Dear Editor, As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community I am disappointed with both the media and politicians' hysterical reaction to the Archbishop's comments regarding Sharia.

It is clear from his lecture that Dr Rowan Williams was not advocating implementation of the Islamic penal system in Britain, but was confining the application of Sharia to certain civil matters that would be in accordance with British law and consistent with established principles of justice and human rights. However, by reacting to his remarks with typical anti-Muslim fervour, the press saw another opportunity to portray Islam as the backward, bloodthirsty and barbaric tradition it most certainly is not.

Of course, all faiths enshrine laws covering the beliefs and behaviour of its followers, including what they eat and how they dress, which do not involve national law.

In Islam, Sharia itself is merely an interpretation of teachings contained in the Qur'an and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, and by nature will differ from one school of thought to another. Even in nations where Islam is the dominant religion, one observes a self-styled form of government that whilst claiming to adhere to the Qur'an, in fact defies it as well as ignores the model of the Prophet who ensured that people of all beliefs were respected and protected.

As such, in the absence of any divinely inspired

Khalifa (Caliph) in those countries, there is no example of a truly Islamic state, as reflected in the inequality between men and women, and the passing of blasphemy laws, neither of which have any basis in Islam. We would not want such regimes here. In fact, through the many freedoms we enjoy in this society -including those of speech and conscience - in some ways Britain presents a better example of Islamic values in practice than many so-called Muslim countries themselves.

Furthermore, Sharia applies to Muslims only. When cases were brought to the Prophet, particularly those affecting non-Muslims, he permitted them to resolve their affairs according to either the traditional Arab custom or the dictates of their own faith.

We should not forget either that most Muslims are happy living under existing British law, which does not preclude us from observing our religious practices. The law also already allows people to settle matters out of court through family or the mediation of community leaders.

The fact that Muslims have lived in and been loyal to this land ever since Britain's first purpose-built mosque was opened in south London in 1914, and continue to make an outstanding contribution to British life professionally, socially and economically, all demonstrate that we are proud to remain British citizens and obey the laws of this country, and that we see no contradiction in being British and Muslim.




Miracle of the NHS

Dear Editor, Many of your readers may not be aware but there is only one hospital in this country that boasts a purpose-built heart and lung centre, and that is the Wolverhampton Royal (New Cross) Hospital.

In here now for a few more days, I need to give three cheers for the complete excellence of this healing place and the modern miracle of our National Health Service.




Protecting the domestic game

Dear Editor, The proposal to make Premiership clubs travel the world playing an extra game is totally unacceptable. In the short term it would mean both play-ers and fans are short changed. The players would be exposed to stress, fatigue and injury for purely financial reasons, while the fans once again find the status of home games reduced. And what happens to the FA Cup?

However the long term implications are even more worrying. Once lucrative fixtures overseas are established, who protects the domestic game? If a foreign

match brings in £5 million, why play at home? Very few home games net that sort of money. Why not make foreign matches the norm? One game per season is just the thin end of the wedge to moving the whole shooting match abroad. If only money counts, why not Los Angeles Villa? Or Dubai City? Or West Timor Albion?

Fans, managers, players and the political authorities need to fight this proposal.