CMPL Law Workshop II

The second workshop looking at 'Christians, Muslims and the Law' was held on Thursday 20th September, 2018 at the Nazarene Theological College in Manchester.  About 20 Christians attended from a range of backgrounds and interests.  The workshop explored the Christian heritage of British law and considered legal issues that might concern both Christians and Muslims with a focus on religious freedoms.

Paper 1 - Christianity, Islam and English Law (audio) (powerpoint) - Professor Julian Rivers, Professor of Jurisprudence at the School of Law, University of Bristol

Julian was asked to speak about the degree to which British law should be seen as being ‘Christian’ and what areas of law may concern and challenge Christians today.  He explored three principles of Christian political thought with respect to the law and the 20th century constitutional settlement, highlighting the subsequent retreat of Christian nationalism in favour of individual rights of freedom and equality.  Rivers mentioned areas that had recently caused discomfort for some Christians such as the challenge to public prayer, same sex marriage and adoption rules, and then went on to comment on a recent report into shari'a tribunals.

Paper 2 - Law of the Land & Islam (audio) (powerpoint) - Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, Senior Imam, Makkah Masjid and Muslim advisor to the independent review chaired by Prof Siddiqui.

Qari was asked to speak about how British Muslims understand the relationship between the law of the land and religious law, and what areas of law may concern and challenge Muslims today.  He explained that whereas some Muslims rejected manmade laws, most Muslims employ one of three different models through which they are encouraged to abide by the law of the land. In these cases, traditionally Muslims have been more comfortable with 'Christian’ laws than 'secular' laws. However, the areas where some Muslims may like greater accommodation include marriage, divorce, financial matters and postmortem ethics.  Asim pointed out that same sex marriage, blasphemy and Muhammad’s honour are of particular concern and then went on to comment on a recent report on shari'a tribunals.

Paper 3 - Religious Freedom in Europe (audio) (powerpoint) - Barrister Paul Diamond LL.M, Standing Counsel to the Christian Legal Centre

Response from Julian Rivers (audio)

Paul was asked to speak on the way that laws concerning religion and freedom are framed, interpreted and enforced today in Britain.  He provided a wealth of examples – some from his own experience as a barrister – involving the wearing of religious jewellery or clothing, reasonable accommodation of views on sexual orientation, workplace dismissals, hate speech and the arrest of street preachers.

Paper 4 - Should we ban the burqa? (audio) (powerpoint) - Dr Daniel Hill, Senior Lecturer in philosophy at Liverpool University

Response from Julian Rivers (audio)

Daniel explored the recent controversies around the wearing of the burqa in Europe.  He presented the French argument for banning it and the British argument for permitting it.  His position was that “the presumption has to be that one may wear what one wishes, as long as it does not harm or offend anyone else”.  He discussed what sort of harm or offense may be caused by clothing but ultimately concluded that whilst the burqa may be an obstacle to socialisation, it is not insurmountable. 

Christian reflections on the Law and Religious Freedom: Papers developed by discussion groups

In the discussion time, attendees at the workshop were asked to join a group that reflected their response to religious freedom.  The aim was for the members of the group to develop a coherent rationale for the positions that they hold.  These views do not necessarily reflect the views of the workshop organisers or of CMCS.  They are included here to illustrate the range of thinking on these topics that exists within the Christian community.


CMPL Law Workshop I

The first workshop looking at 'Christians, Muslims and the Law' was held on Wednesday 7th March, 2018 at the YMCA Indian Student Hostel.  About 30 Christians attended from a range of backgrounds and interests.  The workshop was responding to the recently published Home Office independent review into the application of shari’a law in England and Wales, chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui.  It also considered the implication of the Muslim presence in Britain on the future of the family.   

Paper 1 -  ‘Responding to Home Office report’ (audio) - The Right Honourable Caroline Cox, Baroness of Queensbury (but "please call me Caroline")

Paper 2 - ‘Islamic marriage’ (audioPowerPoint) - Dr Richard McCallum, Senior Fellow, Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies, Oxford

To set the scene for the following two talks, this paper briefly explores the concept of marriage in Islam drawing on Muslim sources both in the Qur'an and in recent Islamic thinking.   It lists some of the essential vocabulary before raising the problematic issues regarding Islamic marriage highlighted by many non-Muslims.  However, it then goes on to look at some of the strengths of marriage in Islamic cultures and briefly points to further resources.

Paper 3 - ‘UK marriage law’ (PowerPoint) - Prof David Hodson OBE,

Paper 4 - ‘Christian marriage’ (audio) - Harry  Benson

Responses of workshop attendees to Baroness Cox and the Siddiqui report (audio)

Christian responses: Papers developed by discussion groups

In two different sessions, attendees at the workshop were asked to join the group that most reflected their response to the topic of the session.  The aim was for the members of the group to develop a coherent rationale for the positions that they hold.  These views do not necessarily reflect the views of the workshop organisers or of CMCS.  They are included here to illustrate the range of thinking on these topics that exists within the Christian community.

Responding to the Siddiqui report

Thinking about family