In the week following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s provocative recent speech on sharia law, Mahmud Al-Rashid, spokesman for the Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML), called for the regulation of the growing number of sharia councils, as reported in the Gazette (see Gazette , 14 February, 4). They were both bringing to the fore the interplay between religious freedoms and a secular state.
The issue of religious communities having their own set of rules, even their own courts governing areas such as marriage and divorce within the secular state, is a complex one, not least because each community has many voices and, naturally, they are not all seeking the same thing. But what Dr Williams and others have done is to start a public debate, the conclusion of which may yet be a long way off…
More recently, Trevor Grundy reported that Archbishop of Canterbury gets praise from Nigerian Islamic leader:
Mauled by the media for suggesting aspects of Sharia Law should be incorporated into the British legal system, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has become something of a hero — even a Christian legend — in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria.
Speaking at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London on March 6, the leader of the multi-million strong Qadiriyyah wing of the Islamic faith, Nigerian Sheikh Qaribullahi Nasiru Kabara, told academics and diplomats that he felt “very good” when he heard what Williams had to say at a February lecture.
“I felt very good,” the sheikh said. “The people of northern Nigeria are very happy. It shows the recent upward rating of the British and the way they see Islam…That call from the Archbishop of Canterbury caused a serious round of celebrations because people feel, ‘These people are now listening to us. Let us look at them and talk to them properly…’”