Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sharia Law and English Wills

IslamRecently, it appears that solicitors in England have received invitations to attend seminars to train them how to write wills based upon Shari'a law. Most conservative groups have no problems with this because it will give more people the opportunity to freely determine how they want to get their affairs in order.

However, not all groups within England are in agreement. These groups believe that the introduction of Sharia law will make it so that the law will not apply equally to all citizens. For example, even though the Qur'an permits women to inherit, it is possible that some households might prohibit muslim women from inheriting from their male family members or drafting their own wills. According to Archbishop Cranmer, "[t]here are manifest gender and generational differences in Shari'a inheritance which are antithetical to human rights and equality."

Now, Great Britain and its government are at crossroads. Some recognize that the introduction of Shari'a law into Great Britain is inevitable and is currently happening. The Prime Minister of Great Britain is opposed to the use of Shari'a law, especially because many Muslim women oppose it and it is "antithetical to many notions of British values."

See Archbishop Cranmer, Lawyers Retrained for Sharia-compliant Wills, Blogspot: Cranmer, Oct. 16, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention. 


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Being an American, I am a bit befuddled by the whole "Sharia law" business across the pond. Does "Sharia law" have the force of actuallaw in the UK? Or is this simply a matter of individuals creating private law that is enforceable only in contract? It seems to me that a "Sharia court" is essentially the equivalent of submitting your issue to private arbitration. It has only the power that you delegate to it by contract, and it can't take away fundamental rights. Or, is there more to it?

Posted by: Barbara Smythe | Oct 18, 2012 3:45:03 PM

Barbara- I believe the nub of the issue to be the apparent willingness of local officials to bow to religious courts and religious tribunals whose edicts disenfranchise citizens of the realm from rights otherwise granted to them by law. For an interesting article on that point see


Posted by: Brian J. Cohan | Oct 21, 2012 11:23:03 AM

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