The National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies is holding its conference in Melbourne commencing Wednesday 19 November 2008. For reasons beyond my understanding, they've accepted a rather controversial paper proposal from me. It is a proposal that might get up the noses of some people ...
Imams as expert witnessesWords © 2008 Irfan Yusuf
This paper explores the use of imams as expert witnesses in court proceedings where matters relating to Islamic sacred law or Islamic theology in general become an issue. The paper will introduce the role of expert witnesses in the context of the law of evidence in Australia, focussing on how expert witnesses are qualified and why their opinions are treated as potentially authoritative evidence. Imams pose a particular difficulty in this regard as there is no set system for accrediting imams. In the case of imams’ boards (including the Australian National Imams Council), the accreditation system is unknown, unpublished and/or inconsistently applied. Further, there are very few imams with substantial working knowledge of areas where Islamic sacred law and Australian law might intersect (e.g. family law, estate matters and employment law). Hence, Australian imams can only be of limited use in court proceedings as expert witnesses. This became particularly clear in the religious vilification litigation between the Islamic Council of Victoria and Catch The Fire Ministries, where not a single imam was called by the ICV as an expert witness.
Bookmark this on Delicious