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Sharia law being used in Germany in Muslims' domestic disputes

The Local · 9 Oct 2010, 13:37

Published: 09 Oct 2010 13:37 GMT+02:00

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“We have been practising Islamic law for years, and that is a good thing,” Hilmar Krüger, professor for foreign private law at Cologne University, told Der Spiegel magazine.

Family and inheritance rulings were often made according to Sharia law, he said, listing a range of examples.

Women who are in polygamous marriages legal in their countries of origin can make claims of their husbands in Germany regardless of the fact that their marriages would not be lawful here. They can claim maintenance from their husbands and a share of an eventual inheritance, said Krüger.

German judges often refer to Sharia, as the Federal Social Court in Kassel did a few years ago when it supported the claim of a second wife for a share of her dead husband’s pension payments, which his first wife wanted to keep all to herself. The judge ruled they should share the pension.

In another case, the Administrative Appeals Court in Koblenz granted the second wife of an Iraqi living in Germany, the right to stay in the country. She had already been married to him and living in Germany for five years, after which the court said it would not be fair to send her to Iraq alone.

A judge in Cologne ruled that an Iranian man should repay his wife’s dowry of 600 gold coins to her after their divorce – referring to the Sharia which is followed in Iran.

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Erlangen lawyer and Islam scholar Mathias Rohe told the magazine that the use of laws from various countries was an expression of globalisation. “We use Islamic law just as we use French law,” he said.

While Canada, for example, does not recognise any foreign laws, the German legal structure allows some to be upheld – as long as they do not contradict the constitution.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:52 October 9, 2010 by greattoucan
I suppose that there are some situations where Islamic law would work for Muslims--mainly those situations where German law does not address situations which would occur in an Islamic cultural situation.

But on the whole, I think it very unwise for Germany to tolerate a special legal code for a group of foreigners. For one thing, it demeans the sovreignty of the German state. Foreigners coming to Germany must understand that German law must be followed by all who come here. Muslims have a very difficult time integrating into non-Muslim lands anyway, and the acceptance and growth of a mutually-exclusive group and legal code will inevitably lead to discord and trouble.

Does the German Verfassung allow for polygamy? I do not believe so, but such a law is so vital to the social order in most western countries that to allow a different tradition would cause serious trouble. What happens when a Muslim polygamist wants to marry a German Christian?

Most countries using the common law (i.e. the Anglo-Saxon nations) allow for consulting precedents from other countries when none exists in a jurisdiction where such a question must be answered. But parallel incompatible legal systems in a country only breed trouble. Muslims are a small minority now. If they increase to the point where they approach the number of non-Muslims, then a situation like Lebanon will arise, and serious troubles are bound to occur.
16:46 October 9, 2010 by maxbrando
Yes, let's use stoning. Many of the multi-times unfaithful officials would qualify for stoning under Sharia.
16:55 October 9, 2010 by furious_angel
honour killings are not part of Islam. these are old rituals still being followed by people who are not truly following Islam but are Muslims just because they have been born in a Muslim family.


Islam makes it compulsory for ppl of both genders to acquire education.
17:15 October 9, 2010 by catjones
The Catholic church and other Christian churches have long histories of 'laws' that affect births, deaths, marriages, divorce, birth control. The Jewish religion imposes circumcision aka mutilation, food restrictions...the list goes on and on.
17:52 October 9, 2010 by wood artist
Given the political climate of these times, it might feel comfortable to deny all things Muslim. However, almost every modern legal system in use today is an amalgam of ideas, taken from other systems. Beginning way back with the Code of Hammurabi (and probably even earlier others) we all have borrowed, copied, and simply emulated things we thought we good and reasonable.

There are, it is true, strange and odd laws in every system. Many of those are things the world has evolved beyond...hopefully. Because Sharia includes many of these old customs, we tend to assume the whole system is backwards, but while I agree that its punishments seem overly harsh and even barbaric, there are other concepts that clearly have resonance today.

I note in the article that professor doesn't speak of "using Sharia" in the sense of it's punishments, but rather as a guideline to what these petitioners might expect were they "back home" and living under the rules they might have learned growing up. I would hope that judges always consider that sort of thing when dealing with non-criminal matters.

Crime, on the other hand, is different, at least to me, and the laws of the country should apply, even if what was done wouldn't be a crime "back home." Things like honor killings have no place in modern society, and should be harshly punished. I understand they are part of the culture elsewhere, and I deplore that, but we cannot change centuries of tradition overnight. We can, however, acknowledge that we have moved beyond that.

19:04 October 9, 2010 by furious_angel
@wood artist

I totally agree with you. When ppl move to another land, they have to accept the law there.

But in cases like those mentioned above, its for protecting the rights of women who, in case of being a 2nd wife, would have no right here. so i think there is no harm in that.

also, very few muslim countries follow the shariah law completely.
21:48 October 9, 2010 by JAMessersmith
@Wood Artist

Have you ever read Hammurabi's Code? It may have been the first known example of written law but very little, if any of it is in use today anywhere in the Western World. The remedy for everything, from the severe to the mundane, is murder and extreme violence. It was incredibly Draconian in nature and was used as a way of keeping order in a savage world.

As for law being an amalgam; there is some truth to that, being that all cultures define crime as roughly the same thing, but you are failing to take into account how unique Western law, and in effect, Western culture is compared to the rest of the world. For example, women's rights and tolerance of homosexuals are just a few areas where we tend to be far more lenient than the rest of the world, let alone the Muslim world. Our taste for alcohol and pork also sets us apart in that case.

Point being, I can assure you that if you, as a Westerner, moved to a Muslim country, they would not make exceptions and apply a different set of laws for you compared to everyone else. I mean even in Dubai, a supposed tourist haven (which albeit has basically crashed and burned recently), a British couple was arrested for kissing on the beach. Dubai courts could've cared less whether it was part of Western culture our not... and they were technically right in doing so. If immigrants are going to immigrate to a certain country, or even if foreigners are going to visit a country, they should either accept the law of the land or stay home. Germany is trying to have it both ways.

In the cases cited above, the law should've been followed, no matter how unpleasant the outcome. Whenever you start skirting the law for one specific group of people, you are asking for trouble. Religion is no different than anything else. Imagine if non-whites were tried under a different set of rules, or if members of a certain political party were given a different type of hearing than everyone else. How loud would the outcry be? This to me sounds like more of a case of "white guilt" than anything. Because if these sorts of exceptions were being made for anyone else, be they Christian or Atheist, there would be hell to pay. And if German, and in effect European courts, really believe there should be different laws for different people, why even have a legal system in the first place? Might as well let each individual community police themselves.
06:28 October 10, 2010 by wood artist

I have read the code. You are correct that not much of it would be useful in a more "enlightened" society. However, that said, it remains one of the first attempts to codify and structure a "legal system," with prescribed penalties for specific offenses, and in that context it forms a basis for the structured systems in place today.

I agree that a Muslim country would likely take no notice of my world should I be confronted therein, and while that is a sad but true observation I don't think it provides guidance for what we should be doing. As I suggested, criminal law is separate from civil law, and I would treat them differently.

If what you've done (or I've done) is a crime where we did it, we have no right to expect special treatment just because it might not be illegal back home. The couple caught making out in Dubai is a prime example. Sorry, guys, but this isn't your homeland, and the rules are different.

On my last trip to Germany I was told that taking pictures in a cemetery open to the public was "not allowed." For the moment, I stopped, but only because I didn't want to create a scene. After checking, I confirmed that no such rule existed, and I think the worker there was just upset I was taking pictures of his crew removing and stacking headstones, breaking some in the process. I have no idea what they were doing, but I suspect he didn't like the idea of somebody documenting their apparent lack of concern. Who knows?

However, in dealing with an issue such as a second wife, and given that her status is "legal" where she and the husband were married, it seems reasonable to consider what might be done there in crafting a proper or fair solution. I would use Sharia as guidance, but not as the legal basis for a decision. Remember, in many cases like this, the judge has a lot of latitude to create a "fair" decision, and the burden of proof is not "beyond a reasonable doubt" but rather "preponderance of the evidence"...a much different standard.

Especially in cases involving child custody and domestic issues, the law provides only a rough outline of options, not the final word. Hopefully judges are able to honor the intent.

09:53 October 10, 2010 by twisted
@ wood artist and JAMessersmith

Wow, rational arguments and both make some good points. thanks...that was educational.
10:57 October 10, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"Imagine if non-whites were tried under a different set of rules, or if members of a certain political party were given a different type of hearing than everyone else."

This is a common occurrence in the United States. And no, I'm not being facetious.
13:50 October 10, 2010 by mehta_p

Islam seems to be a less religion and more law. Isn't it true?

Shouldn't religion be more about 'life and science' than 'just laws' ??

Isn't there any law in Islam against those muslims who are not truely (or following wrongly) following Islam? (this is for your previous post)

What terrorists are doing in name of Islam or Allah can't be opposed by true followers of Islam?

Why can't we see any protest from muslims against those terrorists?

But we saw huge protest against 1 Denmark Cartoonist from all around the world.

Many christians around the world come forward if there is any kind of natural disaster to any country. They go there personaly and provide help voluntarily and pay from their pockets or through certain organisations. I have met and seen many such christians who are helping people from any religion, caste and race. Here I can see humanity first than religion. I am not aware about if any islamic country is coming forward to support the countries which are suffering from natural disaster or similar kind of siutatons.

I regularly follow news on DW-TV (Deutschewelle) there was a recent news from Somali about 'stoning till death'. If you say those are not true followers then I wonder why true followers of Islam is not doing protests against such brutal people.
14:18 October 10, 2010 by furious_angel

Islam is not a ceremonial religion in which you just perform some prayers and thats all. Islam gives guidance about everything. Law is just one part of the religion.

About stopping terrorists, there are far more Muslims killed in terrorist attacks specially in South Asia than people of other religions. Can we stop the terrorists no. But why just point at terrorists using Islam. What about the Hindu terrorists who killed and raped thousands of Muslims in Indian Gujrat province? Were the other Hindus able to stop them? No. The chief minister of the state again got elected after he allowed this violence to take place.

About charity, it is compulsory for Muslims to pay charity each year. I really appreciate the Christians and Atheists who also give charity to help others. Charity should be given to those in need be they be of any religion. Whether the governments do it or not, its their decision.

The word Islam means "peace"!
16:10 October 10, 2010 by mehta_p

your such reply to my previous post shows that people like you are indirectly suporting those terorists who are kiling inocents in name of islam or allah as people from other religions kill muslims.

the isue 'gujrat riot' what you have mentiond startd by muslims as they burnt train of hindu pilgrims. Then whole Gujrat were burnin and startd the riot. In this riot not only muslims were kiled but also hindus. After the election till date there is not any kind of violence hapened in Gujrat and both, muslims and hindus, living their happily under equal rights.

The riot hapend in 2002. After 8 years Gujrat is more peaceful region in India and developing in a better way.

When we look back in history when muslims enterd into India around a few hundred years back they demolished Hindu and Jain temples and kiled inocents and raped women to conquer the region. That's invasion by muslims in a brutal way. Till date Hindus have not done such kind of invading.

Muslims were never part of India but due to invasions now there are milions of muslims living in India. Most of them are more successful as Indian-muslims than many muslims living in Islamic countries and they are also living more peacefuly. Many Indian-Muslims are representing India on international level and they get apreciation from Indians true-heartedly.

On the other hand population of hindus is decreasing in Pakistan, so can it be possible that pakistani-hindus representing pakistan on internation level???

Terorists have captured more than half of Jammu and Kashmir and it has been annouced as POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). So these terrorists are working for pakistan so it has become POK. In Kashmir there were many kashmiri pandits (hindus) surviving but now kashmir has become most violent due to those terrorists or muslims who are eager to capture our kashmir. Terrorists have created violence there but muslims from pakistan are celebrating as month by month they are getting more part of kashmir, that's direct and indirect support from muslims for terrorists which can also be seen from your reply.

These are just about what terrorists doing in India but many other terorists are spreading shiits in many countries.

Which kind of peaceful religion it is?

As there are MANY American-muslims, canadian-muslims, Indian-muslims, German-muslims, then Why there are only a few Arabian-christians, egyptian-hindus, Iranian-Buddhist?


For me, In westerns its kinda culture but in islamic country it's kindda crime. What a contradtion.!

The kissing or love-making has to do with feelings but such law in Dubai is directly come from teachings in Islam.

About not taking pictures anywhere in Germany without permission:

I suppose, it has to do with manners and privacy. As taking pictures without permission can reveal somebody's life or work to public. So better to ask for permission here before taking pictures or videos and germans like such requests.
18:40 October 10, 2010 by furious_angel

could you give a count of how many Muslims were killed in the Gujarat riots and how many Hindus? The ratio will make it clear who was more violent there.

I think you need to improve your English to comprehend what is being said. I have and will never support any form of terrorism and my statement makes no such claim either. Wonder where you got that idea. I think your posts are based on hatred to a religious group rather than any reason. So I will not reply any more to your posts.
18:50 October 10, 2010 by zaly
My pardon for interrupt this discussions,

Just to let everybody know and not for argument,


Islam is not only a religion but included everything and anything, it's cover for our live, Economic, Politics, Social etc, even in Banking eg: Citibank, Stand Chart, HSBC just name a few also offering Islamic Financing System and now the Sharia Law also acceptable all around the world.

19:57 October 10, 2010 by mehta_p

instead of considering that account, why don't you analyse the root causes for the riot.
21:17 October 10, 2010 by munichiscool
@mehta_p: I think you only read indian newspapaers and never see anything else in the world. Muslims living i India are so afraid that I cannot even explain. I knew an indian muslim who was afraid to have friends from Pakistan who were there class fellows ( here in germany). The reason he mentioned was that if he is seen with Pakistanis then any of his Hindu class fellows can complain this in India and he will be labelled as "Paksitan Spy" and whole his family will have to pay the price. This is the peace and tranquility Indian muslims are having.

Anyhow what so ever you do , Muslims will keep on eating " Gao Mata" ( Mother Cow) :) They have ruled on you for hundred of years. And now you are taking revenge by killiing them ruthlessly. You poor innocent souls :)
01:50 October 11, 2010 by Paul Mannstein
This article mentions the German Constitution. Germany has no constitution but only a Basic Law (Grundgesetz) which was imposed on West Germans by the Allies in 1949.

The Grundgesetz was never voted into existence by the electorate unlike what is required for a genuine constitution to be in effect. This important vote was supposedly put off until both parts of Germany were united at some future date.

Thus, in1990 a new constitution should have been drafted and voted upon. Unfortunately that never occured because German politicians do not trust the people. It is the people in whom the legitimate power and authority rests for a Constitutional Democracy.
02:27 October 11, 2010 by Prufrock2010
If Germany has no Constitution, why does it have a Constitutional Court? Are you playing semantics here?
06:37 October 11, 2010 by wood artist
First, thanks to twisted. Some of us do try to have serious discussions and focus on the questions and issued raised by things that happen.

As someone else observed in a round-about way, Islam is more than a religion in many countries. To me it's a bit like Medieval Germany where the Catholic church was both a religion and a secular power holder. Bishops were not just in charge of the "church" but also ran every aspect of life, collected taxes on one hand and demanded tithes on the other. The church was very "offended" when secular princes and the Emperor decided they should have some say about things. Even the Pope got involved, trying to re-establish that the rules served at the pleasure of the church.

I think somebody needs to go back and study their history a bit more. If you look back, you'll find that the German Basic Law was drafted by Germans and wasn't "imposed by the Allies." It is correct (I believe) to say the electorate never voted on it...but only because the legislative assembly, elected by the citizens, did. The statement is a little disingenuous.

Prufrock, I think you got it right.

09:23 October 11, 2010 by munichiscool
@wood artist: I think the misconception is west is that "Islam is religion". Unfortunately Islam is not just religion. Islam is a "way of life" that is called "Deen" in the arabic language. There is no direct translation of this word in English.

Secondly , there is a huge difference in the history of Islam and history of Christianity. There is no pope and has never been in Islamic countries.

Church was an enemy of Science and Islam has never opposed thinking and education. Hundreds of books from the anceint greek philosophers were translated by Arabs.

So in my opinion it is unfair to compare both. It is not so black and white.
11:29 October 11, 2010 by Prufrock2010
"Islam has never opposed thinking and education?" Really. You might want to read this and get back to us:

11:41 October 11, 2010 by michael4096
Islam and christianity are alike in one way: whether its a hands-off religion or a political ideology actually depends on the person interpreting it. There are people interpreting both as political ideologies and, on the other hand, adherents interpreting both as guides to life-style quite happy to leave the law of the land secular

It's relatively easy to take examples of 'doctrine' from another religion, interpret it your way and claim moral superiority. It's also pretty easy to find examples of barbarous interpretations of both be it stoning adulterers or macheteing homosexuals

There is nothing inherently more righteous about either. And, as far as I can see looking out the window, talking to colleagues and generally making my own mind up instead of following the herd, most muslims of germany are not interpreting islam any more barbarously than christians interpreting christianity
11:54 October 11, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Michael4096 --

I agree with your analysis insofar as it applies to Germany, a secular state. But when ideology of any stripe transforms a secular state into a theocracy, the problems become less philosophical and more existential. That appears to me to be the cause of the panic that is consuming the West at the moment.
16:50 October 11, 2010 by T Gonzaga
Applying any other laws, other than Germany's legislatively enacted ones, opens a dangerous precedent. At some point, some will demand application of Sharia law in other instances, because after all "German courts have applied and recognized it in prior cases." Just imagine women who are beaten by husbands, who have employed the prescribed " rod, thinner than their thumb" how about disinheritance, since all property is left to the oldest male child, or divorce by the husbands thrice repeated statement "I divorce you." All the gains of the enlightenment set aside in the name of cultural relativism. Can theocracy and the days of the inquisition be far behind?
18:15 October 11, 2010 by munichiscool
@Prufrock2010: The article you referred is telling that Taliban killed around 7 educated people in one year. Any you want to use it as argument that "Isalm is against education" :) Are u kidding? First of all "Taliban" are not the representatives of Islam. It is a group which has some certain political purposes. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I am not sure how much you know about education in Muslim countries and about Islam. Muslims learns from the first grade in the schools "Getting education is the duty of every Muslim male and female". So please try to find at least something in Islamic scriptures that support your idea. We can also find hundreds and thousands of examples of church banning the Science and killing the scientists. But the question is that the Christian scriptures are also against that or not? So it is very important to distinguish that you cannot label the atrocities conducted by a certain group of people that are may be not even 1% population of the whole group and label the whole group with that. Do you know that the number of students coming from the Muslim countries in the international courses is around 30%. If you still have troubles then I can also add the links of prominent universities and professors in Muslim countries. I am sorry to say but to me it is really a joke what you are trying to refer from one article from by NY times :)
18:46 October 11, 2010 by Eastard
Germany should be careful to set a standard they do not agree with... They would be wise to require any decision from these "muslim courts" to file a waver with the local courts ... signed by both participants... This waver would be that they have accepted the outcome of this court as though arbitration or mediation and that it is binding as though it came from a real German court... The context of the decision should be reviewed by a qualified German judge to not break German law... period... Any conduct otherwise would deem the decision not enforceable and not on record... There may be tax consequences of moving money between folks not legally related or changing benefits for the same... in Germany under German law... If it were me I would not allow them to practice at will laws that are not legal in Germany as though they were... Acceptance is agreement...
20:05 October 11, 2010 by Prufrock2010
munichiscool --

I do not refer to the Koran as a legitimate source of information any more than I refer to the Bible. I do not accept Talmudic law, Islamic law, Christian law or Canon law as the governing law in a secular society.

As one who has been vilified more than once around here for my "liberal" positions, I admit that I am growing weary of defending Islamists who claim that the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people whose religion has been hijacked by a very small minority of militant followers. The article I cited to illustrates that it only takes a small minority to corrupt a culture, particularly when the majority is intimidated into silence or acquiescence. That is precisely what is happening now. Islam, like Christianity, is a reactionary, brutal and intolerant religion, resistant to reform and uncompromising in its objective to proselytize by any means possible. Unfortunately for the world, Islam HAS been hijacked by its most militant and violent factions -- those who willingly kill their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and anyone else who doesn't happen to share their radical fundamentalist, anti-intellectual view of the world. These are not people to be reasoned with, or who are capable of understanding diversity. They are destroying whatever is good about Islam just as they are intent on destroying those whom the consider to be "infidels." They have established the rules of engagement with a scorched earth policy that admits no possibility of compromise. They, along with the rest of the world, will reap what they have sown.
20:40 October 11, 2010 by ww77ww
And the decline of western civilization continues. Amusing to see history repeating itself. Sit back and enjoy the devolution.
22:04 October 11, 2010 by veritas_69
@munichiscool: "Islam has never opposed thinking and education". Really? Hmm, somebody better tell that to the women and girls in Afghanistan who can be beaten or killed if seen anywhere near a school. I agree, Islam isn't just a cult, it is a way of life. This way of life is not compatible with western freedoms and should be rejected.
09:30 October 12, 2010 by munichiscool
@veritas_69: What can i say bro :) There are more than 60 countries in the world where Muslims are in majority. Afghanistan is just one example. I dont know how much you really know the background of this whole conflict and the propaganda going around here and there. I can only tell you about the country where I am from. I dont disagree that Islam is compatible with western way of life. I have objection on the word "freedom" here :) Freedom is always relative. Were western free 60 years ago when the second world war was fought? Or they were free when the most horrible massacre in the history of Jews happened? or they were free when the blacks were not given rigth to sit in a bus where Whites were sitting. What will be the values in West after 50 years. Is here any reference what are western values???? One day there is one value and next day another :) It was taboo to be homosexual 30 years ago. Now it is acceptable in the western societies. so what is the western value here? what was right? 30 years agoor now? What happens if the state makes it compulsory to be homosexual fro every body in 30 years from now :) :) hehehehe....
11:20 October 12, 2010 by mehta_p

whatever you have wrote in reply to me is totally wrong, that I can proove. If there is any law against openinly spreading wrong information about any country and religion then by now you should be behind bars.

Pakistanis (MUSLIMS), Indians(HINDUS and MUSLIMS), Sri-Lankans and Bangladeshis (MUSLIMS) do play cricket together here in Germany. When we are 1000s of miles away from home, people who are of almost same kind and also speaking same language that interests me.

Many Pakistanis can speak good Hindi.

When I was in Braunschweig, we, Pakistanis and Indians, were playing cricket together and did represent Braunschweig to play against different cities here.

Today I know a few Afgani (MUSLIMS) here with whom I meet on regular basis and no one can (no one means - not any Indian or any person from this world) point me if i am talking with them (muslims) or if i am making friendship with them or if they are making friendship with me.

Many Indian reality-shows invited Pakistanis (MUSLIMS) to take part in our show to improve relation between India and Pakistan. Since 15 yrs we have taken many steps to improve our relation but THE PEOPLE like you spoil the interest and spread wrong information about Hinduism and India.

More over pakistanis open here 'Indian Restaurants' and 'Indian Shops'.
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