Sharia Law in Canada Redux

This is in reply to comments posted in the last thread…

“The have Sharia in the Sudan, I believe where a woman was sentenced by a judge to be buried up to her neck and then killed by stoning.”

This example of course could never happen in Canada or the UK, or France or any other country that has modern law of the land. As I said before, in this case, Sharia would only be applied in civil cases, and it has an outlet to the regular system so that if something happens that is obviously counter to the laws of Canada then it can be prosecuted just as any other case.

Sharia is simply the word for law handed down by Allah and others.

It is no different from the Word of God and Jesus in the Bible.

The difference comes in the interpretations… of which there are many across the Muslim world, from the UK, to Turkey, to SA, to Sudan to Indonesia.

“But why encourage these vile practices by integrating Sharia law in a western country.”

read this passage from wikipedia:

“”Honor killings” are, in the Western world, often erroneously identified as part of Islamic teaching, though they are in fact a cultural practice which is neither exclusive to, nor universal within, the Islamic world. Such killings take place within the Muslim communities around the Mediterranean as well as in the Punjab, India,[6] non-Muslim parts of West Africa, and in Central America; while in Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country, the status of the practice is unknown.”

Honour Killings are not unheardof in Mexico for example. And in Latin America it is certainly not due to any Muslim influence…

“I’ve read your rampages against Christianity and yes, you’ve been insulting in your comments implying that Christians are basically an evil force in any society.”

Don’t put words in my mouth Jane. What I have said about Christians pertains to the far-right movements that seem far more interested in political gain rather than any sort of religious well being. The majority of both our countries is Christian and it is clear that we are no worse for wear.

“Everybody screams there head off if somebody sings a real Christmas carol in a school. ”

I don’t… and we still sing them here… so apparently that’s an issue for there, not here.

“Muslims in the West are a big problem because they’ve been allowed to live throughout Europe without much attempt to assimulate.”

Well maybe we should just ship them all back to where they came from! Seriously Jane…

I believe Canada, and the US, would be a different kettle of fish. Europe has had an influx of first-born peoples of Islamic faith for many centuries. Their connections to the center of the Islamic world, and thus its’ much more extreme Sharia is far stronger. This is part of the reason, I believe, why they have perhaps not assimilated as completely and accepted a more liberal, western ideology.

That said, are Muslims in the UK and elsewhere really disrupting society? I seriously doubt it. I think a lot of it is perception due to a heightened awareness of the worst that Islamic law can do. We all have images of the Taliban and OBL in our head. This is not how Muslims in Canada or the UK, or the US generally operate.

You make it sound as though Sharia will supercede other forms of western law in Canada, and that is absollutely not true.

“But yet, nothing is too much trouble to accomodate Muslims living in Canada. ”

The same accomodations have been given to Christians (it is, after all the basis of our own laws), Jews, Native tribunals, and others.

I give you the reaction from Ron Gray, Leader of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada.

Some of those alarm bells should be ignored. Although I’m a big fan of WorldNetDaily, I think they over-reacted to this news. Their report, which actually suggested that Canada might see women being stoned to death for adultery, was an extreme and defensive reaction against something that could be good.

Let’s understand clearly: the use of Shari’a principles in settling civil disputes, by mutual consent and subject to the over-riding authority of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, will not — repeat, not — result in stonings or beheadings or any of the other bizarre interpretations of “justice” which prevail in jurisdictions like Saudi Arabia. Nor will we see a return to slavery, which also persists in many Islamic jurisdictions.

In fact, it is quite consistent with Canada’s commitment to religious liberty to allow recognized religious traditions to be used in settling civil disputes; indeed, we already allow the application of Talmudic principles in Jewish civil disputes, and the use of “sentencing circles” (under the supervision of the courts) in Aboriginal cases — even criminal cases.

The issue before us is the use of Shari’a principles within the constraints of the larger Canadian legal and constitutional framework, and by mutual consent. And as long as those two qualifiers are maintained, what’s the harm? No one will be able to drag an unwilling litigant before a Shari’a tribunal; and enhanced cultural sensitivity can often improve justice.

There is, however, one legitimate warning flag: concerns expressed by the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

“Who will represent the rights of women?” asks CCMW president Alia Hogben. “We are gravely concerned… there are lots questions, and we don’t understand, from the Canadian Muslim women’s point [of view], why another system is being applied.”

Since most Muslim women in Canada are religious, she adds, many may be “persuaded” to go to arbitration as part of their Islamic faith and identity. OK — but isn’t that an integral part of their chosen “faith and identity”?

The CCMW must not be allowed to force feminist or Secularist ideas on the whole Ummah.

Yet, we also have to acknowledge what Ms. Hogben means when she says Shari’a law is vast and complex, and varies in its interpretation from country to country.

“Muslim law is not monolithic or simple or applied consistently,” she warns, “so how will it be applied here in Canada? And why is it needed here, when the law of the land tries to be fair and just?” Hogben asks.

Good questions. There is force in her arguments, and surely a spokesperson for Muslim women — if, indeed, she speaks validly for a majority of them — ought to be heard before the new system is inaugurated. There is legitimate concern that Shari’a is weighted in favor of men.

Perhaps the ultimate principle should be this: if advocates of Shari’a tribunals can show that Canadian justice has failed Canadian Muslims in any significant way, and if the legitimate concerns of the CCMW can first be heard and addressed, then the tribunals should be allowed. But if there is no real and demonstrated need for a parallel system, or if it can be shown that there is real potential for abuse or injustice, then the plan ought to be scrapped.

But as the case has been presented to date — a system hedged by voluntary participation and by the over-arching protection of the Charter — the development of Islamic Councils of Justice looks like a simple extension of the principle in civil law that any two contracting parties can agree on any mode of dispute settlement they like, as long as there is no coercion, and their purposes and activities are not contrary to the Criminal Code, the Charter or the Constitution of Canada.

However, there is one real reason for concern: in a document setting out the legal framework for an Islamic Judicial Council in Ontario, president Syed Mumtaz Ali of the Canadian Society of Muslims wrote:
“Now coming to the specific provisions of The Family Law Act 1986,… it might be of interest to note Section 1(2) which provides the definition of “spouse”:
(2) In the definition of “spouse”, a reference to marriage includes a marriage that is actually or potentially polygamous, if it was celebrated in a jurisdiction whose system of law recognizes it as valid.”

If there is even a possibility that the IJC might be used as a stalking-horse for the introduction of polygamy into Canada, it simply cannot and must not be allowed.

There are plenty of questions to be answered, but I think, as does Mr. Gray, that effectively there should be nothing stopping us from integrating Sharia into the civil law as has been done for other religions and beliefs.

5 replies on “Sharia Law in Canada Redux”

  1. If Canadian Christians asked for a seperate civil system of justice, you wouldn’t consider it for a second. I don’t think you are reading much about the European problems with the Muslims among them. Europe seems terrified of them after allowing them to do and say practically anything for several decades. In this country, the US, no group will ever have a special status under the law as is being contemplated in Canada. By the way, I don’t consider Wikipedia the ultimate authority on any subject.

    I think its very interesting that in your cultural perceptions you see Muslims as a benign group while Christians are malevolent not matter how much you qualify your opinion. This Sharia situation is a case in point.

    Also, I only brought up the excesses of Sharia to illustrate that this system of laws is predicated on the mandatory opression of women. It is codified and much as you protest, who knows where it will lead in Canada. Much of what happens in major fiddling with laws is “unintended consequences”. Once you do it your stuck with the consequences.

    Now you may object to the principles of family life for Christians as layed out in the book of Ephesians in the Christian Bible, but you cannot claim that any modern Christian society has lobbyied for a justice system based on the submission of wives to their husbands. To do something similar for Muslims is preposterous.

  2. “If Canadian Christians asked for a seperate civil system of justice, you wouldn’t consider it for a second.”

    Why would they? Our Justice system is based largely on Christian beliefs (and it works just fine I should add).

    You seem to be avoiding the point jane and again putting words into my mouth.

    What do you make of Ron Grays opinion?

  3. “By the way, I don’t consider Wikipedia the ultimate authority on any subject.”

    Oh for heavens sake Jane it’s a user-contributed encyclopedia… it is peer reviewed and verified for accuracy before it is posted. The best part of it isn’t so much the definitions themselve but rather the deep linking of terms, concepts, ideas and names.

  4. I don’t think that any Common Law justice system is based on religious beliefs in the sense that Sharia courts are. As far as I am aware no faith in North America has juridical standing, ie. state sanction to enforce its rulings. Some Christian churches have internal tribunals, eg. for marriage annulments, but these bodies only determine a person’s eligibility for the sacraments and do not have state sanction.

    Chris, you should email Irshad Manji and ask her to comment on this. She lives in Canada I think and has a website here:

    I would hope your sympathies lie more in her direction than in the direction of trying to accommodate people for whom wife beating is permissable.

  5. I would feel more comfortable commenting on Mr Gray’s remarks if I could put them in the context of Mr Gray’s overarching beliefs (which I don’t know) as a Christian lpolitical eader. Here in the US we have an organization called the World Council of Churches which is supposed to be a Chrisitan organization but barely resembles any such thing. Now I’m only mentioning this because I have no idea where Mr Gray or his political party is coming from in the Christian spectrum.

    He believes that “no one will be able to drag an unwilling litigant before a Shari’a tribunal”. I’m not so sure considering the stories I’ve heard of male domination among Muslim communities. It seems that threats and coersion could very well be used to rig the participation and the outcomes, particularly of family disputes.
    An uncooperative Islamic female may have very few options in a domestic situation.

    By the way, what aspect of your Canadian legal system is based on Christianity? Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, that shalt not bear false witness? What else about the 10 Commandments have been codified in Canada? I believe that even in Hinduism, Buddhism and Islamic societies these are universally accepted as law. I don’t think much else about the Christian Bible is codified either in Canada or the US.

    By the way, I don’t consider Wikipedia the ultimate authority on any subject.” (me)

    “Oh for heavens sake Jane it’s a user-contributed encyclopedia… it is peer reviewed and verified for accuracy before it is posted. The best part of it isn’t so much the definitions themselve but rather the deep linking of terms, concepts, ideas and names” (Chris)

    Oh, its a user-contributed encyclopedia…that explains the bias I’ve noticed when reading some topics. I didn’t know that. I don’t claim that it’s all biased but it definitely is on some subjects.

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