Not me. And I’m sure I’m right in saying that most moderate Muslims would agree.
Silly of Dr Rowan Williams, then, to suggest that Sharia law in the UK is unavoidable. I actually like Dr Rowan Williams, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably had good intentions when he said this: that he thought that Muslims need and want that choice.
However, he is misguided, and in this case, wrong. Muslims don’t need the law to be changed in the UK. There may be some who feel they can’t live in a country without Sharia law, and whilst I don’t represent anyone but myself, but I can tell you that in my experience, the Muslims I’ve met are happy living under the laws of the UK.
I like that I live in a democracy, where we have the freedom to practice religion as please. Note that I am using “I” instead of “We”, because I don’t have the capacity or right to speak for anyone but myself. It would be wrong for me to generalise and talk on the behalf of Muslims as some sort of representative. I can only tell you how I feel.
Religious practice is entirely personal. It is not for the government to tell you how to practice it. In addition, those that want Sharia are those that don’t recognise what Islam says: that when you emigrate to another country, you have to follow the laws of that country.
Not only that, but this comment fails to recognise Muslims like me who are born and bred in the UK, who hold British values. In fact, it only creates further divisions, by fuelling the perception that “those Muslims, they’re just not like us.” It only creates an environment of “Us versus Them,” i.e. again, the “West vs. Islam.”
Muslims do not have to make a choice between their religion and cultural values and British law. There is nothing in the law that is in conflict with religious practice. There have been controversies in the past, such as the hijaab, but no laws that vindicate Muslims for practicing their religion.
One thing I do not understand, however, is why the media gives a voice to the likes of fundamentalists to speak on the behalf of Muslims, or allows Dr Rowan Williams to make claims about what Muslims want, but does not give a voice to moderates, such as Ziauddin Sardar, or Tariq Ramadan. Indeed, you will only hear the voice of Zia in left-wing publications, such as The New Statesman. However, we can’t only blame the media, (although undoubtedly, it has its part to play). The victim mentality is dangerous as it avoids the truth and self-reflection.
At the end of the day, the message that there should not be separate rules for one group of people. Most Muslims, I’m sure, are happy under UK law and would never dream of seeing Sharia implemented. And those that do, must learn to progress and adapt to the land in which they are living in. It will take time, but progress always does.