The British edition of my book Heaven on Earth has just been launched, and the last few days have been busy. The week began with an interview in the Guardian, in which I proposed that there was nothing wrong with Muslims choosing to have their domestic and property disputes resolved by religious arbitrators, so long as it was entirely voluntary. Given that such tribunals are used by other British religious communities and are subject to all the ordinary laws of the land, it seems to me that it’s to everyone’s benefit that they operate openly – not least because that encourages the scholars concerned to promote Islamic approaches to mediation that are consistent with human-rights legislation. Not everyone agreed, and quite a few critics instantly assumed that I was a dissembling fanatic who secretly favours misogyny and violent punishments all round. For the record, I’m not and I don’t.
Anyway, the original article is posted here, and a follow-up interview with Julian Worricker on the BBC World Service is about 40 minutes into this file. On a similar theme, I’ve also written a blog post for the London Review of Books about the recent decision of a US federal court to injunct Oklahoma’s absurd attempt to ban state judges from acknowledging the shari’a.
Meanwhile, the first reviews of the new book have appeared, and all of them so far have been pretty favourable. You can read them in full via the relevant link near the top of this page.