By Penny Hoffmann
Islam, a monotheistic religion, is the world’s second-largest religion. Some Western nations have partially accepted Sharia law into their country, whilst others are wanting nothing to do with it.
Here are some of the arguments in support of and in opposition to the acceptance of Sharia law:
Freedom of religion is protected in the Australian constitution, and is classed as a right.
Accepting Sharia allows for an avenue for Muslims to settle family law matters according to Sharia. There is often no Australian judicial equivalent.
Muslims are already living their lives according to Sharia . There are more than 604,000 Muslims already living in Australia. Allowing Sharia would allow those practicing underground to be practicing publicly and by their own law.
Accepting Sharia does not mean the rejection of Australian laws, but rather a desire to conform to Sharia where possible. Legally, there are already areas where Sharia is accepted because both legal systems share similarities.
There is diversity within Islam, like Christianity, thus some Islamic denominations or sects would share more similarities with the Australian legal system.
There is a limited number of scholars who are fully trained in interpreting Sharia. Why should we deny something that we do not understand?
Exposing Muslims to the Australia’s secular legal system allows them to see both sides of what it is like to be in a Muslim culture compared to what is it like in a secular culture. This allows Muslims to decide with more experience what path they would like to follow.
Australia follows a one law for all model. Giving some privilege over others for doing the same thing is unequal. There is conflict among Muslim communities that concerns equality. Some do not desire the special treatment of a legal system and argue a case for equality.
Religion plays no part in the formal legal system.
Accepting Sharia is more problematic for Muslim wives, especially in divorce where one will have to find a third party to plead her case
There are variations throughout denominations and schools of Islamic thought, thus it is not always possible to have one law for all Muslims because of the diversity of Islam. One law for all could create greater divisions and isolation between Muslims and non-Muslims. Some Muslims who have fled a Sharia system may like the security of the Australian justice system, and there are Muslims who advocate for civil and individual rights. In Australia, Muslims come from over 70 different countries, and not all of these countries share the same Islamic beliefs. There are a limited number of scholars who are fully trained in interpreting Sharia. Why should we accept something that we do not understand properly?
Australia does not need to accept Sharia as immigrants should conform to the laws of the nation they arrive in.