The US Must Suppress Sharia Law to Uphold Freedom of Religion
By Tawfik Hamid
A popular 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-LeGrange 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 Sharia law.
Sharia Law advocates the opposite of freedom of religion and minority rights. For instance, one of the fundamental principles of Sharia Law is that Muslims who leave Islam, i.e., apostates, should be killed. Allowing Sharia Law to pertain in US courts completely ignores the rights of the Muslim apostate minority and in so doing endangers their lives.
Imagine that a Muslim apostate was in the court room in the US. If an Islamic Mullah insisted that Shariah law mandates that this apostate be killed, would the judge allow this ruling of Sharia Law? If the judge stopped the killing process, according to the ruling by US District Court Judge Miles-LeGrange, 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 regarded as the law, or he will die if Sharia is allowed to overrule the Constitution.
The US courts MUST draw a clear line between parts of acceptable parts of Sharia that are considered personal issues, which are usually not debatable in court rooms, such as washing before prayers and those foundational and fundamental parts of Sharia that promotes violence, discrimination, and gender inequality. These Sharia 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 Sharia can be accepted in US courts as there are many interpretations of Sharia Law. This naïve approach ignores the fact that differences in Sharia 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 of the four schools of jurisprudence differ only with regard to insignificant issues such as the size of the stones that must be used.
Those who promote the acceptance of Sharia Law in the US need to realize that, not one single approved Sharia Law book clearly rejects the Redda Law (Killing of Muslims who convert to other faith or deny a fundamental part of the religion). Islamic Sharia texts rejecting this inhumane practice does not now exist, and has never existed. The Redda Law is still taught as fundamental part of Sharia, practiced by radical Islamic groups, and is considered the law of the land in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Others may argue that Sharia in the US should be allowed only to influence American courts with regard to regulation of family matters. While this arena may sound innocent, the family practices that Sharia 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 Sharia.
In short, it is impossible to uphold the US constitution and Sharia Law at the same time. It is impossible to accommodate both systems together because the one protects freedom and equality of humans and the second advocates violence and domination.