URL – UNDERSTANDING RELIGION AND LAW: MUSLIMS, FATWAS AND MUFTIS IN THE UK
Project period: July 2016 – March 2017
This community previously received Initiator Funding for the project: URL- Understanding Religion and Law
GW4 community lead
University of Bristol: Julian Rivers
Cardiff University: Sophie Gilliat-Ray and Mustafa Baig (now Exeter)
University of Exeter: Robert Gleave (PI)
Through the work of the project we aim to address the issues of how an inclusive, innovative and reflective society which recognises religious diversity might be further developed.
The relationship between religion and law remains an under researched area, and yet it is at the forefront of policy issues in the UK and internationally. Society and governments (through the law) have regularly sought to control and promote religious practices in the “public interest”. Increased British religious diversity has given rise to fundamental questions about law and its role in society. Furthermore, an increased awareness of religion and its role in the creation of international values and laws challenges the “secular” societies which aim to separate religion from the law.
Through the work of the project we aim to address the issues of how an inclusive, innovative and reflective society which recognises religious diversity might be further developed. We believe this is central to an understanding of what British identity might mean, and how the diversity of British society might be recognised, and the mechanisms whereby a more cohesive society might be developed.
The community used the Accelerator award to examine how British Muslims obtain religious and legal advice (fatwas) from traditional legal experts (muftis), and how this advice is used by those seeking advice in their religious and community life. The community undertook research fieldwork visits to mufti training institutions, offices of muftis and seminars where muftis were discussing their work. The team then held workshops with individuals identified through these visits to discuss collaborative projects, which fed into community networking meetings and grant writing sessions. This resulted in two grant applications being submitted and a strong community across the GW4 institutes and with external partners.