HOME
| This is an educational site about Sharia, as such you find both criticism and appreciation of parts of the Sharia. Please read the Genesis of Sharia first

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shariah in Oklahoma

Shariah at the Kumback Café, Perry, OK


I am thankful to Suze Melton, one of the attendees of the Quraan Conference on Sunday for forwarding the following article. The followin story is about Perry, Oklahoma and how the residents view things, one resident shares this, “I got on the computer, punched in Koran, and there it is in black and white: They are out to rule the world and if you don’t convert, they kill you.” We dealt with that verse yesteday, it is not what it sounds.
As an American I understand the fears and want to assure them that the American Muslims do not want the kind of Sharia Law they see on the Television confined to Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.  That is not the Sharia law; here is a simple lay person’s version of understanding what Sharia is all about – Sharia Laws Not in America.

No American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. The purpose of this conference is to understand the issues and find ways to remove such fears in an open forum and restore the cohesiveness of our society and work towards building a safe and secure America

God willing, I will go to Perry, Oklahoma and do a Sharia and Quraan conference with the folks out there to assure them that Islam and Muslims are not about what they have come to know, but about building societies for peace for all.  It is a shame the radicals, a few handful of them, make such statesments. Just as Newt, Palin and others frighten them to get the votes.

Mike Ghouse runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and has dedicated to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. He is a regular commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a peace activist. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
# # #
Shariah at the Kumback Café
Damon Winter/The New York Times
Roger Cohen

PERRY, OKLAHOMA — They call Oklahoma the buckle of the Bible Belt. It’s the state where all 77 counties voted Republican when Barack Obama was elected and where 70.8 percent of the electorate last month approved a “Save Our State Amendment” banning Islamic, or Shariah, law.

So I decided to check the pulse of a resurgent conservative America at the Kumback Café. The Kumback, established 1926, is a cozy, memorabilia-filled joint that sits opposite the courthouse in downtown Perry, population 5,230.

Things work like this at the Kumback: The guys, average age about 80, arrive around 8 a.m. and get talking on “the whole gamut of life”; the girls, average age too indelicate to print, gather later at a horse-shoe shaped table toward the back. Ken Sherman, 86 and spry, explained: “We’ve got to come here every day to find out what’s going on. And by the time we leave we forget.”

I asked Paul Morrow, a whippersnapper at 71, how things were going. “There’s just too much Muslim influence, all this Shariah law,” he said. “We’re conservative here, old and cantankerous.”

You might not expect Shariah, a broad term encompassing Islamic religious precepts, to be a priority topic at the Kumback given that there’s not a Muslim in Perry and perhaps 30,000, or less than one percent of the population, in all Oklahoma. And you’d be wrong.

Shariah is the new hot-button wedge issue, as radicalizing as abortion or gay marriage, seized on by Republicans to mobilize conservative Americans against the supposed “stealth jihad” of Muslims in the United States and against a Democratic president portrayed as oblivious to — or complicit with — the threat. Not since 9/11 has Islamophobia been at such a pitch in the United States.

The neoconservative Center for Security Policy in Washington recently described Shariah as “the pre-eminent totalitarian threat of our time.” Many Republicans, with Newt Gingrich leading, have signed up. Their strategy is clear: Conflate Obama with creeping Shariah and achieve the political double-whammy of feeding rampant rumors that he’s a closet Muslim and fanning the fears that propel a conservative lurch.

It’s not pretty, in fact it’s pretty odious, but to judge by the Republican surge last month, it’s effective in an anxiety-filled America.

Galvanized by State Question 755, barring “courts from considering or using Shariah Law,” Republicans swept to the Oklahoma governorship and veto-proof majorities in the Legislature for the first time.

Question 755 was “a pre-emptive strike,” in the words of its most active proponent, Republican State Representative Rex Duncan, whose portrait hangs in the Kumback. The question arises, given the quiet on the prairies, against whom? A prominent Oklahoma pastor, Paul Blair, told me it was aimed at those “whose plan is not to coexist but bring the whole world under Islam.”

A preliminary federal injunction, granted after a prominent local Muslim, Muneer Awad, challenged the constitutionality of the amendment in the nation where “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” has blocked its certification for now. The very curious case of Shariah and Oklahoma may be headed to the Supreme Court.

Marilee Macias, the bubbly owner of the Kumback, swung by. “Duncan’s ahead of the game,” she said. “He’s a military guy, been around the world. I don’t know what these Muslims are preparing but I know that stoning women, we don’t want that here.”

Bud Johnson, 84, who worked in Washington and is gently mocked at the Kumback for his East Coast liberalism, shook his head. “It’s going to cost the state a lot of money to try to defend a stupid law,” he said. “There should be a reason for a law, not just hatred and emotions. But my view went down here like the Titanic. The fear element has got us.”

To understand U.S. politics today, try “It’s the fear element, stupid.”

I asked Frank Lawson, 83, about Obama. “I think the young man’s a Muslim,” he said. Case closed. He continued: “I got on the computer, punched in Koran, and there it is in black and white: They are out to rule the world and if you don’t convert, they kill you.” Cherry-picked inflammatory phrases, attributed to the Koran but more often lifted from interpretations of it, course through Oklahoman churches and spread via Internet chatter.

Sherman asked me what “that huge Muslim movement that took over Europe,” was called. I couldn’t help. “Begins with ‘O”’ he said. “The Ottoman Empire?” I ventured. Yep. Case closed again.
Things were quiet on Perry’s main square. So quiet the “Muslim threat” was hard to imagine. It was even harder to imagine that, right here, Timothy McVeigh, the homegrown terrorist who killed 168 people in a 1995 Oklahoma attack, was held after being stopped by a state trooper outside Perry for having no license plate.

Nobody initially suspected McVeigh. Suspicion fell on men “of Middle Eastern appearance,” including Imad Enchassi, now the imam of a large Oklahoma mosque, who told me, “Things are much worse now, I’m looking over my shoulder for the first time

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quran (Koran) Conference in Dallas, an American effort to build cohesive societies

The Conference puts a Quraan in the hands of panelists made up of Pastors, Rabbis, Pundits, Shamans, lay persons, elected officers and the public. It is to demystify the myths about Quraan and Islam. An American effort to build cohesive societies.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oct 10, 2010 - DALLAS, TEXAS - The Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress have announced a conference on Quraan in Dallas to be held between 3:00 PM and 6 PM on Sunday, December 5, 2010 at the Unity Church of Dallas.  

Representing the organizations, Mike Ghouse adds, "As members of diverse family of faiths, we seek to demystify the myths and falsification of our respective faiths. It is time for all of us to gather and understand the Qur'aan, the holy book of Muslims, which has been the subject of attack by a few among us. Indeed, the conference is a positive response to negative sermons delivered from a few pulpits of America this year."

The uniqueness of the event is highlighted by facing the "terrifying passages" of Quraan.  For the first time in history, the actual verses from Quraan will be read directly and explained by non-Muslim panelists made up of Pastors, Rabbis, Pundits, Shamans, Clergy, lay persons and elected officials who have a deep interest in bringing Americans together on common grounds.  The Muslim scholars either affirm their reading or refer to the Quraan for further understanding. It would be indeed a first hand educational experience.

It is time now to replace the ill-will with goodwill; no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. The purpose of this conference is to remove such myths in an open forum in the public and restore the cohesiveness of our society and work towards building a safe and secure America.  

Bring your children to experience the multi-cultural costumes in a designated room for them.

Refreshments will be served after the event.

THE EVENT IS FREE

Please R.S.V.P. to confirmattendance@gmail.com  
Direct your inquiries to QuraanConference@gmail.com .

For details visit website http://www.quraanconference.com/


Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam and Civil Societies. He heads the Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and offers Pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day.  Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/
 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Qur’aan Conference, an American event


Qur’aan Conference, an American event

From times immemorial Religion has been “abused” and “misused” to someone gain, usually for controlling others. Are we going to let that happen? As Americans, we can pull ourselves together and not fall for the temptations to divide ourselves. No American has to live in fear of the other, nor live in anxieties or discomfort.

All our faiths reinforce the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Details at http://www.quraanconference.com/

Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism and Islam offering pluralistic solutions to the media and public on issues of the day. His blogs and sites are listed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Monday, September 27, 2010

Who's Afraid of Shariah?

Who's Afraid of Shariah?
Sumbul Ali-Karamali.

Hasn't the whole notion of shariah in America gotten a bit out of control? No, it hasn't -- it's gotten hugely, obscenely, ignorantly out of control. How many of those anti-Islam protesters holding "NO SHARIA LAW" signs (as if anyone were advocating shariah law in the U.S.) actually know what the word means? I'd say, oh, none. Roughly.


Shariah (also spelled shari'ah or sharia or shari'a) is the Arabic word for "the road to the watering place." In a religious context, it means "the righteous path." Loosely, it can mean simply, "Islam."


There are six principles of shariah. They are derived from the Qur'an, which Muslims believe is the word of God. All Islamic religious rules must be in line with these six principles of shariah.
Aha! The six principles must be about killing infidels, veiling women, stoning people for adultery, honor killings and female genital cutting, right? Nope.

Here they are, the six principles of shariah:

1. The right to the protection of life.
2. The right to the protection of family.
3. The right to the protection of education.
4. The right to the protection of religion.
5. The right to the protection of property (access to resources).
6. The right to the protection of human dignity.

Well, bless me, as a pledge-of-allegiance-reciting, California-raised Muslim girl, these six principles sound a lot like those espoused in my very own Constitution of the United States. Except that these were developed over a thousand years ago.


This is the core of shariah -- these six principles. The term "shariah law" is a misnomer, because shariah is not law, but a set of principles. To Muslims, it's the general term for "the way of God."
But how do we know what the way of God is? Early Muslims looked to the Qur'an and the words of the Prophet Muhammad to figure this out. They filled books of interpretive writings (called fiqh) about how to act in accordance with the way of God. They rarely agreed -- the fiqh is not just one rule, but many differing opinions and contradictory rules and scholarly debates.


Sometimes, shariah also refers to the whole body of Islamic texts, which includes the Qur'an, the sayings of the Prophet, and the books of interpretive literature written by medieval Muslim scholars. The first two are considered divine. The interpretive literature, thefiqh, is not.
The fiqh was meant to develop and change according to the time and place -- it has internal methodologies for that to happen. It is not static, but flexible. No religion gets to be 1400 years old and the second largest in the world unless it's flexible and adaptable.


The Qur'an is old. The fiqh books of jurisprudence are old. To modern eyes, they can look just as outdated as other ancient texts, including the Bible and Torah. That's why, just like the Bible and the Torah, the Islamic texts must be read in their historical context.


Assuming all Muslims follow medieval Islamic rules today is like assuming that all Catholics follow 9th century canon law. Islam, like Christianity, has changed many times over the centuries, and it continues to change. Focusing only on the nutcases who advocate a return to medieval times is ignoring the vast majority of modern Muslims.


For example, stoning for adultery is a punishment that appears in fiqh, as well as early Judaic law. But it does not appear in the Qur'an. In Islam, therefore, stoning was a result of cultural norms imposed on the religious texts. Moreover, in the fiqh, though the punishment for adultery was stoning, adultery was made such a fantastically difficult crime to prove that the punishment was impossible to apply. Historically, stoning was very rarely implemented in the Islamic world, which is ironic, since today the Saudi and Iranian governments apply it as though they'd never heard of the strict Islamic constraints on it.


The vast majority of Muslims today do not believe in stoning people for adultery, and many are working hard to eradicate it. Stoning is horrific and has no place in our world. The miniscule percentage of Muslims who advocate it are imposing the medieval penalty while ignoring all the myriad limitations meant to make it inapplicable.


As for other scary stories attributed to shari'a, like honor killings, veiling of women, and female genital cutting, these are cultural practices and not Islamic. They are practiced by non-Muslims of certain cultures as well as Muslims.


Shari'a is a set of religious principles and is not the law of the land anywhere in the world. The 50-some Muslim-majority countries are all constitutional states and nearly all of them have civil codes (many of these based on the French system). Being Muslim does not require a governmental imposition of something called "shari'a law," any more than being a Christian requires the implementation of "Biblical law" (though there are, of course, a tiny minority of both Christians and Muslims who do advocate such things, including Sarah Palin).


As for Islam being a political system, there is nothing in the Qur'an about an "Islamic state," and the Prophet himself never tried to implement an "Islamic state," despite hysterical accusations to the contrary. Those under his leadership practiced a variety of religions.


Traditionally, in the Islamic world, the institutions that governed were always separate from the institutions that developed religion. In fact, they often checked and balanced one another. Although no civilization has been free from all conflict, every Islamic empire was a multi-religious, multicultural empire, in which religious minorities were governed by their own laws.
The term "Islam as a religion and a state" really only became popular in the 1920s, as a reaction to Western colonization of the Muslim world. In fact, Islam contains plenty of concepts consistent with modern democracy -- for example, shura (consultation) and aqd (a contract between the governed and the governing). In other words, Muslims can be perfectly comfortable in America, following state and federal laws.


The Qur'an contains many verses advocating religious tolerance, too, though the anti-Islam protesters won't believe it. The Qur'an says that: God could have made everyone into one people, but elected not to (11:118); God made us into different nations and tribes so that we can learn from one another (49:13); there is no compulsion in religion (2:256); and that we should say, "to you your religion, to me mine" (109:6).


The only verses about fighting in the Qur'an refer specifically to the polytheistic Arab tribes who were trying to kill the Prophet in the 7th century. So the Islamophobes who look in the Qur'an for the fighting verses and assume that these verses refer to them personally are simply being narcissistic. Contrary to counting Jews and Christians as "infidels," the Qur'an repeatedly commands particular respect of Jews and Christians. It is established in Islam that you don't need to be Muslim to go to heaven.


Repeating a lie over and over again doesn't make it true; but it certainly results in people believing the lie. That's what the Islam-haters are counting on. That, and the ignorance about Islamic tenets.


So the best thing to do is find out what Islam really is about. Talk to a Muslim in person. Read an introduction to Islam (try a fun one like mine). Read Loonwatch to read about the holes in the anti-Islamic rhetoric. Or take a look at the University of Georgia's informational website on Islam, for some quick answers and further reading. If you read the anti-Islam fear-mongering websites, all you'll learn will be tall tales.


Bigotry may be a human tendency, but America has never stood for bigotry. I believe in an America that stands for pluralism and multicultural understanding. The hysteria and hate toward Muslims - resulting in several acts of violence against Muslims just this week, such as a stabbing and arson - is un-American. We must stop it, and the first step is understanding and education.

Sumbul Ali-Karamali is an attorney with an additional degree in Islamic Law, as well as the author of "The Muslim Next Door: the Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing." The following article is for your reading pleasure. You may not necessarily agree with everything she writes, but it is always good to be aware what people are thinking and how they are interpreting Islam.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sharia Law: Not in America

http://sharialaws.blogspot.com/2010/07/sharia-law-not-in-america.html


Sharia in its simplest form is a how-to manual based on the Qur'an and the Hadith (Prophet Muhammad's sayings). It is a human effort to understand the concept of justice enshrined in the Qur'an for day-to-day living.

After the death of Muhammad and the first four Caliphs, there was a leadership vacuum that needed to be filled so that someone could clarify new issues that came up on a daily basis. The scholars of the time met the challenge and created a body of knowledge as supplementary guidance and established the standards of moral conduct. Sharia laws were designed to be free from misapplications and regret-free decision-making processes.

From a layperson's point of view, Sharia is divided into a personal and a public function. The personal Sharia is about the relationship between an individual and the creator, whereas the public Sharia is about the relationship between the individual and society.

The personal Sharia deals with beneficial actions that should be performed by individuals, such as prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, Hajj, and Zakat (tithe, or charity). It is indeed a guide for individual Muslims to observe and follow their faith.

The public Sharia deals with the community affairs involving more than one individual, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adultery, theft, conversion, apostates and inheritance.

The intent of the Sharia laws was to construct a complete justice system with fairness to all members of society. Peace and a sense of security are the products of justice in a given society. The violations of justice and the rule of law are found in every faith, culture and political system, to varying degrees. In this respect no community is free of blame and no one can cast the first stone against another community.

However, like all laws, the Sharia for public application needs a serious revision to reflect the changing needs of society. The values enshrined in the Qur'an are dynamic, and because Sharia laws are derived from the Qur'an, they must reflect the dynamic applicability of the book. In modern times, the contentious issues that have most often recurred stem from treatment of divorce, women's rights, inheritance, theft, adultery and apostasy.

Even here in America, laws originally framed with the intention of ensuring liberty and justice for all were misapplied for over a century after they were written, resulting in a serious denial of rights to women and slaves. It is only in the last 75 years that we are tuning ourselves to the intent of our constitution. A woman is no longer considered a chattel, and slavery has become an outlawed practice. As of right now the rights of individuals with different sexual orientations are at the center of the debates as much as accepting a woman president in our country. In terms of capital punishment we are still evolving; we are behind Europe and we remain as antiquated as Saudi Arabia in putting people to death.

But even as we speak today there is yet another speculative issue that has been brought up: the issue of application of Sharia laws here in our country. This contentious debate is largely a product of the media and many fearful neoconservatives. As an American Muslim who has widely traveled throughout this country, I can strongly affirm that no group of American Muslims has called for the application of Sharia laws in America. Although a few individuals may have expressed their support for compliance with the laws here in our country, they have nevertheless remained avid supporters of the laws and freedoms of the United States.
The Sharia industry has been built with strong fortifications, to the point that many Muslims are led to believe that Sharia law is divine. In this way the application of Sharia throughout history can be comparable to the business protection plans used by defense, tax preparers and other industries, where the involved matters are made so complicated that they are needed by the society.

Islam teaches each individual to be accountable for his or her actions. We do not need a Sharia industry, and Islam certainly does not have clerical establishment built into it, nor is there a need for one.

We can retain the private Sharia and let go of the public Sharia; the civil laws of our nation provide ample justice, and we don't need a duplicate system. Sharia law was never considered divine to begin with. Hence, there is no need to even dream about it.

American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will continue to oppose Sharia laws as they are currently applied in many places across the globe. I will be one of the first ones, if not the first one, to stand up against it. The Muslim majority in America is happy with the American system and does not want to have Sharia law here in America.

This may be bad news for the likes of Bridgette Gabriel, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, John Hagee and a host of other right-wingers, who thrive on selling hate and painting chaotic scenarios. It will hurt their sales and affect their cash flow. They cannot dupe Americans with unsubstantiated and statistically insignificant claims. Americans are trained to see another point of view and to be non-judgmental.

However, I urge the passionate neocons to become ambassadors of peace in mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. It will not make them as much money, but they will be able to sleep in peace. We all need to work for a safe and prosperous America with a focus on social cohesion and removing the division and wedges between us.

As a Muslim I stand against Sharia for public consumption and assure the neocons, the fearful and the gullible that we are Americans and the law of the land is our law. There is no substitute for it.

Courtesy of Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/sharia-law-not-in-america_b_653250.html

# # #

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He is committed to building a cohesive America through the America Together Foundation. The Foundation for Pluralism champions the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other, and World Muslim Congress is committed to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam.

Mike is available to speak on Pluralism, Islam, Civil Societies, and Peace & Justice at your work place, place of worship, school,  seminars or conferences.  He is a media commentator offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.  Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at
http://www.MikeGhouse.net/