Archbishop Speech on Sharia

The following is an abstract of an article in progress by UK Islamic Finance Law author, titled:

SHARIA IN THE ‘CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LAW IN ENGLAND’ SPEECH BY THEN ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

On 7 February 2008 then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered a speech titled ‘Civil and Religions Law in England’ (the ‘speech’) in the Great Hall of the Royal Courts of Justice. The content of the speech was almost totally obscured in the media storm and controversy swirling that followed fast upon it. Reporters and other observers interpreted the Archbishop as calling for accommodation of or (in the extreme form) adoption of Sharia as law in England. This article critically examines the topic of sharia and its treatment by the Archbishop in the speech. It aims to take a fresh look at this important speech with the benefit of hindsight and dispassion. At the same time the article aims to raise and it is hoped answer some fundamental questions about Islamic law that remain at least as current and urgent now as they did in 2008: what are the sources of sharia, what does the Arabic word ‘sharia’ mean, and what is the relationship of sharia to the law of any country.

[more to follow…]

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