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The Unfamiliar AbodeIslamic Law in the United States and Britain$
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Kathleen Moore

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195387810

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387810.001.0001

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Britain’s Fear of Shari’acracy

Britain’s Fear of Shari’acracy

(p.103) 4 Britain’s Fear of Shari’acracy
The Unfamiliar Abode

Kathleen M. Moore (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In March 2008, Britain's Christian Research organization disseminated a study that made the following projection: By 2020, the number of Catholics attending Sunday mass will have been surpassed by the number of Muslims worshiping in mosques in Britain. This study came out in the middle of growing tensions about the place of Muslims in British society and fanned some alarmist flames about the changing face of Britain. This backlash was not far off the heels of a lecture given at the Royal Courts of Justice, in February 2008, by Dr. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which also ruffled British feathers. He suggested that British Muslims be allowed to live freely under the shari'a law, signaling that there is something more than just the official British legal system alone. This speech not only highlights the significance of legal pluralism; it also raises the question of what it means to be a Muslim by conviction and free choice. This chapter discusses how some Muslim intellectuals have dealt with the question of the religious neutrality of the liberal state. It examines the question raised by official recognition of a shari'a council in Britain: To what extent should religious identity and practice be accommodated under a liberal legal framework? The chapter explores the related questions of power and representation at this significant site, where the diaspora intersects with the national spaces that it continually negotiates.

Keywords:   Britain, British Muslims, Islam, shari'a law, religious neutrality, liberal legal framework, diaspora

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