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• North Korea: JULY/AUGUST 2007

hope behind the veil

• Shari`a in the West: how it’s developing and why no one needs it
• The Other Nine: what you can do to help the One in Ten
From the director
Where are The Other Nine?
On May 14th I was at the Foreign we can usually expect is teasing and
and Commonwealth Office in London the distress of seeing our Lord mocked
to present Barnabas Fund’s petition on and belittled by those who do not love
“The Right to Justice” to Susan Hyland,

Him. True, things are getting more
head of the Human Rights, Democracy difficult in some Western countries,
and Governance Group. I shared with and there are incidents of repression
JULY/AUGUST 2007 Ms Hyland some of the examples of and discrimination of those who are
anti-Christian violence from the past
Contents month.
On April 13th an Indian Christian
faithful to Christ, which would never
have occurred 10 or 20 years ago. But
To guard the safety of Christians in hostile environments by and large we, the other nine, enjoy
names have often been changed or omitted. Thank you from a Muslim background was
equality and freedoms which are way
for your understanding. abducted on his way to a prayer
beyond the experience of the one in ten.
meeting. His severed head was later
3 Project News found in a plastic bag near a mosque. Furthermore Western Christians live in
relative affluence compared with the one
Self-sufficiency for converts around On April 15th a bomb exploded
at the Bible Society bookshop in in ten.
the world Gaza. On April 18th, three Christian We at Barnabas Fund have been
workers had their throats slit at a receiving frequent requests from
6 Country Profile: Christian publishing house in Turkey. Western Christians, moved by the plight
North Korea On April 23rd a suicide car bomb
exploded in a Christian village in
of Christian minorities, pleading, “What
can we do in response to the growing
Secrecy, suffering, courage and northern Iraq. At this time in parts persecution, marginalisation and
Christian faith of Baghdad Christians were being deprivation of our Christian brothers
given an ultimatum: convert to Islam, and sisters?” In response to these
Information pay jizya tax, flee or be killed. On requests, Barnabas Fund has launched a
pull-out May 7th Christians in two Pakistani
towns received letters telling them to
new campaign to enable the other nine
to use their freedom to help the one
Shari`a and Muslims in the West close their churches and convert to in ten. You can read more about it on
Islam within ten days or face violent
11 Newsroom consequences. On May 11th rioting to
page 15. The Other Nine campaign asks
Christians to get their whole church or
“We are not here to protect Iraqi protest about a church building project
fellowship fully involved in praying for
Christians,” say coalition forces in an Egyptian village resulted in
and supporting the persecuted Church,
Christians injured and their homes and
businesses set on fire. the one in ten. We provide resources,
14 Harvest Ideas Ms Hyland listened sympathetically, information and suggestions to help you
A Harvest Supper with a difference indicated the British government’s share with your church your compassion
concern and said that the government and concern for persecuted Christians.
15 The Other Nine will make appropriate representations
as necessary. I pray that these
The Apostle Paul, who well knew
what it was to be persecuted, wrote: “We
Being there for the One in Ten representations will make a difference, are hard pressed on every side, but not
and would like to express my thanks to crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
16 Barnabas Reps all of you who signed this petition. persecuted, but not abandoned; struck
Do you have 15 minutes a month to According to statistics from down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians
help the persecuted Church? Operation World and the World 4:8-9) He also knew that in the face of
Evangelical Alliance, as many as these difficulties he could never give up.
17 Stepping into the 200 million Christians live in areas
where they are a minority and there is
“Since through God’s mercy we have this
ministry, we do not lose heart.” (v. 1) He
Shadows frequent persecution, discrimination or saw that he was involved in a conflict
oppression because of their faith, often
A new expanded edition of this between Christ and Satan (v. 4-6) and
leading to poverty and deprivation.
popular book in this conflict Christ the Lord was, is
This is around 10% of the estimated
and will be victorious. Paul’s testimony
world Christian population of two
18 In Touch billion. So one in ten Christians alive
was of God’s power at work to bring His
people through their times of trial, and
today is living under pressure because
Your letters, your comments of his or her faith in the Lord Jesus. to reveal Jesus in their lives (v.10). His
If one in ten Christians lives with words can help guide our intercessions
20 Campaign Update discrimination and persecution, as we pray for the one in ten, just as
much as they can help sustain the
Presenting the petition in the UK what about the other nine? Most of
those reading this magazine will be other nine in their own difficulties and
Cover: A North Korean child. Turn to pages 6-10 pressures of life.
among the other nine, those who live
to read about the brutal persecution of North
Korean Christians, and how Barnabas Fund is in contexts of religious liberty and Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
helping them. Photo: WFP/ Michael Huggins material sufficiency, where the worst International Director
this Chris Fund has helped
tian bak
ery build to fund

North Korea
hope behind the veil
A North Korean Christian was suspended upside down and ordered to deny his beliefs. When
he refused the warder began to stab him and pushed him to the ground. Still the Christian would
not deny Christ. Finally the warder ordered 6,000 other prisoners to walk over him, trampling
him to death.

Very little is known of the totalitarian state of North Korea, which has been veiled in secrecy
for over half a century, but reports of the tremendous courage of its Christians emerge from time
to time. One of the few countries to remain under communist rule, what little is known about
North Korean society is often learnt from those who have escaped the oppressive regime to seek
freedom in South Korea or China. What has become clear is that life for North Koreans is made
up of misery, hunger and oppression by the State, and Christians are singled out for particular
persecution. Despite such hardships, the Christian faith is growing as courageous believers
endure hideous suffering and even martyrdom for the Lord they love.

Land of conflict and of administered by the US. Though

this division was intended to
continued missionary activity
over the next century meant that
Christianity be temporary, it resulted in the
two separate countries of North
by 1863 there were an estimated
23,000 Christians in the country.
For centuries the Korean
Peninsula was fought over by its Korea and South Korea which Korean government policy
larger neighbours, China, Russia we find today. ordered harsh persecution of
and Japan. Korea was absorbed Until the division into North Christians. Yet by the late 19th
into the growing Japanese and South, Korea had enjoyed century Korea had become one of
empire in 1910 and remained a diverse religious background, the most “Christianised” nations
under Japanese control until which included Confucianism, in Asia. Pyongyang (which
Japan surrendered at the end of Daoism and Buddhism. later became the capital of
World War II in 1945. Korea was The Christian faith was first North Korea) was an important
immediately seized by competing introduced by missionaries in Christian centre, with Christians
occupying powers. The USSR the late 18th century. Though comprising one sixth of its
took control of the north, while the Korean government banned population. After a great revival
south of the 38th parallel was the spreading of Christianity, in 1907 Pyongyang became

6 Barnabas AID JULY/ AUG 2007

North Korea: hope behind the veil
known as “the Jerusalem of the of privilege and status. People
East”. were categorised according to
North Korea under Soviet Juche and their family background and
also their perceived loyalty to the
rule soon began to adopt
communist policies, bringing it “Kimilsungism” state. Christians and followers
into direct opposition with the of other faiths were classified
US-administered South Korea. In Over time Juche has into the lowest levels, viewed
1948 North Korea established the developed into a quasi- as “irredeemables”. People in
Democratic People’s Republic of religious personality cult these low categories suffered
Korea (DPRK) headed by Premier centred on Kim Il-Sung, in education and employment.
Kim Il-Sung. A deep distrust who was venerated almost Some were forcibly relocated to
developed between North and like a god. When he died remote and desolate areas, where
South Korea, which soon erupted in 1994 Kim Il-Sung, “The they were deliberately left to
into warfare. The Korean War Great Leader”, was assigned starve.
lasted from 1950-1953, when an the post of president for
armistice agreement was signed. “eternity”. His son Kim
There is still no comprehensive
peace agreement between the two
Jong-Il is the current head of
state, and has been absorbed Religious intolerance
into the personality cult as The DPRK claims that there is
countries. freedom of religion within North
“The Dear Leader”.
Korea. Its constitution even
The Kim dynasty is includes articles which defend
Christians... were labelled portrayed as the ultimate religious liberty. But this is not
as “counter-revolutionary source of power, virtue, the reality of life in North Korea.
spiritual wisdom and truth. While in the late 20th century
elements” Facts concerning their lives the government sanctioned
have been altered to back the opening of three churches
Kim ll-Sung and the up the image of divinity.
For example, Kim Jong-Il
in the capital Pyongyang, it is
believed that these are merely
purging of religion was born in a Soviet army
camp in Siberia; however
“show churches” for international
Kim Il-Sung had been the “official” history teaches The Christian presence in
recruited by Stalin to establish a that he was born on North North Korea is sustained through
communist North Korean state. Korea’s holy Mount Paekdu, many hundreds of underground
On taking the premiership of and that at his birth a star churches. The punishments for
North Korea in 1948 he sought shone, lightning flashed and being a Christian and taking part
to develop a Marxist-Leninist a double rainbow appeared. in religious activity outside of the
political model which centred A North Korean scholar government-sanctioned churches
on the principle of autonomy says that the two Kims are range from fines to imprisonment
and self-reliance, called Juche like God and Jesus Christ.² and even execution.
(pronounced “joo-cheh”). Part People are encouraged to
of the process was a brutal Just being related to Christians
sing their praises and pray can also bring persecution.
suppression of all religious to them. Any dissent is
activity and rival systems of Imprisonment in North Korea’s
ruthlessly repressed.
thought and belief. Christians, Continued overleaf
Buddhists and followers of
other religions were labelled as
“counter-revolutionary elements”.

“We purged the key leaders

above the rank of deacons in
Protestant or Catholic churches
and the wicked among the rest
were put on trial. The general
religious people were… put into
prison camps [and given a chance
to reform]…We learned later that
those of religion can do away
with their old habits only after
they have been killed.”
Kim Il-Sung¹

The Juche belief system led to

the construction of a very rigid A delivery of equipment for the new Christian bakery funded by Barnabas Fund
social class system, with 51 layers
JULY/ AUG 2007 Barnabas AID 7
North Korea: hope behind the veil

Human rights abuses in Growth in the shadow of

prison camps persecution
With the introduction of Juche
Prison camps in North and the purging of all religious
Korea are notorious for activity from North Korea, the
their brutality. Prisoners are number of Christians initially
subjected to forced labour, declined. Many Christians were
or used as test subjects for executed or worked to death
chemical and biological in labour camps, while others
experiments. Most are kept escaped the country to live as
in starvation conditions, glad refugees in China or South
even to eat the raw flesh of Korea. Many of the Christians
rats they catch. Sometimes who stayed in North Korea were
they are confined for days in too frightened to pass on their
punishment cells which are faith even to their own children.
24 inches wide and 44 inches Yet a Christian presence has
high. Unable to stand upright, remained, and from the small
sit or lie down, when finally amount of information which
released they are usually does leak out from behind the
permanently crippled. Some veil of secrecy it appears that
die soon afterwards. the Church is growing. In 1989
North Korean steamed bread. This bread is distributed there were an estimated 11,000
free to the hungry
But the worst tortures are Christians in North Korea. By
kept for Christians. A former 2004 this had risen to as many as
North Korean prison guard 100,000, and by 2006 the estimate
reported that Christian notorious prison camps will
was somewhere between 200,000
prisoners are singled out for usually mean brutal treatment
and 400,000 Christians.
extra harsh treatment, and are and torture, frequently to the
point of death. One of the reasons for this
regarded by the authorities as church growth, humanly
insane. For example: Only legally documented
speaking, may be the discontent
foreigners are allowed to own
with the current regime which
• A group of elderly Bibles, and they must take them
keeps North Koreans in desperate
Christians were ordered out of the country again when
poverty. Poor economic policies
to renounce their faith the leave. Any North Korean
and a lack of agricultural
and accept Juche instead. citizen found to own a Bible
equipment and fertilizers have
When they refused the is imprisoned, and sometimes
led to chronic food shortages. In
security officers ordered executed.
addition North Korea spends a
molten iron to be poured A closed door policy, first disproportionately high share of
over them one by one. adopted by Korea in the 19th its GDP on the military. (North
century, has led to a lack of Korea has the fourth largest army
• A woman was repeatedly accurate figures, but it is believed in the world but its population
kicked and her injuries that one in five Christians in is only 23 million.) Despite
left unattended for days, North Korea is in a prison international food aid, much of
because a prison guard camp, and that as many as 400 the population continues to live
had overheard her praying Christians are executed in a year. with malnutrition and is close to
for a child who had been starvation.

Order your copy of the DVD today

A short DVD presentation on North Korea is available
from Barnabas Fund entitled:
“North Korea: Hope Behind the Veil”
Contact the UK office or your national office
for a free copy.

8 Barnabas AID JULY/ AUG 2007

North Korea: hope behind the veil
dilapidated and the demeanour
As well as returning North
of the people appears to be
Korean converts, many South
Korean Christians are also
crossing the border to bring
humanitarian relief to the
Taking the Gospel back to suffering North Koreans and
share their faith.
their homeland Continued overleaf
Large numbers of North
Koreans have fled to China
or South Korea where many
find shelter with churches and
other Christian humanitarian
Five Principles of Faith
Bread making in the Christian bakery
organisations. The love and care Many North Korean Christians
Even apart from the effects of which they are shown is seeing daily recite the Lord’s Prayer
poverty, life in North Korea is many come to faith in Christ, and five principles of faith. The
extremely harsh, with every area despite years of indoctrination expectations of suffering within
strictly controlled by the state. against Christianity. their faith life are evident in
Amazingly after the risk they these principles:
A recent visitor said: “Most
people dress in black or grey. have taken to leave North Korea, 1. Our persecution and
Only the red flag of the party and some of these refugee converts suffering are our joy and
the occasional coloured child’s are choosing to return to North honour.
coat breaks the monotony of Korea to take the Gospel back 2. We want to accept ridicule,
dullness. There is little music to their homeland. To return scorn and disadvantages with
to be heard… The houses are to North Korea is dangerous. joy in Jesus’ name.
Returning refugees picked up by
the authorities are questioned 3. As Christians, we want to
wipe others’ tears away and
A former police official who about the extent of their contacts
with South Korean missionaries, comfort the suffering.
escaped North Korea claimed whether they have read the 4. We want to be ready to risk
our life because of our love for
that his fellow officials are Bible and whether they attended
church. To admit to any of our neighbour, so that they
particularly anxious to catch these activities would lead to also become Christians.
Christian believers because imprisonment or execution.
Despite knowing the dangers
5. We want to live our lives
according to the standards set
they fear that “Christianity these courageous Christians still in God’s Word.
choose to return.
will defeat Juche”.

A 21-year-old woman who

converted to Christianity
while in China returned to
North Korea in 2000. She was
soon arrested for evangelising.
While in prison she was not
cowed by the harsh treatment
but instead sought to share
the love of Jesus Christ with
her jailers. She defended
her actions by saying that
she prayed for North Korea
because she loved her country
and the Korean people, which
should not be considered a
crime. Unexpectedly she was
told “You have committed a
crime related to religion, but
the general forgives you.” She
was released.

Supported by Barnabas Fund, this bakery provides jobs for North Korean Christians

JULY/ AUG 2007 Barnabas AID 9

North Korea: hope behind the veil

The faith that will not be repressed

It appears that while all religious activity
is subjected to repression by the Kim Jong-Il
Jobs for North Korean Christians through
government, Christianity is particularly feared. Barnabas Fund’s aid
A former police official who escaped North
Korea claimed that his fellow officials are Barnabas Fund is working to help Christians
particularly anxious to catch Christian believers in North Korea. Two Chinese Christian women
because they fear that “Christianity will defeat manage a bakery in the north of the country
Juche”. which employs mainly Christians. The bread
Christians in North Korea have persevered they produce is distributed free to the poor and
through more than 50 years of persecution, hungry in the region, often to children.
poverty and severe hunger. They continue to Barnabas Fund gave grants to help towards
pray that the Church will be restored within the building costs of a second bakery. The vision
North Korea. A North Korean Christian, is to see a network of these bakeries across
speaking of their hopes for the future, said “We the country, bringing both employment for
well know where all the churches destroyed in impoverished Christians and practical love and
the past were. We will build every one of them care in the name of Jesus Christ to the many
up with the consent of God.” Despite every starving North Koreans.
effort of the Korean regime, what tremendous
faith, courage and hope are shining out from Barnabas Fund hopes to be able to continue
behind the veil. partnering in this pioneering work. It costs
approximately £98 per day to run the bakery,
1. Goh Tae Woo, Bukhanui jonggyo jeongchaek (North Korea’s producing 2,500 steamed bread rolls a day and
Policies on Religion), reported in Thank you Father Kim Il-Sung:
Eyewitness accounts of severe violations of freedom of thought, giving employment to approximately 30 staff.
conscience and religion in North Korea, U.S. Commission on
International Religious Freedom, (November 2005), p.2.
Project ref: 86-642
2. Kongdan Oh, quoted in Peter Carlson, “Sins of the Son”,
Washington Post, 11 May 2003,
wp-dyn/A40505-2003May10?language=printer, viewed 9 May

Quick Facts
• In the 19th century Korea was an
important centre of Christianity. It was
the second most Christianised country
in Asia after the Philippines.

• The Korean Peninsula was separated

into North and South Korea at the end
of WWII. North Korea was dominated
by the USSR, the South by the USA.

• In 1948 Kim Il-Sung became president.

He introduced the Juche regime of self-
reliance, and outlawed all religions. Many children receive free bread from the Christian bakery

• Juche, or “Kimilsungism” has developed

into a personality cult, in which the Kim
dynasty is revered. Belief in Juche is

• All religious activity is suppressed,

but Christians come under particular
persecution as the Christian faith is seen
as a threat to the Juche ideology.

• The Juche tenet of self-reliance, poor

economic policies and a famine in the
1990s have left much of the country
facing starvation.

• Barnabas Fund is funding a project

employing Christians in a bakery which
gives away its bread to the poor.

10 Barnabas AID JULY/ AUG 2007

This series of pull-out supplements is intended to provide background information for Christians seeking to understand
the nature of Islam and its contemporary expression. One aspect of this relates to understanding the reason for the
oppression and persecution of Christians in various Islamic parts of the world, and another to the growing challenge

Pull-out supplement
which Islam poses to Western society, culture and Church.

Church leader in
Shari`a and Muslims in the West Uzbekistan given
four-year sentence
Dmitri (David) Shestakov,
Aspects of shari`a (Islamic law) are increasingly being implemented in Western countries. This is particularly
marked in the UK, where the government has yielded to a number of demands from sections of the Muslim
community. Why is this happening and what are the implications? Is it really required by Islam?
Obeying shari`a is seen by Muslims as part of living of violence and threats to her life. The judge argued
in accordance to God’s will, and in Muslim-majority that the woman should have expected her Muslim
countries the state is seen as the protector of Islam. husband to exercise the Islamic right to use corporal
The state enforces shari‘a (to varying degrees) and punishment. The judge even quoted from the Qur’an to
is also closely involved in religious affairs, often prove that Islam established the husband’s superiority
controlling mosques, clerics and Muslim charities. over the wife and his right to use corporal punishment.
With this worldview, Muslims in the West often face This judgment caused a storm of protests by those who
a dilemma about whether to obey shari`a or the law of feared it was opening the way for an Islamic parallel
the land in which they live. This can arise over issues society in Germany.
such as food, marriage, divorce, politics and banking.
Many Muslims in the West would therefore like to Sweden: In April 2006 the Swedish Muslim
see parts of shari`a incorporated into the civil laws of Association wrote to all of Sweden’s political parties
Western states. Others demand state recognition of suggesting some reforms to the legal system that would
separate self-governing Muslim communities in the have meant making exceptions for Muslims. Among the
West. requested changes was one asking that imams approve
all divorces among Muslims. Sweden’s Integration and
A poll of British Muslims in 2004 found that 61% Equality Minister responded that there would not be
would prefer shari`a courts to the secular court system. separate laws for specific groups in Sweden.
A survey in February 2006 showed that 40% of British
Muslims would support the introduction of shari`a in UK: At the 5th Annual Conference of the Association
predominantly Muslim areas of Britain. Another poll of Muslim Social Scientists held in London in 2004,
six months later found that 28% hoped that Britain Ahmad Thompson, an Islamist barrister and author
would one day become a fundamentalist Islamic state who served as advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair,
under shari`a. argued that the British government must safeguard
Muslim human rights by incorporating Islamic
personal law into British law. This, he said, should
Examples include the legal recognition of Muslim marriages,
Canada: In 2003 some Canadian Muslims called divorces and inheritance. This would mean setting up
for Ontario’s secular legal system to enforce shari`a shari`a courts whose verdicts would be recognised and
decisions made by Muslim voluntary arbitration enforced by the UK civil courts.
councils. While voluntary arbitration in civil disputes
is legal in Canada, as in most Western countries,
settlements arrived at by these bodies had no legal
standing in Canadian law. In 2004 Ontario’s attorney Shari`a options to help Muslims in the West
general recommended the use of Islamic law to settle Traditional Islam assumes that it is impossible for a
issues such as divorce and child custody. Finally, in Muslim to live in a society governed by non-Islamic
2005, following protests by Muslim women and others, law. The world is considered to be divided into two
Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty quashed the parts: (1) the “House of Islam” (Dar al-Islam) where
move, arguing that there should be only one law for all Muslims have political control and shari`a is enforced,
Ontarians. (2) the “House of War” (Dar al-Harb) where Muslims
must fight against non-Muslims to establish Islamic
Germany: In March 2007 a judge in Frankfurt’s political power. Muslim scholars of old often advised
family court ruled against a Muslim woman’s petition that Muslims living in Dar al-Harb should migrate
for a divorce from her Muslim husband on grounds

Our subject in this issue follows on from the pull-out supplement entitled What is Shari`a? which appeared in Barnabas Aid January-February 2007.
This included details of five main areas in which shari`a is incompatible with human rights. One example is the discrimination against women in
matters of divorce, inheritance, compensation, legal testimony and other areas. This should be borne in mind when reading the article in this issue,
and considering issues such as Muslim calls for the implementation of shari`a family law in the West.
back to Dar al-Islam i.e. to Muslim states. Radical 3. A new shari‘a jurisprudence for Muslim
Pull-out supplement
Salafi scholars still recommend this option to Muslim minorities
minorities today.
The European Council for Fatwa and Research, linked
Other Muslim scholars, such as the influential
to the Muslim Brotherhood and headed by Yusuf
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, argue that Western
al-Qaradawi, is the most important body dealing
governments must make their laws more in line with
with the formal adaptation of shari`a legal theory for
shari‘a. This pressure is bearing fruit. In Britain, for
Muslim minorities in the West. This organisation has
instance, the government employs shari`a advisors
in various departments. It has used fatwas to gain called on all Muslims in the West to abide by the laws
Muslim support for organ donations. Schools have of their respective countries. Yet at the same time
introduced halal food (sometimes for all pupils it recommended that Muslims in the West should
irrespective of faith), segregated sports and Muslim form Islamic institutions to enable them to organise
dress and head covering. Muslim chaplains, Muslim their personal and family lives in accordance with
prayer rooms, halal food and Muslim headcovering shari`a. It also recommended that they try to get the
have also been accepted in a variety of public services country they live in to recognise Islam as a religion
such as the police and the prison service. Local and Muslims as a community (by implication the
councils are now considering shari`a principles in their first step towards autonomy under shari`a). These
decisions on housing, education, health and other contradictory statements reveal the real agenda of
matters. In June 2006 the Home Office withdrew the Council, which is to apply pressure on Western
proposed legislation banning forced marriages, governments for ever more shari`a application in their
apparently for fear of antagonising the Muslim legal systems.
community. An extensive alternative system of shari`a courts has
However, there are many Muslim leaders who tell developed in the UK, which many Muslims prefer to
Muslims in the West to obey the law of the land so use rather than the British court system. This means
long as it does not contradict shari`a. There are also that there is a situation of “legal pluralism” in the UK
scholars who argue that Muslims are free to disobey with unofficial Muslim law operating in the Muslim
certain parts of shari`a if they are living in a situation community, mainly dealing with family matters
in the West where it is not possible for them to comply (divorce, inheritance, etc.). This places huge pressure
with all the shari`a rules. on vulnerable members of the Muslim community,
Some Muslim scholars are now trying to develop a such as women and children, to abide by the verdicts
doctrinal shari`a basis for Muslim minorities. These of such courts even when these are harmful to their
are some of their ideas:
Case study: Vaccination and shari‘a
Some Muslim doctors and scholars oppose the
1. Necessity Western practice of mass vaccination of children.
The shari`a principle of necessity (darura) states that In Britain Dr Abdul Majid Katme, head of the
when emergency circumstances threaten the life and Islamic Medical Association, has warned Muslims
welfare of Muslims, the unlawful may become lawful that most vaccines include materials forbidden
(“necessity lifts prohibition”). This principle allows (haram) by shari`a for human consumption.
Muslims in a non-Muslim state to ignore shari`a rules These include pig products (pork-origin gelatine)
that conflict with the law of the land. Darura is used and other materials derived from animal and
by many Muslim scholars to justify Muslim minorities human tissues as well as alcohol. According to
adapting to life in Western states, obeying Western Katme, it is forbidden in shari`a to have any of
legal systems, and being loyal to Western governments. these substances introduced into the human
Sheikh al-Tantawi of the prestigious al-Azhar body. In addition, he says that vaccines are totally
University, Cairo used this argument to justify Muslim unnecessary as God has given humans their
women in France obeying the French government’s immune system to defend them against diseases.
ban on the Islamic headscarf in public institutions. Other hardline Islamic leaders around the world
However, once a shari`a alternative becomes legally add further reasons for Muslims to reject Western
available, it becomes obligatory for Muslims to obey vaccination programmes. These leaders claim the
that particular aspect of shari`a. vaccination programmes are part of a Western
Christian conspiracy to harm Muslims by adding
infertility agents, AIDS viruses, poisons and other
2. The public good harmful substances to the vaccines.
The shari`a principle of public good (maslaha) states However some moderate Muslim leaders have
that certain shari`a rules may be modified, as long voiced their opposition to these allegations, and
as the benefit for Muslims is greater than the harm state that in the absence of effective alternatives
considered to be incurred by deviating from shari`a to prevent infection it is permissible by shari‘a to
norms. On this basis some modern scholars argue accept the vaccines.
that socially beneficial rules appropriate to Western In several Muslim-majority regions such as
contexts may be adopted even if they are not explicitly northern Nigeria and north-west Pakistan there
authorised by the original sources of shari`a; the has been a worrying rise in polio cases as many
Qur’an and hadith. Such scholars say that they are Muslims have refused to let their children be
implementing the spirit rather than the letter of vaccinated. World Health Organisation experts
Islamic law. Democracy and human rights – which fear this could be the prelude to a new polio
are contradictory to traditional shari`a – are often epidemic, just when there were hopes of achieving
defended in Islamic terms by using maslaha. its worldwide eradication.

interests and they would get fairer treatment in the

Pull-out supplement
normal British courts.
Sometimes the Islamic courts deal with other kinds
of issues. For example, a stabbing case was decided
by an unofficial Islamic court in Woolwich, London.
A group of Somali youths were arrested on suspicion
of stabbing another Somali teenager. The victim’s
family told the police it would be settled out of court
and the suspects were released on bail. A council
of Muslims was convened and the assailants were
ordered to compensate their victim and apologise for
their wrongdoing.
Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, a barrister and principal of
Hijaz College Islamic University near Nuneaton,
predicted in November 2006 that there would be a radical interpretation which requires the creation of a
formal network of Muslim courts in Britain within a separate Islamic economic system. Having a separate
decade. economic system tends to insulate the Muslim
minority from the non-Muslim majority, and could
become a model for the Islamising of other Western
4. Redefining the status of the West systems and institutions.
Some Muslim scholars have tried to redefine Western In the last two decades there has been a spectacular
states as part of the “House of Islam” but this has growth in Islamic finance and banking around the
been strongly opposed by most Muslims. Other world including the West. Western institutions and
terms have been created to describe the West and governments have introduced Islamic finance and
thus justify Muslims living there and complying with banking into the Western system, thus unknowingly
non-shari`a norms. These include the “House of encouraging the Islamist upsurge. The American Dow
Security” (Dar al-Aman) or the “House of Covenant” Jones company has produced a special Islamic Market
(Dar al-‘Ahd). The implication of these terms is that, Index (DJIM). As oil profits and other Muslim wealth
by allowing Muslim migrants in and ensuring their sources are put into Islamic investment products, the
safety, Western states have in effect made a covenant Islamic financial market claims an ever-increasing
with the Muslim community, a covenant that means share of the global market. It is possible that Western
Muslims must live peacefully and obey the law of the institutions may choose to gradually Islamise their
land. The popular European Islamist scholar Tariq own systems, in an attempt to retain their share in
Ramadan has invented another term for the West, this lucrative market. If so, it could eventually mean
Dar al-Shahada (House of Witness), implying it is no that non-Muslims have little choice but to use Islamic
longer a House of War, but a space where Muslims financial products and systems.
can live without guilt as long as they are free to
In Britain the media have accepted claims by
witness to their faith.
Islamists that shari`a absolutely prohibits the taking
of any interest. Banks have joined the call for Islamic
finance. In 2003 the British Treasury Board argued
Shari`a - compliant economic system that having an Islamic financial market in London
The European Council for Fatwa and Research has would give the UK an economic advantage. The
recommended that Muslims in the West should Bank of England set up a working group to study the
press for financial institutions that conform with issue and in 2003 changed the rules on stamp duty to
shari`a economic rules. Islamic economics is defined make Islamic mortgages more accessible. Treasury
by a strict and literal interpretation of the Islamic officials also indicated that there were no longer any
source texts on matters of trade and financial objections in principle to the introduction of shari`a-
transactions. Although traditionally there was no compliant financial products into the UK market. In
all-encompassing Islamic body of economic thought, April 2007 the Treasury announced the setting up of
modern Islamists have transformed the various a feasibility study to look at the costs and potential
scattered shari`a commands on the subject into a benefits of the government itself issuing Islamic
comprehensive and detailed economic system. financial products.
However, not all Muslims agree on the basic Following these official changes in government
principles. The main point of difference is the policy, the Islamic Bank of Britain was set up in 2004
interpretation of the Qur’anic ban on riba. The word and mainstream banks hurried to provide suitable
riba is understood by some Muslims as “interest” and services. These include HSBC, West Bromwich,
by others as “usury” (excessive interest amounting Barclays and Yorkshire Building Society. All want
to extortion and exploitation). Those who interpret a share of the huge market offered by Britain’s
riba as “usury” explain that the Qur’an bans pre- approximately 3 million Muslims (including 5,000
Islamic Arabian riba, not modern interest. They say millionaires). Most of these banks have set up
that the ancient riba was so high that people who internal shari`a supervisory councils to make sure
could not pay ended up as slaves. They therefore their products comply with a strict interpretation of
tend to allow limited moderate interest. On the other shari`a and they publish the names of the scholars
hand those who interpret riba as “interest” prohibit involved so as to reassure the Muslim community. The
any kind of interest as anti-Islamic and anti-shari`a. efforts of the Treasury and of the Bank of England
The radical interpretation that sees all interest have succeeded in creating a friendly atmosphere
as prohibited seems to have won the day, and is for Islamic finance in the UK, thus attracting much
assumed by most of the non-Muslim media in the investment. In a 2005 survey, Islamic companies
West to be the only Islamic viewpoint. It is only this indicated that the UK had the most shari`a-friendly