Inside the sharia courts of Britain
This is Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, the oldest and most active such council in the country where scholars hear about 50 cases a month, most of them marital disputes. Nine out of 10 cases are brought by women because, in an Islamic marriage, it is far easier for a man to divorce; the only way for a woman is through one of these Sharia councils. No one knows how many there are in Britain today, in mosques and in houses – one report estimates at least 85. Although they cannot enforce their judgments, these councils control the lives of many Muslim women who may only have had a religious marriage. Even if they had a civil marriage too, some feel the need for a Sharia divorce as a way of moving on with their lives and finding a sense of resolution. [...]And how. The pseudo-doctor's word should not be taken at face value. In fact, who says they can't enforce their judgements? That's too easy to say. Clearly, they can, and have, thanks to the UK government's willingness to turn their backs for many years.
“We are not just here to issue divorces, we want to mediate first,” Dr [Suhaib] Hasan explains. “We try to save marriages so when people come to us we try to reconcile them.”
But this pressure from Sharia councils and the community they serve is causing suffering – Islamic rulings are not always in the interests of women and can run counter to British law.
It's a good thing Jewish law was modified in past centuries to make marriage partners more equal, though it's worth noting that unlike Islam, under Judaism spousal and child abuse was always considered a crime. If our laws were like what Islam has been for many centuries, that would be absolutely wrong. Anyone who wants religion in itself to be viewed positively has to recognize that it cannot be worked out in a way that's biased against women.