Monday, January 30, 2012

American Muslims reject separate ‘sharia’ law system

Indeed, Muslims like all other people of faith would love the personal form of Sharia, guidelines regarding one’s relationship with the creator, however, the American Muslims believe that American Laws will serve the relationships between the individual and others.

Mike Ghouse
# # #
American Muslims say they reject separate ‘sharia’ law system

By Liz Goodman

A new study based on interviews with more than 200 North American Muslims concludes that a recent spate of state laws banning "sharia law" from the court system may be an overreaction to a non-existent threat.

Oklahoma, Tennessee and Louisiana each passed laws or referendums to ban state judges from considering sharia and other foreign laws last year, and more than 20 other states have debated similar legislation. Newt Gingrich has called for a federal law to ban sharia, while his fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said sharia law is an "existential threat" to America.

The qualitative study, by University of Windsor law professor Julie MacFarlane and published by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding think tank, is the first to ask American Muslims what they think of sharia, or Islamic religious law. MacFarlane interviewed 101 Muslim men and women, 41 imams and 70 community leaders and specialists about their uses of Islamic law in everyday life. (About a quarter of the respondents live in Canada, but MacFarlane found no significant difference between the Canadian and American responses.)

MacFarlane asked the respondents whether they thought American courts should apply Islamic law to non-Muslims in the legal system. All of them said no.

Three imams out of the 41 surveyed said they wanted a parallel Islamic family tribunal where Muslims could go to sort out their legal problems. But this idea was unpopular with every other respondent, who were content with the separate and secular civil court system. The study's sample was not random, and MacFarlane's findings are not generalizable to the American Muslim community as a whole. But the research still offers a rare look into Muslim attitudes about sharia.

MacFarlane began her research after a small group of Muslims in Toronto petitioned the government in 2003 to set up a separate Islamic family tribunal where Muslims could get binding legal decisions on family law issues. (The city already had such a tribunal for Catholic and Jewish Canadians.) The request--which ultimately was denied--sparked protests in Canada as well as in far-off London, Vienna and Paris. Protesters said the tribunal would violate the separation of church and state. In America, a well-organized network of experts warn of the threat of "creeping sharia," whereby American Muslims--who make up less than 1 percent of the population--attempt to infiltrate courts with Islamic law.

Most of the Muslims MacFarlane interviewed use religious law for family issues such as divorce, marriages, and inheritances in tandem with the regular court system, not instead of it. She focused her research on Muslims who are divorced, interviewing 101 people in that situation. Ninety-five percent of those 101 people said they signed both a nikah, or religious marriage contract, as well as a civil marriage license. Those who had a legal marriage also all formally divorced in courts, after receiving religious permission to do so from an imam. Some imams would not grant a religious divorce until the couple first brought in the civil divorce decree.

"For most American Muslims, sharia represents a private system of morality and identity, primarily focused on marriage and divorce rituals," MacFarlane writes.
Most of the people who signed only a nikah, and not a civil marriage document, were recent immigrants to North America, MacFarlane told Yahoo News. (A nikah-only marriage is not recognized as legal in North America.) In a handful of cases, nikah-only marriages were used when a man was already married and wanted to have multiple wives. Some imams tolerated or encouraged this informal bigamy, MacFarlane says.

MacFarlane's sample isn't representative of the Muslim community as a whole. About 75 percent of the respondents were immigrants to America or Canada, and nearly all of them had at least a college degree. Half were of South Asian descent, 30 percent of Middle Eastern descent, and 10 percent of African descent. The remaining 10 percent were Caucasian converts and African Americans. (African Americans are estimated to make up about 35 percent of the total American Muslim population.)

MacFarlane's findings will be published in a book by Oxford University Press in April.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Warshal: Sharia law and anti-Islam animus

11:54 a.m. EST, January 24, 2012
The conservative Center for Security Policy recently issued a warning that Sharia law was being implemented in American courts. Its spokesperson said that Islamic religious demands are arriving mostly through rulings involving cases where foreigners are the principals and he commented that "Sharia enters U.S. courts through the practice of comity to foreign law."

I shall discuss comity in a moment, but first let me share with you the reaction to this assertion regarding Sharia law. The wonder of the Internet is that it allows reader reaction. There were 237 postings the day that I received this email. Here are some examples: any judge within the United States who invokes the use of any foreign laws should be locked up for treason; wake the hell up America; not only is Sharia not the law of the United States of America, it is the law of the Devil and against the law of God; and my favorite, sent in capital letters — ELIMINATE ALL MUSLIMS THAT ARE FORCING ISLAMIC LAWS AND THEIR DEATH CULT RELIGION.

This hysteria is fueled by conservative politicians. Newt Gingrichhas called for a federal law outlawing Sharia law, declaring, "Sharia law is a moral threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it." Such a law has been proposed in the House of Representatives (H.R. 973). The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed a law that states that Sharia promotes "the destruction of the national existence of the United States." More than a dozen other states are considering a similar law.

Now it's time to discuss the concept of comity to foreign law. The United States has no bilateral treaty, nor is it a signatory to any international convention that requires our courts to recognize or enforce foreign judgments or laws. However, an American court can enforce a foreign judgment if it feels that it is compatible with American standards of fairness and procedural legitimacy. An example: An Israeli couple living in America can enforce a divorce decree from a religious court in 
Israel based on Jewish law or aSaudi couple can enforce a divorce decree from a religious court in Saudi Arabia based on Sharia law — if, and this is a most important if, the court decides that either divorce decree is reasonable based on American legal standards.

Another way that Sharia law legitimately can be implemented in American courts is through the use of arbitration. Arbitration is often used in business disputes to avoid expensive and time-consuming court litigation. Both parties agree to be bound by the arbitrator's decision and such decisions can be enforced by a court of law. Two Muslims can decide to use a court that applies Sharia business standards and its decision would be enforceable under the American legal system. There is nothing sinister here. It's their business dispute and it's their American right to decide it as they wish.

I am compelled to share with you a piece written on the blog TPM (Talking Points Memo) by Josh Marshall: "In our investigation into the growth of Sharia Law in the USA we came across some surprising findings. Numerous American cities now have one or more Muslim religious courts in operation where believers go to adjudicate family law disputes, real estate transactions and various other matters according to Sharia law by binding arbitration. These religious court verdicts can then be enforced by civilian American courts. Various states have also passed laws to codify Muslim dietary laws, though a few of these laws have been struck down. And numerous national corporations now process foods to suit Muslim dietary standards. Finally, one jurisdiction in New York has been settled entirely by devout Muslims: no candidates run for office except those approved by the local imam; road signs in the town are all printed in both English and Arabic; and various local practices have been brought into line with Sharia.

"Actually, there's one detail I didn't mention. The law here isn't Sharia; it's Halakhah, Jewish religious law. And all of the above are true if you change 'Muslim' to 'Jewish' and 'Arabic' to 'Hebrew.' (Actually, Yiddish written in the Hebrew script, to be specific.)"

Marshall then comments: "All true. And yet I think it's a pretty good example of the fact that the kinds of things (with Muslims) that are supposed to make us run around with our hair on fire, are already happening and have been for decades with Jews and no one seems to care because, frankly, why should they?"

The American Muslim community is predominantly middle class, eschews terrorism and votes Democratic. (Maybe that's the reason the Republican conservatives target it) A recent poll by the highly respected Pew Research Center shows that Muslims exhibit the highest level of integration among major American religious groups, expressing greater degrees of tolerance toward people of other faiths than do Protestants, Catholics or Jews. It also indicated that nearly 80 percent of American Muslims rate their communities a good place to live, despite the existence of anti-Islamic rhetoric. This highlights the absurdity of anti-Sharia law agitation.

Not only do we do an injustice to American Muslims, but we do harm to America. The Yale historian Eliyahu Stern has written: "In the 20th century we thrived by promoting a Judaic-Christian ethic, respecting differences and accentuating commonalities among Jews, Catholics and Protestants. Today, we need an Abrahamic ethic that welcomes Islam into the religious tapestry of American life. Anti-Sharia legislation fosters a hostile environment that will stymie the growth of America's tolerant strand of Islam. The continuation of America's pluralistic religious tradition depends on the ability to distinguish between punishing groups that support terror and blaming terrorist activities on a faith that represents roughly a quarter of the world's population."

In less academic and more visceral terms this sentiment was expressed by a local Muslim, as reported by theSun Sentinel, in response to Congressman Alan West's attack on Islam: "It's sleazy politics to whip up fear of Muslims. It's a dirty, sleazy tactic to attack a religion."

Since I am writing in a Jewish newspaper, I cannot conclude without mentioning a recent study by the Center for American Progress which shows that seven foundations have spent more than $40 million in the last 10 years to spread misinformation about Muslim Americans. The Forward editorially commented, "And who leads those efforts? Far too many Jews." It goes on to name Pamela Geller, David Yerushalmi, Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson, who even criticized 
President George W. Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for being soft on Muslims.

Neocon Jews, a small percentage of our community, bring disgrace upon our liberal Jewish traditions, and they do so under the misguided belief that by denigrating Islam they somehow support Israel. And yet these people are invited to speak in synagogues (primarily Orthodox) and at Jewish Federation functions and are accorded respect. They should be labeled what they actually are: Hate mongers. There is no place in Judaism for that.

Rabbi Warshal is the publisher emeritus of the Jewish Journal and the author of "Provocative Columns: A Liberal Rabbi Reflects on Beliefs, Israel and American Politics." He can be reached

Friday, January 20, 2012

Qur’anic Sharia (laws) on Divorce

Note: Since I began my Journey into finding the truth about life and living, I have found Quraan to be document of  common sense and the broader picture is for the society to coexist in harmony. I would say with the same sincerity that all religions preach the same essence. Prophet Muhammad had reemphasized that Islam is not a new religion, it is the same message delivered in different communities. In the following document, you can see how similar it is to our laws in the United States. - Mike Ghouse

The Qur’anic Sharia (laws) on Divorce. Triple divorce, Temporary Marriage, Halala Stand Forbidden (Haram)
By Muhammad Yunus,
Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009

Qur’anic concern on the prevalent customs regarding divorce
In Pre-Islamic Arabia, men could abandon their wives at whim by simply declaring, “You are to me like my mother’s back” (58:2).

Since handing down a divorce was a man’s prerogative, he needed no ground and did not even release his abandoned wife, who preferred to stay in her husband’s home for want of any other place to go. There is a tradition from Aisha reported in Sahih al-Bukhari (Acc. 134/Vol.7) that institutionalizes this custom. It reads:

“… the women whose husband does not want to keep her with him any longer, but wants to divorce her and marry some other lady, so she says to him: `Keep me and do not divorce me, and then marry another woman and you may neither spend on me nor sleep with me.”
The Justinian Code that dominated the thoughts of the era, placed a woman under the ownership of a man. After marriage the husband became her owner and treated her as he wished. Thus, he could divorce his wife by simply declaring ‘I divorce thee triply or thrice.’ 

 A system of temporary co-habitation (muta marriage) was also in vogue that permitted a woman to live with different men when their husbands were away from home on trading or any other mission. The Shi‘itee Ithna ‘Ashari school retains the practice. Thus according to the dictum of the theologian, al-Hurr al Amili, “The believer is only perfect when he has experienced a muta [1], though there can be little doubt that the custom virtually conflates legalized prostitution. While this did not raise any question of divorce, the married women who practiced this were virtually temporarily divorced from their husbands and had no means of livelihood for themselves or their children and therefore took to heterosexual habitation as part of social norm.

The Qur’an with its key agenda “to lift from them (humanity) their burdens and shackles that were upon humanity (before)” (7:157) had to deliver the women from the curse of arbitrary divorce, conjugal oppression and lifelong bondage. At a higher plane, it recognizes the serious emotional and financial implications of a divorce for either or both the spouses, as well as the offspring of a broken marriage. It, therefore, discourages divorce by a set of well-guarded stipulations, but allows it if the alternative was life-long unhappiness for the family.

The Qur’an, however, does not consider divorced women as a social burden. It protects their financial interest and those of the children born to them from their broken marriages, permits them to remarry and treats them practically like any other unmarried women.

Context of the Revelation
In the immediate context of the revelation, the Qur’an abolishes the pre-Islamic custom that permitted a man to abandon his wife indefinitely by an oath, but retain her in wedlock, thus preventing her remarriage or freedom. It therefore declares (2:226):

“Those who vow (to abstain) from their wives must wait for four months. Meanwhile if they go back, (remember,) God is Most Forgiving and Merciful” (2:226).

The concluding God’s attribute of Forgiveness and Mercy is suggestive of Qur’anic encouragement for reconciliation between the spouses and restoration of an effective marriage tie. However, if a man remains firm in his decision on divorce, and abandons his wife for four consecutive months, he must terminate the marriage at the end of this period and release his wife (2:227).

“However, if they decide on a divorce, (let them remember that) God is All-Knowing and Aware” (2:227)

Legislation of a Time-frame for a divorce to take effect as norm for humanity
In a legally phrased passage (2:228/229) the Qur’an prescribes, among other things, a three-month waiting period for a woman under divorce notice (2:228), and commands a man who initiates the divorce to formally articulating his intention at least twice over the period (2:229), obviously in the presence of witnesses. The time-framing is reiterated in two other verses (2:231, 65:2).

“Divorced women shall wait by themselves for three monthly periods, for it is not lawful for them, if they believe in God and the Last Day, to conceal what God has created in their wombs…. (2:228). (O men, you must) pronounce the divorce over two occasions. Thereafter live together (with your mates) honorably, or part with (tasrihu) them honorably…. (2:229).
“And if you divorce women, and they reach (the end of) their term, then either live together honorably, or part with (sarrihu) them honorably, but do not keep them to injure them, (or) to exceed limits. Anyone who does that merely wrongs his own soul…” (2:231).

“And when they reach (the end of) their term, then either live together honorably, or part with (fariqu) them honorably, calling to witness two just members from among yourselves and uphold the evidence (as) before God. This is to instruct anyone who believes in God and the Last Day. (Remember,) God will find a way out for anyone who heeds Him” (65:2).
Remarriage after divorce.

The Qur’an does not permit the marriage of a divorced woman with her ex-husband after the expiry of the three month-timeframe. She must marry a new spouse, live with him as his wife and should this second marriage fail and her new husband divorces her, she could remarry her first husband after the expiry of the three month waiting/notice period (Iddat) (2:230).
“If he (the husband) divorces her (at the end of the waiting period), she becomes unlawful to him afterwards until she marries another man. If he (her new husband) then divorces her, there is no blame on the (former) couple to reunite - provided they feel that they can keep within the limits set by God. These are the limits set by God, and He clarifies them to a people who have knowledge” (2:230).

This was obviously to allow full freedom to a divorced woman to find a new spouse and marry. The absence of this clause would have led many ex-husbands to prevent their divorced wives from marrying a new spouse out of grudge that normally precedes a divorce. Accordingly, the Qur’an warns men:

“And when you have divorced women (after) they have reached their term, you must not obstruct them from marrying (their would be) spouses (azwaj) if they have mutually agreed in a fair manner. This is instructed to anyone among you, who believes in God and the Last Day. (Remember,) this is more appropriate for you and purer; and God knows, yet you do not know” (2.232).

Any permission to remarry an ex-husband after an irrevocable divorce would have led to the continuation of a pre-Islamic practice of a man divorcing his wife at whim and marrying her back at whim thereby never allowing her a separation. It would have totally frustrated the intent of the divorce: to release a woman from the bondage of a failed marriage.
Maintenance of divorced pregnant wife, and the offspring

In a clearly stated verse (2:233) the Qur’an spells out: i) the social and financial responsibilities of a man divorcing a pregnant wife, ii) the moral responsibility of his divorced wife to disclose her pregnancy, iii) the need for mutual consultation between them if they wished to put the child under the care of a foster-mother, and iv) the responsibility of the heir of the father if a child was born posthumously (2:233).

“Mothers shall nurse their children for two whole years if they wish to complete the nursing.” The father (has to) provide for them, and clothe them reasonably. No soul is to be burdened beyond its capacity. A mother should not be made to suffer for her child, nor a father for his child, while the heir (is liable) likewise. If they both wish to wean the child by mutual consent and consultation - there is no blame on them; so if you wish to give your children out to wet-nurses, there is no blame on you, provided you pay what is reasonably expected from you. Heed God and know that God is Observant of what you do” (2:233).

The Qur’an further commands men folk to supporting a divorced pregnant wife (65:6), and that they should spend according to their means (65:7).

“Accommodate them (the women in Iddat) in the manner you lodge, according to your circumstances, and do not harass them to reduce them (to straits). If they are pregnant, meet their expenses until they bring forth their burden; and if they suckle (the baby) for you, give them their due, and consult together honorably. But if you find it difficult (for her health reason, or she intends to remarry), let another woman nurse (it) on behalf of him (the father) (65:6). (In all these matters) the rich should spend (according to) his abundance, but the one whose means is limited should spend of what God has given him. (Remember,) God does not burden anyone beyond what He has given him. Surely God will grant relief after distress” (65:7).

Settlement of dower if neither marriage is consummated nor dower fixed
The Qur'an directs men to give a reasonable provision to their divorced wives, even if the marriage was not consummated (2:236, 33:49).

“There (will be) no blame on you to divorce women before you have consummated (marriage) with them, or fixed their dower (faridah), but provide for them: the rich according to his means, and the poor according to his means – a reasonable provision, a duty binding (haqq), on the compassionate”(2:236).

“You who believe, when you marry believing women and divorce them before you have consummated (marriage) with them, you do not have to count (the waiting) period for them. So make provision for them, and part with (sarrihu) them in a handsome parting”(33:49).
The verse 2:236 uses the term faridah for marriage dower, while the verse 4:4 calls it saduquat.
“Give women their dower (saduquat), as a gift but if they voluntarily favor you with anything from it, take it and enjoy it in good spirit” (4:4).

The former (faridah) connotes with a binding obligation, while the latter (saduqat), with a gift, or charity. Thus, the Qur'an leaves no ambiguity about the legal position of marriage dower: it is a binding obligation of a man towards his wife, and is performed as a gesture of goodwill or charity (saduquat) that s non-refundable. Thus there can be no question about deferring its disbursement and linking it with any other financial or post divorce transaction.
Settlement of dower if marriage is not consummated, but dower is fixed

The Qur’an states:
“If you divorce them before you have consummated (marriage) with them, but you have fixed their dower (faridah), then (give them) half of what you have fixed, unless they (the women) forgo it, or the one in whose (alladhi) hands is the marriage tie forgoes it. To forgo is nearer to heedfulness (taqwa), and do not forget to be generous between yourselves. (Remember,) God is Observant of what you do” (2:237).

The common gender pronoun alladhi, rendered above as whose, is traditionally identified with a husband, implying that only the husband can terminate a marriage that is yet to be consummated. But this purports to revoke a woman’s Qur’anic privilege to dissolve a marriage unilaterally under compelling circumstances (2:229). Therefore the pronoun alladhi must be interpreted in its common gender form, implying that either of the couple - husband or wife can lawfully dissolve an unconsummated marriage. Based on this, the pronouncements of the verse may be broken down into the following simple tenets:

• If a man initiates a divorce, he has to pay half the dower to the woman, unless she forgoes it.
•  If a woman breaks the marriage from her side, she has to forgo her claim on half the dower that she would have received if the man divorced her.
•  A man, who gives a divorce, has the option to forgo the exempted ‘half' part, and give full contracted dower as a gesture of generosity (fadl).
•   Both the partners of a divorce should be generous to each other, and refrain from exploiting one another.

Maintenance for a divorced woman

The Qur’an declares:
“(There shall be) a reasonable maintenance for divorced women - a duty (haqq) binding on the heedful (muttaqin) (2:241). Thus does God clarify His messages to you, that you may use your reason” (2:242).

The Qur’anic injunction is in broad terms: it does not say whether a man is required to make a one off provision, or give a maintenance allowance to his divorced wife until she remarries. The Qur'an, however, asks the menfolk to use reason. Thus, if a man is required to make a provision, commensurate to his income, to a woman with whom he has only contracted marriage but not yet consummated it (2:236 above), he must be fair and considerate to the woman he is divorcing after living together as a husband and wife. He must therefore arrange spousal maintenance, commensurate to his income, and to the financial need, age, health and circumstances of his spouse. This obviously is a matter for the court to decide, depending upon the merit of the case, the prevalent social conditions and securities, and the relative financial positions of the partners in a divorce case.
The Qur’an forestalls any manipulative interpretation of its commandments
The Qur’anic dictates on divorce as discussed above date from two different periods of its revelation. The passage 2:226-242 dates from early Medinite period, while the passage 65:1-7 from mid Medinite period. The passages, separated chronologically by at least three to four years, complement each other with immaculate consistency and clarity in spelling out a husband’s obligations during a divorce. This Qur'anic repetition is understandably to help avoid (i) any misinterpretation by later generation scholars and (ii) any ambiguity on the subject.

Conclusion: The Qur’an deals with the process of divorce in a balanced and phased manner comprising a three month time frame, so that this most agonizing experience in a person’s life is faced in a balanced, phased and harmonious manner, and there is no bitterness and ill feelings between the erstwhile spouses. The institution of temporary marriage (muta) and triple divorce are in direct contradiction to the Qur’anic message and therefore stand haram. Some local customs such as Halala that allows a man to divorce his wife at the spur of the moment, such as in a state of anger or drunkenness and then force her into marriage and sexual intercourse with a friend and get him to divorce her to marry her back the next day or so totally disregarding the three month time for his divorce and that of his friend to take effect also stands utterly haram and sexually shameful sadistic. These practices that remain part of the Classical Islamic Law have defiled and demonized Islam, no matter how few Muslims practice it, and how the Muslims glorify their faith, and reduced Islam to a medieval misogynist cult in the eyes of a section of Western people as summed up By Newt Gringer the 2012 Presidential candidate from the Republicans in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in July 2010: “I believe Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” It is time for the Islamic doctors of law to treat the Classical Islamic Law as a closed corpus - and draw a Modern Law of Islam based on its divine Sharia (the Qur’an) and not the Classical Islamic Law, which is not a word of God and contradicts the Qur’anic paradigms on many counts as detailed in a recent article:

Final Comment: Muslim Ulema in India are sticking to the personal law that their pre-Islamic ancestors established under the behest of Hanafi law. For the medieval era, when women were grievously oppressed in the non-Muslim word, these brazenly anti-Qur’anic laws held sway. With the liberation and empowerment of women and a quantum change in gender dynamics in the non-Muslim world – much in line with the Qur’anic message (I am not suggesting they copied it from the Qur’an for if that was so, why couldn’t the Ulema do it), it is time for the Muslim Ulema to reform their laws in line with the Qur’anic paradigms.
One wonders why a section of the Muslim Ulema in India pass Fatwas or stick to rulings that patently contradict the Qur’an, are highly misogynistic, grievously violate international human rights and so immensely preposterous (condoning incest, forcing Indian Government to pass a law to limit the maintenance of a woman after more than 30 years of wedlock.) that one finds it hard to make any candid comment lest it could be too unsavory. The least one may say about the practice of Halala is that a time may also come that a Maulvi from some obscure village of India may insist on watching and filming it as hard core evidence?? God save us from that day.
1.         Azaf A.A.Fyzee, Our lines of Mohammedan Law, Oxford University Press, Fifth Edition, 2005, p. 117.

Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top Five Sharia Myths

That amputation is a typical punishment for theft in Muslim countries

Of the world's 50 or so Muslim-majority states, only about half a dozen allow for amputations and at least one of those countries – Pakistan – has never carried out the penalty in practice

That veiling is mandatory under sharia law

Women are simply advised by the Qur'an to wear modest clothing and – like men – to lower their eyes and maintain their chastity

That suicide bombing is permissable under sharia law

Most interpreters of the Qur'an understand it to forbid suicide. The first suicide bombing by Muslims was carried out in 1983 during the Lebanese civil war

Stoning is mentioned in the Qur'an

Stoning is not mentioned as a punishment in the Qur'an. It was institutionalised on the basis of hadiths (reports about Muhammad) which were themselves not written down until more than a century after his death

Capital punishment for apostasy is mentioned by the Qur'an

The Qur'an repeatedly warns believers who abandon their faith that they will have to account to God in the afterlife, but it does not provide for their punishment on earth. Again, it was hadiths that later served to justify the death penalty.

(Courtesy: The Guardian, UK)

Muslim without sharia?

Muslim without sharia?
By Harris Zafar

On Tuesday, January 17th, former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich said that the only way he would ever support a Muslim for the presidency of the United States is if that person would “commit in public to give up sharia,” thereby continuing his trend to exhibit his ignorance on the subject of Islamic law (sharia) as well as his ignorance of the United States Constitution.

To be fair, Mr. Gingrich did say that “a truly modern person who happened to worship Allah would not be a threat,” thereby acknowledging the fact that there are indeed trustworthy and moderate Muslims. This statement expresses that he does not condemn all Muslims wholesale, which is encouraging, and I applaud him for those words.
On the other hand, I’m disappointed with his lack of understanding of sharia and the United States Constitution itself when he then continues to say “a person who belonged to any kind of belief in sharia, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us, would be a mortal threat.” This is in line with his previous comments, calling sharia “totally abhorrent to the Western world” and “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” He suggests there are “violent jihadis” who use violence to spread sharia, as well as “stealth jihadis” who use cultural, religious and intellectual means to manipulate sharia into legislation. So whether the Muslim is violent or not, apparently we all have sharia on the mind.

 The hysteria around sharia continues to grow, especially with the GOP presidential primaries in full swing. The message is that we better do something fast before sharia law usurps the American Constitution. This exposes their absolute ignorance of sharia and the American Constitution itself. The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution suffices to protect the Constitution as “the supreme law of the land.” Furthermore, the Establishment Clause prohibits the federal government from establishing or preferring any religion (including Islam) in the United States. No law can trump the Constitution of the United States.

Besides, there is nothing in Islam’s teachings about taking over the law of the land. The Koran, Islam’s holy scripture, instructs that absolute justice, not religion, must be the ruling government’s guiding principle, irrespective of different faiths, races, etc.
For Mr. Gingrich to ask Muslims to publicly “give up sharia” is akin to asking them to publicly give up the Koran because sharia is simply the Islamic code that guides everyday Muslim beliefs and actions. Sharia is far from merely a set of punishments or legal obligations. Rather, it is a set of obligations of a personal and private nature dictated by faith. A religious legal system cannot be imposed in the current global society with people of different faiths in all countries.
People like Mr. Gingrich cite some countries to assert that Muslims want to institute harsh punishments for certain crimes. There is no doubt that countries that claim to follow sharia have used it as an excuse to gain power and sanction religious extremism. No country in the world today has implemented a system of government that truly follows Islamic sharia.
When the Prophet Muhammad became the de facto ruler of Arabia, he required all residents be allowed to worship in peace and without oppression. Sharia teaches freedom of conscience and religion. The Koran goes as far as to oblige Muslims to fight on behalf of Jews, Christians and people of other faiths and to protect their churches, synagogues and temples from attack.
The Islamic system of punishment must be examined in the context of Islamic moral teachings, and the atmosphere of high moral standards that Islam first wishes to establish in a society. When that happens, society rises to such heights that crimes become very rare and unnatural. Without creating that society first – where everyone’s needs are met, where honesty, integrity and safety are accepted principles and crimes are an anomaly – no attempt can be made to institute criminal punishments. Islam does not command us to enact punishments. That’s putting the cart before the horse.
Although some exploit the sharia hysteria to rally the base in this election year, accusations levied against sharia are patently absurd. The nearly two dozen proposed bills to ban sharia in the United States are an exaggerated response to a non-existent and manufactured problem. I invite Mr. Gingrich, as well as lawmakers at all levels of government, to meet with us to better understand sharia’s role in the life of American Muslims.
Harris Zafar serves as the national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community - the oldest Muslim organization in America - and is a frequent lecturer about Islam around the country. He can be contacted at

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Newt Gingrich: I'd Support A Muslim who Commits To 'Give Up Sharia'

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Newt Gingrich told a South Carolina town hall audience on Tuesday that he would be open to seeing a Muslim-American run for president, as long as the candidate denounced Sharia law and didn't seek to impose his or her views on others.

At a town hall meeting in West Columbia, S.C., a man asked Gingrich if he would ever "support a Muslim-American running for president."

"Would you endorse...a Muslim-American, [who] could possibly be running for president, given that we had a woman running for president in Hillary Clinton, and we had a Jewish-American, in Joe Lieberman, running for vice president?" he asked.

"A truly modern person who happened to worship Allah would not be a threat," Gingrich replied. "A person who belonged to any kind of belief in Sharia, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us, would be a mortal threat."

In the past, Gingrich has repeatedly decried Sharia, a legal code derived from Islam, and called for a federal law to pre-emptively bar its use in any U.S. courts. He didn't soften his position on Tuesday, saying his support would be contingent on a candidate's willingness to denounce Sharia.
"I think it would depend entirely on whether they would commit in public to give up Sharia," he said, referencing his support for the bill and drawing cheers from listeners at the event. "If they're a modern person integrated into the modern world, and they're prepared to recognize all religions, that's one thing. On the other hand, if they're the Saudis, who demand that we respect them while they refuse to allow either a Jew or a Christian to worship in Saudi Arabia, that's something different."

He pointed to an acquaintance as an example of a "truly modern" Muslim.

"We have a friend in Arizona who serves in the U.S. Navy, who's a medical doctor, who's Muslim -- but he's a totally modern person, trying to find ways to bring Islam into modernity," Gingrich said.

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said he wouldn't be comfortable appointing a Muslim to a judgeship or cabinet position. He later apologized.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Court Upholds practice of Sharia in Oklahoma


Congratulations to the people of Oklahoma that the rule of law has prevailed over bigotry in their state.  We applaud the court in Denver for upholding U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange's order blocking implementation of the amendment shortly after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters in November 2010.

It is unfortunate that the Oklahomans were misled by the politicians to believe that Muslims were demanding Sharia law and that it was dangerous and must be gutted; they trusted their representatives and passed the referendum to ban Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic law to resolve personal matters between individuals.

 When a conflict arises between family members, before you sue each other, you seek guidance from other family members, friends, church and the counselors, if you don’t find a solution; you go to the court as a last resort.  The court may appoint a mediator if the parties are willing to abide by the decisions or simply take it up with the bench or the jury.

Those who opt for a mediator may agree to common guidelines and one of them is available from your religious sources. In case of Muslims, if the couple is willing to seek Sharia to guide them to serve justice equitably to both and willing to abide by, the mediator will get that agreement approved by the judge.  The Christians may seek Pastoral counseling as Jews may seek guidance from the Halaqa, their family laws.

Who would not want a resolution to their conflict, be it through friends or religious laws? Isn’t it between them? If a couple chooses to settle their dispute about child custody, divorce or inheritance they should seek all resources including Sharia, which is designed to serve equitable justice to people. It is unfortunate that people have come to associate Sharia with injustices, indeed abuse of law is prevalent in every nation and society where the innocent is nailed, just as we have administered lethal injection to innocent men and women in Texas.

It is a victory for justice and a victory for all Americans. We cannot a let a few short-sighted men and women deny others their rights guaranteed in constitution.

Mike Ghouse is committed to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. He is a speaker, thinker and writer offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 


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