You are here

Special Report: Sharia Law

Special Report: Sharia Law





Sharia Watch UK seeks to highlight and expose those movements in Britain which advocate and support the advancement of sharia law in British society.  We seek to explain and describe sharia law in relation to specific issues – primarily the treatment of women, freedom of speech, finance, and the marketplace.

Sharia Watch UK believes in freedom of religion, but we say that its practice must remain within the laws that have been set down by Parliament. To this end, we aim to expose the ways in which sharia law operates in Britain in contravention of the law. We will also highlight the areas in which sharia advances within the parameters of the law.

We call on the UK government to recognise that the establishment of a sharia state, or campaigning for such, is itself an extremist position. We base this on the fact that a sharia state would involve profound mistreatment of women and girls (including forced marriage and unequal legal status), the implementation of barbaric punishments (including stonings and amputations) and the complete destruction of freedom of speech and democracy.

We urge the UK government to immediately cease all funding of groups with such extremist political views, to arrest and charge people where there is evidence of any breach of laws, for example incitement to violence against women or Jews, and to ensure that laws on public order and discrimination are upheld equally across all communities irrespective of religion, cultural beliefs or background.

We urge the UK government to make a clear, unequivocal and public denouncement of sharia law and Islamist ideology, and to ensure all laws which prevent extremism are applied to the groups named in this report.

Sharia Watch UK makes a clear distinction between Muslims as human beings, and Islam as a system of belief. We believe strongly that all Muslims should be afforded equal human and civil rights alongside all other citizens. We believe equally strongly that Muslims must also be burdened with the same responsibilities as all other citizens. However, we assert that Islam is a belief system like any other and as such is liable to scrutiny, criticism, and ridicule and that it is the democratic right of all British citizens to be free to discuss any belief system, and to hold any opinions on that belief system, as they see fit.

We wish to make it clear that the information contained in this report is intended to inform both the British public and our elected representatives of the true beliefs and political philosophy of various “mainstream” Islamic organisations in the UK. We ask that the government recognises the extreme nature of such beliefs and condemns these accordingly.

We would like to stress that all of the information contained in this report can already be found in the public domain.


Muslim Council of Britain

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is perhaps the most prominent of Britain’s “mainstream” Islamic organisations. Founded in London in 1997, the organisation describes itself as “a national representative Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.”

The Muslim Council of Britain has received several hundred thousand pounds of taxpayers’ money, despite evidence of its links with extremists and its own extremist beliefs. Cabinet ministers have condemned the MCB for its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day. In 2009 the British Government cut ties with the Muslim Council of Britain after Daud Abdullah, the Deputy Secretary General, became a signatory to the Istanbul Declaration, which calls for attacks on British troops and Jewish communities.

Representatives of the Muslim Council of Britain feature regularly in the media, particularly at moments of significance involving Islam.  For example, following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London, senior MCB representative Ibrahim Mogra appeared alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury in a joint message of condemnation and reconciliation.  Similarly, Mogra acted as MCB spokesman on the issue of child sex grooming in cities around England.   The MCB worked with the police, the NSPCC and other Muslim groups to raise awareness of this problem.

Following the exposure of a number of mosques across Britain which had agreed to marry underage girls (see below), Mogra was again interviewed by numerous media bodies, as representative of the MCB.  He told the Daily Mail: “UK law does not allow the marriage of underage girls and that’s all that matters to us here. In this country, it is illegal, it is forbidden and no imam should be allowed to conduct the marriage of an underage child.” It should be noted that Mr Mogra’s opposition to child marriage was not based on any moral concern for the child or indeed for women’s rights generally. 

Following the London underground terrorist bombings in 2005, a number of Muslim organisations came together to form the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (NIMAB), the aim of which was, according to the new group, to regulate mosques and to ensure that extremism was not being preached.  This initiative was reported by the BBC in a highly positive light.  The report stated that four of the largest Muslim organisations in Britain, namely the MCB, the Muslim Association of Britain, the British Muslim Forum, and the Al-Khoei Foundation, shared the government’s concern about radicalisation in mosques.

Furthermore, the MCB was described by Baroness Shirley Williams as “a sensible organisation” on BBC’s Question Time, and representatives of the organisation regularly appear as guests on the BBC, including its Sunday morning discussion programme The Big Questions.

Sharia Watch UK believes that the MCB is itself an extremist organisation.  We further believe that the portrayal of this group by the mainstream media as the moderate face of Islam facilitates the cover-up of this fact and hides from the public mind the true nature of the organisation and the beliefs and motives of its senior representatives.  This report aims to provide a more factual analysis of the MCB and its representatives so that the public can have a clearer picture of Islamic extremism in Britain.

Some of the key figures of the Muslim Council of Britain are:

Muhammad Abdul Bari

Mr Bari was the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain from 2006 until 2010. He has also served as president of the Islamic Forum of Europe (below).  In 2003 he was awarded an MBE for services to the community. In 2005 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  He has also served as chair of the East London Mosque (below) and has sat on the Greater London Authority’s Faith Advisory Group and the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympic Games.  He has also written, on several occasions, for the Guardian and Independent newspapers. 

Bari has referred to homosexuality as “unacceptable from a religious point of view” and encouraged “modest” dress: “You shouldn&in the confines of her home as much as possible, she should not come out of the home without need and necessity” (this was a fatwa, or religious ruling, issued by a British mosque).  Murad first argued that the quote must be taken in “context” and that the practice of Muslim women was contrary to this.  Neil then questioned Furad on this statement: “It is generally impermissible for a woman to travel a distance of more than 48 miles unless accompanied by a male relative, even if the purpose is to attend a religious gathering”.  Neil informed Murad that the above statements, and similar beliefs, were being preached to young British Muslim women and emanating from mosques affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain.  Murad answered: “within personal practices, there may be certain advice or publications available, but people make their choices”.  He insisted that the MCB was working on “standards” for its affiliated mosques and “many of these things will fall under that scrutiny”.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie

Iqbal Sacranie was the founding Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. He was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1999, and was knighted by the Queen in 2005. 

During the so-called “Rushdie Affair” – when author Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding following the publication of his book “The Satanic Verses” which was deemed offensive to Islam – Sacranie said: “Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him his mind must be tormented for the rest of his life unless he asks for forgiveness to Almighty Allah.

The Muslim Council of Britain has endorsed and supports the use of Islamic sharia law in the UK. 


The Islamic Sharia Council

The Islamic Sharia Council runs the largest network of sharia “councils” in Britain; it facilitates a court-like system of family law which has resulted in a de facto parallel system on family issues. 

On family matters, Islamic sharia law purports that domestic violence is permissible; that women should not have unilateral rights to divorce; that child custody be decided in favour of fathers (when the child has reached a specific age) irrespective of the circumstances; that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man; and that pre-pubescent “marriage” is acceptable. 

According to Channel 4’s Dispatches (below), the Islamic Sharia Council was represented by Lord Nazir Ahmed with the aim of discussing “the introduction of Islamic divorce laws in to the UK constitution”.  Lord Ahmed had, according to Dispatches, claimed to represent “all Muslims” in this regard. 

The Islamic Sharia Council was investigated by the BBC’s Panorama programme in 2013.  An undercover reporter posing as an abused wife was advised by Suhaib Hasan (below) to “correct” herself if she wished to avoid abuse.

Attitudes to women which are routinely expressed by members of the Islamic Sharia Council are a cause of great concern. 

Some of the key figures are:  

Maulana Abu Sayeed  

Sayeed has held the post of Muslim “chaplain” at UCL Hospital and head of the Islamic Sharia Council.  In 2010 he courted controversy when he referred to marital rape as “impossible”.  In an interview with The Samosa blog Sayeed argued that it was “not Islamic” to classify non-consensual marital sex as rape.  He said: “Why it is happening in this society is because they have got this idea of so-called equality, equal rights. And they are misusing these equal rights in every single aspect of human conduct. That’s why. It is one aggression against another, and that is bigger aggression against minor one.”  When asked what he considered to be the bigger aggression, he replied: “To call it rape. Rape is a criminal offence in this country; man will end up in prison for three, five years or more.”  He agreed with the statement: “non-consensual sex is the minor aggression, and calling it rape is the major aggression.”

In a Channel 4 documentary aired in 1995, Sayeed was revealed as one of three war criminals to flee Bangladesh to live in Britain. 

The documentary alleges that his task in Bangladesh was to draw up killing lists of people suspected of involvement in the liberation movement. The names were then handed to the Pakistan army who, with the help of local collaborators, would execute those on the list.

In addition to preparing hit lists, the Jamaat and Al-Badr squads (of which Sayeed was alleged to have been heavily involved) were also guilty of organising mass rapes and the abduction of women for rape by Pakistani soldiers.

Haitham al-Haddad

Haitham al-Haddad is a senior figure and “judge” at the Islamic Sharia Council in east London.  He is the chair and operations advisor, and a trustee, for the Muslim Research and Development Foundation.  Despite expressing some deeply worrying views Mr Haddad is a regular speaker on the British university circuit and many have come in for criticism for hosting him.  In 2014 alone he has so far spoken at Kingston University (“Sisters Week”) and the School of Oriental and African Studies. 

Haddad has been publically recorded making the following statements:

  • “We must reflect on the reality of the conflict between us and the Jews, the enemies of God, and the descendants of apes and pigs.”
  • “Sisters please don’t show your husband that you are competing with him. I know that many women in the West and unfortunately in many Muslim countries, because now they are following the same style and they don’t want to show that women are inferior to husbands, to their husbands or to men, and they don’t want to show that they are not equal. In fact, this equality between the two genders is a very evil thing.”
  • “So until you apply [for divorce], until you are granted that, you are legally his wife and if he wants to sleep with you, unless there is a very fundamental or there is a huge problem, which I cannot mention now, you have to give him his right.”
  • “A man should not be questioned why he, OK, hit his wife because this is something between them. Leave them alone. They can sort out their matters among themselves. And even they said that the husband, the father of the daughter, she is married to a man, he should not ask his daughter why you have been beaten or hit by your husband. Why? Because al-Islam is looking for the bigger picture in order to keep the relationship between the husband and wife together.”
  • “Sisters, I highly recommend that all sisters wear niqab in this country, forget about whether it is obligatory or not.”
  • “Who is going to put a system to stop fornication? Or to lash those who fornicate? Who can put a legislation to stone the adulterers and the adulterer? Who can do that? It is the lawmakers. Those who can do that are the people in charge. Those who are having power. Those people they can establish the Islamic system in its totality.”

Haitham al-Haddad openly “advises” women on marital matters, child custody matters, and matters of divorce and domestic violence at the Islamic Sharia Council in London. 

Suhaib Hasan

Thought to be the most senior “judge” at the Islamic Sharia Council, Hasan has courted controversy on several occasions including a recording by the BBC’s Panorama advising a woman to “correct” herself if she wished to avoid violent assault by her husband.  He also lied to the undercover reporter, who had posed as a wife complaining of marital violence, telling her she would lose her home and children if she reported violence to the police. 

Hasan was also secretly filmed by Channel 4’s “Undercover Mosque” programme and was recorded as stating: “Allah has decreed this thing that I am going to be dominant, the dominance of course is a political dominance.  The chopping the hands of the thieves, the flogging of the adulterers, the flogging of the drunkards, then jihad against the non-Muslim”.


The Muslim Association of Britain

The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) has for several years been heavily involved with the anti-war movement, often working closely with the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).  It is also closely linked with the Muslim Brotherhood.  At a StWC conference in January 2003 an MAB speaker said that the MAB was proud to be associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a public debate with One Law for All in 2011 Omar El-Hamdoon, president of the MAB, defended the right of a man to beat his wife (as long as no mark is left on her body) and indicated that he thinks there should be stonings and amputations under an Islamic state.

Osama Saeed was a spokesperson for the MAB during its alliance with the StWC.  He has also been the MAB’s representative in Scotland.  In 2005 Saeed wrote an article in the Guardian calling for the restoration of the Islamic caliphate, which he said should be governed by sharia. He said opponents of this proposal “give credence” to the idea that the West is conducting a war on Islam, and called on Britain and the US to support the project.

A report compiled by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty in 2007 made the following claims about the Muslim Association of Britain:

- MAB was set up in 1997 by Kemal el-Hebawy, who was at the time the London-based spokesman in Europe for the Muslim Brotherhood.

- One Executive member is Azzam Al-Tamimi, a Hebron-born academic who has called himself a “sympathiser and supporter” of Hamas. Many of his articles seek to rationalise the religious inspiration and righteousness of the suicide bomber (though they are careful to eschew active support). He advocates the “dismantling of Zionism” — clearly meaning the Israeli national entity. (See articles quoted on http//

- Tamimi is not just a sectarian Palestinian nationalist. He is a religious ideologue — he teaches theories associated with Islam at Markfield Institute of Higher Education, an institution established by the Islamic Foundation. He heads up the Institute of Islamic Political Thought. On that group’s board of advisers is Dr Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

- Qaradawi is the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAB invited him to Britain in July this year to head up the “pro-hijab” conference organised by MAB and hosted by the Greater London Authority. Qaradawi was embraced by Ken Livingstone as a “moderate” but has seriously debated the necessity of putting homosexuals to death. (These views can be read on


Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS)

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies is an umbrella organisation to which the majority of university Islamic societies belong.  The British Government’s Prevent Strategy review of 2011 said: “FOSIS has not always fully challenged terrorist and extremist ideology within the higher and further education sectors.”  The Prevent Strategy, according to the Home Office, “seeks to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.”  FOSIS however has fallen far short on numerous occasions in offering any assistance to this aim.

Speakers at FOSIS events have included

  • Azzam Tamimi, who has called for Israel’s destruction, spoken lovingly of the “great jihad of Hamas and Islamic jihad,” and heaped praise on “Imam Khomeini.”
  • Daud Abdullah, the disgraced former (Jamaat-linked) Muslim Council of Britain official who signed the Istanbul Declaration, which calls for attacks on Jewish communities and British soldiers abroad.
  • Ibrahim Hewitt of the “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” group Interpal, which raises funds on behalf of Hamas.
  • Junaid Ahmed of the Jamaat-controlled Islamic Forum of Europe, who has referred to Hamas terrorists as “heroes”.
  • Muhammad al-Kawthari, who has called for adulterous women to be stoned to death and ruled that violent jihad is “personally obligatory for all the Muslims.”
  • Haitham al-Haddad, who supports Hamas and wants “Muslims to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world.”
  • Muhammad Alshareef, who thinks that Muslims should be “proud” homophobes who hate, shun and harass gay rights campaigners and Jews.

FOSIS came to wider public attention in 2013 when events which it had organised were found to be imposing gender segregation on university sites.  These revelations came to the attention of the Prime Minister in late 2013 when Universities UK, a body which describes itself as the “voice” of British Universities, issued guidance stating that it would be an infringement of a speaker’s right to free expression if he could not demand to speak to gender segregated audiences, and that gender segregation was permissible for “genuinely held religious beliefs”.  It was revealed at the time that not only were women being made to sit at the back of a segregated room at some events, but were also barred from speaking, and asked to pose any questions by writing them down in advance (with no requirement for men to submit their questions in advance).

Universities UK withdrew its guidance following strong condemnation of gender segregation from the Prime Minister.  Segregation has continued unabated however.

In December 2013 a poll carried out the by the Times Educational Supplement found that of 46 universities that responded, 29 did not have prohibitions against gender segregation in place.  According to anti-extremism campaigner Chris Moos:

“The Students&it violence. We call it legitimate struggle; we call it jihad”.


Green Lane Mosque

Green Lane Mosque is one of the most high-profile mosques in the country.  Established in the 1970s, it is located in Birmingham and was awarded the title of “Model Mosque” by the Islam Channel (below) in 2007.  Its visitors have included Lord Nazir Ahmed who described it as his “favourite spiritual place”. 

Green Lane Mosque is the headquarters of the registered charity Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith UK, which runs several mosques across the country, as well as some Islamic schools. 

In 2009 the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation claimed that the mosque hosted “extreme Wahhabi clerics” and “fellow travellers of Al-Qaeda”.  Wahhabism is a fundamentalist form of Islam which is dominant in Saudi Arabia.  The mosque responded to Quilliam’s criticisms by stating:

The Quilliam Foundation&agree with this.”

Bilal Phillips: “For us in Islam, we have a natural principle, a natural dividing line, which is for a woman to be consideredbsp;

Islamic Forum of Europe

The IFE is based in London but boasts several branches around the UK, as well as affiliates throughout western Europe. 

One of the founders of the IFE was Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, who was convicted of war crimes in Bangladesh in 2013.  Also active is Azad Ali, who supports sharia law and is a key figure in the Unite Against Fascism group. 

In 2010 a Telegraph report claimed that the East London Mosque (above) provides for the IFE’s headquarters and that the mosque’s chairman was a former president of the IFE.  Furthermore, the director and imam of the mosque were trustees of the IFE. 

Andrew Gilligan, writing in the Guardian, stated that recruits to the IFE are told: “Our goal is not simply to invite people and give da&to Islam.”

In a docu>Speakers at an IFE training lecture declared “Victory is for Islam and Muslims” and attendees were instructed to identify “who the enemies are, both from outside the circle of Islam and within the circle of Islam.”

  • Female members of IFE confirmed that all decisions were made by men.  It was also revealed that ceiling-high screens were used to r