Into The Night

Steve loaned me his copy of Tom Kratman’s novel Caliphate a few weeks ago. It’s basically a polemic-as-potboiler about what the world might look like in a hundred years should current demographic trends result in an Islamic-ruled Europe.

I thought the premise was pretty clever. I didn’t, however, think it was likely to be proved prophetic.

Until today:

The most senior judge in England tonight gave his blessing to the use of sharia law to resolve disputes among Muslims.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips said that Islamic legal principles could be employed to deal with family and marital arguments and to regulate finance.

He declared: ‘It is possible in this country for those who are entering into a contractual agreement to agree that the agreement shall be governed by a law other than English law.’

In his speech in an East London mosque Lord Phillips signalled approval of sharia principles as a means of settling disputes so long as no punishments that conflict with the established law are involved, and as long as divorces are made to comply with the civil law.

With such steps does civilization teeter into darkness.

So long, Europe. We could protect you from tyranny, but we cannot stop you from willingly giving your freedom away.

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26 Responses to “Into The Night”

  1. Tom Kratman Says:

    I warned ye! I _warned_ ye! Bu’ nuuu, ye wouldna listen. It’s only a cute little bit o sharia, ye said. Well, it’s always the same…

    😉

    Tom

  2. jaymaster Says:

    I’m sorta, kinda, maybe Ok with this.

    And its my inner libertarian that makes it seem OK to me.

    If two consenting adults want to enter a contractual agreement under terms of Sharia law,(or Jewish law, or the Law of the Federation of Planets for that matter) and the terms of the contract don’t violate English law, I just don’t see the problem.

  3. Tom Kratman Says:

    I’ll give you two examples that will automatically come into conflict with English law: Weight of witnesses in a contractual dispute and obligations of an recent ex-wife where a newborn or toddler is concerned, by sex of the child. Moreover, we have the problem of cultural conditioning and pressure such that, once this particular camel’s nose is under the tent, the English law may well not be in a position, as a practical matter, to defend the rights of women.

    Yes, ordinarily I would be inclined to take the libertarian position that one can contract for anything…provided we are dealing with approximately equal libertarian persons. In this case, we won’t be.

  4. jaymaster Says:

    Maybe you’re right.

    I have to admit that I am completely ignorant of the basics of English (British? EU?) law.

  5. Tom Kratman Says:

    Don’t worry so much about English law; it’s similar enough to our own that it can still sometimes be quoted as good authority. It’s Sharia’s incompatability that is of concern. For example, the testimony of women or non-Moslems must count for less than that of a male Moslem (half, if memory serves). As a matter of public policy this should never be acceptable under English law. Weight to give testimony must always be an issue in any dispute. When so many of those disputes are bound to involve Quranically disparate weights…

    Consider the case of the recently divorced wife with a toddler. Under Sharia she must continue to nurse a male child until he is three, and a female until, IIRC, she is two. Then she generally loses them. This would never stand under English law as a blanket rule, even if the woman had contracted as an equal. But under Sharia she will never contract as a true equal.

    Something that may help you get your libertarian conscience around this is the question of chattel slavery. Can someone sell themselves (which means, remember, selling their future children) as a slave?

  6. jon Says:

    I think it’s fine for people to willingly enter into contracts, so why shouldn’t it be fine to enter into religious contracts? But here’s my proposed exception: either party in a religious court can exit the proceedings at any time and ask civil authorities to handle the matter, and the religious authorities are then free to cast the wayward member out of the religion’s membership. I don’t care if it’s a Muslim, Mormon, Asatru, Pentacostalist, Jew, Navajo Traditionalist, Flying Spaghetti Monster Masher, or whatever: if people are willing to subject themselves to some authority other than the state, then I say let them. And as long as we also let them tell their priests to blow it out their asses, I have no problem.

    Unfortunately, Great Britain has rules against that, so they should probably not do this.

  7. Tom Kratman Says:

    No, “they should probably not do this.”

    Again, doing it presupposes a degree of independence that probably isn’t there.

    Here’s another little fly in the ointment. Normally, the age of majority, for most purposes, is the lesser of: 18 (formerly 21), the age of marriage, or the age of entry into the military (I for example, became a legal adult for most purposes at 17, when I joined the Army). I suspect that’s true of the UK as well, since we both derive the bulk of our law from the Common Law.

    Now picture a Moslem girl married off at the legal minimum, there, with parental consent, 16. Imagine one of those arranged thingies. Imagine further that the girl has been raised very strictly in Islam and has the further shining example of a friend of hers, chopped by her own father, for unIslamic behavior.

    That girl has never been an adult…and perhaps never will be. She may meet the minimum legal standards to contract a marriage, but in reality she has not. Subjecting her to a Sharia court would be a practical violation of the rules of majority.

  8. jon Says:

    Many people of many religions are brought up in funny ways. Some eventually disbelieve, some eat it all up with a spoon, and some even live normal lives even though they believe in fairy tales. Some will never be adults, because of their belief in bullshit and the authorities who peddle it. But I honestly think a great way to counteract bullshit religious authority is to let them have the room to run as much as possible of their followers’ lives. Yes, children will be irrevocably harmed. But they already are harmed by people who tell them their bodies are evil, their thoughts are sinful, their money should go to the church, the other people are bad, and a whole host of things that make for stupid, venal, unthinking adults.

    Religion has some beneficial points, too. But I say let the loonies go all the way as long as they leave me alone as much as possible and allow their followers a simple path to be free of their authority. Sure, some religions and lives will be easier than others to just walk away from. But even though I’m as solidly atheistic as they get, I say let the dipshits subject themselves to the authority of other dipshits. I’d actually respect religious people more if they actually had to do more than self-identify. It would be nice on the whole if people took religion more seriously in their private lives.

  9. Muslims In Britain Should Get Their Own Independence » Pirate’s Cove — Give No Quarter! Says:

    […] Vodkapundit: So long, Europe. We could protect you from tyranny, but we cannot stop you from willingly giving your freedom away. […]

  10. Skyler Says:

    This is not radical, nor is it new. In common law it has been long allowed for parties to contractually agree on a forum or type of law to settle disputes.

    If you ever buy a plane ticket or a ski lift ticket, or purchase most high cost items you are likely doing the same thing already; Parties can contract to observe the laws of a specific state or foreign country.

    It doesn’t apply to criminal law and it does not serve to remove civil rights. That is, parties can agree to resolve a divorce by sharia law, but they can’t limit the right to obtain a divorce, if the state permits such a right.

  11. Tom Kratman Says:

    Skyler,

    Again, this presupposes a certain equality and adult status among the contracting parties that is, at best, questionable.

  12. narciso Says:

    Sadly I have tried three different stores (two Barnes & Noble) and a Borders, and I haven’t been able to find Kratman’s book. If I didn’t know any better, I would think
    they’re trying to tell us something. As for
    the British judge who thinks there’s nothing
    wrong with Shariah; what the hell’s wrong with them

  13. Tom Kratman Says:

    Nah, no message there, except that I’m fairly new and not all that well known. I know of new sci fi writers that had precisely zero Barnes and Nobles carry their books, despite being put out by a reputable publisher. I’m at about the point of being carried by just under half.

    You could try Amazon or get it from Baen’s Webscriptions (which is immediate and cheaper).

  14. Skyler Says:

    Kratman,

    Well, your suggestion that Muslims are not adults is a bit bizarre, but if a party can show that the contract was made under duress then it’s not a valid contract.

    Jon, it’s not much of a contract if any party can walk away for no reason at all. So long as fundamental rights are not violated and the contract was freely entered into and there is no violation of public policy, then a contract is a contract.

    There is nothing new or radical about this except that it sounds scary to people who don’t know the law.

    The thing is that just about any muslim woman should be able to show that the contract was entered into through duress, or that the breast feeding or divorce requirements are contrary to public policy. This is a pretty toothless ruling in many respects, certainly in all the scary respects.

  15. OriginalFrank Says:

    “There is nothing new or radical about this except that it sounds scary to people who don’t know the law.”

    Or to those who know a fair amount about Sharia.

  16. Tom Kratman Says:

    It should be obvious, in context, Skyler, that I am referring to technically adult but effectively minor Muslim women entering into contracts with older Muslim men. No cheap word games, please.

  17. Steve Skubinna Says:

    I suppose we could dust off some venerable antebellum laws concerning Blacks and apply them, on a purely voluntary basis of course, in the US. After all, where’s the harm?

    As Mr. Kratman points out, sharia law does not permit equal status to women (or to infidels). How can you ensure agreement to be bound by such a body of law is truly voluntary on the part of a second class (if that) person? Apologists for sharia always point out how content women are under Islam, much as apologists for slavery in the US pointed out how content Blacks were on the plantations. All that singing, all that ululating, they gotta be happy, right? After all, we’ve surely beaten any discontent from their sweet simple natures, right?

  18. Skyler Says:

    Kratman, there were no cheap word games. There’s no such thing as someone being effectively a minor but technically an adult unless they have a disability, and that’s another story all together.

    Skubinna, that’s the whole point. Any agreement to abide by Sharia law would have to be made from a voluntary standpoint. If there is duress then it’s invalid as a contract. So what’s the big deal. If you don’t like the results of Sharia law, you can very easily argue duress and it’s likely to be upheld.

    Lots of worrying about nothing here, folks.

  19. Tom Kratman Says:

    Skyler:

    Sorry, but that’s simple and simplistic nonsense. No one with any understanding of Sharia, or of Islamic culture, or of the position of young women in Islamic culture could make that mistake.

    And yes, you were engaged in playing a word game. Which is, by the way, logically vile.

  20. Skyler Says:

    Well, if you’re going to make a claim that I’m playing cheap word games, kindly explain the game because I’m not aware of it.

    I’m talking about law. If you think the law is nothing but word games, you might be right, but it doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the subject.

  21. Steve Skubinna Says:

    Skyler, you’re saying this element of Sharia is no big deal because it has a built in Escape Clause? So then why employ it if it can be unilaterally renounced at will? Why have a body of law at all if you agree beforehand that it has no real force?

    Further, how do you “ensure” the Second Class Person is participating voluntarily? If you attempt to take her aside for one on one questioning you’ve opened her up for an honor killing (and feel free to dismiss that as a hysterical objection, just as soon as you demonstrate that honor killings do not happen in the UK). Go to North Korea and ask a random person what he candidly thinks of Kim Jong-il. Then take that to the bank.

    Generally I don’t like slippery slope arguments, but this is letting the camel’s nose into the tent. Legitimize one apparently innocuous aspect of sharia and you make it inevitable that other aspects will come to appear just as reasonable. Given Islam’s tolerance, even encouragement, of lying and deception and tactical truce to put infidels into a disadvantageous position, I am not prepared to make any concessions towards that religion at all.

  22. jon Says:

    Of course no “Escape Clause” would be acceptable for any religion, since it would require religious authorities to admit their powerlessness in controlling their followers. And that’s why I think it’s a good idea: it would allow religions to control as much of the lives of the followers as their followers allow. And since religious leaders tend to be dickheads who think god is on their side, they’ll always overreach and lose followers in the end.

    The worst thing that could happen to organized religion is that they’d have to take it seriously. In this country, that would be the end of it, if you ask me. I can’t speak for other countries, especially Britain with an official religion, but for this one I’m all for religious groups acting like governments since it will keep them from fucking with the government that matters.

  23. Skyler Says:

    Skubinna, because believe it or not religious people often do not object to using religious rules. It’s called religion. It has no basis in fact or reason. You and I might think these people are screwballs, but that’s not our business.

    If, on the other hand someone, a woman in your fears, decides that this whole Sharia deal was a crock, then she can likely get out of it. She has the burden of proving it, but I’d say she likely has a good shot at it.

    But if she doesn’t want to get out of it then she can use Sharia law.

    This is not a slippery slope. It is alarmism. This is a flat, uninclined field with people standing around screaming that it’s too steep and worried that someone will fall. This is NOT a new development. It has been a part of common law for quite literally hundreds of years.

  24. Capt K Says:

    Your worry is loony. The judge is saying you can write the terms you want into a contract, and limiting the domain you can do it in. This kind of posting is prompted by a racist fear of Muslims.

  25. Martino Says:

    The problem is that it allows religion into civil law. Oh, it may not violate the civil law to the letter, but in spirit, it might. And after ten years of violating the spirit of the law, another justice may conclude that the letter is close enough to the spirit. Bad move.

  26. Bloodthirsty Warmonger Says:

    Here’s the assessment I wrote on my blog on the 4th of July:

    1. Sharia is an integral part of the Muslim faith, and the Islamic population will be pushing for an all-or-nothing decision eventually.
    2. This is bad news for women and members of religions other than Islam, who have few or no rights under Sharia.
    3. Certain punishments allowable under Sharia are incompatible with English law, such as honor killings, amputating the right hands of thieves, and stoning of adulteresses or victims of rape.
    4. Sharia law is strongly biased against “usury,” which is bad news for the banking industry.
    5. Islam does not recognize the concept of free will, so people can be coerced into contracts without assenting to or even understanding their terms. For instance, girls who have not even reached the age of puberty can be married off, as long as their relatives are agreeable to it.
    6. There is no provision in English law for polygamy.
    7. Sharia is not as strict in observing due process or safeguarding the rights of defendants as Anglo-American law. In many Muslim countries the defendant is presumed guilty, unless he can prove his innocence.
    8. It is not in the best interest of the British government to have two contradictory legal systems, each with different methods of enforcing contracts and social standards, to confuse the public.

    It’s a sad day when I, who am not a trained lawyer, can demonstrate better legal reasoning than someone who should know better. More than one person on the “Little Green Footballs” blog have wondered if Muslims have found Lord Chief Justice Phillips’ price.

    What would be the status of atheists under Islamic law? My guess is that they would be regarded as worse than infidels. Everyone has a belief system, and I don’t think it’s possible to be “free” of any religion. In actual practice, atheism consists of attacking all forms of religious expression.

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