By Abdullah Al Andalusi
I don’t know how it happened, nor could believe that it could’ve happen – but yesterday, me and my fellow MDI colleague, Zara Faris WON the debate that SHARIA is FAIRER than ENGLISH LAW – in front of an audience of 61 English upper class/middle class attendees! [Based upon counted voter changes from before and after the debate].
This House Believes that Sharia is Fairer than the English Law
By Abdullah Al Andalusi
Zara and I were invited on the panel in the Master Builder’s Hotel, a very distinguished place in the middle of the idyllic English countryside of Hampshire, organised by Lord Strathcarron. There were many distinguished invitees and I got the distinct impression that they were ‘well heeled’ individuals – members of the English upper class, judges, QC’s (Queen’s Councillors – i.e. Leading Jurists of the English law), Writers, High end business CEOs, and politicians (generally conservative), but all very well educated in the highest institutions of England.
The title especially was controversial and confrontational! ‘This House Believes that Sharia is Fairer than English Law’ (picked by the hosts). How to win this debate with this crowd who eminently are, without doubt, very proud of the English legal system and its ‘fairness’? How Indeed.
The debate was a two vs two panel debate, with our opponents, Adrienne Page QC and a former Judge, Tim J [he requested not to be fully named in our article]. Zara went first, putting a succinct presentation carefully stating that this debate was not about whether UK should be under Sharia, or whether English law or Sharia was to your personal preference – the debate was simply about, all things considered, which of the two law systems was fairer. She posited the inconsistencies of the English law and its injustices – for example, How Sharia is only for Muslims, and does not impose itself on non-Muslims who do not believe in the basis or laws. Instead it allows them to live by their own laws based upon what they believe. However, English ‘common law’ involves a uniform imposition upon all people, irrespective of whether it denies them rights they have in their own belief communities or not.
Zara also mentioned how Marriage contains no significant legally binding responsibilities upon the man or woman towards eachother, how Western marriage can easily be replicated by other legal documents such as ‘power of attorney’ (in case of health problems) trusts and bequests between two independent individuals. She pointed out that the unfairness of an unmarried man being the biological father of a child, who does not possess a necessary legal right to access to the child, BUT the mother (who has automatic rights to the child) is able to make him pay child support.
Sharia is fairer because it show more mercy to people, like not punishing poor people who steal to support themselves – whereas English law obliges punishment upon everyone who steals. Sharia doesn’t punish people for what they do while they are drunk – nor punishes people for ‘rape’ just because they couldn’t tell if their partner was ‘too drunk to consent to sex’ (which carries a potential LIFE SENTENCE )and can be extremely difficult to ascertain, not to mention problematic considering most casual sex occurs in the West after both parties have drunk alcohol. One case in England, was a young man had sex with a woman who approached him for sex repeatedly – the morning after, the woman believed she was too drunk to have consented, and he later turned up in court charged with rape of the woman. He was only saved when it turned out that he too was too drunk to consent! (effectively English law considers they raped each other!) leading to the dropping of the case. The political Sharia is fairer because it abolishes alcohol (and requires consent to sex to be required under a legal document establishing responsibility i.e. Marriage) therefore eliminating the problem of establishing consent full stop. Zara continued to iterate a long list of SHOCKINGLY unfair English laws [read the full transcript of Zara’s opening presentation here].
The QC Adrian Page made some shocking strawmen of Sharia, liking the choice between English Law and Sharia law as the difference between ‘trial by Jury’, and the Spanish Inquisition’s ‘trial by ordeal’ (torture)! She claimed that ‘unlike Sharia’, English law believes in ‘open trials’ and judgement by ‘qualified Judges’ and not ‘arbitrary verdicts by religious leaders’.
I spoke next, and exposed the fallacies, especially pointing out that English law ALLOWS Secret trials (usually of Muslim suspects accused of terrorism) when the government claims there is ‘special evidence obtained by intelligence’ that negates the the defendants right to Open trial! I remarked that it was disingenuous to accuse another law system’s judges of merely being ‘religious leaders’ just because you don’t subscribe to its basis. Islamic judges must also be very qualified, and cannot give arbitrary verdicts (you’d be surprised just how much absolute power is granted some judges in many cases in English law). I then went on to explain how the Sharia law is fairer on the poor, and protects them from economic exploitation and deprivation of wealth due to the an economic system created by the rich 1%.
The former judge’s arguments were that the Muslim world contains a lot of injustice, and different countries have different interpretations. These were answered in the Q/A by myself and Zara – which we had already dealt with during our presentations. The Muslim world are post-colonial constructs, generally completely secular in nature. After 200 years of disrupted Islamic education and implementation, Muslims are generally politically illiterate on Sharia law, and where militias apply Sharia it is generally crude, unsubtle, lacking of Sharia’s wisdom and mercy. We provided evidences from Islamic texts (and historical precedent under the Rashidun to Ottoman Caliphates) for our assertions.
Our opposition failed to address ANY of the cases of unfairness in English law, nor the unfair formulations of English on the statute books – which was surprising considering our opponents were a retired judge and a QC! They couldn’t argue with the points we made, so merely resorted to tactics akin to ‘yes, it is unfair, but Sharia law is worse as it [inset strawman here]‘ – which we responded to robustly.
The audience did have many many deep preconceptions against the Sharia, and many had cited these during the Q/A – quite lively too. But Shockingly, by the end of the debate, the second vote was conducted to see if there had been any change in opinions – and although (obviously) the vast majority of the audience had voted at the beginning that they opposed the motion that Sharia law was fairer. Out of 61 attendees, by the second vote we had WON OVER 15 (25%) of the audience – and Won the debate on vote changes!
After the debate we had found out why – many sympathised with how Sharia gives the victims family choice to punish or forgive the murderer – one even told me of a friend she had that had her son killed, and although they found the murderer, her son didn’t get the justice he deserved (probably 30 years in jail for the murder or so). Many also sympathised that the common working man/woman gets a bad deal from the exploitative economic system. One former Banker told us that ‘If they had Sharia law in the english economy, the financial crash wouldn’t have happened. Financial derivatives trading – which I dealt with – is nothing more than just betting (and because its not linked to anything material)’. Many also considered how Sharia was more pluralistic and tolerant than English law – and the post-debate dinner with all the attendees was very enlightening. Even those who had voted against the motion, conceded that it had changed their mind about Sharia and they wanted to know more.
Alhamdulillah – despite even our own expectations – Allah (swt) teaches us yet again that He alone determines victory, not us.
[The Debate was not filmed due to the request of the retired English Court judge who spoke, however an Audio recording of the entire proceedings – including the reading of the voting results – was obtained and will be published Inshallah].
This post has been taken from MDI www.thedebateinitiative.com