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SHARIA IN ONTARIO, CANADA:

Reactions by Muslim, feminist and other groups

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The Canadian Society of Muslims:

This group proposed the creation of a central Islamic Institute of Civil Justice, which would have branches in various locations called Darul-Qada (Muslim Arbitration Boards). 1,2,3

Their position is that sharia applies to all devout Muslims, whether they live in a predominately Muslim country, like Iran, or in a country like Canada where about 2% of the population follows Islam. They note that, under Ontario's Arbitration Act of 1991, Muslim organizations had the right to set up independent Muslim Arbitration Boards to deal with family conflicts such as marital separation, inheritance disputes, child support and spousal support.

Their use would be optional to Muslims; a couple would first have to mutually agree to make use of their services. Cases could come to the Darul-Qada in one of two ways:

bulletA couple could mutually decide to present their case.
bulletFamily courts in Ontario frequently order couples to engage in an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process of mediation or arbitration to resolve their conflict. At that point, if they wished, the couple could jointly decide to select a Darul-Qada instead of a secular arbitration group.

The parties who bring a case to a Darul-Qada would be free to have their case arbitrated under either Canadian secular laws, or sharia. Once a decision is reached by the arbitrator, it would be binding on the parties. The ruling could be enforced just like an order of a Canadian court. They expect that their boards would be listed on the government's ADR roster.

They expected that personal law cases would normally use "...Muslim Law and associated Case Law created through the old Anglo-Mohammadan Law precedents." The latter is a system of sharia codified in India during British colonial times. However any other Fiqh (system of Islamic jurisprudence) could be used if the parties wish. In the Sunni tradition of Islam, there are four maddhab (schools) of Fiqh dating from the first few centuries of the religion:

bulletShafi'i (found mainly in Malaysia),
bulletHanafi (largely found in the Indian subcontinent, West Africa, Egypt),
bulletMaliki (North Africa and West Africa), and
bulletHanbali (Arabia).

In addition, there is a Jaferi school in Iran and Iraq which is more associated with Shia tradition of Islam.

The Society expected that the initial creation of the Institute and a group of Darul-Qadas would require some "...seed money, donated physical resources and some volunteer help" However, it was their expectation that both the Institute and Darul-Qadas would be self-supporting through fees collected. 1,2,3,4,5

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References used:

  1. The Canadian Society of Muslims' home page is at: http://muslim-canada.org/
  2. Syed Mumtaz Ali and Rabia Mills, "Darul Qada (The beginnings of a Muslim Civil Justice System in Canada)" Canadian Society of Muslims, at: http://muslim-canada.org/
  3. "Darul-Qada: Beginnings of Muslim Civil Justice System in Canada," Canadian Society of Muslims, at: http://muslim-canada.org/news03.html
  4. "Sharia Implementation in Canada," News Bulletin, Canadian Society of Muslims, 1998-JAN, at: http://muslim-canada.org/
  5. "Islamic jurisprudence, Fiqh," Labor Law Talk, at: http://encyclopedia.laborlawtalk.com

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Site navigation: Home page > World Religions > Islam > Sharia > here

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Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-SEP-19
Latest update: 2005-SEP-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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