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Sharia Law in the West

Reader comment on item: The Caliphate: Updates

Submitted by David Sternlight (United States), Dec 15, 2005 at 13:12

There is actually a well-established precedent for a limited use of Sharia law in the West for those who wish it. US courts, for example, often send disputes between orthodox Jews to religious courts for arbitration.

However there are safeguards:
1. The religous courts have the legal status of arbitrators.
2. As usual with arbitration both parties have to agree to it.
3. The findings of the religous court must be approved by the civil judge, to insure that they are consistent with US law. Thus no extreme verdicts by the religious court would be sustained, and the secular court appeals process remains available.
4. Arbitration may be "binding" if the parties and the judge agree to it in advance. In that case, and given that the religious court verdict is acceptable to the civil judge as an arbitration outcome under US law, the civil courts will enforce it.

The above process is seen with respect to civil and property disputes between members of, for example, orthodox Jewish groups, which can be subject to civil arbitration. It is not used for criminal matters, not subject to arbitration. It is a "reasonable approach" in that it is fraught with safeguards, and does not apply if one or both parties is not willing to submit to such "arbitration".
Submitting....

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