A few months ago a British Muslim leader spoke of "offering" Britain the benefit of adopting Shari‘a law. Now Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has come forward to tell the nation that the introduction of Shari‘a law for Muslims in the United Kingdom "seems unavoidable." The fact that British Muslims do not "relate" to the British legal system is sufficient reason for Williams to call for Shari‘a courts to be set up to deal with Muslim marital and financial disputes. Adopting such parts of Muslim law would, according to him, "help maintain social cohesion." Williams told the BBC that an approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts-I think that's a bit of a danger. ... There's a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law."
This is incredible. Muslims have flocked into Britain and now complain that the British legal system is not compatible with their "culture." So what does Rowan Williams propose? That Muslims do what all the rest of the citizens of the country do and obey the law or have it changed for all citizens by due parliamentary process? No. He suggests that Britain should set up special courts for Muslims, outside the state legal system, courts with standards that are foreign to Britain's legal tradition and that deal with only a segment of the population. And-astonishingly-according to the Archbishop, this legal segregation will lead to greater social "cohesion." Now the last time I looked at a dictionary, cohesion carried the idea of a tendency to stick together. How setting up segregated Muslim courts will lead Muslims and non-Muslims to stick together or will enable Muslims to assimilate into the mainstream of British life is beyond me. And I suspect it is beyond anyone but noodle-headed liberals who have no deep attachment to the beliefs and practices that underlie Britain's constitution.
Rowan Williams assures us, "Nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well." But that inhumanity is precisely what we would get. Already Muslim girls have been murdered by fathers or brothers in what Muslims call "honor killings." Imagine what would happen if a Muslim party to a marital dispute decided he or she did not want to be judged by Shari‘a law. And imagine what will happen when, having got their exclusive Muslim courts, Muslims decide to demand the right to devise their own system of punishments or even the extension of Shari‘a law to the entire population. The simple truth is that Muslims, like all other sections of the community, can appoint third party mediators to decide disputes but all are ultimately answerable to the legal code of the state. To call for a segregated court system is foolish, dangerous and in open defiance of the standard God set up in Israel: "One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you" (Exodus 12:49; see Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 15:16). I believe the Lord knows more about a just legal system than Rowan Williams, so we should heed Him not the Archbishop.