The Archbishop of Canterbury created a firestorm of controversy when he said the introduction of sharia law for Bitish Muslims was “unavoidable.” he told a BBC audience Muslims should be able to choose whether to have matters such as marital disputes dealt with under sharia law or the British legal system. A spokesperson for Gordon Brown said concessions to sharia law could be made on a case-by-case basis.” But, Brown made clear “British law should apply in this country based on British values.” The Archbishop argued giving sharia official status would help maintain social cohesion because some Muslims do not relate to the Brtish legal system. “It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of sharia are already recognized in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system.”
The Archbishop undoubtedly means well and is reaching out to establish friendly relations with other religions. Inherent in his ideas is the belief one can pick and choose which of the sharia laws would be OK and which would violate British law. In theory, this may appear feasible, but, in reality, it will only result in constant litigation and increase separation between groups. The Archbishop is opening the proverbial Pandora’s box. An assumption of his comments is that “British Muslims” are a group with shared views. Does such an entity exist? For example, Turkey, a basically Muslim nation, is being torn to pieces because a portion of the Muslim community is against allowing women to wear the headscarf in a university but the majority supports it.
No one can “speak for Muslims” anymore than in America one can “speak for Jews.” In a modern society groups differ within themselves and there is no mechanism to identify a single leadership who represents the entire group. Amercan Catholics are divided over issues of birth control, would a “Catholic perspective” allow the Catholic Church to decide what is policy in certain religious issues such as abortion?
If one decides to live in Great Britain then the individual has decided to abide by laws of the nation. Sorry, there is no other alternative unless one seeks to foster turbulence, confusion and violence.