Divorce Sharia Style

Divorce CakeThe above is the title of a Channel 4 documentary screened on the 3rd February. The focus of the documentary was the Sharia board in London and how they provided counselling and fatwas to the local community.

The documentary was quick to point out that many Muslims in Britain are caught between their culture and their religion and the contradictions between the two.

It also made clear what a fatwa was and that they are not binding upon a Muslim, one can chose to follow the fatwa or discard it.

As the above issues are frequently misinterpreted by the media, it was good to see such clarifications.

The programme featured the cases of three couples (for more details click here) and the thoughts of one of the sheikh concerning sharia law in the U.K.

However, as the documentary sadly showed, too many Muslims are ignorant of Sharia. If we Muslims do not know the sharia, nor know how to live by it, then what use is having it as law?

Sharia is just not words on a page, or worrying about what people watch on TV, it’s how you live your life.

People see the Sharia as something in a glass case, to be used in case of fire or other diabolical event, but living by the Sharia can prevent such fires ever occurring.

We focus on the halal/haram. “If it’s not haram, I can do it”. Where is common sense, where is respect for others, for our responsibilities, for the consequences?

I don’t blame the shayukh. You ask them for the ruling; they will give it to you. Whether it’s wise to follow that ruling is for the individual to decide. Just like you can phone the speaking clock for the time and it will state it, but it won’t tell you that you should get up now or you will be late for work.

Until we change our ways, having legal sharia law is as much use as putting window boxes on a house with a leaky roof.

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12 Responses

  1. I want to watch this, where could I find it?

    Awesome post.

  2. Great post. I’m going to Google this!

  3. I couldn’t find a contact us section so:

    assalamualaikum,
    I hope you are of best health and iman.

    There are plenty of muslim blogs online. Alhamdullilah however they are quite scattered. As a blogger I am sure you know of digg, that is why alhamdullilah I have introduced MuslimGlobe http://www.muslimglobe.com similar to digg, we will be marketing this on a large scale to 1000 masjids inshaallah, as masjidi.com is our free websites for masjids projects, our project will also be featured in many popular media outlets on completion of the project inshaAllah, add your articles to share with the rest of the muslims on muslimglobe.com, your blog will reach a wider muslim audience.

    jazakaallah khair,
    walaikumsalam
    http://muslimglobe.com

  4. Salaam Alaikum,

    Molly and Mona – Google video or you tube may have something.

    Adil – Sounds like a great project, may Allah swt grant you success.

  5. My problem with shariah is not that I reject the idea that Muslims have rules governing how we live (we do and should), my problem is the same as my problem with U.S. common law–essentially that a bunch of old guys who claim to speak for god control the whole debate and act like they have no self-interest of chauvinism (in any sense of the word) and are just disinterested servants of the greater good. With the US legal system, it takes crazy twists like the Supreme Court aiding and abetting the theft of the 2000 election, or courts ruling that nobody owns their house anymore and imminent domain is an absolute right. In Muslim countries, we get ‘ulema’ saying that if a married couple sees each-others’ genitals the marriage is annulled, same if a guy pronounces talaq in his sleep, that to rebel against tyrannical rulers is like rebelling against god, or that huge group X are unbelievers and everyone who disagrees is an unbeliever. I don’t think scholarship is bad, to some extent it’s needed, but at this point in time the legalist side of islam causes as many problems as it solves.

  6. Oh, by the way, tagged you with another meme 😦 sorry

    http://parallelsidewalk.wordpress.com/2008/02/11/book-meme-yeah-buddy/

  7. Salam Alikum

    Long time no see. How have you been? I have actually started blgging again for a while. At the moment, I am not in school and I get bored…LOL!

    Now that out of the way…LOL, great post and just like others on here, I am VERY interested to watch this documentary. I have always believed that people, in general, have a problem distinguishing between culture and religion. And unfortunately, some firmly believe that the two are exactly the same and thus this kind of mentality is the outcome of……..well………you know who and the like?? lol What is even worse is when things are completely taken out of context too and you have people coming up with newer fatwas, hadiths, and expanding on the word of God ( as if God asked for help) in whatever way they feel like etc etc etc…… That actually is utterly ridiculous and really makes me MAD!!!!

    Anyway, this subject is always a neverending issue that is a sure fact!!

  8. I have NEVER understood the point of having special sharia courts in a western country. if you wish sharia provisions to apply to your estate/prospective divorce (and these are the two areas contemplated by the sharia court projects) then you write a will/pre-nuptial agreement to that effect. most people do anyway. why go to the massive trouble of having a whole court system? as for the criminal law, i’d like to see a jurisdiction anywhere around the world that correctly applies that in the first place: moreover, there any many criminal porvisions in sharia that go against accepted policies of equality, due process, cruel and unusual punishment etc and countries can’t be expected to let a small community of people have their own system of criminal justice.

  9. Salaam Alaikum (and Hello to Forsooth so as not to be offensive) –

    In my personal opinion, as regards Islamic criminal law, I agree with Tariq Ramadan’s call for a Moratorium on Hudud:
    http://www.tariqramadan.com/call.php3?id_article=264&lang=en

    There is currently far too much injustice being done in the name of hudud and to me, this is not following the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammed saw.

    As for family law. I’m going to speak from a British perspective here.
    In the England, the Church of England is the State religion. Those who wish to marry in within the Church do not have to make the same legal notice as those who marry elsewhere. Also, if they are marrying a non-E.U citizen they do not have to apply for a Certificate of Approval from the Home Office.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article703893.ece

    As the link above shows, this law as been contested, due to it’s discrimination against non-Anglicans.

    There is already the Beth Din, in the U.K, which is a Jewish body that is able to enact family law settlements and have them recognised by the U.K civil law.

    So I feel that having a form of Sharia Court recognised in the U.K , would not be impossible. How this should be established is another matter.

    However, the key point of my post was not that sharia should be accepted into the U.K legal system, but that the ultimate responsibility lies with Muslims as individuals to know their deen and act accordingly. Basically, don’t act like a scumbag and try and use religion to justify it.

    Edited to add-

    Forsooth, if you are interested here a legal take on the recent rulings concerning the Certificate of Approval:
    http://www.gherson.com/articles/court-of-appeal-on-certificates-of-approval-for-marriage

    When I got married, Mr Outlines had to apply for this. It was a very convoluted and invasive process. I think it’s a heinous piece of law and I am very pleased to see it challenged and hopefully discarded.

  10. wow, that law truly was repugnant. it’s amazing the sort of discriminatory and abusive legislation pouring out of legislatures in the wake of 9/11. i’m sorry u had to go through that crap.

    but that had no relation to sharia law or lack thereof. they COULD get sharia courts…there’s just no NEED. they can apply sharia law by drafting private contracts. however, most common law systems have turned to mediation to solve most family law disputes, and i think it would be cool if a couple could choose a mediator who came from the background of their choice. the courts would always be available for appeals.

    yep, unfortunately, safiya, people are always going to be grossly unpure and point fingers at others rather than at themselves (although that apparent Muslim injunction to counsel others against sin (el nahy 3an el monkar) has done the muslim world irreparable harm in my opinion) and having so many detailed rules is just an expression of people’s desires to find loopholes to justify their actions. most religions are clear, if u look into your heart.

  11. I was just surfing when I landed on your blog.

    Two things.

    1) Your said “There is currently far too much injustice being done in the name of hudud and to me, this is not following the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammed saw.”

    Can you be more specific and give examples of particular injustice, which you believe, are not sanctioned by hadiths/Sunnah.

    2) You state, that fatwas are not binding upon a Muslim, one can chose to follow the fatwa or discard it. Is that a general rule of thumb in your opinion or only applicable to certain situations/conditions?

    Because many “muslim scholars” will most likely not agree on this as a general rule. They will argue that, if a fatwa is based on legal proof, then it must be followed without discussion, even if it does not appeal to one’s heart or sense of logic.

  12. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    Reader: that applies to the position of a large body of scholars, such as the majority of a madhhab or its relied-on position, not the fatawa of individual scholars.

    Yusuf- Thanks for replying to this. I really didn’t have the patience.

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