Stephen H. Jones

is a sociologist working at Goldsmiths University of London.


The deep slumber of decided opinions

Rowan Williams and the Sharia controversy

When Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, suggested that the British public consider “some accommodation” to Islamic law, and that such an accommodation ultimately was “unavoidable”, the response was one of outrage. Yet in most cases, Williams’s words were wildly misinterpreted, writes Stephen Jones. When even the most progressive writers about Islam do not denounce the concept of Sharia, would it not be more productive to ask how a symbol that stands for all that is good comes to be used to justify oppression? Could it be that unwillingness to countenance references to the Sharia betrays a reluctance to examine the ethical and moral bases of legal norms in the West?