"Keep Sharia Law out of Canadian judicial system"

Aug 12, 2005

By TAREK FATAH
The Kitchener-Waterloo Record

On behalf of Canada’s liberal and progressive Muslims, I appreciate Premier Dalton McGuinty delaying a decision on the use of “sharia” in Ontario’s Arbitration Act. However, I urge him now to take the next logical step — put an end to all religious arbitration.

The proposed use of religious laws to settle family disputes has deeply divided the Muslim community and caused serious concern among women’s groups, children’s advocates and supporters of the separation of religion and state.

We are opposed to all religious tribunals that trespass the public domain. Whether they are Rabbinical, Christian or Islamic courts, we believe they cannot, and should not, be allowed to act as substitutes for our judicial system — a system that is based on laws created by parliamentarians who are accountable to the electorate.

I urge McGuinty to reflect on the consequences of increasing the power of religious clerics, especially in view of recent events where religion has been used to inflict terror instead of building peace and harmony.

I say this not to downplay the important role of religion in our lives, but to the dangers of bringing it into public policy and thus risking further divisiveness in our society which is already threatened with religious conflict.

In her report filed last year, former NDP attorney general Marion Boyd has recommended that “Muslim principles” be permitted in arbitration as a substitute to the Family Law Act.

As Muslims, we believe that what Boyd is recommending under the cover of “Muslim principles” is, in fact, “sharia by stealth” — man- made laws that have been erroneously given divine authority and that cannot be debated or amended by any Canadian jurisdiction.

As a Muslim, I am not alone in my opposition to introduction of sharia into the Canadian judicial system. Many Muslim academics, religious scholars and human rights activists have voiced their concern. Organizations like the Muslim Canadian Congress, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women and the United Muslim Association have been vigorous in their opposition to any introduction of sharia into the Canadian justice system.

Prof. Omid Safi, who teaches Islamic studies at Colgate University in New York State, says, “The use of religious law as a substitute for laws created by Parliament, and the establishment of a multi-tier legal system — one for average Canadians and one for Muslim Canadians — is not only unjust, but also detrimental to the well-being of all Canadian citizens.”

One of Islam’s leading scholars in Europe, Prof. Tariq Ramadan of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, told a magazine there was no need for Canadian Muslims to set up their own sharia courts, saying they are “not necessary.” He said demanding such courts “is another example of lack of creativity” among Muslims.

And in May of this year, none other than Nobel Peace Prize winner Shrin Ebadi took a firm stand against the introduction of Islamic tribunals in Canada, warning they open the door to potential human rights abuses.

Furthermore, I believe that introducing sharia into the judicial system will ghettoize the Muslim community, making their already difficult task of integrating into Canadian society even more onerous.

I believe that mosques, churches, temples and synagogues have an important role to play in the community, but their role should be restricted to mediation and reconciliation, not interfering with the Canadian justice system and running a parallel private-sector judiciary with self-styled religious judges for hire.

Just as McGuinty stood up for public education, despite immense pressure from the religious lobby, I hope he will take the courageous decision to ensure that one law exists for all Ontarians, irrespective of religion, race or gender. Only then can we hope for a civic society where diversity is not allowed to create divisiveness.

If the Ontario government implements the Boyd report, I believe the move will further ghettoize the already marginalized Muslim community and will play into the hands of the racists who want nothing better than to exclude Muslims from the mainstream.

The decision McGuinty makes will have a profound long-term impact not only on our society, but also across the Muslim world, where progressive and liberal men and women are fighting to keep sharia out of the political system.

In the words of Safi, “We are alarmed at the prospects of repressive Muslim governments around the world pointing to Canada, and the implementation of sharia within Canada, as a justification for their oppressive legal systems. This is not a comment on Islamic jurisprudence as a whole, but rather on the repressive interpretations of sharia found in those countries. It is
unrealistic to think that the ayatollahs of Iran or the proponents of Wahabism in Saudi Arabia will not use this to promote the viability of their oppressive visions.”

My position is not against religion. On the contrary, I stand for the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. However, freedom of religion does not mean that we dilute laws and strengthen the power of imams, rabbis and priests over their communities — especially the most vulnerable.

3 comments for “"Keep Sharia Law out of Canadian judicial system"

  1. Anonymous
    September 11, 2005 at 6:57 AM

    SO are you against Jewish and Christian use of religious arbitration, or is this opposion merely limited to Muslims ? Thanks curly.

  2. Anonymous
    October 5, 2008 at 1:40 AM

    a-oodu billahi sami’ al ‘alim min ash-sheytaannir Rajim

    bismillah hir rahman nir rahim

    “Give news to the hypocrites that they will have a painful punishment. Do those who take the disbelievers as protectors, rather than the believers, hope to find power and strength with them? Power and strength belong entirely to Allah. (interpretation of the Glorious Qur’an :Surat an-Nisa’, 138-139)
    _______________________________

    as-selaam aleykum mr. fatah,

    Why do help to strive against the will of Allaah(subhaanahu wa ta’ala)He who gave you origin, yet He most exalted is without origin?
    Why do you strive against the final prophet Muhammmadin(sallalahu aleyhi wa salam)by verbally abusing his message?
    Why do reject the last revelation(al-Qur’an) that Allaah(subhanahu wa ta’ala)sent down to be a guidance and a mercy to all mankind?
    Why do you reject the laws of the Glorious qur’an?
    Why do hold the laws of man higher then The Divine Laws, the laws that Allaah(subhanahu wa ta’ala),The Uncreated-Creator sent down as a mercy?
    Why do you think its right that a law made by man can over right a law sent down by his Creator?
    Why do you take the disbelievers and their laws as protectors over Allaah(subhanahu wa ta’ala) and his laws?
    Why do you help the Kafir and not the welfare of the ummah?

    By all means you are astray,but may Allaah(subhanahu wa ta’ala) guide you.

    Muslims that strive against the shari’a law are one of worst enemies to the nation of islam. They are even more of an enemy then the kafir itself. Those who value the laws of man more then those of their Originator value the laws of satan. May they be destoryed.

    Verily, I pray to Allaah(subhanahu wa ta’ala)for those that are enemies of Islam for their failure. And what a humiliating defeat and failure may it be. May those that cause fitnah within the ummah be cleansed and may their evil crushed like little bugs.How perverse are they who reject the laws of the Creator whom is Unmade. May they be crushed and one day May the muslims loyal to Allaah(subhanahu wa ta’ala) their Creator destroy the infidels. May their satanic government perish and glory be to Allaah(subhanahu wa ta’ala)The Originator, Lord and cherisher of the Universe.

  3. Bob
    February 14, 2017 at 2:01 AM

    whats the matter, cant stand up for your ‘religion’ and be Anonymous where when you go to the haj, and you worship a meteor, and pretend to stone the devil! heres the funny part. We call God,God, and follow the teaching of Jesus. You have a lot of the same people in the Quron as is in the Bible.its all tied together.
    Mohhumed, how was he given this knowledge that all Muslims followed while he was alive.and how was he transported to Jerusalem, and back on a horse, oh flying horse! sounds like he was abducted by UFOs ooooooo. it sure reads that way, how else could he have left the earth, to see the ‘wonders’ of space??? Sorry if you feel offended at all. but after reading the Koran, and reading your nice post!

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