All over the world, fear mongering over Sharia Law has been taking place for quite a while now. But this latest effort in Australia is not just disgraceful, it makes no sense.
Last week a story broke in Australia that an old immigrant from Turkey had divided her will in accordance with the customs of Islam. Namely, her male children were given twice that of her female children. Something her lawyer and Imam have defended as complying with Sharia Law, as males have more responsibility to look after their families, whereas females do not. Her female children decided to contest the will, stating that it does not comply with Australian law or values, and hoopla has ensued. Multiple TV segments and newspaper articles have since been devoted to the topic. A headline in yesterdays “Australian” even exclaimed; “Use of sharia law ‘widespread’.
But is this really Sharia “Law”? Isn’t it more like Sharia “guidance”, or sharia “custom”? The people who are dividing their wills according to the Sharia system, are still using lawyers approved by the Australian Bar, and are still fulfilling Australian legal requirements: they aren’t cutting off any dependents. They are not supplanting the Australian Legal System. They are working within it. They are using Sharia in a similar way that Christian’s refer to the Ten Commandments in addition to the legal system. They are using Sharia in this instance merely as a method of informing their choices based on their religious values.
If these people had divided their wills in the exact same way, but referred to the reason as being they liked their male children more than their female children, or that it was customary where they were from to do this, or that they just wanted to do it like that, we would have absolutely no problem with it. In Australia you can divide your estate exactly how you want, you can discriminate against anyone you want to, because it is your stuff and you get to choose who gets it. This is all these people are doing, except, they are referring to Sharia to inform their decisions. This wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t labelled Sharia.