Sharia Law in the U.S.
In Florida, a judge has ordered the use of ‘Ecclesiastical Islamic Law’ to decide a case among litigants in a suit involving an internal dispute at a mosque. Why are some so accepting of the idea that the melding of “Mosque and State” in American jurisprudence is acceptable? I submit that, at least in some cases, political motivations stand in the way of intelligent, reasoned debate on issues related to Islam. Leftist disdain for the Right and the leftist political doctrine of multiculturalism cripple their ability to reasonably debate these issues.
Those critical of Islam and the terror which is born from it are frequently accused of trying to pigeon-hole all Muslims into one category of believers who are seeking Islam’s domination. In this accusation, the reality that some actually do seek to do just that is brushed under the rug. Though I would agree that not all Muslims desire that political Islam should become a part of America’s legal system, it is clear that the desire for Islam to dominate in America does exist among some Muslims. There is perhaps no more serious example of this than in attempts to make Islamic Law hold precedence over American Law.
Many on the Left will leap to the defense of Islam at every turn. It is true even in this case, even though the leaders of the mosque themselves argue that Florida law should hold precedence. Why would the Left press for Islam when the mosque itself argues the contrary?
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Left has introduced new doctrines that are Marxist in nature, but that have a non-Soviet flavor which may make them more palpable to Americans. One such doctrine — “multiculturalism” — has replaced “melting pot” thinking all too frequently in America. Multiculturalism is one avenue through which Sharia courts in America could gain more acceptance whereas this could not happen wherever the traditional “melting pot” thinking is applied.
In our traditional “melting pot” society, immigrants “blend in”. They accept the basic values of the American system into which they have moved while retaining those elements of their culture which do not trample over the most basic American values. For instance, in Chinatown, Americans can experience the flavor of Chinese culture, but still be fully American and retain all the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. There is no need to be concerned that on a visit to Chinatown, you might automatically become a citizen of China or be otherwise subject to Chinese law. You’d be hard pressed to find an American on the Right or the Left who does not accept Chinatown as a highly welcome part of American society. Chinatown is a textbook example of America’s “melting pot” values system.
Multiculturalism is the polar opposite of the “melting pot.” “Multiculturalism,” a “major ideological successor” of Soviet-style Marxism, rejects the idea that immigrants should “blend in” to the American system of values.
Values like universal human rights, individualism and liberalism are regarded merely as ethnocentric products of Western history. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many “ways of knowing.” In place of Western universalism, this critique of the West offers the relativism of multiculturalism, a concept that regards the West not as the pinnacle of human achievement to date, but as simply one of many equally valid cultural systems.
I can see the Left’s embrace of the ideological doctrine of multiculturalism — as opposed to a “melting pot” — reflected in the exposition of Sharia Law as a system of law that is equally valid to other systems of law. An example of this is a recent report at Salon by Justin Elliott. Though Elliott has taken great pains to claim that Tea Party protests against radical Islamists are “anti-Muslim hate,” he admits to having little idea about what Sharia Law is.
Indeed, anti-Muslim political operatives have been warning of “creeping sharia” and “Islamist lawfare” for years, though the anti-sharia efforts have gained new prominence in recent months.
But even basic facts about sharia — what is it? how is it used in American courts? — are hard to come by. So I decided to talk to Abed Awad, a New Jersey-based attorney and an expert on sharia who regularly handles cases that involve Islamic law. He is also a member of the adjunct faculties at Rutgers Law School and Pace Law School. He recently answered my questions via e-mail.
Here we have a writer at Salon who is operating from a presumption that the protests against Sharia are “anti-Muslim” efforts by “political operatives.” He claims these protests are based in bigotry, instead of what they really are — legitimate concerns about support for terror and anti-Semitism at the Islamic Circle of NorthAmerica.
Operating from a foundation of disdain for the Right, he hangs on to the presumption that the protests are not legitimate opinions expressed by citizens but, instead, are a campaign run by “political operatives”. It is from that foundation of flawed belief that he builds. Further, in realizing that he is completely ignorant of Sharia, he seeks to build his arguments against those who would seek to discredit Islam by doing research made up entirely of an email exchange with one Muslim attorney.
It is in this manner that the Left’s knee-jerk disdain for the Right, the doctrine of multiculturalism and downright ignorance about Islam are so often found together in a formula that causes them to jump to the defense of Islam in every issue…even issues wherein they are taking the position opposite of a mosque that is opposed to Islamic supremacism in our courts.
We hear a lot about the “Far Right” in America’s political discourse on Islam. Indeed, the Far Left and their ideological doctrines contrary to America’s founding values are very much at play in these debates. Let us not forget that important point.
[Update I: I have streamlined the following post to be easily readable to the average layman, but informative enough for a lawyer or law professor to learn a bit more on the similarities and differences between Sharia and U.S. Law]
Is Sharia compatible with the U.S. Constitution?
The simple answer is of course “no”.
But lets take a look at some aspects of Sharia Law and where it may or may not conflict with the U.S. Constitution. (For disclosure I am not a lawyer nor a legal expert in Sharia or U.S. Law.)
First, what is Sharia?
Wikipedia states Sharia refers to the sacred law of Islam. All Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they have differences between themselves as to exactly what it entails. Which will be difficult to discern what to apply when, but we’ll labor along for the sake of discussion.
In Western countries, where Muslim immigration is more recent, Muslim minorities have introduced Sharia family law, for use in their own disputes. Attempts to impose Sharia have been accompanied by controversy, violence, and even warfare (Second Sudanese Civil War).
The recent incidents at the Arab International Festival have reinforced the poor image of Sharia inside the United States and its incompatibility with American culture and law.
The following is a truncated version with a couple of modifications (eliminating repetitious ibids and links) of multiple Wikipedia entries [with my comments]:
Legal and Court Proceedings:
1. Sharia courts do not generally employ lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves.