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Irresponsible to Consider Shariah Part of US Law

By Tawfik Hamid   |   Friday, 12 Nov 2010 08:17 AM

A new law that bars Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic law, or Shariah, when deciding cases was put on hold Monday after a prominent Muslim in the state won a temporary restraining order in federal court.

This ruling was issued in the name of freedom of religion and minority rights.

U.S. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that the measure, which passed by a large margin in last Tuesday's elections, would be suspended until a hearing on Nov. 22, when she will listen to arguments on whether the court's temporary injunction should become permanent.

"Today's ruling is a reminder of the strength of our nation's legal system and the protections it grants to religious minorities," said Muneer Awad, executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma, who filed the suit last Thursday, claiming the law violated his constitutional rights.

"We are humbled by this opportunity to show our fellow Oklahomans that Muslims are their neighbors and that we are committed to upholding the U.S. Constitution and promoting the benefits of a pluralistic society," Awad said.

Awad's statement blatantly misrepresents the realities of Shariah. Shariah advocates the opposite of freedom of religion and minority rights. One of the fundamental principles of Shariah is that Muslims who leave Islam, i.e., apostates, should be killed.

Allowing Shariah to be relevant in U.S. courts completely ignores the rights of those who do not practice Shariah, and in so, doing endangers their lives.

Imagine a Muslim apostate in a U.S. court room. If an Islamic mullah insisted that Shariah mandates that this apostate be killed, would the judge allow this ruling?

If the judge stopped the killing process, according to Miles-LaGrange, the judge would be limiting the religious freedom of the mullah. The judge must suppress the "religious freedom" of the mulla in order to give the apostate his constitutional rights to freedom of religious beliefs.

It is impossible to have it both ways: the man will live if the Constitution is upheld; he will die if Shariah is observed.

U.S. courts must draw a clear line between acceptable parts of Shariah that are considered personal issues — which are usually not debatable in court rooms, such as washing before prayers — and the fundamental parts of Shariah that promote violence, discrimination, and gender inequality. These Shariah rules include killing apostates, beating women, stoning of women for adultery, killing homosexuals, accepting slavery, and inequality in inheritance between a man and a woman.

Some may argue that Shariah in total can be accepted in U.S. courts as there are many interpretations of Shariah.

This naïve approach ignores the fact that differences in interpretations are not about the acceptability of violent edicts but rather about details of their implementation. For example, the four main schools of jurisprudence in Islam are Shafii, Maleki, Hanbali, and Hanafi. Without exception, including in contemporary times, none of these schools of Islamic jurisprudence have ever condemned the punishment of stoning.

The views differ only with regard to insignificant issues such as the size of the stones that must be used.

Not one single approved Shariah law book clearly rejects the Redda law (the killing of Muslims who either convert to another faith or deny a fundamental part of the religion).

The Redda law is still taught as a fundamental part of Shariah, practiced by radical Islamic groups, and is considered the law of the land in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The family practices that Shariah allows and even encourages include beating women, polygamy, and forcing underage girls to marry older men.

Women and girls within Islam need American laws to protect them from the injustices of Shariah.

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