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Shari'a in the West

In February 2008, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, delivered a public lecture in which he stated that it "seem[ed] unavoidable" that certain aspects of Islamic law (Shari'a) would be recognized and incorporated into British law. The comments provoked outrage from sections of the public who viewed any recognition of Shari'a law in Britain with alarm. In July 2008 Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, weighed into the fray. He praised the Archbishop's speech and gave qualified support for Shari'a principles to govern certain family and civil disputes. Responding to the polarised debate that followed these lectures, this is a collection of short essays written by distinguished and prominent scholars addressing the question of the accommodation of Shari'a within the legal systems of the liberal-democratic West. The matters raised in the two 2008 lectures provide a springboard for lively discussion, criticism and debate on both the specific question of religious/cultural accommodation by the law and the wider issues of multiculturalism, equality before the law and the desirability of parallel jurisdictions for particular faith communities. Leading scholars from a range of countries and academic disciplines, and representing different political viewpoints and faith traditions explore the complex issues surrounding the legal recognition of religious faith in a multicultural society. The volume aims to stimulate further thought on a complex issue, and to open up new pathways for policymakers and civil society institutions grappling with the relationship between Shari'a and Western legal systems.
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Table of Contents

1. The Topography of Shari'a in the Western Political Landscape ; I ; 2. Multicultural Citizenship and the Shari'a Controversy in Britain ; 3. The Archbishop of Canterbury: The Man and the Theology Behind the Shari'a Lecture ; 4. Religious Courts' Recognition Claims: Two Qualitatively Distinct Narratives ; 5. Islamic Law, Fundamental Freedoms, and Social Cohesion: Retrospect and Prospect ; 6. Shari'a and Pluralism ; II ; 7. Questions about the Reasonable Accommodation of Minorities ; 8. Entangled: State, Religion, and the Family ; 9. Shari'a and the True Basis of Group Rights: Islam, the West, and Liberalism ; 10. Religious Courts, Personal Federalism, and Legal Transplants ; 11. Natural Law, Democracy, and Shari'a ; III ; 12. Negotiating the Unfamiliar: Reflections from the Netherlands on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lecture ; 13. Reflections on the Establishment of Shari'a Courts in Australia ; 14. In the Shadow of Our Legal System: Shari'a in Australia ; IV ; 15. To Shari'aticize or not to Shari'aticize: Islamic and Secular Law in Liberal Democratic Society ; 16. The Future of Muslim Family Law in Western Democracies ; APPENDIX I ; The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams, Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective ; APPENDIX II ; Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Equality Before the Law

About the Author

Rex Ahdar is Professor of Law at the University of Otago Nicholas Aroney is Professor of Law at the University of Queensland


Thought provoking and informative, it contains 16 essays from a global collection of expert contributors, most of them academics...If you wish to be better informed about Shari'a, then this is the book for you * Phillip Taylor MBE, Richmon Green Chambers * Despite its complexity, the issue of the relationship between Shariah and Western legal systems is of prime interest to policymakers, jurists and Muslims living in the West...Shariah in the West opens the path for lively discussions on the place of Islam in the Western, multicultural democracies. It also raises the point made by Tariq Ramadan that Shariah is often interpreted in ways, inconsistent with its core principles and it needs serious scholarly reform and consensual modernisation * Lisa Kaaki, Arab News Blog *

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