
ilanac13 ilanac13 7 years
i think that it's a really complicated question here. by supporting rulings like this, we're taking steps back and i don't know if that's necessarily the way to go. yes i understand that women have fewer rights and count less in the muslim world, but to have the authority to make these decisions that favor men, that's just a wrong thing in my eyes. women are being disrepected more as a result, and that's not going to change anything. in the abuse cases when then men are just sentanced to anger management classes - that doesn't cure the problem since the men probably dont' see what they are doing as an anger's just keeping their women in line as far as they are concerned.
Ginger Ginger 7 years
The laws of inheritance are all spelled out in the Quar'an. The reason sons get more than daughters is because once their parents are gone, sons are obliged to provide for sisters who aren't supported by a husband, in addition to their own families to support. Sharia law is pretty complex, and there are a number of laws that improve womens lives more than Western laws. For example, it would enforce mahram, or dowry, that a man has to pay a woman when they get married. It can be paid in many different ways; lump sum, regular payments, a percentage of his income, etc. It's all spelled out in a marriage contract, agreed upon when they agree to get married. If a wife works, she can keep all of her own earnings for what ever she wants--save, invest, spend, etc., because under sharia the husband is supposed to support his wife and family. There's oodles more stuff, but it's difficult to incorporate sharia with Western culture. Even places where sharia is the only law, some cultures aren't always diligent about enforcing some of the laws meant to protect women.
ceej ceej 7 years
While I think this is definitely an underhanded way of oppressing muslim women they are entitled to hold these arbitration hearings. Whether they are upheld by courts is another matter. Also consider the source of this story. The Daily Mail is the worst kind of tabloid, racist and fear mongering abounds in it's pages.
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