The Truth About Shari'a
What Sharia is and is not
Sharia was and is developed to be flexible and dynamic in practice, in order to achieve two main goals, and protect six main principles in society. The two goals are to bring good to one’s community, and to repel harm from one’s community. The six principles protected under Sharia are life, family, religion, education, property, and human dignity. Sharia must then adapt with respect to the social, political, and cultural climate of a given place and time in order to ensure that these two goals are met, and these six principles are protected.
Throughout history the way to achieve these goals and protect these principles has differed between various philosophies, eras, communities, and leaders. Understanding the potential complexity behind Sharia and its various interpretations, is the first step in realizing that following Sharia in America is not a threat to the United States. In fact, Sharia mandates that a Muslim practice their faith while respecting the law of the land in which they reside. The scholars are in a consensus on this issue.
Sharia is not...
- Sharia literally means “path”, and it is a set of interpretations that are dynamic and intended to accommodate the time, place, and laws (in our case the U.S. Constitution) of a particular community. Thus, Sharia is interpreted differently based on its surroundings.
2. Sharia is NOT a form of government for American Muslims
- Sharia governs the religious practices of Muslims; however it explicitly mandates Muslims to respect the law of the land in which they reside. Thus, Sharia acknowledges the need to abide by laws independent of Islam – not to overthrow or replace them.
3. Sharia does NOT conflict with the U.S. Constitution
- The U.S. Constitution does not allow for any foreign or religious law to conflict with and replace the law of the land. It is literally impossible for Sharia to be used in American courts if doing so conflicts with our American laws.
4. Sharia is NOT a code of punishments for crimes
- In accordance with the above, criminal punishments are not a part of Sharia for American Muslims because our government enforces criminal laws. American Muslims are mandated to respect the criminal system of the U.S., not to create their own.
All religious rules must be in line with these six principles of Shari’ah:
- The right to the protection of life.
- The right to the protection of family.
- The right to the protection of education (intellect)
- The right to the protection of property (access to resources).
- The right to the protection of human dignity. The right to the protection of religion.-Sumbul Ali-Karmali, Who’s Afraid of Sharia, Huffington Post, September 3, 2010
Sharia is...1. Sharia is a dynamic set of interpretations on how to practice faith
- Nearly 100% of Islamic principles outlined in Sharia change to accommodate various circumstances of a community in order to achieve one main goal – to benefit humanity.
2. Sharia is compliant and consistent with the U.S. Constitution
- Sharia mandates Muslims to respect the law of the land in which they live. From the beginning of Islam until today, Islamic principles were derived within the context of pre- and-co-existing legal codes.
3. Sharia is a guidance for Muslims in many private matters
- Sharia principles can be used to guide Muslims in marriage contracts, business contracts, child custody agreements, dietary customs, non-interest-based financial agreements, wills and testaments, charitable giving, and more.
4. Sharia has historically been allowed and considered in American courts
- Sharia can be considered and enforced by U.S. courts the same way other religious laws, or foreign laws can be applied that is in a manner consistent with public policy, such as Catholic Canon law and Jewish Halacha law. The situations mentioned in # 3 above are examples of matters the courts will consider and enforce.
5. Sharia is protected by the 1st Amendment and any attempt to restrict it is unconstitutional
- If any federal or state government is considering a ban on Sharia and other foreign or religious laws, it is unconstitutional and un-American.
Talking pointsThe U.S. Constitution is the law of the land. America has a time-honored tradition of allowing an individual to live by their faith within the confines of U.S. law.
- The Constitution is the law of the land. Nothing can undermine that fact. Any allegation to the contrary is no more than conspiracy theory. 6
- America has a well-established tradition of allowing religious leaders to mediate disputes, so long as any agreement complies with U.S. law. This applies to Catholic canon law, Jewish Halacha, and Islamic Sharia.
For instance, “The Beth Din of America is a rabbinical court which adjudicates commercial, communal and matrimonial conflicts.”
- No one in America can be compelled to adhere to any religion. Islam shares this rule: In the Quran we are told “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Quran 2:256)
The movement to legislate against Islam is based on fear mongering and is destructive to the Constitution- These bills proclaim a possible step toward government-sanctioned discrimination against a religious minority.
- The most basic requirement of the law is to subject each person to its force equally.
- It is troubling that any public official would seek to treat Americans differently on the basis of faith.
- These anti-Sharia measures can easily infringe on First Amendment protected free exercise of religion. Like most Americans, we believe that government has no place interfering in our personal religious expression.
- By attempting to legislate restrictions on religious freedom, the individuals in the anti- Sharia movement reveal their lack of trust in free religious expression, the Constitution and the idea that America is a land of many peoples united by a shared belief in individual liberty.
- The Constitution is the law of the land and CAIR likes it that way. Our organization expends enormous legal and advocacy energy defending its principles.
6 Constitution, Article VI, clause 2 (aka The Supremacy Clause): “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, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular....We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.”
-Edward R. Murrow, Journalist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, March 9, 1954
Banning Sharia or foreign law is bad economics- Businesses seeking to take advantage of the expanding purchasing power of American Muslims are launching Islam-compliant endeavors including investing, home finance, and cemeteries.
- Given the current economy, why are legislators pursuing laws that drive business and investment away from our state? Why would a Swiss or Malaysian corporation consider doing business in our state if our law refuses to uphold contracts signed that involve their laws?
- Sharia-compliant investing is ethical investing. Muslims cannot invest in gambling, pornography or alcohol. Such principles are entirely in-line with traditional family values.
- Islamic banking and finance is growing at a rate of 15% annually, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
- According to Abed Awad, a New Jersey based attorney, “U.S. courts are required to regularly interpret and apply foreign law—including Islamic law—to everything from the recognition of foreign divorces and custody decrees to the validity of marriages, the enforcement of money judgments, probating an Islamic will and the damages element in a commercial dispute.” v
Trying to ban Islam by banning foreign law shows a very troubling lack of understanding of the court system
- With respect to international law, an international treaty signed by the U.S. is the law of the land. We have ratified international treaties on civil rights, cybercrime, copyright and torture to name a few
The Myth of “creeping Sharia” does not stand up- “Bill sponsors interviewed by POLITICO could not offer examples of cases from their home states, instead pointing to a 2010 New Jersey case that used Sharia as a defense, though the decision was reversed by a higher court.”vi
- Many Muslims, who have immigrated to America attest to fact that they can practice Islam more freely under our system of government than the countries from which they migrated.
What is Sharia?- Sharia is nothing more than the religious traditions that all Muslims use to guide the practice of their faith. It informs things like how we pray, when we pray, how much we give to charity and how we choose to be buried.
- American Muslim scholar Suhaib Webb defines the term as, “The Islamic system of law and the totality of the Islamic way of life based on the Qur’an and Sunnah.” The Quran is Islam’s revealed text. The Sunnah comprises the traditions and practices of the Prophet Muhammad.
- Shariah is how I practice my religion. What the Saudi government or Taliban does to oppress people is not my religion.
Sharia Requires Muslims to Obey the Law of the Land
- Adhering to the rule of law and order in any country while prohibiting vigilantism, which can lead to anarchy is within the Shariah.
- The Qur’an states, “Oh you who believe! Fulfill (all) obligations,” and “fulfill (every) covenant, and surely (every) covenant will be questioned about.” Therefore, American Muslims by divine mandate must fulfill their social contracts with the state, such as the obligations of citizenship.
On TerrorismThe anti-terror fatwa issued by the Fiqh Council of North America in 2005 states: “ o 1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam. o 2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is
involved in any act of terrorism or violence. o 3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law
enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.”
Muslims Cannot Force Islam on Anyone
Muslims, like the followers of other faiths, are obligated to share the message of Islam. People are free to accept or reject that message.
o Quran 2:256: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error...”
o Quran 10:99: “If it had been the Lord’s Will they would all have believed all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind against their will to believe!
o Quran 64:12: “So obey Allah and obey His Apostle; but if ye turn back the duty of Our Apostle is but to proclaim [the message] clearly and openly.
Addressing the Allegation that Sharia Allows for Inhumane Punishments- Hudud (prescribed legal punishments) are primarily deterrents. They are rarely carried out in Muslim societies because of the evidence required for proving such violations is very demanding. A clear example is proving adultery. Four witnesses who are known in a community to be of strong moral character must see actual penetration of the female genitals by the male genitals. In court, they all have to describe in detail the who, what, when, where of the incident without contradiction from any witness. Any contradiction and the witnesses are punished for false accusations.
- The judge must look for ambiguities to avert punishment from the accused. Any ambiguity in the case is a cause for dismissal. This is because of the Islamic legal maxim: "avoid imposing criminal sanctions in cases of doubt or ambiguity."
- Every possible instance should be exhausted before even considering carrying out the punishment for any crime.