Britain to Recognize Sharia-Compliant Wills

An interesting story about The Law Society’s decision to recognize the legitimacy of Islamic law by permitting solicitors to draft wills that are compliant with principles of Islamic law. A bit:

Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.

The documents, which would be recognised by Britain’s courts, will also prevent children born out of wedlock – and even those who have been adopted – from being counted as legitimate heirs.

Anyone married in a church, or in a civil ceremony, could be excluded from succession under Sharia principles, which recognise only Muslim weddings for inheritance purposes.

Nicholas Fluck, president of The Law Society, said the guidance would promote “good practice” in applying Islamic principles in the British legal system.

The story reports that some of the existing Islamic law tribunals also “have powers to set contracts between parties, mainly in commercial disputes, but also to deal with issues such as domestic violence, family disputes and inheritance battles.”

It may be that The Law Society will eventually make the same decision with respect to private parties who wish to engage in commercial transactions that conform to Islamic law, or who wish to avoid commercial transactions with those who hold what are taken to be religiously objectionable views. Interesting that the reception to similar claims in this country has been rather different.

UPDATE: See Frank Cranmer’s comment for various clarifications.

Circuit Upholds Injunction Against Oklahoma Anti-Sharia Amendment

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed a preliminary injunction against an Oklahoma constitutional amendment forbidding consideration of Sharia by its state courts.  The amendment forbade Oklahoma courts from considering international law, the legal precepts of other nations and cultures, and, expressly, Islamic Sharia.  The amendment did not expressly forbid consideration of any other religion’s legal precepts and, thus, the Tenth Circuit determined it violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause because it constituted a government’s disfavoring one religion against others.  See Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228 (1982).  The plaintiff had directed in his will that his estate be probated according to Sharia, a directive that would be unenforceable under the amendment.  The Tenth Circuit did not credit Oklahoma’s argument that the amendment forbade considering all religious law:  Based on the amendment’s text, the court determined that it singled out Islam because, again, the amendment expressly mentioned Sharia only.  On remand, the district court must consider whether to make its preliminary injunction permanent.  Read the case, Awad v. Ziriax, No. 10-6273, 2012 WL 50636 (10th Cir. Jan. 10, 2012), here.  (Note that the provision was jingoistically entitled the “Save our State” amendment.)

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