Letters to the Editor

The Washington Post

Dear Sir or Madam:

The article by the Post's DeNeen L. Brown: "Canadians Allow Islamic Courts to Decide Disputes," is as interesting as it is troubling.

I think the Canadian authorities are not only na´ve but delusional. The idea of establishing a shari`a court, even for limited civil disputes, without public comment and vetting is patently undemocratic not only for Canadians but particularly for Muslims, who are expected to participate in this new religious court, albeit voluntarily.

Here is what is troubling about this new judicial arrangement! First and foremost, the very name "Islamic Court of Civil Justice" is a misnomer, for shari`a law is inherently unjust, discriminatory, and gender-biased in favor of Muslim males. Moreover, as developed by classical Muslims jurists, this court is not of divine origin. Another important question that has been and will continue to be asked by all is: "whose shari`a?" Is it as practiced in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, or Indonesia? Next: "which of the four established Schools of Jurisprudence" will the shari`a court follow? Is it according to the Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi`is, or Hanbalis? And then there is the "qualification rule", or rather the "lack of qualifications." It is generally well known that our local imams and self-proclaimed jurists are not adequately trained, nor have they attended accredited theological seminaries. So how can half-educated imams adjudicate in matters of law?

Additionally, case files from Middle Eastern and South Asian nations have revealed the discriminatory practices of these Muslim Family Courts in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. A man can divorce his wife (or wives) by unilateral repudiation (talaq), a procedure acceptable in shari`a. A woman can only obtain a divorce by the consent of her husband (who makes that practically impossible) or by judicial decree, but only on limited grounds. In terms of inheritance, a woman's share is less than that of a man, even though both are equal in degree of relation to a deceased. In business matters, shari`a requires signatures of two women witnesses versus that of one man, for agreements and legal documents. These are only a few of the inequities inherent in shari`a legal procedures.

Finally, why would Muslims, who ran away from shari`a-based countries to Canada, want be confronted by another unjust shari`a court when Canadian civil law grants them equitable justice?

Sincerely,

Mohamad K. Yusuff

Email: bensuf@yahoo.com

Sent to the Washington Post on April 28, 2004

Posted May 12, 2004