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[COMMENT: The ABC (Archbishop of Canterbury) has advocated installing aspects of Sharia law in England. Many responders did not realize just what the ABC had said, not quite as radical as some thought -- but in need of critique nevertheless.
Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabas Fund responds below. Sookhdeo is one of those rarities, a solid Christian AND an excellent thinker and writer. He puts the event in context, which many with knee-jerk responses do not. He is one of the most competent and level-headed experts on Islam I know.
NOTE ALSO dear reader, that the dangers which Sookhdeo describes concerning Islam are precisely those which accompany the homosexualization of America. We in the West find ourselves in a pincer movement, one end coming from the direction of rigid authoritarianism (Islam), and the other pincer coming from the pseudo-pluralistic, feel-good, swinging pansexual people, with the homosexual agenda riding point for the rest.
Any way of life based on feeling good rather than truth will always drift into totalitarianism because good feelings do not provide any way of adjudicating between contending parties, so it will always become a power struggle. Only when there are laws and principles above both the contending parties and the mediator, that is, objective moral obligations which bind not only both parties, but also the government itself, can there be a government which maintains freedom of discussion. And that comes only with the Biblical worldview.
It is my belief that this pincer movement is not the creation of either Islam or the homosexual agenda. It is being masterminded by the Globalist crowd -- who are using for their own ends both Islam and our sexual nonsense. We either pull them out from the shadows into the light of day, or we will find ourselves living as slaves on their government plantation. This pincer movement is part of their use of mind-bending tactics -- such as cognitive dissonance -- the advocating of conflicting ideas and goals to confuse the population and render them apathetic and unable to fight back.
One cannot argue for "some aspects" of Sharia law any more than for "some aspects" of Nazi law, and for the same reason. We cannot allow either Islam or Nazism to be a plumb line for our own culture. If we in fact use some laws like the Muslims or the Nazis do (even the most wicked do rightly on occasion), that is one thing, but to import them because they are Muslim or Nazi is quite another. We must justify our laws on grounds other than that they are Islamic, Nazi, or any other totalitarian source. See the "Strategy with Islam" in the Islam Library.
Additional comments below in the text.
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued in a lunchtime radio interview on Thursday 7th February that the adoption of Islamic law, shari`a, in Britain is unavoidable. In the evening he gave a lecture at the Royal Courts of Justice (organised by the Temple Church and the Centre of Islamic and Middle East Law at London University`s School of Oriental and African Studies) in which his main argument seemed to be that in a plural multi-faith society the concept of one universal law for all citizens must be adapted to accommodate the reality of other law traditions in minority communities. He elaborated especially on the Muslim community in the UK and on Islamic law, and argued for an accommodation between English law and Islamic law so that either law system could be used for dispute resolution and for marriage, divorce, inheritance and other matters.
[Comment: There cannot survive a real "pluralism" in the sense the ABC seems to imagine, along with the multitude of other multi-culturalists. Law is either/or, not both/and, on all important issues. On those issues which are not that important, then there is question as to whether they should be the subject of law in the first place.
A unified society will always drive towards a unified set of ultimate values -- a "religio". And that religio(n) will be the base of the legal system also. It may be a secular religion, but it is a religion in the relevant sense of the word (a religio). There is no way around that. E. Fox]
While the Archbishop has the best of intentions in wanting to create greater cohesion and harmony in British society, his suggestions seem sure to result in the exact opposite. He seems to be taking multiculturalism to an extreme, extending it to the legal system of the state, and thus creating new arenas for conflict and hostility.
[Comment: Precisely... A society with a conflicting legal system will self-destruct. E. Fox]
His view of shari`a is utopian and na´ve. He has claimed that shari`a is not the monolithic system of detailed rules which most Muslims consider it to be, but rather an expression of universal principles being implemented flexibly according to context by means of ijtihad (individual effort at interpretation). While this expresses what liberal Muslim reformists would like to see happen, the reality is that for the vast majority of Muslims shari`a is still viewed as God`s immutable divine law regulating all areas of life. Furthermore, it discriminates against women (for example, in divorce and inheritance) and against non-Muslims. It lays down a multitude of penalties, including imprisonment, beating, annulment of marriage, disinheritance and death, for Muslims who leave their faith.
[Comment: See the Pope's remarks about Islam for support on the above. The Islamic view of God (Allah), as the Pope points out, says that God does not hold Himself accountable for either truth or righteousness. He can be totally arbitrary. The Biblical view of God says that God can be arbitrary, there is no one who can contradict Him. But He chooses, a matter of grace, to bind Himself to truth and to defend goodness. That is the meaning of the two Great Commandments (Matthew 22:34 ff.). The Biblical view of God sees Him revealing Himself as binding Himself to the same commandments He requires of us. E. Fox]
Even Tariq Ramadan, who is referred to positively in the Archbishop`s lecture, could not bring himself to advocate changing the strict hudud laws of shari`a which demand stoning, amputation and flogging. The most he could suggest was a moratorium on these punishments for the time being, until a perfect Islamic society arises that could implement these laws in a fair and just manner. For this innovation he was severely attacked by many famous Islamic religious scholars from across the Muslim spectrum who accused him of bordering on heresy. They claimed that the hudud laws are immutable and that severity is a valued hallmark of Islamic shari`a.
The Archbishop excludes hudud punishments from the areas of shari`a which he recommends to be practised in the UK. However, had he a fuller understanding of shari`a, he would realise that no hard and fast line can be drawn between these two areas of shari`a because of Islam`s apostasy law. The array of punishments for leaving Islam include not only death, but also matters of family law, the very part of shari`a which the Archbishop wants to see applied in the UK, such as annulment of marriage, loss of access to children, and loss of inheritance.
Dr Williams is aware of the danger that the introduction of state-sanctioned shari`a courts could encourage the most conservative and radical elements in Islam and disadvantage vulnerable individuals within the Muslim community such as women. Nevertheless he seems to be blissfully confident that those who will implement the new structures are bound to be enlightened practitioners of the ideal reformed shari`a he has in mind. Experience of course reveals that it is the more "repressive and retrograde elements" (as he calls them) who usually come to the fore and take over such institutions, backed by the almost unlimited resources of oil-rich Wahhabism and the various forms of Islamism it supports.
Wherever shari`a has been given expanded space in the legal systems of Muslim states, it has inevitably led to infringements of the rights of vulnerable groups such as women and children, non-Muslims, converts from Islam to other religions, and non-orthodox Muslim communities such as the Ahmadiyya and the Bahai. It has also negatively affected the intellectual debate, narrowing the limits of freedom and threatening dissenters with shari`a sanctions.
Dr Williams seems to be so concerned about the fragmentation of British society that he is willing to have shari`a embedded in British law so as to appease Muslim demands and give the Muslim community the feeling that British society is really inclusive and sensitive to its demands. He has been persuaded that shari`a is essential for Muslims` identity and wellbeing and that it is inhumane to expect them to live without it. In the name of multiculturalism, tolerance and political correctness, he is happy to erode long established principles of equality before the law and individual liberty accepted as basic in Western societies.
Embedding shari`a in British law will negatively impact many vulnerable members of the Muslim community: women, children as well as secularists and liberals. They will all face increasing pressure to comply with traditional shari`a norms. Once shari`a is in place, community and religious pressure will make it exceedingly difficult for them to opt to be judged by English law. The Archbishop also ignores the many Muslims who have fled repressive shari`a states to find refuge in a free and democratic British society. The empowerment of shari`a courts will endanger their newly found liberties.
The process of setting up a system of shari`a courts recognised by the state and its civil law will help those Muslims in Britain who appear to be working to develop a network of loosely-knit Islamic autonomous regions, a de facto non-territorial Islamic state. Seemingly innocent and gracious concessions to such demands on shari`a contribute to building up an Islamisation trend which could become unstoppable. Many Muslims also hope that ultimately Britain will grant Islam, its scriptures and founder, a privileged and protected position immune from criticism, a position not granted to other religions. Yielding to such demands will gradually erode the hard won freedoms and rights which are at present part of British society. It will open the door to a totalitarian and discriminatory system that denies individual rights and seeks to control both the public and the private spheres in ways typical of Muslim states. The increasing application of shari`a will profoundly change the character of British society in ways which hitherto would have been considered completely unacceptable.
The fact is that Britain has already come a long way along the Islamisation road. Many informal shari`a courts are operating in the Muslim community; there is a parallel shari`a compliant financial system; shari`a regulations such as those to do with halal food, Islamic dress and gender segregation in physical exercises are complied with in schools and educational institutions. Some of these regulations also operate in public services such as the police, the NHS and the prison system.
The addition of shari`a courts whose sentences are binding and enforceable by the civil legal system will take Britain much further along the Islamisation track, which is the long-term goal of many Muslim organisations. Contrary to the Archbishop`s expectations, it will narrow the space for free discussion and legitimate criticism, limit the freedoms and rights available to individual Muslims, and empower the more traditional, Islamist and radical tendencies in the Muslim community.
Furthermore for the many Anglicans and other Christians living in contexts where shari`a is being applied and causing untold misery and suffering, for example in parts of Nigeria and parts of Sudan, the Archbishop of Canterbury`s suggestions are not just unwise, but insensitive to the point of callousness.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
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