February 19, 2004

Parallel Legal Systems

Paul Marshall is somewhat in error when he declares that there are no ready analogues between muslim clerics and any familiar western institution. There is at least one, and that is the church tribunal, especially the Catholic system of canon law. To view imams as canon lawyers and officials in a parallel religious code is to both fix Iraq's situation in the familiar and point the way out.

Canon lawyers and religious courts for Catholics exist quite easily in parallel with secular law, so easily that non-Catholics often don't even realize that such things exist. Now I'm not an expert in religious law but I know that we have plenty of them around. If the problem is the tension between religious law, Islamic law, and the rules of the road that the functioning core of the world generally follows, the parallel solution seems to me to be a reasonable way out of the controversy. If there shall be no compulsion in religion, as islamic moderates are fond of pointing out, then an islamic judgment cannot properly be compelled. It is not something that is properly enforced by the state.

Posted by TMLutas at February 19, 2004 11:50 AM