Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 4-1-2009

Capstone Advisor

Hossein Bashiriyeh

Honors Reader

Gustav Niebuhr

Capstone Major

Political Science

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Other Political Science | Political Science


As a part of a series of lectures on “Islam in English Law,” for the 2008 Temple Festival, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, gave a lecture titled, “Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective.” The lecture referenced Sharia (Muslim divine law) as an example in which the state of England could tease out some of the broader issues around the rights of religious groups within a secular state. Williams intended the lecture to offer a space for serious discussion on what it means to have within society “the presence of communities which, while no less ‘law-abiding’ than the rest of the population, relate to something other than the British legal system alone,” however, many in Britain viewed the lecture as the archbishop’s attempt to implement Sharia in Britain.

The misinterpretation of the archbishop’s lecture created an uproar in Britain, which, I thought, highlighted the problem of multiculturalism in the West, particularly, the ignorance that surrounds Islam in the West. The following project examines the archbishop’s lecture, its purpose and misinterpretation, in both its religious and legal dimensions. I argue that beyond sparking discussion on how religious motivation affects law, I thought one of the main points of the lecture was a call for an interfaith, intercultural dialogue to address the ever-changing societal issues of a multicultural state.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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