Sharia law compatible with human rights, says leading barrister

A leading barrister has called for the UK to become more sharia-literate, while arguing that Islamic law can be compatible with the toughest human rights legislation.


Sadakat Kadri told the Guardian that so-called “sharia courts”, such as the Muslim arbitration tribunal, were good for “the community as a whole” by putting Sharia on a transparent, public footing and should be more widely accessible to those who want to use them.

Kadri said they played a role in safeguarding human rights: “It’s very important that they be acknowledged and allowed to exist. So long as they’re voluntary, which is crucial, it’s in everyone’s interests these things be transparent and publicly accessible. If you don’t have open tribunals, they’re going to happen anyway, but behind closed doors.”

In 2008, Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury suggest that sharia law should be more widely adopted.

But Kadri, a barrister and contemporary of Barack Obama at Harvard Law School, stresses the ability of sharia to adapt and change. He sets out the history of sharia in a book, Heaven and Earth, He describes the slow development of sharia law, which many assume to be derived directly from the Qur’an, in the centuries after the death of Muhammad.

“After 7/7,” he said, “people were saying the sharia is all about violence, others said it’s nothing to do with that, Islam is a religion of peace. 
Sharia, which means “path” in Arabic, is the name Muslims give to a wide-ranging collection of ethical and legal principles that believers are expected to observe. It includes prohibitions on certain foods and alcohol, as well as the obligation to visit Makkah and give to charity.