Growing use of Sharia by UK Muslims
By DIVYA TALWAR - BBC NEWS
Added: Mon, 16 Jan 2012 17:53:48 UTC
The use of Sharia, or Islamic religious law, is growing in Britain, with thousands of Muslims using it to settle disputes each year, but women's groups and some others are objecting.
''You must speak the truth, sister. Because Allah is listening to your every word, you can lie to us but not to Him.''
The bearded sheikh is instructing his first client of the day to explain why she is unhappy in her marriage.
Sitting behind a small desk in the back room of a converted terrace house, Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad is a representative of the Islamic Sharia Council, the largest Sharia body in the UK, based in Leyton, east London.
The woman has come to the council for an Islamic divorce because her husband refuses to grant her one.
''I'm not happy. He's never at home and I've seen messages from other women on his phone. He doesn't even give money to help support the kids,'' the woman tells the sheikh.
It is easier for a Muslim man to end a marriage in Islam, but a wife must persuade the judges to grant her a dissolution if her husband is opposed to divorce.
The case is typical of those case dealt with by Sharia councils, as thousands of Muslims are turning to them to help resolve family, financial and commercial problems in accordance with Sharia principles.
Growing demand An estimated 85 Sharia councils could be operating in Britain, according to a 2009 report by the think tank Civitas.
Several bodies like the Islamic Sharia Council have seen a large increase in their cases in the past five years.
''Our cases have easily more than tripled over the past three to five years," says Sheikh al-Haddad.
''On average, every month we can deal with anything from 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that.
''Muslims are becoming more aligned with their faith and more aware of what we are offering them,'' he explained.
- - Maryam Namazie Comments
Letter to Trevor Phillips, Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission
- - We The People Comments
Enforce federal 501(c)(3) regulations by removing the tax-exempt status from churches that engage in political activity.
Brendan O'Neill - The Telegraph Comments
The rebranding of circumcision as 'child abuse' echoes the ugly anti-Semitism of medieval Europe
- - MedicalXpress Comments
German court rules religious circumcision on boys an assault
Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops in session in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this month. Photograph: Tami Chappell/Reuters
Jimmy Wales - Change.org & The... Comments
.@ukhomeoffice: Stop the extradition of Richard O'Dwyer to the USA #SaveRichard