GODSTUFF: One Nation Under Allah?

It isn’t a crime to practice Islam in the United States of

At least, not yet.

On Monday (March 14), Missouri state Rep. Don Wells introduced a
proposed constitutional amendment aimed at blocking Shariah — the
Islamic legal code — from being used in state courts. Another Missouri
lawmaker introduced a bill to ban the use of any foreign laws in state

Wells said he introduced the Shariah ban out of concern that there
is a global push to accept Islamic laws that he views as oppressive to
women and as calling for violent punishment for minor offenses.

“I think it’s just absolutely a guarantee to my children and
grandchildren that in the future they will live under the same laws that
I grew up under,” Wells told The Associated Press.

Earlier this month, Tennessee lawmakers began consideration of a
bill that would make the practice of Shariah law a felony. The bill was
introduced by conservative legislators with ties to ongoing efforts to
block the construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York
City and the expansion of a mosque near Nashville.

Similar laws have been proposed in a dozen other states, including
Oklahoma, where last November voters approved a constitutional amendment
banning the use of Shariah law in state courts. That ban has since been
challenged as unconstitutional in federal court.

The moves come amidst controversy over congressional hearings on the
spread of “radical” Islam in the United States. Proponents say their
efforts are a reaction to what they see as a move to have Shariah
supersede U.S. civil law.

But critics say those efforts amount to little more than blatant
anti-Muslim bigotry and fly in the face of the First Amendment’s
protection of the “free exercise” of religion.

Some called the congressional hearings a “witch hunt” and compared
them to those convened by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1940s and `50s to
ferret out Communists and their sympathizers.

“Today, millions of Muslim Americans are subjected to thoughtless
generalizations, open discrimination, and outright hostility because of
a tiny minority whose acts of violence deny the teachings of the Quran
and are denounced by other Muslims,” said the Rev. Michael Kinnamon,
general secretary of the National Council of Churches.

A poll last August by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found
that Americans remain deeply conflicted about their opinions of Islam in
the U.S. The study found that only 30 percent hold a “favorable” opinion
of Islam, a drop of more than 10 percent since 2005.

Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they believed Islam
“encouraged” violence compared to other religions, while 42 percent said
it did not, according to the Pew poll.

Testifying at the hearings convened by House Homeland Security
Committee Chairman Peter King, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first
Muslim elected to Congress, conceded that some individuals, “including
some who are Muslims, are violent extremists.”

“However,” he added, “these are individuals, not entire communities.
When you assign their violent actions to the entire community, you
assign collective blame to a whole group. This is the very heart of
stereotyping and scapegoating.”

Shariah is a set of guiding principles derived from the Quran, which
were then interpreted over centuries by Islamic religious scholars.

Shariah addresses a broad spectrum of issues, from crime and economics
to hygiene and sexuality. While most Muslims accept Shariah as sacred,
its interpretation and application vary widely depending on religious,
cultural and geographic points of view.

Viewing Shariah as one set entity is akin to viewing the Bible and
Christians’ interpretation thereof as a singular thing. There are as
many ways to view the Bible and its teachings (and laws) as there are

American Islam, like American Christianity, is not a monolith.

“It’s anything but,” Syracuse University professor Gustav Niebuhr,
author of “Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in
America,” told the PBS program “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly” recently.
“There are people who are wealthy. There are people who are
white-collar. There are all sorts of professionals. There are
blue-collar people. There are people who have been here since the 1960s,
people who’ve recently arrived.

“At the very time that you’ve got people fighting for freedom and
human rights in North Africa, you have internationally televised
hearings questioning the patriotism of at least some American Muslims,”
Niebuhr said. “What’s hopeful is that people … have stood with Muslims
— and stood with Muslims as Americans — in this country. And I hope
that the latter is received more strongly than the former, at least for
American interests abroad.”

Categories: GODSTUFF | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “GODSTUFF: One Nation Under Allah?

  1. So when do they build the concentration camps and incinerators to burn the 7 million American Muslims?

    I posted the following elsewhere and I think it may belong here as well.

    I was inspired to research and dispel the the obsession with the so-called Sharia Law. Antisemitic emotions against Muslims are, in my opinion, what started this thing called Sharia Law. The Quran and the Prophet’s sayings do not contain such a word. Period. So Islam is innocent from the implied meaning of this “phrase.”

    Just like the word “Islamist or Islamism which only sprung to existence post the 9-11 crime against humanity, after which we needed to have an enemy: so we created the expression to strike fear in the hearts of average Americans and equate the danger of such followers of a religion with that of communism.

    To be completely fair and objective, the word does appear once in the Quran but the meaning is not even close to what we seem to think it means. This simply shows our ignorance and bias against anything we do not understand. The Verse states:

    45:18 And, finally, [O Muhammad,] We have set thee on a way by which the purpose [of faith] may be fulfilled: so follow thou this [way], and follow not the likes and dislikes of those who do not know [the truth]

    Before the reader says “Aha! What is this way?” it is interesting and enlightening to read the preceding and following verses of this statement/ verse.

    45:16 AND, INDEED, [already] unto the children of Israel (the 12 tribes of Jacob) did We vouchsafe revelation, and wisdom, and prophethood; and We provided for them sustenance out of the good things of life, and favoured them above all other people of their time, inasmuch as at that time they were the only truly monotheistic community

    45:17 And We gave them [Israelites] clear indications of the purpose [of faith]; and it was only after all this knowledge had been vouchsafed to them that they began, out of mutual jealousy [as in bias towards their beliefs], to hold divergent views: [but,] verily, thy Sustainer will judge be­tween them on Resurrection Day regarding all whereon they were wont to differ.

    [purpose of faith] the innermost purpose of all true faith is, firstly, a realization of the existence of God and of every human being’s responsibility to Him; secondly, man’s attaining to a consciousness of his own dignity as a positive element – a logically necessary element – in God’s plan of creation and, thus, achieving freedom from all manner of superstitions and irrational fears; and, lastly, making man aware that whatever good or evil he does is but done for the benefit, or to the detriment, of his own self

    The verse that follows 45:18 states:

    45:19 Behold, they could never be of any avail to thee if thou wert to defy the will of God for, verily, such evildoers are but friends and protectors of one another, whereas God is the Protector of all who are conscious of Him.

    From this alone, I “see” how “dangerous” Sharia is: these [Muslim] people want us to follow in the footsteps of the Israelites and the 12 tribes of Jacob and their teachings, maybe even include the teachings of Jesus and the return to the worship of One God and finally, these Moozlems must think they’re above the law because only God, they believe, protects them!

    I think Muslims should sue Hebrew National! Muslims too answer to a higher authority!

    The few, the vocal, the militant in their ways, regardless of their claim that they are Muslim, should be ignored and they will evaporate! They want to be on TV and in the news! Just like Bin Laden or others who will happily appear on TV or in public, we need to see them for who they are – not the religion they claim to follow and represent! After all, didn’t the KKK claim that God favored Whites or something to that effect, and therefore justified killing African Americans who were also Christian?

    One only needs to read a page/ a chapter/ the whole Quran even and one will be shocked to learn how beautiful and divine the words and teachings are.


  2. KarenDV

    I’m confused. I support the building of the mosque near Ground Zero. I consider myself a political (and Christian) moderate tilting left. I consider the anti-Islam sentiment in this country to be overwrought, uncharitable and dangerous to everyone’s religious freedom. But I don’t understand how Shariah law could even be used in a civil court, which is charged with enforcing the law of the land, not of a particular faith. To me, this is not an anti-Islam thing; it’s upholding separation of church and state — a good thing for all faiths.

    • Cathleen: forgive me for frequency of the comments and responses here…


      A wonderful, intelligent comment. I will attempt to clarify a bit.

      Applying the so-called Sharia “Law” (again there’s no such thing other than the Commandments stated in the Quran – which are almost the same plus some) is equivalent to applying, say, the Biblical Ten Commandments in court: Thou Shalt Not Steal; Thou Shalt not bear false Witness. Does this mean when prosecuting or defending cases that involve both, we are inviting religion in the courts? This is “instinct” and the right thing to do: God only reminded us that we must not sacrifice such values.

      Not a single American Muslim is making or hinting to even wanting their beliefs to be incorporated in the American Judicial system (almost everything in the system is parallel to Islamic tradition). Save maybe for the requirement respecting their beliefs when it comes to, for example, inheritance and such matters. From what I know, an Islamic WILL is accepted and respected in courts. The court system already recognizes many of the American Muslims (as it does Jewish) traditions or religious practices in marriage and divorce as well – as they are almost the same: Muslims can marry at their Mosques but the Mosques insist on the couple obtaining a marriage license! Perfect harmony.


  3. Hanan

    The Shariah Law is oppressive to women and is calling for violent punishment for minor offenses. This is a fact! I have Muslim friends who believe that as well and who were so scared that this might pass and they fought and demonstrated against implementing it here. They said we immigrated to North America to run away from such an oppressive law, especially for women!
    It’s true that we shouldn’t stereotype and generalize, and no one is doing that by not allowing the Shariah law to be practiced in North America. This falls under the separation of church and state. These are two different issues here. Not permitting to change our laws to include the Shariah law (religious law) in it doesn’t mean to discriminate against American Muslims.

    • to Hanan,

      Your statement is absurd. First, there is no such thing as Sharia law. Secondly, the oppression is cultural to few stone-age cultures (Saudi, Afghan, Iran, etc.) especially when Islam liberated women and gave them their rights of voting, working, and even fighting or play a supportive role as we have witnessed during the times of Muhammad. Islamic history attests to this.

      Your Muslim friends who believe what they believe must be as ignorant: let them produce one verse or hadith that proves Islam is oppressive to women. The facts are on the ground: women in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and the UAE are thriving in business and in leadership positions.

      But the prize always goes to anything that can be made controversial: Islam and Muslims happen to be in the spot light – and ignorantly I might add. Do people still read and verify the facts themselves?


      • James

        @ATW, I think a large problem arises from definitions. While customary law, the Sunnah, and Sharia are all different, they are often readily conflated under the banner of “Shariah Law” by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We have seen already here in Canada (Ontario specifically) some pushing for what they call “Sharia law” to be applied in lieu of Canadian law. Some background reading from 2004 when this was starting to become an issue:

        Whether or not Islam *actually* demands women be treated equally or not, or whether “Sharia” encompasses the customary laws and traditions that many in the West see as problematic, doesn’t matter. What matters is that misogynistic practices have been defended under the banner of “Sharia”, and some truly want to have it supersede federal and provincial/state laws in some cases.

        It’s a question of interpretation whether women are held as equals under Islam, as shown by the often misogynistic actions of Islamic leaders and nations the world over. If actions speak louder than words, then those people are practically shouting.


        PS: your defense of Islam is ironic, considering your name-calling and quick pronouncements of Islamic countries’ cultures–like Saudi Arabia’s–as “stone-age”. No one likes an arrogant commenter.

  4. @James,

    Good point: it’s a matter of interpretation. But defending Islam and calling Saudis or Afghan as stone-age cultures has nothing to do with the religion of Islam! As I’ve already stated: culture and religion are two different things. While the Saudis do not allow women to drive or seek education outside of Saudi Arabia (don’t know how accurate the latter is), Islam does not “prevent” women from working if they so choose – and they rode camels and horses in the past (required more skills than driving). The Prophet’s sayings also encourage Muslims (male and female) to seek knowledge (education) even if it was in China (then it was considered the farthest place on earth). So for the Saudis to prevent women from driving is definitely anti-Islamic and stone-age way of thinking!

    I once watched something like 20/20 or whatever it was with Diane Sawyer, I believe, in which she interviewed Saudi women. She asked them if they thought they were oppressed because of how they dressed, weren’t allowed to drive or work. The answers she received from all and at different times were consistent and the same: ” We dress this way because we respect our beliefs [faith] and its requirement to dress conservatively.. we don’t work because in our religion and faith it is the man who is responsible to provide for the family… and we don’t drive because we have chauffeurs.. ” What was more shocking was when one Saudi woman asked the same question to Diane: “Why doesn’t your husband support you (financially).. and why do you have to work..?”

    You see, we cannot judge others by our (western) standards. Do you think it’s fair for Muslim women in Saudi or Afghanistan to consider women in the west “loose” because of how they dress?

    When Islam was revealed, women were treated no more than sexual slaves and/or objects and did not even have any rights, including inheritance rights. Islam reversed all that and gave women her rights and added some: the Prophet had stated that Paradise is at the feet of the Mothers. What this means is that being respectful, obedient, supportive, loving, etc. to one’s mother (a woman!) then such kindness will only be rewarded with Paradise.


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