Religious Law: Islamic solutions
This is a fascinating area of law and one that is seeing rapid development. This is a time when anyone who wants to become embroiled in controversy only has to use the word ‘Sharia’. Since February 2008, when the Archbishop of Canterbury caused a furore by saying that Islamic family law was ‘inevitable’, Sharia law has not been out of the news. There are currently bills pending in many US States proposing the outlawing of religious law. Ironically this will affect Jewish Beth Din as well as Sharia councils.
In the UK and Europe there is also unease. Baroness Cox has proposed a Private Member’s Bill in the House of Lords proposing curtailment of religious bodies’ involvement in resolving family disputes. Although the Bill does not refer to Sharia directly, Baroness Cox has stated that that is what concerns her. What is the future? There are approximately two million Muslims in England, of whom one million are in London and 70% nationwide are eligible for legal aid. This is a substantial area of demand on public services. On the other hand, there is substantial wealth in the Muslim community and demand for Islamic legal services is increasingly annually.
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