The much awaited programme on a serious subject turned out to be most disappointing. It was a poorly disguised attempt at investigative journalism. The so-called investigation that it carried out was confined to one Shariah Council and even that was edited and presented in the most one sided and unbalanced manner. Only the negativities relating to that Council were highlighted. None of the positive work done in the many decades of its existence was even alluded to.It was clearly a predetermined agenda that drove the programme. The agenda appeared to be to create fear and misapprehension amongst viewers that Muslims are running and following a parallel legal system. Nothing could be further from the truth. Shariah Councils are not courts and have no legal basis for their existence. They have no powers of enforcement of their conclusions or recommendations. They operate by agreement of parties and an unhappy party can withdraw from the process at any time. His or her rights under the law of the UK are not compromised in any way. So what, may we ask, is the basis for the allegation or assertion that Shariah Councils are a legal system that is running parallel to the UK law on family matters, property disputes and children’s rights etc. Such suggestions are peddled in the hope that if you tell lies enough times, it may be believed as the truth. But that will not happen, as the overwhelming majority of our society is composed of reasonable, tolerant and fair minded people.
The Chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, Maulana Sarfraz Madni has said that “MINAB welcomes the opportunity created by the Panorama programme to put the record straight on Shariah Councils."
In this context we should like to emphasise that Shariah Councils are voluntary bodies which function by agreement of parties to a dispute. No person, male or female, can be forced to appear before a Shariah Council nor do the Shariah Councils have any legal powers of enforcing their conclusions or their suggested remedies. A party who feels aggrieved or dissatisfied with decision or conclusion of a Shariah Council is free to seek remedy from Civil Courts.
It is our view that Shariah Councils perform an essential and effective role for the Muslim communities in the United Kingdom. The assumption that such Councils are “forced” upon Muslim women has no evidentiary foundation. On the contrary there is overwhelming evidence of women being the main users of the Shariah Councils by their own will.
Shariah Councils have been in existence for many decades in the UK but their standards in delivering equitable conclusions in cases brought before them can vary. Most of such Councils carry out their functions of applying the Shariah personal law in matrimonial disputes with good sense and reason. The varying degree of standards of the Shariah Councils is not due to the Shariah law that they seek to implement but due to culture based contamination of the Shariah Law as well as poor personnel in some of these Councils.
The MINAB recognises that the current system of Shariah Councils requires reform in the following ways:
- The Councils should operate under a community led and community driven system of self regulation.
- Only those Councils that agree to adhere to the self regulatory scheme upon which there would be due process of consultation, would be given a “licence” to operate by the self regulatory body.
- Members of the national self regulatory body should consist of elected representatives and scholars nominated by national Muslim organisations with assured participation of women. The national self regulatory body should be independent and should have no role in matters of theology. It should only operate to improve good governance of the Councils and devise means to make their processes transparent and fair, bearing in mind all the relevant laws under the English Law.
- That those who sit in “judgment” in Shariah Councils should receive induction and on-going approved and adequate training in judge craft and that each Shariah council panel should include at least one female.
- That all decisions of certified Shariah Councils should be in writing setting out reasons and copies of such decisions should be logged centrally with due regard for privacy and Data Protection Act.
In order to improve their institutions, MINAB as a community led national organisation knows that the Muslim communities are willing to engage in partnership with other faith based communities as well as the civil society and political establishment.We would hope that once the agreed system of self regulation comes into being, of which we have just described a skeleton hereinabove, the political parties would give positive consideration to:
- Make appropriate changes in the relevant legislation to give equal status to the conclusions/ recommendations of Shariah Councils in individual cases with that of the Beth Dins.
- Support measures to harmonise and synchronise the relevant legal processes in the civil family courts with those of Shariah Councils.
MINAB is willing to lead on public consultation on reforms of the Shariah Councils along the above lines. The MINAB would consult with national Muslim organisations, scholars of repute from all denominations of Islam, representatives of Shariah Councils and such government departments as are appropriate. Reforms that have the backing of stakeholders are bound to improve community cohesion and integration. Reforms will provide much needed fair and equal system of justice - the corner stone of British society.”
- The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) is the national representative body of all UK Muslim denominations. It was set up to promote good governance in Mosques and Imam Training Institutions through a process of self regulation.
- MINAB is a unique body of different Muslim denominations working together with a membership of some 600 plus Mosques and Training Institution. Our role is critical in bringing all groups and denominations together to help create a better, safer and harmonious society for all.
- We are a charity registered under the laws of England and Wales.
- MINAB is a community led independent body, non-sectarian in its outlook, representing the diversity of Islam with no role in matters of theology and is broad based with an accountable system of representation.
- MINAB recognises the importance of all communities working to foster community cohesion and to speak out against all forms of extremism.
The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) is dedicated to increasing the awareness of issues affecting our planet. The environmental crisis that humanity is facing requires the attention and action of all communities in the UK. The Muslim community has an important role to play in this respect. The challenge that we face is enormous.
MINAB calls on all Mosques and Imams to mark the occasion of Climate Week to renew our ambition to combat climate change. The MINAB welcomes the many positive steps already being taken in communities across UK to mark Climate week particularly from the faith sector.
Maulana Sarfraz Madani, Chair of MINAB said, "Islam teaches us to behave as though we are visitors and vice regents in this world with a duty to protect and nurture the environment. We have a responsibility to not waste what it provides us nor abuse it, and we will be held accountable by our Lord on the day of judgment as to how we treated it. Climate Week is an opportunity for us all to use our Mosques to remind our regular attendees and others about the importance of reducing our waste, re-using items as much as possible and to re-cycle. It is part of our Islamic practice; and we have to take it seriously. As such I encourage everyone to actively participate in Climate Week and do all they can in spreading its message."
The MINAB has prepared a document for Mosques and Imams to use and distribute please click here to download.
Advice for Imams and Mosque Leaders on dealing with the recent abusive film and incidents of hatred against Muslims and Islam generally
It is unfortunate that the world's attention - this past week - has been directed to the insulting and disgraceful film - titled: “Innocence of Muslims”.
This film is full of abusive material and is a vile attempt to ridicule the Prophet (peace and prayers be upon him), as well as the Qur'an and Islam. It has been widely condemned and has led to strong and in some instances, sadly to violent protests.
The MINAB strongly deplores and condemns the film. The MINAB urges that our response to the deliberately provocative act should be peaceful and intelligent. We must not rise to the bait but take heed from the conduct of our noble Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The International Day of Peace, which is marked each year on 21 September, falls on a Friday this year.
The MINAB and other Muslim and faith based organisations are coordinating the participation of Mosques in marking the Day of Peace.
The MINAB would like to encourage Mosques to participate by dedicating the Friday sermon (Jummah Khutba) on peace.
Please click on flyer for a full view.
Also, you can email us a short video message about peace. The video should be no longer than 2 minutes, which will be included as part of the International Day of Peace publicity.
POINTERS FOR MOSQUES
As part of the International Day of Peace, this year to take place on a Friday on 21 September, we are encouraging mosques and Islamic centres to lead the wider community in marking the day by organising activities and utilising the Friday sermon. Mosques and Islamic Centres throughout the world will be marking the day, to promote peace and stress the importance and values of peace today.
Maulana Shahid Raza Imam of Leicester Central Mosque Conduit Street, Leicester LE2 0JN will deliver a sermon highlighting climate week on Friday 8th March 2013 starting at 1.15pm.
A message of peace, on the occasion of International Day of Peace, on behalf of Southampton Medina Mosque Trust Ltd.
Dim lights Embed Embed this video on your site
Training session for this Saturday 8th September, for the Northern England Masjids.
Common questions asked are answered below.
Health & Safety