The atmosphere of political Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and media stigmatization of Muslims and Islam, is something that has become normalised today. Interference with Islam, its beliefs and practices has reached such heights that one wonders whether the vaunted secular distinction of the public and private sphere actually exists. It increasingly represents an arbitrary distinction which moves with the prejudices and hatred of those in power of an increasingly penetrative state.
We now have non-Muslim judges that have become Mujtahid Imams, formulating fatwas on the basis of a single reading of the Qur’an, Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones and a dossier compiled by a half-baked “expert” concerning which beliefs are regarded as “extreme”. The courts have, in other words, regulated the beliefs of Muslims without expressly doing so through the notoriously nebulous “extremism” discourse.
The regulatory colonialism continues into the final bastion of Islam in a post-colonial, legally fictitious world of nation states: the area of Muslim “personal law”. Muslims who wish to accord their faith a centrality in the arena of civil matters often desire to have their marital issues overseen by Islamic precepts. Given the varying conditions for a marriage, intricate regulation of the types of divorce and annulment, as well as the need for a neutral, learned arbitrator(s) when matters become grey or sour, Muslims also seek recourse to Islamic scholars, or panels of Islamic scholars. These panels advise couples concordant to Islam. On the face of it there is no problem with this. Bata’i Din, or Halachic arbitration “courts” have been set up for some three centuries. In fact, according to the London Beth Din website, it is forbidden for Jews to seek a remedy from “secular civil courts”. Yet Jews, far from being framed within the far-right “Trojan Horse” trope of setting up a “parallel legal system”, are welcomed as being an integration success story.
Why are Muslims being treated differently?