CAIRO – Trying to counter a growing hostile sentiments in the United States, a leading Islamic group has launched a campaign to clear long-held misconceptions about Shari`ah.
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) campaign "will educate the American public on the definition and place of Shari’ah in Islam," president Zahid Bukhari said in a statement on its website.
Themed "Understanding Shari`ah", the campaign, launched during the 36th ICNA annual convention in Connecticut, also aims to clear stereotypes about Islam and Muslims.
"Our campaign will also counter Islamophobia that is fostered and spread by groups who hide behind the false guise of an anti-Shari`ah movement," Bukhari said.
Under the initiative, an online portal will be developed to support efforts aiming to shed light on religious freedoms under Shari`ah.
US Muslims will also be mobilized as part of the initiative to better explain Shari`ah.
ICNA is also planning to partner with various faith and civic organizations to reach this goal.
The initiative comes against the backdrop of several attempts to ban Shari`ah in several US states.
Lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
Last November, a federal court blocked constitutional amendments that would have prohibited the use of Shari`ah in Oklahoma.
In Islam, Shari`ah governs all issues in Muslims’ lives from daily prayers to fasting and from, marriage and inheritance to financial disputes.
The Islamic rulings, however, do not apply on non-Muslims, even if in a dispute with non-Muslims.
Back to School
ICNA convention also saw the launch of a two-month initiative to help poor families.
The Back to School Giveaway is necessary because "it's part of our duty to help our society,” Mahmood Aijazi, national director of the Back to School Giveaway campaign, said.
“We need to go out, reach out to others and give back to our communities."
The initiative will feature of a series of free school supply giveaways in low-income areas in the upcoming holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Previously hosted in New York, New Jersey and Washington, the initiative is now expanding to the states of Houston, Chicago and Southern California.
Aijazi said he hopes more cities will follow ICNA's lead and host giveaways in their respective areas.
The three-day ICNA convention, held last week, was attended by a record 18,900 people.
Convention-goers benefited from nearly 80 sessions by over 100 prominent scholars, leaders and activists from across the country and around the world.