The woman in black wanted an Islamic divorce. She told the religious judge that her husband hit her, cursed her and wanted her dead. But her husband was opposed, and the Islamic scholar adjudicating the case seemed determined to keep the couple together. So, sensing defeat, she brought our her secret weapon: her father. In walked a bearded man in long robes who described his son-in-law as a hot-tempered man who had duped his daughter, evaded the police and humiliated his family. The judge promptly reversed himself and recommended divorce. This is Islamic justice, British style.
Well obviously ‘justice’ is the wrong word there. Obviously that word should be in scare-quotes, or followed by ‘hahahaha,’ or a headline in The Onion. ‘Justice’ you call it – when men get together and decide a woman’s fate while ignoring the woman herself; when ‘the Islamic scholar’ is determined to ‘keep the couple together’ no matter how disgustingly the man treats the woman; when the woman is doomed to a life of degradation and loathing unless she has her father handy and he sides with her. That’s not justice. That’s a bad cruel joke, that’s what that is.
But Shariah has been rejected in the West as well. The Canadian province of Ontario had allowed rabbinical courts and Christian courts to resolve some civil and family disputes with binding rulings under a 1991 law. But when the Islamic Institute on Civil Justice there tried to create a Shariah court, it was attacked as a violation of the rights of Muslim women. As a result, Ontario changed the entire system in 2006 to strip the rulings of any religious arbitration of legal validity or enforceability.
Yeah – thanks largely to the tireless efforts of our friend Homa Arjomand.
“We always try to keep the marriages together, especially when there are children,” said Hasan’s wife, Shakila Qurashi, who works as an unofficial counselor for women. If the husband beats her, she should go to the police and have a divorce, Qurashi said. “But if he’s slapped her only once or something like that,” she said, “and he admits he has made a mistake and promised not to do it again, then we say, ‘You have to forgive.’ “