Religion in a Secular World: The Case of Shariah Law in Canada

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Al-Taqrib A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Unity Supervisor: Ayatullah Muhammad ‘Ali Taskhiri Managing Director: Hujjatul Islam ‘Ali Asghar Awhadi Editors: Shuja Ali Mirza and Rizwan Rashid Advisors: Sayyid ‘Ali Quli Qara’i, Dr Mahdi Hadawi Tihrani, Hujjatul Islam Tahsin al-Badri The opinions expressed in this journal do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher. Published by: The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought P.O. Box 15875-6995 Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran Telephone +98 21 88321411 Fax +98 21 88321414

As large numbers of Muslims continue to establish themselves in the West, they inevitably have to deal with the challenge of secularism. The fundamental question which is often asked is: how can a Muslim maintain his faith in a largely secular environment? Attempts to deal with this issue have led to the establishment of religious centres, Islamic schools, and various faith-oriented organizations, all within the framework of a multicultural society. A more recent effort is the attempt to incorporate Shari’ah-based arbitrations within the secular legal structure. In Canada, such an effort was met with unfortunate results. This paper attempts to understand the reasons for the unsuccessful endeavour to establish a Shari’ah-based tribunal system in Canada within the greater context of the conflict between religion and secularism, particularly in the modern world.