In response to recent media controversy and public debate about legal pluralism and multiculturalism, Manea argues against what she identifies as the growing tendency for people to be treated as ’homogenous groups’ in Western academic discourse, rather than as individuals with authentic voices. Building on her knowledge of the situation for women in Middle Eastern and Islamic countries, she undertakes first-hand analysis of the Islamic shari’a councils and Muslim arbitration tribunals in various British cities. Based on meetings with the leading sheikhs - including the only woman on their panels - as well as interviews with experts on extremism, lawyers and activists in civil society and women’s rights groups, Manea offers an impassioned critique of legal pluralism, connecting it with political Islam and detailing the lived experiences of women in Muslim communities.
£12.99/$25, Paperback, 256 pages, published by I.B.Tauris on 30 May 2016, ISBN: 9781784537357
By Elham Manea
Woman and Shari’a Law: The Impact of Legal Pluralism in the UK is a critique of a paradigm that calls for the introduction of Islamic law in Western legal systems as a means of accommodating Muslim minorities. The book is about
· The actual experience of legal pluralism in Britain and ‘non-Western countries’ and their negative consequences;
· The type of Islamic law being applied by way of this ‘method of conflict resolution’, which contravenes concepts of gender equality and human rights;
· The social context of closed communities within which this law is being implemented - where both young women and men are subjected to a suffocating social control;
· And the role played by political Islam in promoting Islamic law in non-Islamic societies.
Building on my knowledge of legal pluralism in Middle Eastern and Islamic countries, I researched the British case, visited Islamic sharia councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunal in various British cities and met their leading sheiks, including the only woman on those panels. I also interviewed experts, lawyers, activists in civil society and women’s rights groups, especially from within the Muslim communities, in addition to politicians who are pleading for a reform of this ‘model’. The outcome is a book that highlights the negative consequences of introducing ‘special laws’ for ‘specific groups’.