It is just one more reason to ban Sharia law in the West.
A Muslim cleric in Great Britain ignited a storm of protest last week when it was revealed he had stated earlier this year there was no such thing as rape within marriage. Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, who heads the Sharia Council of Britain that runs, according to Britain’s Independent newspaper, the country’s “largest network of Islamic courts,” made his appalling statement during an interview last March with the blog, The Samosa.
“Clearly there cannot be any rape within the marriage,” he said. “Maybe aggression, maybe indecent activity…Because when they got married the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage.”
Sayeed’s vile sentiments, however, did not stop at his Dark Ages belief that women in Muslim marriages do not have any legal recourse when sex is forced upon them in marriage. The imam also was reported as saying he does not want women to immediately inform police about sexual assaults “unless we establish that it really happened.” The learned imam, you see, believes most married women who report sexual assaults are lying and should first be questioned by courts like his before involving the authorities.
“Because in most of the cases, wives have been advised by their solicitors that one of the four reasons for which a wife can get a divorce is rape, so they are encouraged to say things like this,” said the immigrant from Bangladesh who arrived in Britain in 1977.
And if that wasn’t enough, Sayeed went on to say that even if rape is established, there should be no criminal charges laid against the husband since “sex is a part of marriage.” Moreover, as marital rape is defined in Islamic law as adultery by force, it cannot therefore be termed rape in the imam’s world, if the woman is his wife.
Police, naturally, are reported as being furious with Sayeed’s comments since British newspapers state law enforcement officials are already having a difficult time in getting women to report rape. Rape in marriage was made illegal in Great Britain in 1991 and is regarded overall as an under-reported crime. The police should probably now investigate Sayeed to discover whether he has interfered with victims wanting to report sexual assaults and inform him his views may actually be inciting a crime.
The irony of the situation is that the sheikh was once held up as a model for the acceptance of Sharia law in Great Britain. His “court,” run out of a converted corner store in East London and lined with shelves of books on Islamic law, was supposed to be the opposite of the stereotype most Westerners hold of Sharia courts: barbarous institutions run by religious fanatics who order the cutting off of hands, the stoning of women, and the murdering of apostates.
A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) story in 2008 on Sayeed said his court dealt mainly with marriage cases, “and in particular with releasing women from bad or forced Islamic marriages.” Especially in cases where Muslim husbands, who are allowed to have four wives, have married another woman, the leftist BBC reports Sharia courts like Sayeed’s have been helpful. The previous wife, who is only allowed one husband under Islamic law, is unable to divorce her spouse and move on without her husband’s consent and is often trapped in what is termed a “limping marriage.” Sayeed’s court, the story states, is often successful in getting the first wives a divorce.
“In every situation our motto is reconciliation first. So we try to reconcile, but in cases where a marriage was forced on a girl against her wishes, against her own opinion, we don’t want to negotiate,” Sayeed told the BBC.
The operation of Sharia courts in England is a cloudy issue. Their number is unknown and there is also no regulation or training needed to preside over one. It is also unknown how strict an interpretation of Islamic law they follow. In the BBC story, Sayeed is called one of Sharia law’s “highly educated scholars,” which causes one to wonder about the quality and moral level of the others.
Sayeed also supported the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in 2008 when the head of the world’s Anglican community caused his own Sharia uproar in Britain by telling the BBC that adopting aspects of Sharia law in Britain was “unavoidable.” Williams justified his statement with the fact that the Orthodox Jews already have such mediation courts, and adoption of elements of Sharia would reconcile Muslims with Britain’s legal system. Such courts would also help maintain social cohesion, he said, in Britain’s “fragmented society.”
“An approach to law which simply said – there’s one law for everybody – I think that’s a bit of a danger,” said Williams.
Britains, however, took the opposite view, believing Williams’s appeasement and pro-multicultural bias constituted the real danger to their society and the true reason for its fragmentation. They called upon Williams to resign, saying there should only be one legal code for everyone in Great Britain. Many Muslims living in Britain were also in agreement with the one legal code concept, especially Muslim women who view Sharia courts as too patriarchal and culturally biased. David Cameron, Britain’s current prime minister and then opposition leader, simply called Williams’ support for the expansion of Sharia law another one of multiculturalism’s “disastrous results.”
Some of Sayeed’s fellow British citizens are now calling for the imam’s expulsion from Great Britain, saying his values are incompatible with a civilized country. Like in the Williams affair, Britains are emphatically stating that there is only one legal code in their country and it is to remain that way. Sayeed’s comments are also causing people to question why there are even Sharia courts in Britain, a Western country, believing they belong in Islamic states. Sayeed’s Sharia Council of Britain, an organization he formed in 1982, is also coming under scrutiny.
For his part, Sayeed told the BBC in 2008 he felt he could do “some real good things in the practical life of people” with his Sharia court.
“I am not doing it for any financial gain in this world,” he said. “I am doing it for immense reward from the Lord Almighty in the hereafter.”
That’s fine; but he better hope God is not a woman.