A Reflection on the Shari’a Debate in Britain
Studia z Prawa Wyznaniowego (Studies of Ecclesiastical Law), Vol. 13, pp. 71-98, 2010
Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 71/2010
18 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2011
Date Written: December 1, 2010
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech on Civil and Religious Law in England in February 2008 provoked and range of responses from outrage to sympathy. The speech aimed to delineate the contours of a new relationship between the ‘law of the land’ and religious law, particularly Muslim law or shari’a. This article aims to explore the extent to which the Archbishop’s ideas can bear fruit under current conditions of thinking and teaching about law. It places the Archbishop’s speech in the context of historical and existing regimes of legal plurality whereby states recognise more than one legal order. It then goes on to examine some of the detail in the Archbishop’s speech and examines the responses to it. Finally, the article examines the constraints and opportunities in achieving the greater level of attention to religious law which the Archbishop advocated within the framework of British legal systems.
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