'An estimated 85 Sharia councils could be operating in Britain, according to a 2009 report by the think tank Civitas.
Several bodies like the Islamic Sharia Council have seen a large increase in their cases in the past five years.
''Our cases have easily more than tripled over the past three to five years," says Sheikh al-Haddad.
''On average, every month we can deal with anything from 200 to 300 cases. A few years ago it was just a small fraction of that.
''Muslims are becoming more aligned with their faith and more aware of what we are offering them,'' he explained.
Sharia has been operating in the UK, managed by locally-appointed councils, in parallel to the British legal system since 1982.
But the informal councils have no legal powers and they cannot impose any penalties.
They deal with civil cases alone, but many Muslims are choosing to voluntarily accept rulings made by the scholars.'
Of course one of the main problems with allowing Sharia courts to operate in a civilised western democracy is that they are so discriminatory against women. The BBC is normally red-hot on discrimination against women and willing to fight against it but when it comes to Sharia law the protests are sotto voce. The above article does include these sentiments:
'The use of Sharia, or Islamic religious law, is growing in Britain, with thousands of Muslims using it to settle disputes each year, but women's groups and some others are objecting.'Being the BBC there is no detail s to why Sharia law is so discriminatory against women. No mention that Sharia courts base their decisions on the Koran, the hadith (the sayings and actions of the Islamic prophet Mohammad) and upon Islamic jurisprudence. All of these elements agree that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s, that a woman can’t sign her own marriage contract, that men have a unilateral right to divorce whereas women have limited rights to divorce, that child custody goes to the father at a preset age and that girls get half of the inheritance that boys do.
Despite the growing demand for Sharia law in Britain, there is also increasing opposition by some groups who argue that the practice discriminates against women.
The Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (IKWRO) is campaigning to bring an end to the practice.
''We have spoken to many women and all of them tell us the same story; Sharia law is not providing them with the justice they seek. The councils are dominated by men, who are making judgements in favour of men,'' said Diana Nammi.
''We think there shouldn't be any religious law practising in Britain - all Sharia bodies should be banned. That is the only way we can ensure equality of justice for all women," argues Diana Nammi.'
Discrimination against women is one of the BBC's pet hates and something that they normally publicise and attack when they find it but in the case of Sharia law thye BBC are somewhat more coy. Here is a statement from the Islamic Sharia Council regarding women's testimony that the BBC have not, so far as I can see, ever published on their news website. ‘If one forgets, the other can remind her.’ It’s the difference between a man and a woman’s brains.’ ‘A woman’s character is not so good for a case where testimony requires attention and concentration.’ And this also applies to divorce. ‘Women are governed by emotion; men by their minds so he will think twice before uttering talaq [divorce].’ It goes on to say it is not ‘derogatory’ but ‘the secret of women’s nature.’
The BBC leave the subject of Sharia's discrimination against women after printing some claims but not providing the proof. The article finishes:This argument goes uncontested and is not one that the BBC would agree with when associated with such matters as hunting with dogs.
' But while a demand for Sharia continues in Britain, Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad says the practice cannot be banned.
"We are not forcing people to walk through our doors. They are voluntarily coming to us,'' he said.
''If you ban us, then British Muslims will find somewhere else to go.
''Many will go to Muslim countries abroad, where there will be no way to protect them.''
The BBC's dhimmitude when it comes to Islam is more than noteworthy, it is worrying. The BBC has a huge impact on people's attitudes and views and to propagandise on behalf of one discriminatory religion is a dangerous game to play.