What do English judges do when issues involving Islam and sharia appear in their courtrooms? Why, they remain blissfully unaware, of course, as Michael Copeland explains in his latest essay.
The Lamentable Shortcomings of Some English Judges and Senior Lawyers
by Michael Copeland
English judges have shown themselves to be lamentably lacking in knowledge of Islam. They confidently make statements which can easily be shown to be erroneous. What they express are assumptions, not grounded in scholarship. Recent cases demonstrate this assertion.
Mr. Justice Sweeney
Mr. Justice Sweeney presided over the trial in 2014 of the killers of Lee Rigby. One of them was Mujaahid Abu Hamza, formerly Michael Adebolajo, from Nigeria. He had converted to Islam and had been mentored and trained by Anjem Choudary. A diligent student of Islam, he had prepared from the Koran a list of some thirty-one Islamic scriptural authorisations and commands for the killing of non-muslims, which he handed to a passer-by after the gruesome murder.
The Koran has a very significant status: its text, all of it, forms part of Islamic law. No-one may alter any part of it: “None may change his words” (18:27). No-one may disregard any part of it. One who denies any verse instantly ceases to be a muslim and has to be killed as an apostate (Manual of Islamic Law, Reliance of the Traveller, o8.7(7)). The killing can be performed vigilante-style by anyone, and is penalty-free “since it is killing someone who deserves to die” (o8.4). Control is total: there is no room for conscientious objection.
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision” (K. 33:36)
The doctrines set out in the texts are neither negotiable nor optional. Muslims are not permitted to choose: they are instructed. Dr. Salah al-Sawy, the Secretary-General of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, issued a ruling, or fatwa, citing the above verse:
For things which have been stipulated in the texts of Islam, the Ummah [Muslim community] possesses no power except to acknowledge and obey.
The teachings of the Koran, advises imam Ahmed Saad of North London Central Mosque, “are universal and trans-time”: they are promoted as “valid from eternity to eternity”, explains Sam Solomon, former Professor of Sharia Law. Non-muslims, kafirs, are “unclean” (9:28), “the vilest of beasts” (8:22), as “apes and pigs” (5:60), “the most despicable” (98:6). They are to be regarded with “enmity and hatred forever” (60:4). “Kill them wherever you find them” commands the Koran (2:191, 9:5). Instruction after instruction in the Koran mandates violence against kafirs.
Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt, the highest Sunni Muslim religious authority in the world, makes the obligation clear:
Muslims must kill non-believers wherever they are unless they convert to Islam.
Lee Rigby’s killer explained to the passer-by who recorded him on a video:
We are forced by the Koran, in Sura At-Tawba…
Sura At-Tawba is Chapter Nine of the Koran. It does, indeed, at verse 5, command muslims “Kill the idolaters (“mushrikun’) wherever you find them”. “Idolaters” in Islam include Christians, because Islam holds, erroneously, that they worship the Cross. The Koran, it needs to be explained, is not arranged in chronological order. Chapter Nine is, in fact, the latest complete chapter. As such, it has a potent distinction under Islam’s doctrine of “abrogation”. It overrides and “abrogates” all the earlier peaceful verses. It is the final word.
All this was clear to Mujaahid Abu Hamza. Evidently, though, none of it was known to Judge Sweeney. Judges, in fairness, are qualified in English law. No part of their training includes Sharia law, the rules of Islam. The judge evidently shared the widely held, though erroneous, English fair play/goodwill assumption that Islam is benign, a Religion of Peace. He exposed his lack of knowledge in what he said to the defendants:
You each converted to Islam some years ago. Thereafter you were radicalised and each became an extremist — espousing a cause and views which, as has been said elsewhere, are a betrayal of Islam and of the peaceful Muslim communities who give so much to our country.
At that point the two defendants howled and shouted in protest, knowing, as they did and the judge did not, that what they had done was not a betrayal at all, but a dutiful fulfilment of Islam’s commands. They were conducted out of the court room. Of course, this enabled the media to represent them as wild and fanatical misunderstanders, thus prolonging the nation’s ignorance.
Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave
Mr. Justice Haddon-Cave presided over the trial of the young London Tube jihadi, whose bomb fortunately malfunctioned at Parsons Green Station, burning strongly but not exploding. Sentencing him, the judge said:
You’ll have plenty of time to study the Koran in prison…the Koran is a book of peace.
Robert Spencer wrote:
Has Mr Justice Haddon-Cave ever actually read the Qur’an? Almost certainly not; otherwise he wouldn’t have gone on record with this spectacularly asinine and counterfactual statement.
The Koran is no book of peace. Voltaire assessed it scathingly:
[It] teaches fear, hatred, contempt for others. Murder as a legitimate means of spreading and maintaining this devil’s doctrine. It denigrates women, divides people into classes and demands blood and more blood.
Gladstone held up a copy in the House of Commons and told Members: