Lawyers retrained for Sharia-compliant wills (UK)

Invitations are currently being sent out to lawyers and other legal professionals to re-train them in how existing wills drawn up under the law of England and Wales should be amended in the light of Sharia. His Grace has absolutely no problem with this: most conservatives would agree that it is for individuals to order their private affairs and to determine the beneficiaries of their estates.

But when one religious group becomes exempt from legal precedent, it is apparent that the Law of England and Wales does not apply to all citizens equally.

This training seminar refers specifically to the ‘automatic substitution clauses for grandchildren’ and ‘spouse exemption’ as being two areas where the law of the land conflicts with the precepts of Sharia. Insofar as MBL Seminars list succession, IHT and trusts as further areas of focus, one may infer that lawyers are being trained to amend their practices for Muslim clients to ensure that Sharia inheritance provisions and taxation consequences take precedence over the Law of England and Wales.

Despite the Qur’an manifestly permitting women to inherit, we are likely to see developments in certain households of Muslim women not being able to draw up their own wills independently, or Muslim daughters being prohibited ‘by the community’ from disputing their parents’ wills which have bequeathed an entire estate to her brothers. There are manifest gender and generational differences in Sharia inheritance which are antithetical to human rights and equality. And there are many more areas where the Islamic jurists and Quranic jurisprudence are ‘in tension’ with England’s legal traditions and precedents, including issues of intestate, testamentary freedom, joint tenancy, superannuation benefits, etc., etc.

It is not clear from this seminar invitation which particular school of Sharia jurisprudence is being expounded. The main Sunni schools are the Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi’i and Hanbali schools. The main Shi’a school is the Ja’fari school, although the Zaidi, Ismaili and Abadi have their followers. His Grace is minded to assert that those who deliver the seminar won’t have a clue.

The (soon-to-be-ex-)Archbishop of Canterbury predicted back in 2008 that ‘Shari’a law in Britain is unavoidable’, and we have seen a steady growth in Sharia courts and the the Government recognising polygamy in the benefits system.

Bishop Michael Nazir Ali has warned of the consequences of this. The Prime Minister pledged to oppose it: not only is it antithetical to many notions of British values, but the Sharia is opposed by many Muslim women.

But here we are, brazenly retraining the solicitors of England and Wales in how they must comply with Sharia inheritance law. This is an insidious attempt to reverse centuries-old legal precedents which hitherto have applied to all citizens equaly. It should be resisted with the greatest possible vigour.


Lawyers retrained for Sharia-compliant wills
Archbishop Cranmer
October 16, 2012
Archbishop Cranmer

Additional coverage:

Solicitor to focus on Islamic wills and divorce
October 16, 2012
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A law firm has announced the appointment of a new Consultant Solicitor.

Aisha Hussain will focus on specific law areas including Islamic Wills and divorces.

She said, “Having worked as a sole practitioner in my own practice, it is great to be part of a larger organisation – at least you have someone to talk to!

“I am very excited about developing the Private Client Department here at AMT Lawyers, in particular the Islamic Divorce and Islamic Wills as it is a very niche area.

“There is a growing demand for such a service to be provided to the community as we have seen the potential pitfalls that members of our community fall into a as result of ‘second Islamic marriages’ where there are several children, two wives and no Will.

“Once the husband dies the problems begin and the families left behind have to then suffer heartache and upset, visiting courts just to get their fair share of the estate. In order to avoid such problems, my main aim is to provide a specialist service to the local community, raising awareness of the dangers that parties can currently face if the right steps are not taken to protect both the family and the matrimonial assets.”

Asjad Hussain of AMT Lawyers said, “We are delighted to have Aisha here. She will be a valuable asset to the company as we continue to lead the way locally in providing quality service to our clients.”

Aisha says despite her role she will continue to take part in community work. She has been a Governor at two schools in the area for many years.

“My Governor duties have been on-going for over 7 years now and I have gained a wealth of experience through this.

“I love being a Governor and apart from being the largest volunteer organisation in the country, the sense of satisfaction received from being able to contribute towards the future of our young people is immensely rewarding.”

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