Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts - updated 5/26/12

Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts

by Sheila Musaji


We have been slowly working to put online all of the articles from the print issues of The American Muslim published between 1989 and 1995.  Recently, one such article Native American Courts: Precedent for an Islamic arbitral system by Issa Smith which was originally published in our 1993 print edition went online.

This was quickly noticed by Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, and his posting about the article provoked a number of Islamophobic postings on his site.

Last years dispute over establishing Sharia arbitration courts for family law in Canada prompted so much controversy, that it ultimately led to the banning of all faith based arbitration in Canada.  This years hysteria over a speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury was so heated that it comes as no surprise that there is such strong feeling about what seems like a non-issue.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech was certainly not treasoncraven, bonkers, a reason to “sack” him,  or as Christopher Hitchens has said, a reason to say “To Hell With the Archbishop of Canterbury”.  The Archbishop certainly wasn’t saying as John Gibson suggested on Fox News:  “What the archbishop was proposing — in effect — was the unfairness of Sharia law toward women be institutionalized for Muslim women under British law.”  And, the Archbishop is not as Robert Spencer called him, the “Archdhimmi” of Canterbury.

As an American Muslim I would be opposed to any suggestion that Sharia replace our American legal system for American Muslims or any other Americans, and I would be the first to fight any such possibility.

However, the inclusion of Sharia arbitration or alternative dispute resolution that might be utilized by Muslims who so choose after signing a binding arbitration agreement (signed by both parties in a dispute), or that might file an amicus brief with the court is not an alarming new idea.  In fact, it is an existing option for religious communities.  Any decision rendered by a tribunal or a panel of mediators is subject to appeal to the courts and must be consistent with American law and our Constitution. 

This is how the law already exists.  The various anti-Sharia bills are based on the idea that they would prohibit certain provisions of foreign laws including Sharia law from being considered by a court if they do not afford the same liberties, rights and privileges guaranteed by the US Constitution.  That is already the case.  The existing laws of the U.S. and the Constitution of the U.S. are already the final arbiter. 

Unless Mr. Spencer and others who find this option so distasteful are also opposed to Halakha courts, then it would seem that this shows a streak of Islamophobia.


HALAKHA

“Halakha (Hebrew, also transliterated as Halakhah, Halacha, Halakhot and Halachah) is the collective corpus of Jewish religious law, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law as well as customs and traditions. Like the religious laws in many other cultures, Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and non-religious life. Hence, Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but numerous aspects of day-to-day life.  Historically, Halakha served many Jewish communities as an enforceable avenue of civil and religious law. In the modern era, Jewish citizens may be bound to Halakhah only by their voluntary consent.” 

There are a number of halakha courts in America representing different interpretations of Jewish law — Agudath Israel of America, Beth Din of America, etc.

The Harvard Jewish Law Students Association held a conference on Law, Judaism, and the State which discussed such issues as: —Is there a Jewish theory of the state? —What is the relationship between the state’s authority and Jewish law? —Is there a difference when the state is non-Jewish? —What are the principles of Jewish criminal law and how did they function? —How do the values reflected in Jewish criminal law compare with those in American law? —What do we learn from a comparison between the two systems? Can we evaluate American criminal law through “Jewish” eyes?  Jewish family law in the U.S. is a subject about which books have been written.  The Pursuit of Justice and Jewish Law:  Halakhic Perspectives on the Legal Profession (Second Edition) - “Major topics examined from the perspective of Jewish law include: litigating in secular courts; the problems posed by professional confidentiality; the issues involved in aiding a client in a violation of either Jewish or American law; the ethics of cross examination and the obligations of a lawyer to pursue truth; the problems raised by working as a prosecutor or a defense attorney; practicing bankruptcy law; and the permissibility or obligation of informing on others for violating American law. The book also includes a full discussion of issues posed by family law (including an appendix addressing the 1992 New York Get Law); as well as a complete unit addressing the problems of business law, from usurious transactions to the ethics of negotiation and arbitration.”

These halakha courts are already functioning within the legal system of the U.S.  Jewish divorce cases are sometimes handled by the Beth Din of America, the Jewish Religious Court who can issue a Get or Jewish permission for divorce.  “Under American law the procedures and rulings of Jewish law courts are treated just as any other produced by a legal arbitration hearing.”  The Beth Din of America issues statements on ethical issues such as stem cell research.  There is a site where Halachic forms can be downloaded (e.g. Living will, financial forms, pre-nuptial agreements).

There are sometimes differences between religious and constitutional law as for example the difference in American law and halakha law on the subject of self incrimination.  In such cases the American legal system would ignore the rulings of the religious courts. 

For a Jewish court’s arbitration to be binding in the U.S. the parties involved must sign a binding arbitration agreement.

According to wikipedia   “The AIA takes sides on many political, religious, and social issues, primarily guided by its Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah. It uses these stances to advise its members, to lobby politicians, and to file amicus briefs.” 

U.S. courts sometimes recognize the arbitration of Jewish religious courts and sometimes do not.


SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SHARIA AND HALAKHA

Marshal Breger, a Jewish professor of law at Catholic University, published Why Jews Can’t Criticize Sharia Law in which he says

... Despite this kinship, there are those in the Jewish community who would condemn Islam and sharia, arguing that, unlike Judaism, Islam is not worthy of the protections of American law.

David Yerushalmi, author of a model law banning sharia, argues that sharia differs from halacha because of its different “threat matrix.” Sharia, he tells us, requires faithful Muslims to impose Islamic law on the world “violently,” and its adherents should be charged with sedition against the United States. Rabbi Jon Hausman, a self-styled “warrior rabbi” from Massachusetts, tells us that in Judaism, unlike Islam, the law of the state is the law (in Aramaic, dina d’malchuta dina) so you don’t have to worry about such religious “imperialism.”

These commentators’ understanding of both sharia and halacha is markedly defective.

1. As Hausman surely knows, the reach of dina d’malchuta dina is debated among rabbinic commentators. Some limit the application of the Jewish legal system to property issues, others extend it to apply to all secular law that does not violate Jewish law. In any case, Hausman’s suggestion that halacha is a personal legal system—not relevant to civic life and politics—neglects both Jewish history and halacha itself. In Baghdad during the Middle Ages and in Poland during the time of the Council of the Four Lands, from the 16th to the 18th centuries, for instance, Jewish communities had their own courts, and Jewish law was enforced by secular authorities. And even today, thousands of Jews in both the United States and Israel look to rabbinic courts and halacha to resolve all manner of civil disputes.

While clearly some Muslims do view sharia as a hegemonic political force, the vast majority of Muslims, especially those living in the West, view sharia no differently from the way Jews view the halachic system: as an overarching guide to ordering one’s life. Muslim jurists have always drawn on sharia to mandate that fellow Muslims obey the laws of the land in matters that sharia does not prohibit. In numerous instances (see Koran 5:11), Muslims are told to “honor their contracts” and so to honor the “social contract” represented by the law of the land. The Fiqh Council of North America, the leading interpreter of Islamic law in the United States, ruled as recently as September 2011 that “there is no inherent conflict between the normative values of Islam and the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

2. Daniel Pipes recounts in a 2009 article an incident in England when the Indian Muslim owner of an old age home near Manchester proposed to switch to serving only halal food in the facility. After residents complained, the owner retracted the policy. To Pipes, the owner’s desire to remove pork from the menu, even though apparently not implemented, is proof that Islam wishes to impose itself on all around it. But is this drive for “imperium” the only explanation?

Indeed, Jewish law would have great sympathy for the position taken by the Indian entrepreneur. Though there are gray areas, Jewish law generally holds that one cannot benefit (or profit) from the sale of mixed milk and meat products. The legal compendium the Shulhan Aruch forbids Jews from selling non-kosher products on a regular basis (Yoreh De’ah 117.1). And anyone who has read Daphne Barak-Erez’s 2007 monograph Outlawed Pigs: Law, Religion, and Culture in Israel will appreciate the difficulties of commerce in pork products (or “white meat” as it is politely called) in Israel.

3. Critics of Islam make much of the Shiite legal doctrine of taqquia and the related concept of kitman, which allow one to dissemble or evade by misdirection in order to save a life or community from imminent destruction (see Koran 16:106). For these critics, the takeaway is that Muslims lie when it is in their interest, so we cannot trust their promises or make treaties with them.

But numerous Koranic references tell the believer to “mix not the truth with falsehood nor conceal the truth when you know what it is” (2:42). And further, “Conceal not [the truth]; for whomever conceals it is burdened with sin” (2:283).

Again, we must look to Jewish law analogues. Even the Chofetz Chaim, the rabbinic scholar most associated with truth-telling, allows “white lies” when they will produce social and interpersonal peace. (No threat of imminent destruction is required.) Maimonides allows one to lie about one’s religion to save one’s own life. And does anyone remember the Marranos?

My point is not to analyze the nuances of halacha, let alone sharia, but rather to underscore the inconsistency of attacking Islam for activities that Jewish law and practice would also permit, or even require.

These broadside attacks on sharia are reminiscent of Jewish polemical literature after the rise of Islam in the seventh and eighth centuries designed to show Judaism as superior. Later scholars such as the Meiri, though, moved on from polemics to classify Islam as a monotheistic religion close to Judaism. While there are certainly fundamentalist interpretations of Islam that we rightfully find dangerous and deplorable, it is time that Jews in America go beyond “gotcha” polemics and stop treating sharia and Islam as illegitimate expressions of man’s search for the divine.

The Jewish Forward reports that an

October 30 seminar “Ancient Texting” brought together 15 rabbis expert in Halacha, or traditional Jewish law, and 15 imams steeped in Shariah, traditional Muslim law, for a recent daylong seminar at Manhattan’s historic Temple Emanu-El, a Reform congregation. Much of the day’s discussion, which also included notable Conservative and Reform participants, was theoretical and textual in nature. But conversations often also revolved around practical issues concerning both communities and on areas of conflict between them, such as differing positions regarding Israel, and problematic texts in the tradition of each faith.

The public part of the daylong seminar used the biblical Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac — or his half-brother Ishmael, as recounted in the Quran’s narrative — as a frame to discuss religious extremism. Muslim panelists spoke of the resurgence of a concept known as ijtihad, or self-adjudication of religious law, in the Muslim community as playing a role in this resurgence.  ...  The seminar included sessions on the two law codes, on combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and a public panel on the interpretation of foundational religious texts.

Context and interpretation were among the important issues discussed.

 


CANON LAW

And, if you are a Catholic, then Canon Law (Catholic religious law) applies, if for example you wish to have your marriage annulled in order to remarry.  Canon Law doesn’t overide civil law but exists side by side.  The Religious Tolerance site notes “Divorces are not permitted within the Roman Catholic Church, because valid marriages are considered to be indissoluble. Church canon law 1055 states that any marriage that takes place is legally presumed to be a valid sacrament, and is thus permanent. However, if sufficient convincing evidence can be shown which indicates that it was not a valid marriage, then a Declaration of Nullity may be given. This is, in effect, saying that the marriage never existed; it was not an ecclesial reality. Only after an annulment is granted may the couple be free to marry other people. This requirement is not restricted just to Catholics. A Protestant may marry another Protestant, and later divorce. If one of them wants to marry a Catholic, they must first receive an annulment from the Church for their first marriage.”

There is a Canon Law Society of America, and a School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America.  You can find a Code of Canon Law (that applies to American Catholics) prepared under the auspices of the Canon Law Society of America Canon Law Society of America here.

The Canon Law Information Page has a great deal of information and notes “Canon Law, the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the western world, is the internal legal system of the Catholic Church. It affects virtually every aspect of the faith life of some one billion Catholic Christians throughout the world. But, as Pope John Paul II explained when he signed the 1983 Code into law, canon law “is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, charisms, and especially charity in the life of the Church and of the faithful. On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy love, grace, and charisms, it at the same time renders their organic development easier in the life of both the ecclesial society and the individual persons who belong to it.” 

All in all, it would seem that faith based arbitration is an existing part of our legal system, and that considering sharia as somehow less acceptable than halakha (or than Canon Law) has no basis in anything other than prejudice and stereotyping.


ANTI-SHARIA LEGISLATION ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Oklahoma voters approved a ban on Sharia Law, the Constitutionality of which is being considered by the courts.  Rev. Martin Marty has written an important article on Oklahoma’s Sharia Law Ban 

Many States are considering anti-Sharia legislation.  Although Oklahoma’s law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Tennessee and Louisiana have enacted versions of the law banning use of foreign law under certain circumstances.    Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House, is pushing for a federal law that “clearly and unequivocally states that we’re not going to tolerate any imported law.”  (South Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Wyoming, and other states have individuals pushing to bring this issue to a vote.  Wyoming judges wouldn’t be allowed to consider Islamic law or international law when making rulings, under a proposed state constitutional amendment introduced in Jan 2011.)  Wyoming has fewer than 300 Muslims living within its borders which makes their concern with this non-issue laughable. 

Anti-Sharia becoming a political talking point  Jumping on the Islamophobic bandwagon just ahead of Rep. Peter King’s planned Congressional hearings on American Muslim Radicalization Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

joined the growing chorus of Republicans clamoring for hearings to look into the threat of “creeping Sharia law.” Appearing on Frank Gaffney’s radio show (Gaffney is of course the chief architect of the “creeping Sharia” threat), Gohmert told the host he hoped they would “have some hearings” and that he would “be pushing for them”.  ...  This is not idle banter. As chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, Gohmert has the power to hold such hearings. Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, has also said that the 112th Congress should prioritize the threat of “infiltration of the Sharia practice” in the United States. Between King, Gohmert, and West, three separate House committees could decide to spend valuable congressional time combating a phantom threat. Unfortunately, this Muslim scapegoating will do nothing to make America a more free, secure, or just society.”

Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a newly-elected member who has loudly scapegoated Muslims and campaigned on a promise to oppose religious diversity, appeared on Frank Gaffney’s radio program last week. West said that, although he has not spoken with all of the new members, he hoped that Congress would focus on the “infiltration of the Sharia practice into all of our operating systems in our country as well as across Western civilization.” He explained that targeting Sharia should be part of America’s “national security strategy” and that a response to Sharia would somehow include “tailor[ing]” American “security systems, our political systems, economic systems, our cultural and educational systems, so that we can thwart this”.

State Rep. Leo Berman (author of his state’s birther bill) has introduced legislation to ban Sharia law from being used in Texas courts.  Rep. Rex Duncan (R-OK), Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), State Rep. Gerald Gay (R-WY), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), State Rep. Wendy Nanney (R-SC),  Sen. Mike Fair  (R-SC) are among those supporting anti-Sharia legislation. 

In addition to the danger of halal food, foot-washing facilities in public restrooms are seen as threatening “our” way of life by creeping-Sharia.

Mike Huckabee was upset to hear that a church had allowed Muslims to worship in the church.  He said “As much as I respect the autonomy of each local church, you just wonder, what are they thinking?  If the purpose of a church is to push forward the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then you have a muslim group that says that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated, I have a hard time understanding that.”

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, introduced the same bill in the Senate and House of Tennessee. It calls Shariah law a danger to homeland security and gives the attorney general authority to investigate complaints and decide who’s practicing it.  Actual bill at http://www.tennessean.com/assets/pdf/DN170847222.PDF proposes to make following Sharia illegal in Tennessee.  This section is particularly concerning and could be interpreted in many ways 39-13-904.    As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires: (1) “Sharia” means the set of rules, precepts, instructions, or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed and which include directly or indirectly the encouragement of any person to support the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions, or the destruction of the national existence of the United States or the sovereignty of this state, and which includes among other methods to achieve these ends, the likely use of imminent violence. Any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Ja’afariya, or Salafi, as those terms are used by sharia adherents, is prima facie sharia without any further evidentiary showing;

Jeremy Henzell-Thomas (a linguist) commented to me on the “god of Allah” statement:  I see that this Tennessee bill refers to the Muslim God as the ‘god of Allah’ as if He were an alien or pagan deity. This is as absurdly obtuse as saying that the French worship Dieu, the Italians worship Dio, and the Germans worship Gott. And why do the Jews and Christians worship the pantheon of Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, El-Shaddai, Jehovah, Lord, Ancient of Days, and Father (Abba)?  Are they all different from God?  And why do the misguided Chinese Christians worship Shangdi (King Above), Zhu (Lord), Tian Zhu (Lord in Heaven) or Shen (the name given to God by Protestant missionaries in China)? The strange God of the Korean Christians is called cheon-ju (cognate of Chinese Tian Zhu). And what are we to make of the Japanese for describing God as Tenri-O-no-Mikoto, or Tsukihi, or Oya? As for the Hindus, they worship Brahman, Bhagavan, Ishvara, Paramatma, Parameshvar and Para Brahman, all names for the One God or Supreme Cosmic Spirit. God protect us from the terminally ignorant.

Georgia state rep. Mike Jacobs told reporters that he couldn’t think of any instances of Sharia being forced on the good people of his state—but just to be sure, he introduced the “American Laws for Georgia Courts Act” earlier this week to block foreign or religious laws from being cited in state courts. A total of 16 states have passed or introduced anti-Sharia legislation since last February.

Wyoming State Rep. Gerald Gay (R-Casper), sponsor of a resolution in the Wyoming legislature which would, if passed, amend the state’s constitution to “forbid courts from using international law or sharia law when deciding cases.”  Gay said “Americans need to pull their heads out of the sand and realize the threat, because “pretty soon you have the camel’s nose under the tent.”

Former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo argued that Muslim immigrants won’t assimilate because their goal is to implement Islamic law: “What do you do with people coming for the purpose of advancing sharia law, which is not compatible in any way with the constitution of the United States?  How do you deal with that? That’s another very scary thing because demographically the numbers are on their side.”

My state of Missouri has now entered the anti-Sharia circus.  Rep. Paul Curtman has introduced an anti-Sharia bill.  Dr. S.I. Strong, a law professor from the University of Missouri, called the bill a “dangerous exercise” that could potentially open the Missouri court system to complex litigation. She told TPM the bill has a number of inconsistencies and would be difficult to implement.    “The document takes the view that it is only trying to protect the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under United States constitution. But there’s huge disagreements about what those fundamental rights are and we’re in constant litigation about them,” she said.    Requiring that Missouri courts only consider foreign laws that grant individuals those same rights would force courts to undertake expensive and time-intensive analysis of foreign law, she said.    Strong said the bill could also have implications in marriages, divorces and child custody cases.

Sen. Bill Ketron of Tennessee has introduced a rewrite of the anti-Sharia bill Ketron’s original bill was criticized as banning Muslim practices. The new version, he says, backs away from that position.    “And it removes the word ‘Sharia,’ to where there’s no implication of restricting the way one worships. So it’s directed… the intent, as it has always been, the intent is to go after those extremists and terrorist who want to do harm to the people of Tennessee.”    Ketron’s new bill hasn’t yet been adopted by any Senate committee. It allows the governor and the state attorney general to name an organization or person as being of material support to terrorists. That’s potentially based on information that might not be made public.

This is an improvement, but still a total waste of taxpayers money.  Obviously, law enforcement already has the authority to bring charges against an individual against whom they have evidence of criminal activity. 

Abraham Foxman of the ADL has just released an important statement on this anti-Sharia craze.  It says:

The threat of the infiltration of Sharia, or Islamic law, into the American court system is one of the more pernicious conspiracy theories to gain traction in our country in recent years. The notion that Islam is insidiously making inroads in the United States through the application of religious law is seeping into the mainstream, with even some presidential candidates voicing fears about the supposed threat of Sharia to our way of life and as many as 13 states considering or having already passed bills that would prohibit the application of Sharia law.

Louisiana and Tennessee were among the first to approve such measures. The bills were based on model legislation issued by the American Public Policy Alliance, an unabashedly anti-Muslim advocacy group that defends the legislation as seeking to “protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law.”

When the legislation was introduced in the Tennessee state Senate in early 2010, the bill defined Sharia as a “legal political military doctrine and system adhered to, or minimally advocated by, tens of millions of not hundreds of millions of its followers around the world.” In defense of the bill, state Sen. Bill Ketron said it “deals solely with a single part of Sharia that is strictly political in nature,” and “in no way inserts itself into the religious laws of Islam.”

The language was nearly identical to that of similar bills considered in other states, some of which were thinly disguised in terms of protecting against “the application of foreign law.”

All of this anti-Sharia activity has come despite the complete absence of evidence of the unconstitutional application of foreign or religious law in our judicial system. It has also come with a great deal of political handwringing—and myth making—about the threat of Sharia overtaking this country. This has led, in turn, to a false perception among a growing number of Americans that Sharia is a very real threat to our way of life and constitutional freedoms.

In fact, these legislative efforts are the proverbial solution in search of a problem. The separation of church and state embodied in U.S. and state constitutions prohibits our courts from applying or considering religious law in any way that would constitute government advancement of or entanglement with religious law.

But the anti-Sharia bills are more than a matter of unnecessary public policy. These measures are, at their core, predicated on prejudice and ignorance. They constitute a form of camouflaged bigotry that enables their proponents to advance an idea that finds fault with the Muslim faith and paints all Muslim Americans as foreigners and anti-American crusaders.

It is true that Sharia is being used elsewhere around the world in dangerous ways. While Sharia law can address many daily public and private concerns, it is nonetheless subject to radical interpretation by individuals or groups who subscribe to a more puritanical form of Islamic jurisprudence. Some individuals try to interpret Sharia law for their own radical agendas. It raises more serious concerns when it comes to implementing Sharia law in its entirety, as can be seen with the examples of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Taliban. But that certainly doesn’t apply to America, where concerns about a “creeping Sharia law” are the stuff of pure paranoia.

If the hysteria over Sharia law continues to percolate through our political and social discourse, there is bound to be unintended consequences.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in an uncertain economy with millions of Americans still out of work, we also face the prospect of a political season in which more political candidates may be tempted to invoke this mythological threat in an effort to pander to bigotry and fear, and to score political points.

We stand at a crossroads in American society. We have the option of heading down a path toward a greater tolerance of anti-Muslim xenophobia and fear of the “stranger in our midst,” or we can rededicate ourselves to the ideal of an America that is open and welcoming to immigrants as well as minority groups who have been here for decades. Let us hope that the better nature of America will enable us to proceed down the second path and reject those who seek to divide us for political gain, or those who wish to stereotype and scapegoat an entire people because of their religious faith.

We should never diminish the very real threat of terrorism motivated by Islamist fundamentalism coming again to our shores. But as responsible, free-thinking Americans we must be careful to distinguish between the true threats to our freedoms, and identifying their sources, and those who loudly declaim against phantom threats that don’t really exist.

And, now Michigan joins the the anti-Sharia craze.  Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, is pushing an anti-Sharia bill for Michigan.  When he was challenged about this by other politicians in his state he said “If anybody has a problem with this that means they don’t agree with U.S. laws,” he said. “If they don’t want it passed then they have an ulterior agenda. It shows the people accusing me of that (bigotry) are guilty of it themselves.”

Scott Shane reports on Newt Gingrich’s continuing obsession with Sharia law.  Newt Gingrich had become the most prominent American politician to embrace an alarming premise: that Shariah, or Islamic law, poses a threat to the United States as grave as or graver than terrorism.

And, even the comedienne Victoria Jackson is now preaching against “creeping Sharia” taking over the country.

Today,  1/10/2012, the Denver based Federal 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals struck down Oklahoma’s ban on Sharia law, declaring that it violated the United States Constitution.

The the 10th Circuit unanimously affirmed the lower court’s permanent injunction. In a 37-page decision, the three-judge panel agreed that Oklahoma’s Sharia ban violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and was therefore unconstitutional. On page 32, the 10th Circuit identified the heart of the matter, that Oklahoma’s move had no basis in reality but simply singled out Muslims for discrimination.

Appellants do not identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve. Indeed, they admitted at the preliminary injunction hearing that they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such applications or uses had resulted in concrete problems in Oklahoma. See Awad, 754 F. Supp. 2d at 1308; Aplt. App. Vol. 1 at 67-68.

Given the lack of evidence of any concrete problem, any harm Appellants seek to remedy with the proposed amendment is speculative at best and cannot support a compelling interest.15 “To sacrifice First Amendment protections for so speculative a gain is not warranted . . . .” Columbia Broad. Sys., Inc. v. Democratic Nat’l Co., 412 U.S. 94, 127 (1973).


This decision was in response to a lawsuit filed in 2010 by Muneer Awad, the head of CAIR’s Oklahoma office (CAIR-OK), the lower court blocked implementation of the “Save Our State Amendment” based on arguments that it would unconstitutionally disfavor an entire faith and deny Oklahoma’s Muslims access to the judicial system on the same terms as every other citizen. The state appealed that ruling.  Last year, CAIR and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a brief urging the circuit court to uphold the lower court’s ruling blocking implementation of the amendment. 

A number of organizations signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief, drafted by the American Jewish Committee, arguing that the amendment is unconstitutional because it singles out Muslims for derogatory treatment. Americans United, The Anti-Defamation League, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, the Interfaith Alliance and the Union for Reform Judaism joined AU on the brief.

A number of organizations have already released statements after the 10th Circuit Court decision.  Read the CAIR press release here, the ACLU press release here, the Americans United for the Separation of Church & State press release here,  and the American Jewish Committee AJC statement here and here for example.

On 5/25/2012 Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes, and a national Muslim group’s spokesman said Friday that a court challenge is likely.


SHARIA AND THE CONSTITUTION

The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) issued an important statement in September of 2011 Resolution: On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans.

A Resolution On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans

Like other faith communities in the US and elsewhere, we see no inherent conflict between the normative values of Islam and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Contrary to erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda of political extremists from various backgrounds, the true and authentic teachings of Islam promote the sanctity of human life, dignity of all humans, and respect of human, civil and political rights. Islamic teachings uphold religious freedom and adherence to the same universal moral values which are accepted by the majority of people of all backgrounds and upon which the US Constitution was established and according to which the Bill of Rights was enunciated.

The Qur’an speaks explicitly about the imperative of just and peaceful co-existence, and the rights of legitimate self-defense against aggression and oppression that pose threats to freedom and security, provided that, a strict code of behavior is adhered to, including the protection of innocent non-combatants.

The foregoing values and teachings can be amply documented from the two primary sources of Islamic jurisprudence - the Qur’an and authentic Hadith. These values are rooted, not in political correctness or pretense, but on the universally accepted supreme objectives of Islamic Shari’ah, which is to protect religious liberty, life, reason, family and property of all. The Shari’ah, contrary to misrepresentations, is a comprehensive and broad guidance for all aspects of a Muslim’s life - spiritual, moral, social and legal. Secular legal systems in Western democracies generally share the same supreme objectives, and are generally compatible with Islamic Shari’ah.

Likewise, the core modern democratic systems are compatible with the Islamic principles of Shura - mutual consultation and co-determination of all social affairs at all levels and in all spheres, family, community, society, state and globally.

As a body of Islamic scholars, we the members of FCNA believe that it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens. Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims’ obligation for obedience to God. We do not see any such conflict with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well.

We believe further that as citizens of a free and democratic society, we have the same obligations and rights of all US citizens. We believe that right of dissent can only be exercised in a peaceful and lawful manner to advance the short and long term interests of our country.

The Fiqh Council of North America calls on all Muslim Americans and American citizens at large to engage in objective, peaceful and respectful dialogue at all levels and spheres of common social concerns. We call upon all Muslim Americans to be involved in solving pressing social problems, such as the challenge of poverty, discrimination, violence, health care and environmental protection. It is fully compatible with Islam for Muslims to integrate positively in the society of which they are equal citizens, without losing their identity as Muslims (just as Jews and Christians do not lose their religious identity in doing the same).

We believe that emphasis on dialogue and positive collaborative action is a far better approach than following the paths of those who thrive on hate mongering and fear propaganda. Anti-Islam, anti-Semitism and other similar forms of religious and/or political-based discrimination are all forms of racism unfit for civilized people and are betrayal of the true American as well as Islamic values.

May the pursuit of peace, justice, love, compassion, human equality and fellowship prevail in the pluralistic mosaic that is the hallmark of our nation.

I published an article American Muslims must defend the Constitution of the United States which discusses further issues regarding the issue of being both American and Muslim.  Here is a section of that article

America is a secular and democratic nation with a clearly marked wall between church and state (thank God!).  One of the reasons America has been a beacon to the world is the freedom that all Americans have to practice any (or no) religion.  As an American Muslim I don’t believe that America can be defined as anything but a secular democracy (secular meaning neutral towards religion, not devoid of religion or hostile to religion) in which all religions are free to worship.

I don’t want to see Shariah, or Biblical law, or any other religious law replace the Constitution, and I don’t want to see any kind of a theocracy in place based on any religion.  I agree with Rabbi Arthur Waskow that “When those who claim their path alone bespeaks God’s Will control the State to enforce their will as God’s, it is God Who suffers.”

There have been some who have suggested that because some Muslim majority countries do not allow the same freedoms to Christians and other minorities, therefore American Muslims should not be allowed the freedom to practice Islam, or that if they are “granted this privilege”, they should be grateful.  I am grateful to the founding fathers and generations of leaders who followed them for establishing and protecting a system that gives this right to all of us and who set up and maintained a wall between church and state so that no majority can ever be in a position to control or decide who does and doesn’t have the right to practice their religion.  I owe no gratitude to those who think that my freedom and rights as an American are something they can give or take away because this is “their country”.  My rights (and obligations) are granted to me by my citizenship.  This is “our country”, all of us.  Unless American Christians are to be held responsible for every country on earth with a Christian majority (for example Rwanda and Bosnia), then it is a little hypocritical to think that American Muslims have any control over what goes on in other countries.  Like any other American I may have an opinion about events in other countries and may even work to make that opinion known, but I have no control.  I am not responsible for what happens in other countries, and whether or not there are injustices in other countries why should that make it necessary for Americans to commit the same injustices in order to even the score.  I am an American citizen and a Muslim - and I have the right under the constitution to practice my religion (as does everyone else of every faith).  If some countries do not give the same rights to others, shame on them, but to think that this would justify removing my rights is nonsense.

The Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments to the Constitution) are the foundation of this country.  They represent the ideal of America.  America is a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation.  That’s a fact.  Members of many religious groups, races, nationalities, etc. are equally Americans, and none of them are going anywhere.  We are all in this together, and as Americans are all protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the United States.  That is fortunate, and something we must all work together to protect, as it is obvious that some among us just ‘don’t get it’.  It is obvious that our religious communities differ from each other, and that each of us feels called to observe their own faith.  It should be possible to do this while recognizing that we do hold many values in common, and that we can build on these in order to work together for the common good.  We can be good Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, etc. and also be fellow citizens of this great nation.

If some start talking about this being a “Christian nation”, or a nation of any specific majority group, that is a direct attack on the first amendment.  The separation of church and state is a critical protection for all of us, without that we would have the rule of whatever religion happened to be in the majority at any particular time in history and that would lead to a tyranny of the majority.  Right now there are about 300 million people in the U.S.  About 51% of Americans are Protestants (with Southern Baptists the single largest group),  24% are Catholics, and the rest other religions, or no religion at all. 

The point is that things don’t remain the same.  If we begin the this is a “Christian country” game, is this based on who is in the majority?  If so, does this mean that we are a Protestant nation?  What will happen if the slender 51% majority margin shifts?  Since the Southern Baptists are the majority among the Protestants, does this mean that we are a Southern Baptist nation?  What would this mean for the majority and for all the minorities.  Those people who ‘don’t get the Constitution’ also must ‘not get history’ because history shows that this would mean the end of America as the land of the free.

Truly, the best protection for everyone is to maintain America as a secular democracy under the Constitution.  Anything else will lead inevitably to persecution and tyranny.

Marshall Bregar, who is Jewish and a Professor of Law at Catholic University said We are passing through a season of singular national distemper where, for reasons best understood by social psychiatrists, the American people have entered into what can only be described as “open season” on Islam. Mosques everywhere, not just the “Ground Zero” mosque, are under attack; voters in Oklahoma have amended their state constitution to forbid state courts from considering sharia law in their decisions (not that they had any intention of mastering that sophisticated legal corpus); otherwise “liberal” communicators debate whether First Amendment protections extend to followers of the Prophet Mohammed; and Muslims everywhere worry (rightfully) whether they have a place in the American mosaic.

These people are so blinded by bigotry that they are not thinking through the unintended consequences of attempting to limit the Constitutional rights of one group of Americans.

The Center for American Progress has just published a report UNDERSTANDING SHARIAH LAW:  Conservatives’ Skewed Interpretation Needs Debunking, by Wajahat Ali and Matthew Duss which provides more useful information on this topic.

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC) has signed on to an amicus brief that urges the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to invalidate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment passed in 2010, which barred courts in the state from using or citing Shariah law.

Soon after the passage of Oklahoma’s anti-Shariah measure known as the Save Our State Amendment a federal district court blocked its implementation.  In enjoining the ban from taking effect, Oklahoma City federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that there was a “substantial likelihood” that the ban violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The BJC is arguing just that and doing so alongside the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Interfaith Alliance and other civil liberties organizations.

The BJC’s brief argues that the Oklahoma amendment violates the Establishment Clause for two separate and distinct reasons.  First, “the amendment’s purpose plainly is to disapprove of the Islamic tradition.”  Secondly, “the amendment’s dual specific references to Shari law - and to no other religious tradition - have the unambiguous effect of communicating official disapproval of Islam.”  **

The ADL also opposes this amendment.  “This amendment is patently unconstitutional,” said Mark L. Briskman, ADL North Texas/Oklahoma Regional Director.  “Its text and the circumstances surrounding the amendment’s legislative passage clearly demonstrate disfavor of Islam.  If the federal Establishment Clause stands for anything, it most certainly stands for the principle that government does not favor or disfavor particular faiths.”

IMPOSING SHARIA ON NON-MUSLIMS?

Robert Spencer has found another opportunity to promote his hatred of all things Islamic.  He is vocally opposed to the building of The Cordoba House, an Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque in NYC, and appeared on the Sean Hannity program to once again suggest that any Muslim, in this case Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is not opposed to the entire concept of Sharia (Islamic law) is actually calling for “the subjugation of non-Muslims”.  Fox News own transcript of this Hannity program quotes Spencer as saying “SPENCER: Dala (sic) is Islamic proselytizing. And in the Islamic law, dala (sic) precedes jihad. You call the nonbelievers to Islam. And if they refuse to accept it, then you initiate the jihad against them. But the whole goal of both dala (sic) and jihad is to impose Islamic law or Sharia upon the nonbelievers as a political system, not as a religious one.”  Spencer shares his peculiar interpretations of Islam, the Qur’an, Dawa, Sharia, Fiqh, and all things Islamic with such “luminaries” as Osama bin Laden.  He totally rejects all Muslim attempts at reform, re-interpretation of specific texts and of particular interpretations of Sharia as either somehow not correct Islamically, or an attempt to deceive non-Muslims. 

In this discussion Hannity also shows that he is unaware of existing religious legal systems.  He said “I suppose that would mean allowing Muslims to have their own Sharia courts, Jewish people to have their own courts, Christians their own courts and so on and so on.”  Correct, that is already the legal situation.

Let’s hope that Spencer and Hannity are concerned about the Canon Law Society of America Seminar for the Media which will cover such topics as

“— Canon Law and the Sexual Abuse Crisis – An Overview. Presenter: Sister Sharon Euart, RSM, executive coordinator, Canon Law Society of America.
— Canonical Trial and Other Penal Processes, Including Administrative Procedures related to sexual abuse of a minor. Presenter: Rev. Lawrence DiNardo, Diocese of Pittsburgh.
— Canonical Penalties related to sexual abuse of a minor – What they include, how imposed, recourse of the accused. Presenter: Rev. John Beal, The Catholic University of America.
— Canon Law, Civil Law – Distinctions and Relationships (includes role, training of canon lawyers ), Presenter: Rev. Kevin McKenna, Diocese of Rochester.”

I have posted an article Center for Security Policy Sharia Report a Threat to American Ideals on the 177 page report just released by the Center for Security Policy titled Sharia: The Threat To America.  The Center for Security Policy was founded by Frank Gaffney who is also its’ director.  This article includes background information on all of those involved in producing this report.  Please read the entire article, and consider this passage:

This report attempts to make up (by its length, and by working in every possible conspiracy theory that has ever been suggested about Muslims into one document) for the fact that it is utter nonsense.  Daniel Luban points out about this report: “Suggesting that sharia is “the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time”, the report offers far-reaching – and to critics, draconian – proposals for how to combat it.  These include banning Muslims who “espouse or support” sharia “from holding positions of trust in federal, state, or local governments or the armed forces of the United States”. The report similarly recommends prosecuting those who espouse sharia for sedition, and banning immigration to the U.S. by those who adhere to sharia.  Few scholars of Islam would agree with the report’s conception of “sharia”. The word (typically translated as “the way”) is a broad term referring to Islamic religious precepts, and thus there are as many interpretations of sharia as there are interpretations of Islam.  Even moderate practitioners of Islam, like all religious believers, strive to adhere to their conception of what sharia requires. This does not, however, mean that they necessarily aim to impose sharia, much less a fundamentalist version of sharia, on others.”

When Gaffney’s report was released, it was praised by Republican members of Congress Trent Franks (AZ), Michele Bachmann (MN), and Pete Hoekstra (MI).  I also posted a follow up report Frank Gaffney’s obsession with Sharia

Intisar Rabb is a member of the law faculty at Boston College Law School where she teaches advanced constitutional law, criminal law, and comparative and Islamic law. She is also a research affiliate at the Harvard Law School Islamic Legal Studies Program and a 2010 Carnegie Scholar. She is particularly interested in questions at the intersection of criminal justice, legislative policy, and judicial process in American law and in the law of the Middle East and the wider Muslim world.  She has done an important interview with Sally Steenland here.

Amany Rajab Hacking, an attorney and assistant clinical professor at Saint Louis University School of Law writes

Muslims are not trying to impose Sharia law on United States courts.  The Constitution already prohibits U.S. courts from imposing religious law as civil law. The alleged fear that this law purportedly addresses is already banned in the Constitution which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

What the proponents fail to see is the protection the Constitution gives to religious groups. The government is already prohibited from singling out religious groups for discrimination or preferential treatment. This law singles out only one religious group — Muslims — and treats them as second-class citizens.

Today the legislature wants to ban Sharia law — what religious law may be next? Canon law? Jewish law?

Instead of wasting taxpayer time and money defending lawsuits challenging this discriminatory and unconstitutional bill, ought not our legislature be focusing on some of the real issues our state has to deal with: education, health care, curtailing the budget, just to name a few?

Eli Clifton notes about this CSP Report that the FBI says Center For Security Policy Sharia Report Made ‘Unsubstantiated Assertions’.

As part of a September 2010 Senate Homeland Security committee hearing, “Nine Years After 9/11: Confronting The Terrorist Threat To The Homeland,” the FBI issued written responses to questions posed by committee members. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) issued the following question to the FBI (see page 123-123 in the PDF):

LIEBERMAN: What is your perspective on the Center for Security Policy’s recent report entitled “Shariah: The Threat To America”?

FBI: The FBI believes the report underestimates the United States Government’s (USG) level of knowledge and understanding of the activities taking place in the United States and overstates the threat posed by those activities. The report also fails to note that some of the threats were disrupted by the USG and are no longer viable, and it makes unsubstantiated assertions regarding limitations on our ability to respond to ongoing threats. Among other reasons, this may be because the report relies on outdated information.


David Yerushalmi, a coauthor of the report and CSP’s general counsel, is the author of the model “anti-Sharia” legislation introduced in over twenty states. As the “anti-Sharia” movement spreads across the country, members of communities facing the Islamophobia campaigns led by Yerushalmi and Gaffney — both of whom are discussed in the Center for American Progress’s report, “Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network” — should note that the FBI largely disregarded their report as making “unsubstantiated assertions” and relying “on outdated information.”

Marshall Bregar’s article Why Jews Can’t Criticize Sharia Law  mentioned above also discusses this issue.


SHARIA AND THE CIA CONTRACTOR

Today it was announced by the AP of Pakistan that the murder case against CIA contractor Raymond Davis in a Pakistani court has been dropped and he will be sent back to the U.S.

The families of the murdered victims have signed a document forgiving Davis for the crime in exchange for payment of compensation to the families in accordance with a provision in Islamic Law (Sharia).

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday said the acquittal of US citizen Raymond Davis by the court was according to law, as the heirs of Faizan and Faheem used their right of pardon under Shariah as well as the law of land. “Our law and Shariah provide the right of pardon under ‘Diyyat’ to the heirs”, the Punjab Law Minister told a private television channel on Wednesday night.    He said 19 heirs of the slained youth including 11 heirs from the family of Faizan and 9 from the family of Faheem appeared before the court in Lahore on Wednesday and pardoned Raymond Davis.    The Minister said, the court asked the 19 heirs separately and one by one, as if they had pardoned the killer under any pressure, adding, after the heirs pardoned the killer, the court acquitted Raymond Davis.    Rana Sanaullah said the jail authorities released Raymond David after receiving the court judgement.

A provision of Sharia law has saved a U.S. CIA contractor.  Headlines should read SHARIA SAVES CIA CONTRACTOR, but it is doubtful if that will be what they read.


ISLAMOPHOBIC EFFORTS PROMOTING ANTI-SHARIA CRAZE

There is more behind these bill that are of concern.  The Tennessean reportsThe Tennessee bill goes further by proposing criminal penalties for following Shariah. Matheny said the bill was model legislation, given to him by the Tennessee Eagle Forum, a conservative advocacy group.    Bobbie Patray, state president of the Eagle Forum, confirmed that the law had been drafted by David Yerushalmi, a Chandler, Ariz.-based attorney. Yerushalmi runs the Society of Americans for National Existence, a nonprofit that says following Shariah is treasonous.    He also has close ties to Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy.  Think Progress notes David Yerushalmi,” a self-professed “expert” on Islamophobia who believes that “Islam was born in violence; it will die that way” and that Muslims should “be taught from the cradle to reject the religion of their forebears.” As the Center For American Progress’ Matt Duss notes, Yerushalmi is a disciple of anti-Islam activist Frank Gaffney and has proposed dealing with America’s Muslim problem by making support or adherence to Islam “punishable by 20 years,” by declaring the U.S at war with the Muslim Nation, by declaring that “all non-US citizen Muslims are Alien Enemies,” and by banning any Muslim an entry visa into the U.S. 

Fake Sharia Website — Justin Elliott reports Conservative activist James O’Keefe today released a sting video showing an NPR fundraising official saying impolitic things to a couple of (fake) potential Muslim donors. A key part of the sting was the creation of a hoax website for the fake group the donors represented, the Muslim Education Action Center (MEAC).  ...  The website for MEAC read a lot like a right-wing cartoon version of radical Islam — so perhaps it’s not surprising that a few notoriously anti-Muslim bloggers were apparently taken in by the hoax website. (It’s not clear that the NPR officials ever saw the site.)  Pamela Geller, the blogger who deserves much of the credit for starting the “ground zero mosque” controversy, seized on MEAC’s website way back in January, pointing to passages on the website that promoted the bogeyman of sharia.  ...  There’s a chance that Geller was in on O’Keefe’s hoax all along (I’ve e-mailed her inquiring about this), but her January post certainly comes off as genuine.  ...  Geller today has a new post up in which she writes: “This sting site was the front for a ruse to see if NPR was jihadist-sympathizing. They didn’t just take the bait, they surprised even the most jaded among us.”

Hussein Rashid points out in the article Shari’ah Website a Right Wing Fake So, it seems that the biggest shari’ah-propagating group in America is front for a conservative media group.  ... Justin Elliot, at Salon, calls the website for the Muslim Education and Action Center (MEAC) “a fake website about Muslims created by right-wing bloggers confirming everything right-wing bloggers believe about Muslims.” Basically, it means that the entire shari’ah conspiracy industry is the Islamphobic constituency from beginning to end. It’s so complete that Pam Gellar was taken in by the ruse.  Every attack against the shari’ah complex has been against an organization that is run by non-Muslims in order to expose NPR. Too bad Muslims are paying the price for this disingenuous “threat.”

See my article summarizing this Pamela Geller Discovers MEAC: a Non-Existent Muslim Organization

The Mapping Sharia Project Goes Beyond Islamophobia to Raving, Paranoid, In(SANE)ity! is the title of my just posted article on a new report just issued by these folks called Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi which was published in the Middle East Quarterly Summer 2011 issue.  Read my full article for the full background, and prepare to be horrified as I say in the article Someone could write an entire article on the ridiculousness of the “watch on the right hand” issue alone.  And, the straight prayer lines as an indicator of anything other than keeping people from bumping into each other requires an article or a humorous YouTube video to show just how nonsensical this is.  There are so many problems with this report that it is difficult to believe that it is meant to be taken seriously.  It seems more like a satirical article that would be published on “The Onion”.

Tim Murphy reports that New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie, floated by some conservatives as a possible 2012 candidate, has become the unlikely target of the anti-Sharia fringe after appointing Sohail Mohammed, a known Muslim, to the state superior court. Right-wing blogger Pamela Geller summed things up nicely: “Governor Christie looked and sounded like he could be presidential. He’s not. He’s in bed with the enemy. All the other stuff doesn’t matter if you don’t have your freedom.”

Although it might seem that our elected representatives are fully aware of the Constitution of the U.S. and the First Amendment.  That does not seem to be the case.  The representatives mentioned here are only the tip of the iceberg of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Congress and Senate of the U.S.  Please see Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives for a very long list of bigoted statements about Islam and Muslims.

Halal food is the focus of another anti-Sharia movement.  Stephen Colbert highlights the “dangers” of eating “Muslim food”.  As Loonwatch reports, Pat Robertson is once again at the forefront of this non-issue along with Pamela Geller.  Bryan Fisher of the American Family Association wrote an article calling Campbell’s halal soups Sharia in a can and saying: “Sharia law is no longer creeping up on us. It’s bearing down on us at full gallop. It’s time for Christian civilization to grab the reins of this runaway horse and stop it dead in its tracks. No Sharia law in America, period.” 

Once these folks realize that the objections they are making to halal food apply equally to kosher food and that there will be unintended consequences for other communities, it’s possible they’ll back off on this one.  Please see Yasir Qadhi’s excellent article Kosher and Halal:  Halakha and Sharia Requirements for a detailed explanation of the similarities and differences between Kosher and Halal.

The key players in the anti-Sharia industry are listed in our TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.  They include Frank Gaffney, Pamela Geller, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, David Yerushalmi, etc.

There is a reason that many outside of the Muslim community see such activities as the anti-Sharia movement as Islamophobic. There is a reason that the ADL (A Jewish anti-defamation group) has said that Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) is a “group that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”. There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that they are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.  There is a reason that these key players are are featured prominently in the Center for American Progress “Fear, Inc.” report on the Islamophobia network in America, and in the People for the American Way’s Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.


UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF ANTI-SHARIA MOVEMENT

An “unintended consequence” of the anti-Sharia movement - San Francisco has a proposal to ban circumcision of male children on the November ballot. 

The JTA (a Jewish publication) notes that:

Although experts say it is highly unlikely the measure will pass—very few state propositions pass, much less one this controversial—the mere fact that it reached the ballot, and in such a major city, has caused much concern for Jews and their allies.

Opponents of the bill see it as a violation of the Constitution’s protection of religious rights and an infringement on physicians’ ability to practice medicine. More than that, however, the measure is being seen as a frontal attack on a central tenet of Judaism.

“The stakes are very high,” said Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs. “Circumcision is a fundamental aspect of Jewish ritual practice and Jewish identity. While we certainly hope the prospect of its being enacted is remote, the precedent it would set and the message it would send would be terrible, not just in the United States but around the world.

...  The Jewish community responded immediately and loudly to the San Francisco ballot initiative, with denunciations from across the nation. The American Jewish Committee called it a “direct assault on Jewish religious practice” that was “unprecedented in American Jewish life.” The Orthodox Union said the measure is “likely illegal” and is “patently discriminatory against Jews and Muslims.”

That the anti-Sharia craze would also become an anti-Halakha issue was something that could be seen coming from the beginning.  Another article discusses two of these issues:

Two traditions that have been mainstays of Judaism are under attack in different parts of the world these days for the same reason: people who feel morally superior have decided that circumcision and Jewish dietary requirements for animal slaughter are cruel and inhumane.

...  Until such time as hunting and fishing are no longer acceptable sports; until such time as all 7 billion people on Earth agree to fulfill God’s ideal of humanity being exclusively nurtured on herbs, fruits and vegetables, governments should not be telling people of any religious tradition, let alone those who introduced God to humanity, how to fulfill the Divine Will.

So now, not only halal, but also kosher rules are coming under fire.

Rep. Phil Jensen who introduced an anti-Sharia bill in South Dakota has backed down.  Tim Murphy notes that this may have had something to do with the unintended consequences of such bills.  He notes

According to Roger Baron, a professor of family law at the University of South Dakota, the ammendment’s prohibition on foreign laws would remove the state from a number of agreements concerning child custody and child abduction. Because those agreements hinge on reciprocity, “foreign countries will not enforce our custody decrees,” he warned in a letter to policymakers in Pierre, which he provided to Mother Jones. “The result will be that a disappointed custody litigant will have every motivation to improperly take the child to a foreign country and remain beyond the reach of international law.”

In other words, the Sharia ban would replace a non-existent problem (in testimony this week, proponents of a Sharia ban could not produce a single South Dakota case in which Islamic law had been a problem) with a bunch of very real ones. And to that, add a long list of other potential problems: Thomas Barnett, executive director of the South Dakota State Bar, told legislators that a similar bill would in effect prohibit courts from citing Common Law; a representative of Citibank, which is headquartered in Sioux Falls, testified that the same bill would hurt its ability to honor contracts overseas (and by extension, South Dakota); and the ACLU argued that, as in Oklahoma, a proposed ban would impede the administration of tribal courts.

But on Thursday, after first speaking for 10 minutes on various crimes committed by Muslims abroad and in the United States (none of which occured in South Dakota), Jensen announced a major discovery: It is apparently already illegal in South Dakota to behead your wife. “It was discovered by our judiciary [committee] that we already have in our code protections that should cover the concerns addressed,” he explained. Well, yeah. The committee then voted unanimously to kill the proposal.

This time, Jensen never addressed the unintended consequences of his bill, nor did he respond to a request for comment from Mother Jones. The fight’s not over, though. Next month, the legislature will still reconsider* SB 201, a statuatory ban on the use of foreign laws that don’t grant “the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges.” It’s nearly identical to the anti-Sharia laws that have passed in Tennessee and Louisiana, as well as ongoing proposals in more than a dozen other states.

Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma has also submitted a revised anti-Sharia bill.  As Think Progress notes Kern’s bill still violates the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment — the violation that compelled a federal judge to block SQ 755 in the first place. CAIR-OK Director Muneer Awad notes that “in an attempt to target Islam without using the wording” of SQ 755, HB 1552 “will actually target all religions” by denying “people the use of Jewish Law, Catholic Law, or any other religious law” in private contracts “while also jeopardizing international business contracts that include forms of arbitration, choice of law clauses, or foreign law clauses” — just like SQ 755. Indeed, SQ 755 is so poorly written that would ban the long-standing rights and sovereignty of Native Americans.

This issue is now being fought out in Pennsylvania.  According to the Philadelphia Weekly

“The echoes for me are strong of Germany in the 1930s,” says Rabbi Linda Holtzman of Reconstructionist synagogue Mishkan Shalom in Roxborough, “when repeatedly, Jewish Law was brought forward and defamed in the courts as a way of defaming all Jewish tradition.”  When news spread of the anti-Sharia Law last week, Jewish and Muslim leaders from Pittsburgh to Philly began organizing press conferences and meetings rallying against this bill. 

...  Holtzman says this bill and others like it are used to “villainize” Muslims, and perhaps the lawmakers who signed onto this bill haven’t thought through the ramifications of banning all foreign law. “They’re putting this forward and somehow think that we won’t pay attention to the anti-Muslim feeling that underlies these laws,” she says. “It may surprise those of us who are not lawyers to realize how often the legal systems of other religious groups are considered and treated with respect in the legal system.”

For example, Orthodox Judaism doesn’t recognize civil divorce, and women aren’t allowed to apply for a religious one. Civil divorce settlements may require husbands to obtain a religious divorce. If he doesn’t, the civil courts sort it out often in order to create an opportunity for a divorced woman to continue living in her community. Other Jewish laws are often brought into the legal system in dealing with state inspection of kosher foods, and autopsies.

Whether or not the issues raised by the Catholic Church regarding the issue of health care coverage for contraception for employees of a Catholic institution is a case of imposing Canon Law on non-Catholics is being raised.  here,

Yet another unintended consequence.  The Jewish Forward reports that Jewish divorce through the Beth Din may be affected by the Florida bill.  According to the Forward

A Florida state bill targeting a supposed threat from Islamic law may instead end up preventing Orthodox couples from using Jewish religious courts, or batei din, to arbitrate their divorces, according to legal specialists and some Jewish groups.

The Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases bill is considered likely to pass the Senate before the end of the legislative session on March 9. Observers expect Governor Rick Scott to sign the proposal, which has already passed the Florida House of Representatives, soon afterward.

The bill is part of a wave of legislation against Sharia, or traditional Islamic law, that has swept the nation in recent years. Though many of the bills differ, they are largely styled on model legislation drafted by David Yerushalmi, an Orthodox Jew who lives in New York.

Florida legislators introduced a similar so-called “foreign law” bill last year. That failed because of concerns from business and Christian leaders that it was too broad and could interfere with commercial and church affairs.

The new, more targeted bill specifically applies only to divorce, child support and custody hearings in family court. It states that arbitration is unenforceable if a tribunal bases its ruling on a “foreign law, legal code or system” that does not grant people the same rights as the Florida state or U.S. Constitutions.

The bill’s supporters acknowledge that their proposal is aimed at Muslims. But David Barkey, an Anti-Defamation League attorney specializing in church-state issues, said that the bill will affect Jews. Because only a man can grant his wife a Jewish divorce, or get, Barkey said, a beit din —singlular for batei din — may be seen as violating state and federal equal protection principles, which bar discrimination based on gender.

The Miami Herald reports that in the lead up to the vote on the bill in Florida, anti-Sharia flyers are circulating in the Florida Senate hallways.

Anti-Sharia flyers and booklets are circulating the Senate hallways as lawmakers prepare for a possible vote on a measure that would ban foreign law in Florida courts.  The materials present Islam as a threat to the United States, and invoke lawmakers to pass legislation to “save us from an internal attack” and “protect our freedom.”

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Florida bill SB1360 did not come up for a vote in the Senate and is dead for this session.  David Yerushalmi told the Sunshine State News that “The people’s representatives will do their job as they deem appropriate. If it passes, good. If not, there’s always next legislative session with a new freshman class.”  Think Progress has more on David Yerushalmi and the unintended consequences of this Florida bill here

Ron Kampeas has published Anti-Sharia Laws Stir Concerns that Halachah Could Be Next in the Jewish Week in which he notes

...  If the state legislative initiatives targeting sharia are successful, they would gut a central tenet of American Jewish religious communal life: The ability under U.S. law to resolve differences according to halachah, or Jewish religious law.

“The laws are not identical, but as a general rule they could be interpreted broadly to prevent two Jewish litigants from going to a beit din,” a Jewish religious court, said Abba Cohen, the Washington director of Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox umbrella group. “That would be a terrible infringement on our religious freedom.”

A number of recent beit din arbitrations that were taken by litigants to civil courts—on whether a batch of etrogim met kosher standards; on whether a teacher at a yeshiva was rightfully dismissed; and on the ownership of Torah scrolls—would have no standing under the proposed laws.

Cohen added that a New York State law requiring parties in a divorce to cut all ties immediately would be affected by the passage of anti-sharia legislation; the law protects divorced Jewish women from becoming “agunot,” chained to a recalcitrant husband through his refusal to grant a religious divorce. Federal laws protecting religious expression in the workplace—for instance, wearing head coverings or asking for certain holidays off—also could be affected, he said.

Muqtedar Khan points out another unintended consequence of the Oklahoma bill and others

The key sentence in the State question 755 is: It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Shariah Law. The proposition also bans international law. To consider how ignorant both the authors and the voters of the proposition are, please take a look at Article Six, Section I, Clause II of the US constitution. It is called the supremacy clause.

According to this clause, international treaties to which the US government is a signatory become “the supreme law of the land”. Treaties, along with custom and UN declarations are the main sources of international law (the proposition 755 actually mentions it). Thus by rejecting international law the proposition designed to institutionalize Islamophobia in Oklahoma, has effectually said “thanks, but no thanks” to the US Constitution. Here is the relevant text of the constitution:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.


As you notice, the proposition’s injunction to judges to abstain from using international law explicitly violates the constitutions’ injunctions to state judges to consider it as the supreme law of the land.

I have written an article Anti-Sharia Movements’ Unintended Consquences For Jews, Native Americans, and Others discussing specific instances, many of which are included here, and also the ramifications for the Native American Community

The various Indian tribal groups are considered sovereign nations.  Many of them have treaties with the U.S. government

Trevor Brown reports that

David Narcomey, a business owner and member of the Seminole Nation, said he sees dangers beyond just the religious issues at stake over the controversial Sharia law state question…  “This could blossom into a major threat to the sovereignty of our Indian nations,” Narcomey said. “There really is just a remote chance it could happen, but Pandora’s box can be opened with just that one case.”

...  Oklahoma University law professor Taiawagi Helton, along with many other legal experts, said he thinks there are First Amendment problems by singling out the one religion. But Helton said the lesser-discussed language created by the state question that courts cannot look to the “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” could pose a problem if it is applied to tribal legal cases.

Helton, who specializes in American Indian law, said the “ambiguous” language could be interpreted in a way for the state to reject rulings based on tribal laws. He said an “opportunistic” person could argue tribal laws do not apply in arbitration cases or when the state is called to resolve a dispute.

Barbara Warner, executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, said she too has heard concerns the state question could carry a “detrimental” impact to tribes.

The Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission released an analysis of the anti-Sharia law that said in part:

The referendum proposes an amendment to Article VII, Section 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution to forbid state courts from considering or using international law, and specifically Sharia Law, in rendering decisions.  While aimed at prohibiting the influence of Islamic law on Oklahoma court decisions, the text of the proposed amendment reveals that it could also damage the sovereignty of all Oklahoma tribes in the process.  It completely ignores the possibility that an Oklahoma state court may be called upon to apply the law of any of the 39 Indian tribes located with the borders of Oklahoma to resolve a dispute.

...  The language of this proposed amendment starkly reminds us that some Oklahoma lawmakers forgot that our nation and state were built on the principles, blood, and backs of other nations and cultures, namely, out [sic] tribes. It also ignores that Oklahoma tribes have become valuable economic partners with the State that it cannot afford to ignore or exclude.

If SQ 755 is approved, the lack of specific tribal law language could easily be interpreted by a state judge to leave no room to refer to a tribe’s law to determine the existence of a valid waiver of a tribe’s sovereign immunity, for example. Thus, SQ 755 has the potential to provide state court judges with yet another opportunity to further erode tribal sovereignty. A state court judge could rely on the amendment’s absence of recognition of any tribal law to avoid or disavow its application.Tribes and tribal members should be aware of this glaring omission for Oklahoma courts to look to and apply our tribal laws when appropriate, and vote on this question accordingly.

Gale Courey Toensing reports in Indian Country Today that

The movement against Sharia (or Shariah) not only targets Muslim Americans and their First Amendment right to freedom of religion, but also threatens American Indian sovereignty, law and the government-to-government relationship between indigenous nations and state and federal governments, says Gabriel Galanda, a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes and partner in the law firm Galanda Broadman of Seattle. “The various state laws being passed or proposed would quite literally prevent any state court judge from ever considering the laws of sovereign Indian nations, including tribal common law,” he says. “Anti-Sharia laws also fly in the face of the United States’s recent adoption of the [U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples], especially insofar as such laws could disallow state courts from ever considering the declaration and its import domestically.”

...  Banning any kind of religion or spiritual practice is a mistake, says Mohawk spiritual leader and Longhouse Chief Tom Porter, Bear Clan. “It’s a danger to everybody. This country is supposed to have been founded on the principle of people being allowed to practice any religion they want, so I don’t know how they can make a law against any religion,” he says.

The Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Confederacy—the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora Indian nations—have a moral guide called the Code of Handsome Lake that is analogous in some ways to Sharia. Handsome Lake was an Iroquois prophet in the 18th and 19th centuries, and his code derived from a vision sent to the Iroquois people, Porter says. “The vision said that the white people from Europe who came here will use five things to control and manipulate and take over the Indian people, who had innocence like children; they hadn’t learned quite how to manipulate like the Europeans did.”

As is true with Islam, Christianity and Judaism, Iroquois people follow the Code of Handsome Lake to varying degrees. “Some people follow it and some people don’t,” says Kay Ionataiewas Olan, Mohawk, Wolf Clan, a storyteller and educator who has worked as Porter’s assistant. “Some people take from it what they feel is appropriate for their life and what their understanding is about how we’re supposed to live our lives and don’t necessarily accept everything in the code.”

Legislating against Sharia “opens the door” to similar actions against others, she says. “It’s setting a precedent and sending out a message that it’s okay for one group to dictate how other people think and act. If there are people who think they can decide which freedoms can be allowed and which don’t have to be respected, then we don’t know who they’re going to disrespect next. It’s a little frightening—no, it’s very frightening—to think there’s a group that thinks this is okay.”

... Galanda heartily endorses Miles-LaGrange’s ruling and cautions that “anti-Sharia laws could set Indian law back decades, if not centuries. By that I mean that statutory and common-law notions of state-tribal full faith and credit and comity—in other words, honoring the decisions of each other’s courts—could be vitiated,” he says, explaining that under an anti-Sharia provision, state courts could no longer consider tribal laws that bear on issues ranging, for example, from whether a tribe waived its sovereign immunity for commercial dispute, to whether a tribe has codes or customs and traditions regarding what is in the best interest of an Indian child in an Indian Child Welfare Act dispute.

The National Native American Bar Association (NNABA), of which Galanda is an officer, is so concerned that the ban on Sharia and international law in state courts could lead to the prohibition of states’ consideration of tribal law that it passed a resolution in April opposing any such law. Amidst a flurry of “whereas” clauses, the resolution says, “NNABA hereby denounces any state law or effort that seeks or operates to outlaw a state court’s consideration of tribal law, or to forbid a state court from honoring the laws or decisions of other states in which courts consider tribal law.”

Galanda thinks even more needs to be done. “Indian country should stand in opposition to the anti-Sharia movement,” he says. This anti-Sharia contagion is not being spread in our drinking water—there is an organized effort to instill fear of Islam and Sharia.

Even the Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review hs expressed concern over the possible unintended consequences of the anti-Sharia legislation, saying: A little talked about issue that raises extremely serious sovereignty concerns is the wording of the Oklahoma measure that prohibits state courts from considering, not only Sharia law, but also the law of other “countries, states, and tribes.” Courts have traditionally given tribal courts broad jurisdiction and resisted incursion because of the risk of violating treaties between the U.S. and what are considered to be sovereign nations. These concerns militate decisively in favor of striking down the Oklahoma law.

Robert P. Jones notes regarding the Virginia anti-Sharia bill

Catholic officials also voiced concerns that bills like these could prevent the Roman Catholic Church (based in Italy) from owning parish buildings and schools. Business leaders also added their voices to the clamor against the bill, citing concerns that it could hurt international business relations. Deciding to reevaluate their approach, the bill’s proponents sent the bill back to committee.

 



SEE ALSO:

A Real Sharia Law Promoter for Peter King to Investigate, Jeremy Scahill http://www.thenation.com/blog/159105/real-sharia-law-promoter-peter-king-investigate
ACT for America launches media blitz to win yes vote in Oklahoma anti-Sharia ballot http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2010/10/21/right-wing-group-launches-media-blitz-to-win-yes-vote-in-oklahoma-anti-sharia-ballot/ 
The advance of the anti-Muslim movement across America, Paul Woodward http://mondoweiss.net/2010/09/the-advance-of-the-anti-muslim-movement-across-america.html
All Bigoted Islamophobic Roads Lead to Frank Gaffney, Richard Allen Smith http://www.vetvoice.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=4332
The American Muslim Community and Rep. Peter King’s “Islamic” Radicalization Hearings, Sheila Musaji (section on linkage with anti-Sharia movement) http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_american_muslim_community_and_rep._peter_kings_islamic_radicalizat/
American Muslims must defend the Constitution of the United States , Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/american_muslims_must_defend_the_constitution_of_the_united_states/
America’s Ideals Are Being Challenged By Cordoba House Controversy, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cordoba_house/
Anti-Mosque Coalition’s Website Owned By Neo-Conservative Islamophobe Frank Gaffney, Alex Seitz-Wald http://thinkprogress.org/2010/08/24/gaffney-mosque-website/
Anti-Sharia Advocates: We’ve Not Yet Begun to Fight, Tim Murphy http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/12/sharia-fever-catch-it
Anti-Sharia Law: A Solution In Search Of A Problem, Daniel Mach and Jamil Dakwar http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/20/anti-sharia-law-a-solutio_n_864389.html
The Anti-Shariah Movement and Jewish Law, Jacob Bender http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the-anti-shariah-movement-and-jewish-law 
Apostasy and Freedom of Faith in Islam, Sheila Musaji http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/apostasy_and_freedom_of_faith_in_islam/0016063
The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Sharia Debate, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/archbishop_of_canterbury_and_sharia/
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Trouble with Shariah, Yahya Birt http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_archbishop_of_canterburys_trouble_with_shariah/
Are Opponents of Shariah Anti-Islam?, Farzana Hassan-Shahid http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/shariah_are_opponents_of_shariah_anti_islam/
Are Sharia Laws and Human Rights Compatible?, Emran Qureishi & Heba Ezzat http://qantara.de/webcom/show_article.php/_c-373/_nr-6/i.html
Michele Bachmann Endorses Call for Anti-Muslim Inquisition, Daniel Luban http://thefastertimes.com/diplomacy/2010/09/16/a-new-report-offers-prescriptions-for-an-anti-muslim-inquisition/
Bent on Confusing the Public about Islam:  The Far Right Exploits Rifqa Bary’s Case to Distort Islam, Louay Safi http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/bent_on_confusing_the_public_about_islam_the_far_right_exploits_rifqa_barys/
Center for Security Policy background http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Center_for_Security_Policy
Challenge to Islamic Jurisprudence, Robert D. Crane http://www.globaljusticemovement.net/articles/islamicjurisprudence-rdc-0305.htm
Clearing the fog of Shariah, Daisy Khan http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_philosophy_of_sharia_the_clear_path/
Conservatives Chew Up Their Own in Battle Over Islamic Community Center, Bill Berkowitz http://blog.buzzflash.com/contributor/3601Conservative Feud Grows Over Muslims White House Staffers, Shahed Amanullah http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/b/1726/
Henry Cooper background, Rightweb http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Cooper_Henry_F_Hank
Cordoba House:  Hope From the Ashes of Tragedy, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_cultural_center_and_mosque/
Cordoba House versus Team B:  Key to the Global 21st Century,  Dr. Robert D. Crane http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cordoba_house_versus_team_b_key_to_the_global_21st_century/0018230
Stephen Coughlin: Islamofascist Nonsense, Larry Johnson http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/01/09/islamofascist_nonsense/
Creeping Sharia ‘Team B’ Report Presented To Congress, Matt Duss http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/09/15/176274/creeping-sharia-team-b-report-presented-to-congress/
Creeping sharia law becomes an issue in 2012 GOP primary, Adam Serwer http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/creeping-sharia-law-becomes-an-issue-in-2012-gop-primary/2011/03/04/AFlccHhG_blog.html
Demagoguery and Sharia: Reviving an American Tradition Eric L. Lewis http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-l-lewis/demogoguery-and-sharia_b_1167626.html
Discussion of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s views on Sharia, Enver Masud http://www.twf.org/Library/Sharia.html
Does the first amendment apply to Muslims?, John Guardiano http://www.frumforum.com/does-the-first-amendment-apply-to-muslims
Existing reports and studies on radicalization in the American Muslim Community  http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/relevant_reports/0018437
Exploring Ties Between Halacha and Shariah: Despite Rifts, Ancient Legal Codes May Offer Common Ground,  Ben Sales http://www.forward.com/articles/145351/#ixzz1hpgBOeqs
FBI Leaking To Neocon Conspiracy-Theorist Frank Gaffney?  http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/08/23/fbi-leaking-to-neocon-conspiracy-theorist-frank-gaffney/
For critics of Islam,“sharia” becomes shorthand for extremism, Michelle Boorstein http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/25/AR2010082504298.html?sid=ST2010082506505
Forget ‘Ground Zero Mosque’, It’s the Great Sharia Conspiracy, Daniel Luban http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52863
Fox & Friends crops Rauf’s CFR comments to fearmonger about Sharia law, Justin Berrier http://mediamatters.org/blog/201009140028
Fox Promotes NSS “Islamic Crescent Logo” Conspiracy Theory, Richard Bartholomew http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/fox-promotes-nss-islamic-crescent-logo-conspiracy-theory/
Free-speech hero or an anti-Islamic publicity hound? Geert Wilders is coming to America., Mark Hosenball http://www.newsweek.com/2009/02/16/the-flying-dutchman.html
The future of Shariah, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im   http://www.law.emory.edu/fileadmin/faculty_documents/abduh/Chapter_1.doc
Gaffney: The left and Islamists are both “advancing the takedown of America”, http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201008230064
Gaffney: The President ‘May Actually Still Be’ A Muslim http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/06/09/gaffney-the-president-may-actually-be-a-muslim/
Frank Gaffney: At War with Islam http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2009/08/18/frank-gaffney-at-war-with-islam/
Frank Gaffney: Obama Duped America Like Hitler Duped Chamberlain http://www.alan.com/2009/06/08/frank-gaffney-obama-duped-america-like-hitler-duped-chamberlain/
The Gaffney Report aka ‘The Return of Dr Strangelove’, Abdul Cader Asmal http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_gaffney_report_aka_the_return_of_dr_strangelove/
Frank Gaffney’s obsession with sharia, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/frank_gaffneys_obsession_with_sharia
Pamela Geller May Regret Stirring Up a Hornet’s Nest of Bigotry, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/geller-on-ratings
Pamela Geller Discovers Muslim Thanksgiving Halal Turkey Plot, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/geller-and-thanksgiving
Pamela Geller Is Wrong About “Islamic Jew Hatred Commanded by the Qur’an”, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/pamela-geller-is-wrong-about-islamic-jew-hatred-commanded-by-the-quran
GOPer can’t define, but wants to ban, sharia law, Justin Elliott http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/07/alabama_sharia_ban/index.html
Higher Objectives of Islamic Law (Maqasid ash-Sharia), Mohammed Hashim Kamali http://www.faithinallah.org/higher-objectives-of-islamic-law-maqasid-ash-sharia 
Pete Hoekstra, Shameless Buffoon, Steve Benen http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_12/021638.php
Hoekstra’s “epic grandstanding”, Jason Linkins   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/11/rachel-maddow-takes-on-pe_n_353706.html
David Horowitz’s Blog Spouting Propaganda as Usual on Sharia http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2011/01/19/david-horowitz%e2%80%99s-blog-spouting-propaganda-as-usual/
How to talk about Shariah in Oklahoma, Eboo Patel http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/eboo_patel/2010/12/how_to_talk_about_shariah_in_o.html
Hypocritical Freakout over Shari’ah, but Not Biblical Law, Sarah Posner http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/4416/hypocritical_freakout_over_shari’ah,_but_not_biblical_law/
International Humanitarian Law: Western Innovation Or Islamic Breakthrough, Mahmoud Mobarak http://english.webislam.com/?idt=1081
Introduction to Shariah and Fiqh, http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/law/shariahintroduction.html
Interview with Imam Feisal on Sharia, Laura Sheahen http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Islam/2005/02/Islam-And-America-Three-Years-After-911.aspx
Is Killing An Apostate in the Islamic Law?, Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/shariah_is_killing_an_apostate_in_the_islamic_law/
Is religious law dangerous? Consider Jewish law, Rabbi Adam Chalom http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/religion_theseeker/2011/03/is-religious-law-dangerous-consider-jewish-law-2.html
Is Sharia law reconcilable with modernity?, Sh. Ali Gomaa http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/08/is_sharia_law_reconcilable_with_modernity.html 
Islam and democracy - article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/democracy_political_order/
Islamic Finance: A Question of Law or Justice?, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamic_finance_a_question_of_law_or_justice/
Islamic Law:  A Thematic Primer on Human Rights, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamic_law_a_thematic_primer_on_human_rights/
Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamic_sharia_and_jewish_halakha_arbitration_courts/
Islamic (Sharia) Government, Ahmed Hulusi http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamic_sharia_government/
Islamophobia Machine Targets American Muslims, Nihad Awad http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamophobia_machine_targets_american_muslims/
Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives, Sheila Musaji (includes quotes by many elected officials) http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islamophobia_no_longer_even_questioned/
Israelis, McCain Neocons Behind Anti-Islam “Obsession” DVD, Kurt Nimmo http://www.infowars.com/israelis-mccain-neocons-behind-anti-islam-obsession-dvd/
The Issue of Usury and Interest in Islamic Faith and Law, Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_issue_of_usury_and_interest_in_islamic_faith_and_law/
It’s time to lay the sharia bogeyman to rest, Mehdi Hasan http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2011/06/islamic-law-sharia-british
Kosher and Halal:  Halakha and Sharia Requirements, Yasir Qadhi http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/kosher-and-halal-halakha-and-sharia-requirements/0019217
Legal Rationality vs. Arbitrary Judgement:  Re-examining the Tradition of Islamic Law, S. Parvez Manzoor http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/legal_rationality_vs_arbitrary_judgement_re_examining_the_tradition_of_isla/Media rife with anti-
Liberty University Law Exam Question on Notorious Kidnapping Case Pressured Students to Choose “God’s Law” over “Man’s”, Sarah Posner http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4585/exclusive%3A_liberty_law_exam_question_on_notorious_kidnapping_case_pressured_students_to_choose_%E2%80%9Cgod%E2%80%99s_law%E2%80%9D_over_%E2%80%9Cman%E2%80%99s%E2%80%9D/
Muslim rhetoric in weeks leading up to 9-11 anniversary http://mediamatters.org/research/201009090008
Meet Wyoming’s Anti-Shari’ah Crusader, Sarah Posner http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/4221/meet_wyoming%27s_anti-shari%27ah_crusader_/
The Misinformants: What ‘stealth jihad’ doesn’t mean, Lisa Miller http://www.newsweek.com/2010/08/28/stealth-jihad-conveys-paranoia.html
Moral Maturity of Two Year Olds: Reward and Punishment Mentality of Muslims, Pamela Taylor http://www.muslimwakeup.com/mainarchive/000171.php
Thomas More Law Center’s claim of Sharia Law in Dearborn defies reality, reason http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2011/02/thomas_more_law_centers_claim.html
Mosque debate is not a distraction, Glenn Greenwald http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/23/park51
MPAC’s Response to Frank Gaffney’s Slander http://www.mpac.org/article.php?id=249 
Muslim Americans and Shariah http://www.islamicity.com/politics/SHARIAH.HTM
NeoCons Make Unapologetic Call for McCarthyism against Muslims http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/09/16/the-neocons-make-unapologetic-call-for-mccarthyism-against-muslims/
Neoconservatives hate liberty as much as they love war, Glenn Greenwald http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2007/02/14/neoconservatism
New Rainbow of Islamic Knowledge and Religious Diversity: Zaytuna College, Dr. Ibram Rogers http://diverseeducation.com/blogpost/303/new-rainbow-of-islamic-knowledge-and-religious-diversity-zaytuna-college.html 
The New Anti-Semitism: Recent attacks on Islam in the United States echo old slurs against Jews, Daniel Luban http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/43069/the-new-anti-semitism-2/2/
Notion of Shura, Shura and Democracy, Tariq Ramadan http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/notion_of_shr_shr_or_democracy/
Nuclear Security Summit Logo Is Proof of What?, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/symbols/
Obsession:  Deja Vu! Never Again?, Jeff Siddiqui http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/obsession_deja_vu_never_again/
Origins of Islamic Law http://www.crf-usa.org/terror/islam_law.htm
The Pathetic Desperation of the Anti-Kagan Campaign http://www.rightwingwatch.org/category/individuals/frank-gaffney
The philosophy of Sharia - the Clear Path, Faraz Rabbani http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_philosophy_of_sharia_the_clear_path/
Progressive radio show in NY serves up neocon moonshine about Islam, Philip Weiss http://mondoweiss.net/2009/12/progressive-radio-show-in-ny-serves-up-neocon-moonshine-about-islam.html
Re-examining primary and secondary sources of Shariah, Farzana Hassan-Shahid http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/re_examining_primary_and_secondary_sources_of_shariah/
Religious Accomodation or Creeping Sharia?, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/religious_accomodation_or_creeping_sharia
Religious Laws Long Recognized By U.S. Courts, Barbara Bradley Hagerty http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129731015
Reports worth reading on the topic of Sharia law:
— ACLU, Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System
— The Center for American Progress, UNDERSTANDING SHARIAH LAW: Conservatives’ Skewed Interpretation Needs Debunking
— The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) Shari’a Law: Coming to a Courthouse Near You?: What Shari’a Really Means to American Muslims
Review: Documentary “America at a Crossroads”, Rafia Zakaria http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/r/2479/
Right-Wing Media Hype Mosque Study Co-Written By Anti-Muslim Activist With History Of “Bigotry”  http://mediamatters.org/research/201106080012
Right-Wing Nuts: “Obama is a Mooslim, Convert Mooslims” http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/09/right-wing-nuts-obama-is-a-mooslim-convert-mooslims/
The Right’s Anti-Islam Extremists, John Guardiano http://www.frumforum.com/confronting-the-rights-anti-islam-extremists
Rise of Professionalism in Moral Awareness, Robert D. Crane http://www.islam21.net/pages/keyissues/key1-29.htm
Rise of the religious right in the Republican party http://www.theocracywatch.org/
Pat Robertson continues fight against halal food http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2011/01/05/pat-robertson-continues-the-fight-against-halal-food/
Role of Morality in Politics, Robert D. Crane http://www.islam21.net/pages/keyissues/key1-35.htm
On Team B-ing, Spencer Ackerman http://attackerman.firedoglake.com/2010/09/16/on-team-b-ing/
Daniel Pipes Brings Weak Sauce: Sharia, Halakha, and Double Standards; Part 1 http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/10/weak-sauce/ 
Separation of church and state - article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/separation_of_church_and_state/
Setting the Record Straight on Sharia, An Interview with Intisar Rabb, Sally Steenland http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/03/rabb_interview.html
Sharia - collection of articles http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/shariah_fiqh_islamic_law_ethical_moral_issues/
Shariah and Contemporary Issues, By Dr. Adbul Basit http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/shariah_and_contemporary_issues/
Sharia and Fiqh: Understanding Ijtihad, Abu Munir Winkel http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/sharia_and_fiqh_understanding_ijtihad/
Shariah and Religious Absolutism, Farzana Hassan http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/shariah_and_religious_absolutism/
Sharia is not the problem http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/sunday-review/living/sharia-is-not-the-problem-785281.html
Sharia law and anti-Islam animus, Rabbi Bruce Warshal http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/sharia-law-and-anti-islam-animus
Shariah Law Explained, BBC special report http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7234870.stm
SHARIAH: Legacy of the Prophet:  The Role of Human Rights in Islamic Law, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/shariah_legacy_of_the_prophet_the_role_of_human_rights_in_islamic_law/
Sharia and day to day existence, Dr. Sherman Jackson http://www.defendtheprophet.com/sharia-and-day-to-day-existence
Sharia in America, how Islamic laws change, Dr. Sherman Jackson http://www.defendtheprophet.com/sharia-in-america-how-religious-laws-change
The sharia myth sweeps America, Amy Sullivan http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-06-12-Sharia-law-in-the-USA_n.htm#uslPageReturn
Sharia threat bandwagon just keeps rolling on: Peter King’s hearings, Sarah Posner http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/mar/16/sharia-threat-bandwagon-king-hearing
Showdown Over Shari’ah at Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference , Sarah Posner http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/sarahposner/4707/showdown_over_shari%27ah_at_faith_and_freedom_coalition_conference/
Source Methodology in Islamic Jurisprudence, Taha Jabir al’Alwani, http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/law/alalwani_usulalfiqh/
South Dakota Considering Ban on Courts Using “Foreign Religious or Moral Code”  http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2011/02/04/south-dakota-considering-ban-on-courts-using-“foreign-religious-or-moral-code”/ 
Specter Embraces Pipes Islamophobia, Richard Silverstein http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2009/05/15/specter-embraces-pipes-islamophobia/
Tennessee bill would jail Shariah followers http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110223/NEWS0201/102230378/Tennessee-bill-would-jail-Shariah-followers
Tennessee bill not good law http://themoderatevoice.com/102431/tennessee-anti-sharia-bill-not-quite-as-advertised-but-still-not-good-law/
Tennessee Sharia law ban, Elizabeth Tenety http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/undergod/2011/02/sharia_law_ban_proposed_in_tennessee.html
Tennessee Legislation demonstrates ignorance, promotes hate http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110225/OPINION02/102250343/Legislation-demonstrates-ignorance-promotes-hate
Tennessee lawmaker would make practicing Islamic law a felony http://letters.salon.com/politics/war_room/2011/02/23/tennessee_islam_law_felony_bill/view/
Tennessee’s Anti-Muslim Bill is an American Disgrace, Daniel Tutt http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-tutt/tennessees-antimuslim-bil_b_863032.html
The Terror Industry And Anti-Jihadism, Who Benefits?, Richard Silverstein http://www.eurasiareview.com/201009168239/the-terror-industry-and-anti-jihadism-who-benefits.html
They Call the Scam ‘Sharia’,  William Norman Grigg http://www.lewrockwell.com/grigg/grigg-w198.html
Those defending US Constitution from sharia must have failed high school civics, Reza Aslan & Harris Zaffar http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0229/Those-defending-US-Constitution-from-sharia-must-have-failed-high-school-civics
Torat Hamelech/King’s Torah Authors will not be prosecuted, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/kings-torah
Ulama, Hegemony and Reform, Chandra Muzaffar, http://www.just-international.org/article.cfm?newsid=20000248 
Umar Faruq Abd-Allah says U.S. and Islamic Law Congruent http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2007/04/03/University/Scholar.Says.U.s.Islamic.Law.Congruent-2819456.shtml
Understanding the Four Madhabs, Abdul Hakim Murad, http://members.cox.net/arshad/newmadhh.htm
Unity Through Schools of Thought, Abdal Hakim Murad http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/unity_through_schools_of_thought/
Unintended consequences of anti-Sharia legislation, Muqtedar Khan http://www.altmuslim.com/a/a/b/4039/
Unintended Consequences of “Anti-Sharia” Laws, Nick Sementelli http://www.faithinpubliclife.org/blog/the_unintended_consequences_of/
WASTING TIME ON UNNECESSARY LAWS   http://lezgetreal.com/2011/02/wasting-time-on-unnecessary-laws/
The Week in Sharia: Elvis Retreats, Texas Reloads, Tim Murphy http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/01/week-sharia-new-jersey-falls-texas-fights  - The Week in Sharia: Texas Has Its Sputnik Moment http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/02/week-sharia-texas-sputnik-moment
Welcome to the Shari‘ah Conspiracy Theory Industry, Sarah Posner http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/4335/welcome_to_the_shari%E2%80%98ah_conspiracy_theory_industry
Allen West on Frank Gaffney’s radio program discussing anti-Sharia proposals http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2011/01/04/allen-west-starting-the-crusade-against-muslims/
What everyone “knows” about Islam and Muslims for responses to many of the spurious claims http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/what_everyone_knows/
What Sharia law actually means, Justin Elliott http://www.salon.com/news/islam/?story=/politics/war_room/2011/02/26/sharia_the_real_story
What Shariah Law Is All About, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf http://www.huffingtonpost.com/imam-feisal-abdul-rauf/what-shariah-law-is-all-a_b_190825.html
Why Shariah?, Noah Feldman http://uruknet.info/?p=m43209&s1=h1
Who Decides Right or Wrong, Tariq Ramadan http://www.islamicity.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=IC0306-2000
Who Owns Islamic Law?, David Glen http://www.ijtihad.org/who-owns-Islamic-law.htm
Will Muslims impose Sharia?, Dr. John Esposito http://www.defendtheprophet.com/answering-will-muslims-impose-shariah
Who’s Afraid of Shariah? , Sumbul ali-Karamali http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sumbul-alikaramali/whos-afraid-of-shariah_b_701331.html
Why the GOP embraced Islamophobia, Joe Conason http://www.salon.com/news/politics/republican_party/?story=/opinion/conason/2010/09/12/islamo
Woolsey’s World War IV Comments Reveal Truth About War on Iraq, Stan Moore http://dissidentvoice.org/Articles3/Moore_Woolsey.htm
Would Oklahoma anti-Sharia law violate Native American tribal treaties?  http://harvardcrcl.org/2010/11/26/would-oklahoma-anti-sharia-law-violate-tribal-treaties/
David Yerushalmi and (in)SANE, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/david_yerushalmi_and_insane
David Yerushalmi, Anti-Semitic White-Supremacist Orthodox Jew Tries To Ban Islam In US, Bruce Wilson http://www.talk2action.org/story/2007/12/27/20819/823
Yerushalmi: Devout Jewish Fascist, Richard Silverstein http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2007/08/24/david-yerushalmi-devout-jewish-fascist/
Yerushalmi: House Republicans pal around with anti-Muslim, anti-Black racist David Yerushalmi, Alex Kane http://mondoweiss.net/2010/09/house-republicans-pal-around-with-anti-muslim-anti-black-racist-david-yerushalmi.html
Yerushalmi:  Neocon ‘Team B’ Author: ‘Islam Was Born In Violence; It Will Die That Way’  http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/20/neocon-team-b-author-yerushalmi-islam-was-born-in-violence-it-will-die-that-way
Yerushalmi: How Many Muslims Contributed To New Right-Wing ‘Team B’ Report On Islamic Sharia Law? None, Matt Duss http://thinkprogress.org/2010/09/15/team-b-sharia-report/
Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry  with detailed responses to the work and claims of the key Islamophobes http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_whos_who_of_the_anti-muslimanti-arabislamophobia_industry/ 
Why Sharia, Noah Feldman http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/magazine/16Shariah-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1%3Bnoah+feldman

SEE ALSO

A lengthy collection of articles by Arabs and Muslims about the current wave of Islamophobia and anti-mosque hysteria (updated regularly)  http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslims_arabs_discuss_current_wave_of_islamophobia_arabophobia_and_anti-mos/0018235

 

 

originally published 6/28/07


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