Why Banning Sharia Courts Would Harm British Muslim Women

Myriam Francois-Cerrah, Telegraph (London), July 17, 2014

Back in 2008 when Dr Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested officially sanctioning Sharia law in Britain could improve community relations, uproar ensued. In the years since “Sharia courts” have never been far from tabloid headlines, but all too often the facts are lost in outrage. The reality is Sharia courts–or more accurately Sharia councils have been operating in the UK since the 1980s, but very little has been understood about how they operate.

Sharia councils are able to provide advice to those Muslims who voluntarily choose to use them to resolve civil and family disputes. Sharia law is Islam’s legal system. It derives from the Koran and the Hadiths, the sayings and customs attributed to the Prophet Mohammed, as well as fatwas–the rulings of Islamic scholars.

Currently, Sharia principles are not formally addressed by or included in Britain’s laws. However, a network of Sharia courts has grown up in Islamic communities to deal with disputes between Muslim families.

There are reported to be around 85 such courts in the UK–however they could be more.

As Leyton’s Sharia council in London states, 95 per cent of its cases are matrimonial problems, the majority stemming from women seeking divorce.

So why would Muslim women choose to use them? One woman told me her “husband would never have listened to a relationship counsellor. But a shaykh, an older man with Islamic knowledge, that he respects”.

Sharia councils operate under the Arbitration Act which allows consenting adults to resolve disputes conflicts, civil or commercial as long as this doesn’t conflict with UK law. Humera Khan, co-founder of the An-NisaSsociety, an organisation that works for the welfare of Muslim families believes Sharia councils can provide an essential service. Khan points out many Muslims see Sharia as a sacred reference and that if used voluntarily, they are actually lifting a burden off state funded services.

But there are serious problems. In the last few months, I helped research for a Channel 4 News report highlighting how vulnerable Muslim women have been badly advised. We met Sara–a woman who finally left her violent schizophrenic husband after years of domestic abuse and ended up in a custody battle over their child. Sara received a letter from a Sharia council requesting that she attend a meeting with a controversial cleric. Despite making him aware of her ex-husband’s criminal conviction for assault of her eldest child, she says he advised her to hand over full custody of her seven year old child to her former partner. He denies the allegations.

So how should we best assist women who end up using Sharia councils, given that for many Muslims the advice they offer will be considered as authoritative? The cases confronting the councils are often complex and require a range of skills which exceed the strictly theological training of those hearing them. Incidents of malpractice are far too common, with several women I interviewed saying despite experiencing domestic abuse, they were being asked what part they’d played in provoking the abuse, or worse advised to return home to a violent partner. Had they denied him sex? Been too focused on the kids and neglecting him?

The “One law for all” campaign argues the only way to end discrimination suffered by Muslim women is to ban these religious tribunals, but it’s not as clear cut as that. There is undoubtedly real discrimination–some readings of Sharia promote principles which run counter to UK equality legislation and in some councils, women are asked to pay four times the price men do for a divorce.

But while the call to ban Sharia councils is often seen as a way of protecting women, many women I have interviewed feel a ban would disempower them, by removing one of the potentially powerful avenues through which they could exercise religious pressure on their husbands or family members.

Lawyer and rabbi Alex Goldberg believes a ban would be counterproductive. He says it would “bolster underground councils rather than those who are seeking to work within the English legal framework, and recognise they are subservient to the English law. Why would you want to reward underground councils?” Goldberg maintains these councils offer a legitimate avenue for resolving conflicts.

For Imam and broadcaster Ajmal Masroor, one of the downfalls of the current system is the fact anyone can set up a Sharia council. Lack of oversight and an absence of consistent standards means individuals with little or no training are found dispensing life changing advice. He believes “the way forward is to bring them in line with regulations and good practice standards”.

One woman keen to reform Sharia councils is Amra Bone, a Muslim scholar who sits on the Birmingham Mosque Sharia council. She says: “Sharia is often not perceived as compatible with British law, but what is Sharia? For us, it is based on equity, compassion, human dignity. I don’t think there is a conflict between Sharia and equalities legislation, the issue is with texts being applied literally without the historical context.” She points out that the UK board of Sharia councils, of which she is a trustee, is already working to formalise and standardise procedures in order to address some of the concerns emanating from within the community.

The fact that individuals in Sharia councils are able to dispense dangerous advice is deeply worrying. But a grassroots movement to reform and regulate Sharia councils is burgeoning. Rigorous vetting and training need to become standard, better regulation is undoubtedly necessary to help those being let down by the ad hoc nature of sharia councils. But a politicised and overly rash ban would only disadvantage women–those who seem most reliant on the services.

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  • Puggg

    They love and want Sharia laws so much, yet they willingly immigrated away from a country that uses it to come to a country that doesn’t, or at least it didn’t until they showed up and started agitating.

    • Publius Pompilius Quitus

      It’s not ironic if you realize that they intend to displace colonize Britain and displace Britons

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Muslims come to Britain so they can be Muslims with first world incomes. They don’t have the mental ability to develop a system of free enterprise that allows them to earn first world incomes in their own countries. As Muslim immigration to Britain increases and gradually displaces the indigenous British culture, the less these Muslim parasites will be able to earn those first world incomes. Eventually, Britain will look like Somalia or Pakistan and Muslims will no longer want to immigrate there, except to wage jihad against the last remaining whites or preach Islam to the unconverted.

  • Magician

    “Why Banning Sharia Courts Would Harm British Muslim Women”

    …… but stoning them to death, preventing them from going to school, never ever allowing them to go outside, blaming them after sexually assaulting them, do not harm muslim women?

    • me

      Liberals/progressives are nuts. They shouldn’t be allowed to vote. The misplaced altruism of the liberal idiots is going to be their collective ‘suicide by diversity and egalitarianism’.


        Their misplaced altruism is not a simple act of suicide alone. We are not a country/countries of nothing but misguided liberal lunatics. These are our countries too my friend. Their misplaced altruism is an act of murder/suicide. They’re bent on destroying themselves, this country, and they’re certainly taking the rest of us with them. It’s Murder/Suicide!

  • MekongDelta69

    Hey Myriam Francois-Cerrah – you dingbat. Mooz-lims should NEVER have been allowed into your country in the first place.

    But idiots like you wanted them, so now the entire country is infested with them.

    Let them ALL live in YOUR house – and NEVER let them go outside.

    • Rhialto

      This is the fundamental point: If the UK were not abnormal, Muslim immigrants in any number would not have been allowed to immigrate. Of course neither would any other group, as the UK was overpopulated before massive immigration was imposed on the country.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    Why aren’t feminists in Britain speaking out against the abuse women suffer under the barbaric Islamist patriarchal system? This just goes to show that feminism is all about displacing white males and cleansing Britain of all traces of western European culture. Alas, feminists do not care about women’s rights. One gets the impression that these vicious, ugly harridans wouldn’t mind wearing burqas as long as they can live in a Third World Britain where everybody is equal and they get to have access to the country’s most desirable males, just like their better-looking, but less educated female peers.

    • me

      ‘Feminists’ are insane, that’s why.

    • Sloppo

      “just like their better-looking, but less educated indoctrinated female peers”

    • ElComadreja

      They’re the same in the US. Never speaking out against Islam or the incredible amount of violence against women in the black add Hispanic “communities” (God I hate that term).

      • Rhialto

        Perhaps “habitation” or “habitat” would be a better term.

        • Wholly Unconvinced

          How about “den”, “hive”, “nest”, or “lair” ?

  • me

    Let’s see….
    Muslims flood Britain for the British way of life, a better life. Muslims then proceed to keep the worst aspects of their culture and try to remake Britain into the same kind of cesspool that they just fled. Makes perfect sense.
    It would be quite proper and just if the true and original White British chased all of these sand ni#$ers out of their country–the sooner the better. Along with all of the politicians and liberal morons that created this horrific mess.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      This is why allowing third world immigration is one of the stupidest things any government can do. Because genes determine culture, third world colonizers simply replace western society with the impoverished peasant and proletarian third world cultures they left behind. Our western leaders knew this and freely admitted this in public, especially before the spread of the multicult sickness across Europe. In 1959, President Charles de Gaulle said:

      It is very good that there be yellow Frenchmen, black Frenchmen, brown Frenchmen. They prove that France is open to all races and that she has a universal mission. But on the condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France. We are after all primarily a European people of the white race, of Greek and Latin culture, and of the Christian faith. Try to mix oil and vinegar. Shake the bottle. In a moment they will separate again. Arabs are Arabs and French are French. Do you believe that the French nation can absorb ten million Muslims, who perhaps tomorrow will be twenty million and the day after forty million? If we adopt integration, if all the Arabs and Berbers of Algeria were considered as Frenchmen, what would prevent them from coming to settle in mainland France where the standard of living is so much higher? My village would no longer be called Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, but Colombey-les-deux-Mosquées!

      • Sloppo

        The politicians are not stupid. They’re just not working for us. Their bosses are the globalists who want to destroy western civilization so they can create their own totalitarian global regime. Their plan would be quite difficult to carry out if they were trying to conquer successful civilizations. They want us to become so overwhelmed by violent ethnic conflict that we will be willing to trade our rights and freedoms for “security”.

      • Paleoconn

        DeGaulle would be to the right of LePen. It’s insane how ideas as normal as Marine’s are labeled far right nowadays. I call Overton Window on this phenomenon.

  • dd121

    Make it all Sharia law in England. Why would anyone think that the English should be adjudicated by English Common Law?

    • Syntec


      “Make it all Sharia law in England. Why would anyone think that the English should be adjudicated by English Common Law?”

      Because English Common Law is part of THEIR English cultural heritage founded by THEIR English Christian ancestors in their own ancestral Christian homeland.

      If the Middle Eastern, Arab and Black Muslim territories carried a sizeable English immigrant population would you agree then that these territories should come under English Common Law instead of Sharia law just because of the presence of an English immigrant population?


      • dd121

        When your world view is cultural relativism then anything goes. Your position can be anything you like. It’s impossible to argue against.

        I believe that the English and other Europeans brought civilization to the unenlightened all over the world. What they brought should be adopted and was adopted by native populations throughout the world. The Indians, Chinese and many others may have gone through some painful moments in their histories, but taken as a whole are much better off with European influences. Sharia on the other hand brings 7th century barbarism to the modern world. It should be opposed at every turn.
        Just because the Muzzie population reaches a certain mass, doesn’t justify burning European traditions, in my opinion.

        • Syntec

          “When your world view is cultural relativism then anything goes. Your position can be anything you like. It’s impossible to argue against.”

          But it isn’t a world view – that the whole point.

          Cultural relativism doesn’t exist in non-White lands because ttheir leaders and native inhabitants wouldn’t tolerate it.

          Does Israel tolerate cultural relativism, do Islamic countries, do African countries? Or is cultural relativism a mindset that only been foisted upon native White homelands. Well!

          “I believe that the English and other Europeans brought civilization to the unenlightened all over the world. What they brought should be adopted and was adopted by native populations throughout the world. The Indians, Chinese and many others may have gone through some painful moments in their histories, but taken as a whole are much better off with European influences. Sharia on the other hand brings 7th century barbarism to the modern world. It should be opposed at every turn.”———————————-

          The recipients of English and European civilization which had been foisted upon various foreign races wouldn’t necessarily perceive such civilizations as a good thing so the English and Europeans can’t arrogantly assume they were.

          Perhaps it would have been more beneficial for the English and Europeans to have left the natives of the lands they invaded to their own cultures, traditions and mores instead of forcing alien civilizaitons upon them. Had they done so, perhaps the English and Europeans wouldn’t now be in todays’ predicament.

          “Just because the Muzzie population reaches a certain mass, doesn’t justify burning European traditions, in my opinion.”

          Unfortunately, however, demographics are destiny and as such when critical mass is attained alien breeds will put up a fight to retain what they have conquered which is why the native peoples must take ALL necessary steps to thwart those very goals.

  • Where there are muzzies, there are conflicts and violence. The fight among themselves, they fight the Euro populations as soon as the enter, and they fight the Jews in the middle east. It must be genetic. One muzzie prof at the university scared the poop out of everyone because he was so volatile. Muzzies have never seen a “detonate” button they didn’t like. They are at home among the climate and lands of the middle east. Send them back for their own good and ours.

    • ElComadreja

      The entire sham religion of Islam was founded by a warlord.

  • Pro_Whitey

    One simple resolution is to expel the moo-slimes, and the sharia courts go away in the bargain.

  • Hubbub

    Such sharia courts would start small in scope, then become bigger and more encompassing over time. One doesn’t need to be a mental giant to figure that out. Should the same principles be applied to Christians who have an even older set of ‘laws’ and traditions to harken back to? Or to other groups who feel impinged upon by the laws of the land? Surely, all these groups handling their own ‘internal’ affairs would take a great burden off the legal system of a country. But then the country would be fractured beyond redemption.

    A great, viable nation has one law for all the people, or it is not a great nation; it is a babel of individuals, groups and enterprises all speaking different ‘languages’, all demanding that their grievances be adhered to.

    In the end, it’s way to run a country.

  • willbest

    Seem to me Sharia law would be substantially better for men in the US than the current divorce rape courts

    • Guest



      Yup, it seems to me that we here in the United States got Sharia law in reverse. Women are given here what Sharia gives men over there. Yet somehow, as we all so surely know. < Yeah Right! ) Women are still oppressed and abused by a legal and political system of patriarchy. < So Sayeth Any And Every Feminist! )

      However, I still don't agree with allowing Sharia law in Britain and certainly not here in the states. For the time being though. It looks like Britain has a bit more of an Islam problem than we do. Allowing their legal system to be peeled away from their own land is a very dangerous move. But given that we're literally being invade by the 3rd world, and not only are we doing nothing to stop it. But we're actively assisting the invasion itself in just about every way you can think of. I don't think we have much room to advise Britain on maintaining a healthy society.

    • Spikeygrrl

      Thanks for saying that first!

      “…several women [said that] despite experiencing domestic abuse, they were being asked what part they’d played in provoking the abuse, or worse advised to return home to a violent partner. Had they denied him sex? Been too focused on the kids and neglecting him?”

      Those questions should be asked EVERY DAY in American family courts hearing “domestic violence” cases. The way things stand now, the woman can incite and incite, provoke and provoke, and when the man finally gets exasperated enough to punch a wall or leave the house to cool down, the woman runs to an attorney whining “He’s aBYOOOOzing me!”…and the courts take her unsupported allegation as gospel truth.

      It’s at times like these that I am ashamed to be a woman.

    • Diana Moon Glampers

      This is true in many ways. But in the case of courts here, it is simply the current atmosphere and can be lobbied against and change as attitudes do. I know that is little comfort to men being currently railroaded, but sharia is part and parcel of Islam and will not shift to reflect a more just system.

  • Paleoconn

    There is no share in sharia. There is only conquest.

    Islam = I slam (credit to Mark Steyn). Islam doesn’t integrate, it dominates.

  • rightrightright

    Halal meat has already been forced on the UK, in supermarkets, school lunches, hospitals, even the army. Halal slaughter is an aspect of Sharia law. Parents are advised that their kids should take the vegetarian option at lunch if they do not wish to eat cruelly slaughtered flesh. Moslems are never advised to take that option, only Europeans. We have had Sharia banking imposed on the finance sector (not that they are bothered. Anything goes that bleeds money to them) and Sharia courts decide family issues within areas taken over by Moslems.

    At the moment, we are blandly promised that Sharia law is subordinated to real law. But for how long? It is applied in tandem, parallel to proper law, until it isn’t, until it takes over.

    Islam creeps incrementally into the infrastructure of our nation, enabled and promoted by the filth at Westminster and Brussels.

    • ElComadreja

      Cruelly slaughtered human flesh doesn’t bother these barbarians at all.

  • Guest

    Ban Kosher/Halal and watch how quickly the problems in the West get solved.

  • IKUredux

    You know, I’m not gonna lie, I stopped reading this crap after the second paragraph. You know why? Of course you do! Get these muslim fkers the hell out of G.B. Problem solved. I AM SO TIRED OF THIS SHIITE. Why are we Whites even having to deal with this crap? I don’t want to! I want Ozzie and Harriet, I want Leave it to Beaver, and the Donna Reed show. What were they showing on T.V. in the mideast in the 1950s ? Beheadings? Fingers chopped off? Oh, wait, did the mideast have T.V. in the 1950s? Did they even have electricity? Why in the hell should we ever allow them to dictate to us?

  • Magician

    I am also astonished and disturbed by how vigorously the UK govt accommodates muslim immigrants (Halal food everywhere)

  • So we have one Judge Goldberg advising us on what Muslims ought to be having in Britain. You couldn’t make it up really.

    When there is different laws for different peoples and they all have to have their particular religious “context” put into place, it is obviously a recipe for chaos and disintegration of society itself.

    Yet here is the crux of the matter:-

    1) There are people who want to break down traditional society – and people who have imported this situation into Britain and furthermore allowed it to flourish with full knowledge what would happen.

    2) There are now that many of those people here that the “state” (and the arms of the state, such as the Police), cannot realistically control this situation any longer. Much like FGM (female genital mutilation), all they can do is appeal for it not to be done and threaten “action” against those that do it.

    In general then, the courts and societies cannot be policed or brought under the wing of traditional British law – and the future will only compound this drift from one system into the other, because “demographics is destiny”!

    They can talk about “religious context” and “harming women” all they want, but that is what is really taking place here – the transformation of Britain from one into into another, and these are just the “growing pains” or the “stitch in the side” whilst the leaders of our country race to hand over the baton to the next competitors.

  • Syntec

    Native European converting to Islam doesn’t legitimize conquest by Islam.

    Mass immigration of Muslims into non-Muslim territoreis doesn’t legitimize conquest by Islam.

    Weak and appeasing non-Muslim governments doesn’t legitimize conquest by Islam.

    It’s the sole right of native peoples to decide whether or not their race, ancestral homelands, cultures, traditions and religous belief system(s) should be destroyed and replaced by alien peoples, cultues, traditions and religious systems. If that right is denied then presiding successive administrations open themselves up to charges of Genocide, Treason and Sedition at the very least.

    Alien (non-native) peoples don’t have the right to invade and dispossess indigenous people of their ancestral homelands, call for the changing of indigenous laws, cultures, traditions and belief system(s). This is called THEFT which, furthermore, is why alien peoples should NEVER be permitted to vote, infiltrate indigenous organizations or form lobbying organisations/political parties of their own in the homelands of others.