It’s not “law”

The Telegraph reported a few days ago that the Law Society will be giving a training course in sharia this summer.


A new training course being run by the Law Society this summer is described as an “introduction to Islamic Sharia law for small firms”.

What the hell. Sharia is not law in the UK. Period. In the UK, law is what is enacted by Parliament, it’s not any old thing that’s called “law” by one group or another. Sharia is a religious thing, not a legal thing. It’s not something the Law Society should be giving “training” in.

Critics said the fact that the Law Society was offering training in Sharia law created the “perception” that it was now “a legal discipline”.

Exactly; I say the same thing.

The Sharia Law event at the Law Society’s headquarters on Chancery Lane, central London on June 24 has already sold out.

It offers training in Sharia law covering wills and inheritance, family and children and corporate and commercial law.

The course is billed as “a forerunner to a planned future seminar series on Islamic law”, the Law Society said.

The Society said: “This event will set you thinking on an important area of client service as our expert and authoritative speakers highlight some basic concepts and requirements of the Islamic Sharia applicable to these practice areas.”

Some basic “requirements” – which are not requirements at all unless you buy into the religion and into the idea that the religion’s laws are “requirements” for you. Religious “laws” have no powers of enforcement to back them up; they are wholly dependent on the religions that purport to issue them, thus they have nothing to do with the Law Society and the Law Society should not be meddling with them.

The Telegraph apparently asked Charlie Klendjian about it.

Charlie Klendjian, a spokesman from the Lawyers’ Secular Society said: “It creates an ever increasing perception to the public and also to the legal profession that Sharia law is a legal discipline.

“Sharia law is not a legal discipline, it is theology and we can’t constantly keep giving it this credibility and it is certainly not for the Law Society to be doing that.

“It is damaging to the perception of the primacy of English law, and that is what the Law Society don’t appreciate.”

Which is quite astonishingly obtuse of them. Is the sharia training going to deal with how old a girl should be before she can marry? Is it going to deal with forced marriage? “Honor” violence? Children’s rights? Women’s rights? It will be interesting to find out.



  1. Blanche Quizno says

    No. No no no. Let Islamic clergy and other religious authorities give the “training courses” and seminars on their religion’s rules – isn’t that the stuff and substance of religious meetings, anyhow?? They’re already DOING it – they don’t need filthy heathen infidel kaffirs telling them how to run their religion, now do they?

    Or DO they?

    We can just put aside the word “law” as it seems to cause so much confusion – Islamic clerics are not the boss of us and they are not empowered to dictate what “law” means for the rest of us. Islamic law is purely *voluntary* – if you’re not Muslim, feel free to ignore it the same way Muslims ignore Christianity’s rules and Hinduism’s rules.

    Unless, of course, the Muslims want to put THEIR “laws” up to a popular vote and Parliamentary review for approval just as any other REAL law would have to be approved.

    Can’t have it both ways, morons.

  2. says

    Exactly. It’s so infuriating. The Law Society seems to be taking the Islamists’ habit of talking about sharia as “law” and understanding it literally – “oh it says law so it must be part of our brief.” IT’S NOT LAW. You’re lawyers: your job has to do with real law, not pretend law. Sharia is pretend law; leave it to the clerics.

  3. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    He, they could start looking into cannon “law” too. They might have paedophile priests as clients.

  4. screechymonkey says

    I think a law society could touch on Sharia “law” in the context of diversity training, as in “here are some things that some of your Islamic clients may ask you do,” which might also entail a discussion about which of those are permissible under the professional rules of conduct and which aren’t. And a decent course like that would also explain that there is considerable diversity of views even among Muslims themselves, rather than presenting it as if there’s a settled body of “law.” Just like family law practitioners might want to learn about what a “get” is in some branches of Judaism and why your clients might be concerned about it and want it addressed in a divorce settlement, or annulments in the Catholic church, etc. To me, that’s no different than learning about standard business practices in a corporate client’s industry — you find out the context for some disputes and client objectives.

    But that doesn’t seem to be what’s going on here. I agree that treating this stuff like it’s actual law, as the Law Society seems to be doing, is inappropriate and misleading.

  5. johnthedrunkard says

    But there is no such thing as a single, monumental SHARIA. ‘Islamic law’ is whatever the ‘community leader’ you’re holding a microphone for says it is.

    There are at least FIVE major, conflicting, schools of Islamic ‘law.’ Muslims have slaughtered each other by millions over the differences between them. In practice, ‘Sharia’ for British lawyers will be whatever the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, or perhaps Iran, find it convenient to promote.

    FGM is a classic example. There is NO legal justification for the practice in ANY Islamic legal tradition (correct me if necessary) but everywhere the practice is ‘normalized’ it is supported by ‘Islamic’ authority.

    ‘Islamic Law’ is just a get out of jail free card for the local bullies.

  6. kestra says

    This calls to mind something I heard (from a TED talk? Lecture? Something) that “Islamic Banking” products are becoming more in demand, and savvy brokerages and banks are offering them. Due to various quranic verses I’m not inclined to look up, a lot of Western banking practices are haram because they involve loaning money at interest. (This same practice used to be considered “usury” in Medieval Europe and also Not Done by Christians, which is one way Jewish people got into the banking business.) Nothing wrong with providing a product there is a market for, even if that market is based on religious punctilio.

    So I think it is fair for lawyers to keep abreast of the kind of legal expectations Muslim client may have for contracts & family inheritance, whether or not it is consistent with the Law of the land. I only see an issue if lawyers start drafting “legal” documents that are acceptable under Sharia requirements but in conflict with the actual law.

  7. Bernard Bumner says

    Now, here I agree with almost everything which has been written by Ophelia and in the comments. Sharia certainly should not be labelled as “law” by the Law Society. That does appear to be an endorsement of a parallel legal system.

  8. RJW says

    Of course Sharia is not law. It’s appalling that lawyers who are trained in the Western traditions of law can accommodate Sharia, they’re trading with the enemy, They’re hoping that Sharia will be a nice little earner, money, money, money.

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