Author: Mohamed M Keshavjee
Publisher: IB Tauris
This is an interesting and informative book. Its focus is ADR within an Islamic personal law context. In the author’s words (p17): ‘My hope is that my research will increase understanding of the cultural sensitivities of Muslims in the context of ADR and help to improve the conceptualisation and design of ADR training programmes for Muslims in the West.’
Keshavjee identifies the main issues that characterise the interaction between man-made law and divinely revealed law. On the whole his translation and understanding of technical fiqh (jurisprudential) terms is accurate and non-partisan, thereby enabling his readers to enjoy a shared understanding of key principles safe from the ravages of the tabloid press.
Although I could not agree with some of the author’s basic premises, I nevertheless learnt a great deal from the book – because of the precision with which it is written, it helped clarify my own viewpoint.
Ultimately English law and sharia law are two distinct jurisdictions – each with its own principles and characteristics. In furtherance of letting justice be done for all who can afford it, they are capable of enjoying a mutually positive interaction and reasonable accommodation, as opposed to one seeking to oust or subsume the other. The recent case of Re AI and MT illustrates this. To quote the author (p100): ‘The interesting point is that this process is actually taking place within the context of ADR and not as a result of a clash of legal systems. It can be argued that this approach makes the process more politically viable and acceptable because the sharia is not being pitted against the laws of the land.’
In conclusion, the book helps lay the groundwork for a deeper comparative study of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious courts within an ADR context, an initiative already launched in 2011 by Professor Gillian Douglas. Of course, ADR with a religious dimension is not new. For example, Jewish Batei Din have been resolving disputes within the Jewish community in Britain since the 12th century.
Ahmad Thomson (who accepted Islam over 40 years ago) established Wynne Chambers, London