Canadian judges soon will be enforcing Islamic law, or Sharia, in disputes between Muslims, possibly paving the way to one day administering criminal sentences, such as stoning women caught in adultery.
Muslims are required to submit to Sharia in Muslim societies but are excused in nations where they live as a minority under a non-Muslim government.
Delegates elect council to set up Islamic Institute of Civil Justice (Canadian Law Times)
Canada, however, is preparing for its 1 million-strong Muslim minority to be under the authority of a Sharia system enforced by the Canadian court system, according to the Canadian Law Times.
Muslim delegates at a conference in Etobicoke, Ont., in October elected a 30-member council to establish the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice.
The institute is classified in Islamic law as a Darul-Qada, or judicial tribunal. Its bylaws are scheduled to be drafted and approved by Dec. 31.
Cases will be decided by a Muslim arbitrator, but the local secular Canadian court will be the enforcer.
One of the obstacles to establishing the system, the Law Times said, has been the Muslim communities’ lack of unity and organizational strength. Muslims in Canada come from many different countries and different schools of Islam. Also, there are few Islamic legal scholars, known as ulama, in North America, which are essential to adjudicating complex issues.
“It seems as if the community was looking forward to something like this,” says organizer B. Husain Bhayat, according to the Law Times. “If all groups are represented, with hard work and the unity we saw here, we will have no difficulty going forward.”
The two main streams of Islam, Sunni and Shi’ite, were represented at the conference, along with imams and leaders of organizations.