Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby insists that Sharia Law must never be allowed to become part of the UK’s legal system.
Mr Welby said “underlying values and assumptions” which stem from Christian culture and history are the basis of UK law.
In contrast, he said: “Sharia law is not just about punishments. It is something of immense sophistication, but it comes from a very different background of jurisprudence to the one from which British law has developed over the past 500 years.
“There has been and remains a demand for the introduction of those aspects of sharia law that affect family and inheritance.
“The problem is reimagining Britain through values applied in action can only work where the narrative of the country is coherent and embracing.”
Some 3.3 million people in the UK are Muslim and the local mosque for Canterbury is in Giles Lane at the University of Kent.
Mr Welby argues that immigration from Muslim countries can “have an impact on the accepted pattern for choosing a partner, on assumed ages of maturity and sexual activity, and especially on issues of polygamy”.
Britain has around 85 Sharia courts operating in the UK, overseeing such things as divorce and business disputes. There are concerns that women are not afforded the same rights under Sharia that they have access to in law courts.
Mr Welby went on: “[We] need one legal basis of oversight and one philosophical foundation of understanding.
“For these reasons, I am especially sympathetic towards those Islamic groups that do not seek the application of sharia law into the family and inheritance law of this country.”
The Archbishop’s intervention came on a weekend of public pronouncements on a variety of subjects and as he prepares to mark five years in post and as he prepares to publish a book called Reimagining Britain.
He claimed Britain’s departure from the European Union would be the nation’s biggest challenge since the Second World War.
The UK’s housing crisis, poverty and austerity were also on the Archbishop’s radar.
“Brexit has divided the country – and now we need a new narrative,” Mr Welby said.
“There is a danger that there is a schism in our society into which the most vulnerable are falling. Austerity is crushing the weak, the sick and many others.
“We must build proper homes – and have a housing policy that is about creating communities, not just bricks and mortar.”