CAIRO - A parliamentary report denouncing Islamic Shari`ah and polygamy as unfitting the basis of multiculturalism in Australia is inviting criticism from the Muslim community in the country.
Shari`ah is just a term that applies to all religious practices, including being good neighbors and citizens," Keysar Trad, assistant secretary of the Federation of Islamic Councils, told The Australian on Monday, March 4.
We are able to practice everything Shari`ah demands in accordance with Australian law.
A parliamentary report has said that Islamic Shari`ah and polygamy do not fit multiculturalism in Australia.
The two-year report into the country's multicultural strategy concludes that Australians are comfortable with multiculturalism and racial diversity.
It, however, says that an overwhelming number of people have concerns that Muslims were not integrating and were coming to Australia to impose their values.
The report, to be delivered within weeks, suggests a number of initiatives to help Muslims better integrate into the society.
It calls for more work to help bridge cultural gaps and promoting inter-faith and inter-cultural understanding.
The report also urges community leaders, organizations and institutions to help foster awareness of the rights, obligations and responsibilities that apply to all in Australian society.
Trad said the report's findings show a "continued misunderstanding" of Shari`ah.
In Islam, Shari`ah govern issues in Muslims' lives from daily prayers to fasting and from to inheritance and marital cases to financial disputes.
The Islamic rulings, however, do not apply on non-Muslims, even if in a dispute with non-Muslims.
Muslim leader also criticized the report's finding on polygamy.
"Marriage is traditionally something under God, not a secular system," Trad said.
"People can enjoy all the rights and privileges of a couple without having to be married under Australian law.
"If people want to be involved in a plural relationship, that's their concern."
In Islam, marriage is a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman by virtue of the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Each partner in this sacred relationship must treat the other properly and with respect.
Islam sees polygamy as a realistic answer to some social woes like adulterous affairs and lamentable living conditions of a widow or a divorced woman.
A Muslim man who seeks a second or a third wife should, however, make sure that he would treat them all on an equal footing.
The Noble Qur'an says that though polygamy is lawful it is very hard for a man to guarantee such fairness.
The debate about the report's findings has prompted Pino Migliorino, chairman of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia to call for not politicizing the issue.
"This is an area which can degenerate into politics of fear," he said.
Islam is Australia's second largest religion after Christianity.Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.