Rowan Williams says some sharia in Britain unavoidable

February 7, 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams 16 April 2007//Mike CasseseArchbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, has said the introduction of some aspects of sharia, Islamic law in Britain, was unavoidable. Other religions enjoyed tolerance of their laws in Britain, he told the BBC, and he called for a “constructive accommodation” with Muslim practice in areas such as marital disputes.

Williams stressed that “nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well.

There are ways of looking at marital dispute, for example, which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them. In some cultural and religious settings they would seem more appropriate.” He also said that the argument that “there’s one law for everybody … I think that’s a bit of a danger“.

Talk about opening a can of worms … Who would decide which sharia laws would apply and which would not? Would Muslims be able to choose between the civil and the sharia courts? Could defendants appeal to civil courts if they thought a sharia court decision violated their basic rights? And is Williams right to say there is a danger in having one law for everybody?

What do you think about this?

P.S. — By coincidence, Williams spoke up for sharia on the same day as Britain denied a visa to Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, one of Islam’s leading preachers known for his sermons on the Arabic-language satellite television channel Al Jazeera.


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The good Archbishop – for all his erudition – has gone bonkers.

Posted by saint | Report as abusive

This is Britain and we have British laws, that’s the way it should stay!

Posted by Sue Oliver | Report as abusive

What a stupid man he is, he should be chained to the church railings and left to think about his dangerous remarks!!!!!

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

By coincidence, Rowan Williams has talked of making concessions to sharia law at a time when Channel 4 is about to report (at 7.35pm today) on the systematic abuse of the Christian community in Islamic Egypt. Surely, the moral aim should be equal treatment? The Archbishop’s comments are shocking not just because they imply a willingness to subordinate liberal standards to a less liberal tradition, but because he implicitly turns a blind eye to the intolerance many Muslim countries exhibit towards Christian minorities. Is this softness a sign of Anglican decay? Or is the Archbishop of Canterbury less Christian than the Pope?

Posted by Nina Mathias | Report as abusive

The Archbishop is spot on, preparing us for this eventuallity. If you read and believe the publications and information generated by the Office of National Statistics, birth rates in the UK for the Muslim community make the fact that this religion will be predominant in the British Isles not later that the year 2100.

Sharia Law in the UK is unavoidable before or by this date. Its simple maths, even if you encourage thousands of Poles who are Catholics and have an equivalent birth rate, they wont catch up. Do the research yourself. Only if you are an Osterich will you not see this!

Posted by Kevin Farley | Report as abusive

Under Sharia Law Britain will be free of drunken youths on street corners. The use of drugs will be dealt with severly. Alcohol will be banned. Polutiond from cars will be halved with the school run being a thing of the past.

Just think of the benfits….the upside.

Out of Chaos Comes Order!

Oh yes, I forgot I couldnt see why this Labour government were so keen to have European Law in preference UK Law… we know, dont we?

Posted by Kevin Farley | Report as abusive

This man is supposed to be the custodian of Christianity all around the globe. Why isn’t he beating the drum that anyone who lives here lives by the law of the land and is not above it. He certainly can’t be accused of following Thomas and being a fisher of men. Bet his comments make the thousands of our service men and women feel great. Can someone remind him – and the rest of us – the reasons why they have been sent to Afghanistan and Iraq and why they have and continue to risk their lives. Wouldn’t have anything to do with Sharia Law, would it.

Posted by Lucy | Report as abusive

Kevin – as you seem to think UK law is so bad, with its alcoholism and drug use, perhaps you might think of emigrating and leaving the rest of us who are more than happy with our country and sick of hearing people like you put us down.

I am Christian (oh dear – i’ve offended people already by admitting that!), have lived in England all my life, and do not see why as a tax paying citizen and legal voter, others should be bound by different laws to me.

If you want different laws, then go where they are already acceptable and stop trying to corrupt our legal system.

Posted by Tasha R | Report as abusive

This is nothing but hot air. The archbishop knows full well that this will never happen. I would have thought that the reason a lot of Muslims come to the West is to get away from Sharia Law, otherwise they would have gone to live in a country which had it? They want the same things as we do for our children, I would have thought? Why are they here otherwise, if not to give their children a better life with more freedoms? Makes sense to me, as I would do the same thing and I am Church of Scotland Protestant.

Posted by Catherine Evans | Report as abusive

Once again the C of E is Kow Towing to all. When in Rome says it all. Other countries and faiths do not do it for us and we would not expect them to.Williams and the church hieracy do not reflect the true views of us( members )at all

Posted by Cater | Report as abusive

What is this silly man thinking about, if that is his train of thought no wonder there are so many wars in the name of religion, we were taught in the Army ‘start the brain before putting mouth into gear’. Does he have the backing of any law abiding Muslim?

Posted by George Turner | Report as abusive

I understand that it is a tenet of religion that we should love all our brothers but mankind has now developed far enough that we can say that religion is nothing more than a mans way of getting inner peace by offering a supposedly undeniable reason for existence. If a man choses to believe this then fine but do not try to make religion anything to do with law. As a species and a society we developed past that many years ago. He is entitled to his opinion as are we all but that is all they are, opinions. Laws are put in place to curb the excesses that might impinge upon another persons freedom and they are put in place by a government that is elected by the people. Religion has no place here anymore.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

The Archbishop’s views will obviously carry more weight than mine, but I have to ask –if we accept the premise of equality, the theme he is putting forward would mean that male Christians might expect to be able to divorce by declaring it three times to his wife.

Totally unacceptable, don’t you think?

Posted by Eric J. Usher | Report as abusive

We have laws in this country and we don’t need any more. If anyone wishes to live under or have access to Sharia law, go live in a muslim country. I am tired of being tolerant.

Posted by Raggedytrouseredphilanthropist | Report as abusive

Its an absolute disgrace. Compared to the general population of Britian, Muslims occupy a small percentage. Why should we change the law for that? Laws should be based on truth and justice, not on ideas such as this. Whatever happened to science and evolution. Why should atheists be made to follow laws about around a ‘god’ that they dont think exists

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

Once again, Rowan Williams shows why the C of E and other mainstream Christian churches are losing thousands of adherents a year, when he spouts theological babble such as this.

Britain and the Commonwealth Nations are founded on Anglo-Saxon Christianity – operate under Common Law – and utilise other laws relating to marriage, that are based on Christian teachings, and which have been hammered out, to operate satisfactorily in the smooth and fair operation of our civilised Western Nations.

They have been fought for, and fought over – but will never become subservient, or reversed, by allowing what is essentially a backward step to the 10th Century, in allowing Sharia Law to flourish in our Christian Nations.

The distinction is simple, Rowan Williams – Britain and the Commonwealth Nations long ago separated Church and Government.
You are proposing that the Sharia Law of the Muslim religion can become dominant over the laws, the statutes, and the embedded principles of Westminster Govt – because Sharia Law sees no distinction between Church and Government. In fact, the Church is seen as having absolute power under Sharia Law – and the Mullahs are essentially, defacto, unelected, Govt ministers with unlimited power.

To agree to the essence of this proposal, is utter and total foolishness – that can only lead to civil revolt, and breakdown of the hard-won laws of the Westminster system – and hand over unlimited power over a sizeable portion of the nation, to unelected, and ungovernable Mullahs. In any previous era, you would be taken out and shot for treason.

Posted by Ron N | Report as abusive

Does people know what is Sharia is? With out proper knowledge of Sharia people would not benefit from it. So please study and get some knowledge of the Sharia. Sharia is not be imposed on people but to except it by their heart and mind then all mankind will live and prosper. So please study and inspire your self. When the truth is clear the falsehood perishes, falsehood bound to perish. Thank you.

Posted by Ahmed | Report as abusive

Sirs: Every community has valued customs, some of them long-held, codified in written form and regulated by that community. Kosher food, head scarves, jacket & tie in the golf club restaurant, church marriage. And every individual adult has choices on whether to conform to those customs, or to risk opprobrium by challenging or flouting them, or to grow away from that community altogether. What can never be allowed to be pretended is that those community rules replace the law of the land, produced by a democracy with all its imperfections.

Individuals are more than just the name of the community they adhere to. They have equal rights and responsibilities before the law. The law may not (and its agents are answerable if they do) treat this person differently because he’s archbishop, and that woman differently because she’s muslim, and that other man differently because he plays golf with the Chief Constable, or because the woman he’s mistreating happens to be his wife. It’s fashionable to decry Equal Rights and the tide of litigation, but those are the powerful (and peaceful) answer to the repressive insistence on custom & so-called community.


Posted by Graham Sands | Report as abusive

Radical islam, which incorporates sharia law, is the anti-Christ. All one has to do is read the Bible and understand the anti-Christ is the religion which forces prayer to a false god–which signifies the last days–and the world already knows they want to obliterate Israel, which is another sign. Wake up everyone!! It’s insane.

Posted by Carla | Report as abusive

The Archbishop – and apparently most of those leaving comments – is several years out of date. If UK financial regulations had not been amended to permit them, you would not today be able to buy Shariah mortgages in the UK. So our law ALREADY accommodates Shariah.

Shariah cannot of course be used for criminal law in a mixed society – even a mixed Muslim society – because it is not a single, consistent body of precedent. Each sect – Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Ismaili and so on – has different rules for interpreting the various sources used in Shariah and for resolving contradictions between them, and wars have been fought over these very differences.

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

Like the Brother Ahmed said, people really and truly have’t got a clue what Sharia Law is. Moreover, you will always find that he media finding the RIGHT person to say the WRONG thing. Because of this Islam is so mis-represented and misinterpreted by the media. Islam is the fastest growing religion, why? People really should look into it outside of the depiction of the media.

The bottom line is that the UK allows us to practice our religion without fear. We do not need an implementation of Sharia in the UK, it will not and cannot work. Having two systems running in parallel? The man is talking bundles…

Posted by Riaz | Report as abusive

After reading up briefly about Sharia law on some websites on the internet, I came to the conclusion that it seems to be completely incompatible with any democratic secular society, any implementation of this law in a country like Britain would:

a)Reverse the last 500 years of Cultural, Scientific and General Human development which has made this country great.

b)Would lead to a mass exodus of most intelligent and literate people.

c)Would probably be a sign that the Dark Ages was making a come back.

Though I know Rowan.W is allowed to express his views and opinions, I would never have imagined I would hear this from someone like him.

Posted by Dorian | Report as abusive

Ahmed and Riaz, thanks for your comments about how most people don’t understand what sharia law is. I agree with this 100%. But isn’t there also a major problem in that Muslims don’t agree about exactly what sharia is? Even if Britain were ready to integrate Muslim personal law into its laws, for example, who could give a written code of what that entails and be sure that all Muslims would agree to it? I think this is another major weakness of this proposal by Rowan Williams.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

In response to Carla: This is very typical, you have totally gone on a tangent to what this post regards. This is the issue of the Archbishop stating that some elements of Sharia Law being incorrporated into the British Law was unavoidable. The question of Israel, false God, anti-Christ does not come into it. I didn’t see a Muslim cleric talking of incorporating sharia law with british law? Did you? NO. I think you should really take your own advice, wake up, you are insane…

Posted by Riaz | Report as abusive

Why are Muslims so intent on spreading Sharia Law in other parts of the world? Show me one Muslim country under Sharia Law which is nearly as advanced or civilised as Britain/Western Europe? There aren’t any. They are all in a state of static decadence 1400 years behind the rest of the world. This is because their laws are based on sacred texts which are incapable of changing. How could a modern state such as Britain ever subscribe to such antiquated codes which prescribe barbaric behaviour? I hope this nation never abandons it’s heritage to accommodate a minority who add nothing to our society.

Posted by James Smith | Report as abusive

As a previous correspondent has already said it’s little wonder that the C of E is witnessing a relentless fall in church congregations with this sort of out-of-touch message preached by its leader. It is just another indication on how far removed so-called leaders in our society have become from their “people”.

Posted by Michael Thompson | Report as abusive

Rowan Williams, by compromising Christianity with another religion is preaching destructive heresy. Saint Peter’s epistle has severe warning words for those who lead God’s church into apostasy. He should do more Christian leadership and less mix-n-match as if he were some kind of spiritual chameleon.

After all, church work and the work of the Church are two very different things!

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

Religion is idea terrorism. Williams is a terrorist and is standing up for his Islamic brothers.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

This custodian of a worldwide Christian following should be relieved immediately of his leadership responsibility. The Bible is obviously not the authority for him!

Posted by Jerry | Report as abusive

I think you will find that Britain is centuries behind the countries you are referring too.
I suggest you visit these countries and see how advanced they are in a multitude of areas, law, religion, technology, buying out British companies including sports clubs. Compare there productivity and efficiency rates in getting jobs done. I have travelled and worked abroad in a number of countries Britain lags behind in advancing specially in muticultural areas, technology, productivity, efficiency etc.
Otherwise just go and chat to your hoodie, street gang type friends.

Posted by Champaklal Lad | Report as abusive

Consistent and abject Poltroonery.

Posted by Anna Guo | Report as abusive

this is britain we have our own laws and yeah granted some of them are useless to those victams but don’t thrust other religous laws onto ours. I’m a male model and i work with alot of people who are models if this law came in would all female models have to cover themselves up. I wouldn’t want to talk to someone through my letter box for god sake and that to is what it feels like! if you can’t see the person your talking to i feel it’s abit impersonal you might aswell be on the phone i think law is rediculous. and the archbishop is fool in thinkin gthis would really happen we also have rights in here this is our country get used to if not sod off somewhere else.

Posted by dean moreland | Report as abusive

Incompetent , pathetic fool.

Posted by Richard Smith | Report as abusive

This is only an issue because the UK public instinctively knows that it could happen tomorrow. Williams is only saying what the government is thinking and ministers’ feeble protests to the contrary mean nothing.

Posted by Mike T | Report as abusive

All I can say what an idiot Rowan Willams is. Does he live in the real world. The law of this land is the way it is in this country.
Its time he stood down.

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

The introduction of any Sharia law would be the thin end of the wedge. Once established it would be exploited to enlarge the area of practice until it was in direct competition with the British/European law.

Posted by George T. | Report as abusive

Christianity os the religion of this country, and whilst we accept any religion in this country those who live in the UK have to live by our laws as would be expected in any other country. I think Rowan Williams has lost his way. His suggestion can never be adopted and if hw believes what he says then its time to retire.

Posted by Charles W | Report as abusive

Its time all religion was banned so people can start working and playing with each other.

Posted by brian moriarty | Report as abusive

Why on earth a man who devotes his life to some idiotic religion has anything he says taken notice of is beyond me.
This man should be banished to a land that no-one has any interest in.

Posted by Macsen | Report as abusive

This man should be sacked now and sent to Iran and see what happens to someone who disobeys sharia law.

Posted by Fackrell | Report as abusive

Any student of theology and religions knows that survival requires accommodation and such has been practiced from pre-Christian times. This is no different but arouses the same religious fears and, therefore, hatreds that rhythmically occur throughout history. Anglicans can be proud that the
Archbishop is willing to speak bravely in this matter – it is a mark of Anglicanism.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

It’s time for all secular laws to be abolished because they are broken far too often and those with money manage to avoid punishment. The abandonment of divine law is what led to the downfall of Western civilization and is damaging other nations as well.

Often Jewish people are permitted to have disputes and even criminal cases tried in their own courts so why should Muslims be denied the same opportunity?

The archbishop gets kudos from me; as for other so-called religious leaders that still think they they have a lock on the right path but fail to remember that tolerance and harmony is part of their creeds are to be asked to step down.

It is only in the Quran where it is stated that “people of the book” are okay; of course that only applies to those who actually follow their faith as established and not by the morphed version they have today.

Posted by Jauharah | Report as abusive

An enslaving force

Few people realize the extent of the reach, influence and overwhelming power of religion. Nor do many people have any idea as to the enormity of the Vatican’s financial resources!

Very likely, the Vatican is the wealthiest entity by a factor of 100 that the world has ever seen. And its tax-free status, weekly and “willed” donations of millions, when added to income from all its many worldwide investments, positions those who control that fabulous bottomless pool of wealth as the world’s most influential lobbyist or purchaser!

This may be one of the reasons the Pledge of Allegiance was plagiarized and altered from “one nation indivisible” to the bigoted “one nation (divided) under God.” And why 100 senators disgraced our country and themselves by reciting the religious pledge on the steps of the senate and before television beamed to the entire world!

The time has come to discredit the outrageous assertions by the Ponzi-racketeering charlatans who promote the plague-like disease religion that survives by warping the minds of innocent children and fools, robbing them of their candy and toy money, and enslaving them to a life as shills who help perpetuate the criminal religion schemes.

“Secular humanists,” “non-believers” and other sane and rational people know that no proof survives the fairytales of a magician named Jesus or his magic miracles, nor is there any proof whatsoever that there is or ever was a supreme creator God. Yet this and other lies are used to perpetuate their rotten scheme religion.

People who live in the “real” world refuse to accept silly lies, fairy tales and farce as fact, whether it be about “Santa Claus” “The Tooth Fairy,” “Donald Duck,” a “Jesus” or a “Creator God.” Nor should they be lumped with or considered analogous with a gang of thieving, lying, mind-warping pedophiles who use a how-to manual of pornography, pillorying, stoning to death and other forms of outright bigotry for their weekly stimulus to more proselytizing.

The senators who said that fallacious rendition of our once great Pledge of Allegiance shall be remembered as the promoters of a criminal enterprise and the abettors or cohorts of a bunch of thieving slavers who invade every phase of society with their lying assertions that “our country was founded as a Christian nation.

With their plagiarism of our once great Pledge of Allegiance, their repeated attempts to force their “Godism” on all schoolchildren and their ever increasing use of all forms of media and gimmicks to mesmerize, indoctrinate and bludgeon the American people with their outrageous, endless efforts to dominate us all with a theocratic form of government renders them criminals!

And the likes of George W. Bush and his ilk by giving millions of dollars to faith-based groups is bidding them “Godspeed!”

Posted by Jim Hanley | Report as abusive