Is English law related to Muslim law?
One of the mainstays of English justice
In London’s historic “Inns of Court”, barristers practise law in the shadow of the distinctive medieval Temple Church. But does English law really owe a debt to Muslim law?
For some scholars, a historical connection to Islam is a “missing link” that explains why English common law is so different from classical Roman legal systems that hold sway across much of the rest of Europe.
It’s a controversial idea. Common law has inspired legal systems across the world. What’s more, calls for the UK to accommodate Islamic Sharia law have caused public outcry.
The first port of call when looking for an eastern link in the common law is London’s Inns of Court.
“You are now leaving London, and entering Jerusalem,” says Robin Griffith-Jones, the Master of the Temple Church, as he walks around its spectacular rotunda.
The church stands in the heart of the legal district and was built by the Knights Templar, the fierce order of monks-turned-warriors who fought Muslim armies in the Crusades.
London’s historic legal district, with its professional class of independent lawyers, has parallels with the way medieval Islamic law was organised.
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