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Friday, March 24, 2017
Muslim-Jewish study centre comments on Archbishop of Canterbury's lecture
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¬†In response to Dr Rowan William's recent lecture, the Centre for the Study of Muslim - Jewish Relations in Cambridge issued the following statement: This statement is a call for deeper thought and reflection in the light of the Archbishop's speech about Sharia (Islamic law), which sadly has been taken out of context and blown out of proportion. First, because the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is a scholar of profound thought and a religious leader whose understanding of his own and other multi-faith communities is far more sophisticated than has been depicted by the media. In our opinion, Dr Williams was arguing for a case that would allow Muslims a greater degree of 'integration' or acceptance in pluralistic British society by accepting particular Muslim ways of life which are compatible with the British legal system. This is not exceptional; the Jewish community, for example, practice certain Halakha laws that are recognised by British law. Recently, some sections of the media showed a clip of the Archbishop's talk about what he was arguing that Sharia 'is not' ≠ a caricature. Dr Williams was cut off by the commentator's argument that Sharia is archaic and cruel; this was followed by a highly emotive scene of lashing as punishment in a remote part of Africa. Some media commentators had hijacked the Archbishop's sophisticated and inclusive argument which recognised Sharia in its more complete complex form in favour of a sensationalist, attention grabbing news piece. Though some may disagree with the Archbishop's argument, this refusal to show his complete explanation shows an infringement of 'freedom of speech' when applied in favour of Islam. When a religious leader such as the Archbishop of Canterbury raises a valid point one may disagree but why are we not to hear him out? To Muslims this sends out one more message of double standards ≠ a point they already hold 'the West' guilty for. Secondly, the Sharia law is far more complex than has been represented by the British media. Sharia has been reduced to lashing, amputation and the stoning of women. Most of the practices in Muslim societies are based around 'cultural' norms that pre-date Islam, the religion. This religious law is a law that is based in the primary idea of JUSTICE to all parties involved, the theme of which is ≠ Mercy and forgiveness are best but punishment is not to be taken lightly in order to prevent societal corruption and dishonour. If we truly desire to live in a 'peaceful and whole society' we must allow all members, of all origins and beliefs, to be heard, respected and to be allowed a reasonable degree of freedom to practice their way of life. We must also be careful not to portray complex and sophisticated societies and religions in simplistic, black and white and often negative ways. If we ignore these misunderstandings, frustrations and anger will grow, particularly among the young, leading to marginalisation and further atrocities as we have seen in previous years. Showing respect to scholarly leaders of the calibre of Dr Rowan Williams and a deeper understanding of another's faith whether Judaism, Christianity, or in this case, Islam and its laws, is essential in creating a cohesive and harmonious society which values respect for scholars, elders, and allows 'equal' freedom and justice for all ≠ perhaps, in the expression of these values we have more to learn from Islam. Dr Amineh A Hoti, Stone Ashdown Director (Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations) Shaikh Michael Mumisa, Lecturer (Centre for the Study of Muslim ≠ Jewish Relations)
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