Association of Muslim Lawyers
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The Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML) is an organisation in the United Kingdom which campaigns for legal rights for Muslims and others, and to aid Muslims working in the legal professions. It has existed since 1993 with its official launch being in 1995. It has organised talks, seminars, conferences and careers workshops.
The AML logo has the Arabic letters alif, 'ayn, mim, lam. From these four letters, four key words can be derived :
ayn mim lam: (noun) meaning 'action'
alif mim lam : (noun) meaning 'hope'
alif ayn mim lam : (verb, imperative) meaning 'do' or 'act' (appears twice in the Qur'an : 34.11, 41.5).
alif ayn mim lam : (noun, plural) meaning 'actions' (appears four times in the Qur'an : 10.41, 23.100, 27.19, 46.15).
Thus the meaning of the AML Logo is said to be: Act with hope.
Main aims and objectives
The main aims and objectives of AML are defined as:
- To promote the provision of legal advice and assistance to anyone in need of justice, irrespective of their nationality, ethnic or racial origins, colour, gender, or religious beliefs.
- To promote the legal rights of Muslims and the availability of advice in accordance with the Sharia of Islam.
- To promote research into both the Sharia and English law with regard to specific social, political and legal issues, and to hold seminars and publish the results of any such research.
- To facilitate the achievement of a fair and just society by means such as increasing understanding, educating and lobbying.
- To facilitate entry into the legal profession for men and women, and to assist them in the furtherance of their legal development.
- To liaise and co-operate with any other individuals or organizations who are willing and able to assist in the realization of these Objectives.
- To do all such things as shall be conducive to the attainment of the above.
In seeking to realize these aims and objectives the Association of Muslim Lawyers not only facilitates contact between Muslim lawyers and with Muslims, but also works with many other organisations and institutions, including for example, the Union of Muslim Organisations, the Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Lawyers (Europe), the Minority Lawyers Conference, the Commission for Racial Equality, City Hall, the Home Office, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. During 2005 a series of seminars jointly organised by the AML and the Law Society were held at the Law Society in Chancery Lane, London.
One of the main issues about which AML has been advising and lobbying for several years is the lack of anti-discrimination protection afforded to Muslims under English law. Until the 3 December 2003, there was no law in the UK against abuse and discriminatory treatment of Muslims based solely on their religion. The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 are now in force and afford some protection from religious discrimination in the work place. This development in the law has been due more to the implementation of the Employment Directive adopted under Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty in November 2000 than as a result of AML's efforts.
In all other spheres of life, including the provision of services, education and housing, religious discrimination is still not illegal. Representatives of the AML made detailed submissions to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences (whose report was published on 10 June 2003) who declined to make any recommendation that Muslims should be protected by law from incitement to religious hatred, or by an updated law of blasphemy which would apply just as much to Muslims as to Christians.
Some bodies, such as for example the Commission for Racial Equality and the Bar Council have written into their codes of practice an all encompassing anti-discrimination policy which includes the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion as well as of race, sex and disability. After several requests by AML spanning a period of several years and spurred on by the Employment Directive, the Law Society reviewed and extended its anti-discrimination rule to include discrimination on the grounds of religion.
By virtue of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998, the government is under a duty, by passing secondary legislation, to secure the basic rights of freedom of religion, freedom to practise one's religion and freedom to educate one's children in accordance with one's religion. Until recently, all political parties were united in attempting to pretend that religious discrimination is synonymous with racial discrimination, even though this is clearly not true – but now that the Muslim block vote can affect the outcome of both local and national elections, their leaders are beginning to adopt a more pragmatic approach and it is hoped that they may take the duty required by the Convention more seriously in the future.
Integration of Islamic law
They have also proposed that Muslim personal law should be recognised by English domestic law, so that Muslim marriages and divorces are recognised as legally valid – and the estates of Muslims who die without leaving a will are automatically distributed in accordance with the Sharia, not the laws of intestacy. This means that the decisions of properly constituted Sharia courts would have to be recognised by the English civil courts as being legally binding and enforceable in the civil courts. In effect this mechanism will be another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution which should serve to lessen the workload of the civil courts.
In the meantime AML has been active in encouraging Muslims to make Islamic wills which are valid as regards the technical requirements of English law and which stipulate that their wealth is to be divided in accordance with the Sharia after they have died. As part of this initiative AML has also been involved in training lawyers who wish to provide an Islamic Wills service.
AML has also formed its own Working Party on Human Rights and Civil Liberties to protect people accused under anti-terrorism legislation which they perceive as unjust or draconian.
- The Association of Muslim Lawyers (UK)
- Muslim Lawyers (Europe)
- 1st Memorandum from The Association of Muslim Lawyers written by Ahmad Thomson, published by the United Kingdom Parliament
- 2nd Memorandum from The Association of Muslim Lawyers written by Ahmad Thomson, published by the United Kingdom Parliament
- Part 1, Examination of Ahmad Thomson by the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences, published by the United Kingdom Parliament
- Part 2, Examination of Ahmad Thomson by the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences, published by the United Kingdom Parliament
- Part 3, Examination of Ahmad Thomson by the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences, published by the United Kingdom Parliament
- Supplementary Memorandum from The Association of Muslim Lawyers written by Ahmad Thomson, published by the United Kingdom Parliament