I just received the translation of this article first published in Finland’s leading Swedish speaking news daily, the Hufvudstadsbladet (25.10.07). It is an article by Sanna Karlsson about an inquiry (polling) conducted by the Finnish League for Human Rights, concerning Muslim opinions on both the Muslim law system (sharia) and Finnish law.
MUSLIMS WANT TO LIVE ACCORDING TO MUSLIM LAW
The Muslims in Finland want to follow the Muslim Sharia law in family issues. But most people do not see major problems in following Finnish laws and being good Muslims at the same time. This is indicated by an inquiry the Union for Human Rights has conducted.
-Most people want and try in principle to follow Muslim law but in the concrete examples most of them, however, sided with the Finnish law, says Kristiina Kouros, Secretary General for the Union of Human Rights.
The inquiry where 75 Muslims were interviewed, deals with those cases where Finnish law and Sharia law are in a conflict with each other in family law issues like marriage, divorce, polygamy and hereditary portions.
Kouros sees the wish to follow Muslim law more as a sign of the religion having a major significance for those answering.
-Yet, the conflicts are not that big in practice. On one hand, the interpretations of Islamic law vary highly and on the other, many of the conflicts deal with things Muslims may do but must not do like having several wives.
According to Kouros, it was totally obvious for many to apply a kind of Euro-Islam: if you practice Islam in Europe, you must follow the country’s laws even if they are in conflict with Islamic law.
Islamic law is based on several sources and there are many different interpretations of what is allowed and what is forbidden. Different tendencies like Sunni and Shiite have various interpretations and especially among the Shiites, there are different judicial schools interpreting Sharia in various ways.
On the basis of the answers in the inquiry, it seems that most of those answering have rather equal marriages where both parties are responsible for the support of the family and have similar duties towards each other.
But there are differences in comparison to what is customary Finnish. Among others, 1/3 of those answering believe that arranged marriages are good. Forced marriages, on the other hand, get a resounding no. Only one thought that was acceptable.
Over half of those answering knew somebody living in an arranged marriage. Approximately equally many also knew people living in Finland in polygamy although most of the repliers did not accept the idea of a man having several wives.
Many Muslims participating in the press conference found it hard to believe that there is polygamy in Finland in general.
-I have been living here for over 40 years and I have never heard of anybody having more than one wife. It is hard enough for a man to satisfy the various needs of a woman, one cannot cope with several, Rashid Zaitri establishes.
But many others said that the phenomenon does exist in Finland but that the other wives apart from the first one, are married in accordance with Muslim law, not Finnish.
-I cannot understand why it is more objectionable with polygamy than having a mistress? There can be situations where women feel that it is acceptable that their husband takes another wife, says Pia Jardi.
*If Sharia and Finnish law are in conflict, which one should be followed?
Sharia 51%, Finnish law 38%, Does not know 10%
*Should Finland have a
separate Sharia Court for
issues of family law?
16% Does not know
*Is it acceptable that a
man has several wives?
7% Does not know
*Is it acceptable to punish your
9% Does not know
*Is an arranged marriage
a good thing?
16% Does not know
*An agreement on bridal
money should be made
in connection with
7% Does not know
*Who should confirm
a Muslim marriage?
13% a Finnish judge
39% a Muslim Imam
12% no significance
Most significant is the response to the question: “If Sharia and Finnish law are in conflict, which one should be followed?” It’s of course totally unacceptable that 51% responded that –where the two legal systems are in conflict– Sharia law should replace Finnish law.
I am reminded of an interview earlier this year in the Helsingin Sanomat, of two Finns of Somali extraction. One of the two interviewed, Alibeto Abdiwahab –who also happens to be an airport security guard at the Vantaa airport near Helsinki– responded positively to capital punishment for those who commit adultery.
“It is Thursday evening. Almost exactly 6,700 kilometres away from downtown Helsinki and its Station Square, a war is going on for control of the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Radical Islamists are being driven out of the city, as Mogadishu is taken over by the forces of the transitional Somali government, backed by troops from its ally Ethiopia.
“Who rules there does not interest me, just who can secure peace”, says Abdiwahab. “I supported the Islamists [the Union of Islamic Courts or UIC], because they brought security and order to Mogadishu’s streets, but now it looks as if their time has come and gone.”
Sunni Islam is the religion that unites Somalis. It also provides a common moral code for Abdiwahab and Guled. Even the strict Sharia law with its capital punishment for the crime of adultery is acceptable to Abdiwahab – in Somalia. “If that is what the people want”, he says. All the same, he does not want Sharia in Finland.
Of course Sharia law in it’s entirety, is not an acceptable law of jurisprudence anywhere in the world, not to mention in the democratic west. This is the stark reality that faces those of us in the west, that there is an unacceptable number of Muslims who still view ancient barbaric codes of morality, on some level, worth keeping and even supplanting western laws that comes into conflict with portions of Sharia law.
The danger is letting one seemingly benign portion of Sharia law to co-exist alongside western laws, then once the flood gate is opened…anything goes. Think again. *L* KGS