Douglas Carswell MP: Why sharia-lite is wrong
Douglas Carswell, MP for Harwich & Clacton and a CentreRight contributor, explains why sharia cannot be implemented into UK law to any degree.
Unlike Rowan Williams, Sayed Qutb - the intellectual architect of political Islamism - was never noted for his nuance. Qutb's 1964 manifesto, Milestones, is to the point; sharia - the law of God - needs to be forcefully imposed on a decadent (jahili) world by a revolutionary Islamic vanguard.
Qutb argued that God's sovereignty over all the earth is violated wherever there is no sharia. Anyone who therefore ignores sharia in favour of man-made laws cannot be a true Muslim.
However one looks at what Dr Williams said - and millions on Al Jazeera have - his comments can only have encouraged those inspired by Qutb's teachings.
As the BBC has been quick to point out, Dr Williams was not apparently arguing for nasty hand-chopping sharia. No, he simply wants a little bit of civil sharia. Just in a few cases. Domestic disputes, you understand. By consent, of course. No "blank cheques", whatever that means.
Yet, if Qutb's Milestones is anything to go by, the kind of folk who want sharia - bar the odd Anglican clergyman - are unlikely to be satisfied with sharia's limited application in a few civil cases.
The Archbishop's "clarification" that he does not want a parallel legal system does not really reassure. Williams "only" seeks an acceptance by the English legal system of some aspects of sharia. Perhaps this is a nuance they will miss in some madrassas.
And that's surely the point. It's not really about what Church of England clergy think, nor even what the majority of us think they think. What counts is how this plays among Muslims. For pious British Muslims, devoted in their faith, yet steadfast in rejecting Qutb's absolutism, Dr Williams just made an increasingly difficult position a bit less tenable.
The Archbishop seems to genuinely think his "sharia lite" will help community cohesion. Yet even just calling for it has done the precise opposite. Qutb's once outlandish notion that without sharia one cannot be a true Muslim has been made a little more mainstream.
Worse than what Dr Williams said is his justification for saying it. Apparently "sharia lite" is necessary since not all those living in our country are now able to relate to Britain's legal system.
Think about that. What can possibly have possessed the most senior clergyperson in the Church of England to believe that since not everyone can relate to the English legal system, we need to change our legal system? It is an affliction called "multiculturalism".
Dr Williams no doubt believes he was talking about Islam, but his opaque utterances reveal far more about muddled Western ways of thinking. Williams has inadvertently highlighted the enormity of the problem caused by the cultural relativism of our own Western elites.
Once you stop proclaiming allegiance to a common culture, and kid youself that all cultures are of equal worth, the Archbishop's position becomes almost logical. If all is of equal worth, and some who live here cannot relate to what is here already, changing what is here - as opposed to helping adapt the attitudes of the newcomers - becomes your norm.
Rather than social cohesion, public policy built on this bogus series of assumptions will make for fragmentation. The politicians we elect have belatedly begun to wake up to this reality, but so what? Multicultural assumptions are now the default setting of the British State, its unelected institutions and unaccountable quangos - not merely the Anglican Church.
The most inspirational book I've read in a long time is Ed Hussein's The Islamist. Why am I uplifted by a book which depressingly confirms that such a large chunk of youth in London, Birmingham and Bradford now heeds Qutb's call? Because ultimately Hussein seems to show that Islam, and being a British Muslim, could be made compatible with the ideas of the Western Enlightenment.
How sad that the Archbishop should now put his church at odds with the ideals of the Enlightenment. How tragic that our own nuanced elites should be the ones who break with what are universal ideals.