Women and Shari’a Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK

30 May 2016

Women and Shari’a Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK is a critique of a paradigm that calls for the introduction of Islamic law in Western legal systems as a means of accommodating Muslim minorities. The book is about:

  • The actual experience of legal pluralism in Britain and ‘non-Western countries’ and their negative consequences;
  • The type of Islamic law being applied by way of this ‘method of conflict resolution’, which contravenes concepts of gender equality and human rights;
  • The social context of closed communities within which this law is being implemented - where both young women and men are subjected to a suffocating social control;
  • And the role played by political Islam in promoting Islamic law in non-Islamic societies.

Building on my knowledge of legal pluralism in Middle Eastern and Islamic countries, I researched the British case, visited Islamic sharia councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunal in various British cities and met their leading sheiks, including the only woman on those panels. I also interviewed experts, lawyers, activists in civil society and women’s rights groups, especially from within the Muslim communities, in addition to politicians who are pleading for a reform of this ‘model’. The outcome is a book that highlights the negative consequences of introducing ‘special laws’ for ‘specific groups’.