Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Slouching Toward Sharia

On February 7, 2008, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sparked a global discussion on Sharia after his address entitled, “Civil and Religious Law in England: a Religious Perspective.” He and others have tried to backtrack his comments from any implication towards the application of Sharia in Britain for Muslims also providing reassurance that it would not trump British law. Hardly reassurance in a nation which submitted to Sharia already by recognizing polygamous marriages. In fact, the Archbishop’s BBC interview before the speech was more clear where he implied that the application of Sharia law in Britain for Muslims was unavoidable.
Commentaries both supporting and decrying the implications of the Archbishop’s ideas about the UK slouching toward Sharia have been ubiquitous over the past week.

Should we be concerned about the Western Islamist organizations that basked in the empowering glow of validation from the Archbishop of the Church of England? The Muslim Council of Britain released a press release on February 8, 2008 stating that, the MCB is “grateful for the thoughtful intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the discussion of the place of Islam and Muslims in Britain today.” They then had the temerity to try and clarify what the Archbishop intended in his remarks stating, “[T]he Archbishop sought in his speech to explore the possibilities of an accommodation between English law and some aspects of Islamic personal law.” This statement should immediately demonstrate the exploitation of such accommodations by Islamists in order to solidify their attempt to represent and control the Muslim community.

Should we, on the contrary, be reassured by the number of reform-minded Muslims in the UK, Canada, and the U.S. who have since expressed outrage that the nations they chose as home in order to escape archaic Sharia laws in Muslim majority nations were contemplating allowing Islamist imams the “freedom” to methodically “integrate” into British society? Perhaps not, since many in the majority appear to be listening to the Islamists and ignoring the anti-Islamists.

Yet in all the international discourse surrounding the Archbishop’s lecture, what remains virtually absent is any meaningful debate between Islamist and anti-Islamist Muslims concerning the relevance and implementation of Sharia law by Islamists. While the Archbishop may have been well-intended, his laborious apology for Sharia law – quoting Tariq Ramadan as a leading authority and completely ignoring the anti-Islamist devotional Muslim movement – makes the assumption that the debate is between the “primitivists” and modernists within the realm of Islamism. Some post-modern “enlightened” Muslims would say that the challenge is quite the contrary – not to modernize Islamism as the Islamists would have you believe -- but rather to bring Islamic interpretations into the post-Enlightenment ideology and defeat Islamism (governmental Sharia). By critically exposing the supremacist orientation of Islamism regarding universal religious liberty, freedom, natural law and reason, political Islam and the quandary the Archbishop and others are trying to address will disappear.

The Archbishop would have Muslims continue in their legal paralysis and avoid this debate altogether. It is not the head of the Church of England who should be dissecting the nuances of Sharia for the 21st Century, but rather diverse Muslims who should be given platforms to openly debate the dangers of Sharia implementation as it exists today. Before looking for ways to accommodate Sharia law into the far more tested Western secular laws, perhaps institutions should be created which pit anti-Islamist Muslims against Islamist Muslims in debating the harms and benefits of Sharia as pronounced by the clerics of today.

To “accommodate,” “implement,” or seek to “apply” Sharia law, no matter which way it is massaged into place, is to skip entirely the internal debate for control, expression, and application of what Sharia is, and hand it over as is to the current Islamist infrastructure. To empower current Islamist jurists and benevolently seek an understanding of how British law can come to terms with it is to dangerously accept the financial, theocratic, and political underpinnings of this backward ideology, which has dominated the theological Muslim community for the past seven centuries or more, generating the body of law which is Sharia today.

While many Muslims may practice a post-Enlightenment personal Sharia in our own homes, there is a dearth of accepted texts and Islamic scholars which reject the pre-Enlightenment elements of Sharia while accepting those which are post-Enlightenment. This, in the reality of Muslim practice, is very different from what is preached by the current Islamist leadership and infrastructure. One should, for example, do a study comparing the legal details of the marriage contracts and Last Will and Testaments of Muslims living in the West compared to the actual legal details recommended by most Islamist imams and the established texts of Islamic jurisprudence of today. I would hazard to guess that the majority of Muslims living in the West have modernized the legal framework of their marriage contracts and wills making them in terms which are post-Enlightenment and more in synergy with today’s Western law than today’s Sharia, while also staying true to the spirit of their own interpretation of Islamic teachings. And I would also venture to guess that the vast majority of clerics and Islamic jurists lag centuries behind in their willingness to reinterpret laws and scripture which, for example, often empower men and misogynistically devalue women.

One need only review, for example many of the recommendations and legal opinions of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America to find a plethora of apologetics for male-dominated Sharia. This “assembly” is comprised of a number of individuals who arise out of the global training network of Wahhabi ideology with a decidedly Salafist orientation. With few countervailing established, well-funded, and formidable anti-Islamist, anti-Wahhabi organizations, any movement toward formally recognizing Sharia in the West would empower ideas like that represented by this backward assembly of Islamist theocrats.

The necessary debate within the house of Islam will happen far less if Sharia is looked upon as a monolithic entity waiting to come into play in British society or the West as the Archbishop and his apologists suggest. However, if British society and law stands its ground and lifts up anti-Islamist thought within the Muslim community, the Islamists will be forced to contend with the ideas of the very society from which they continue to receive protection. Reform of archaic legal systems comes not on the heels of acceptance, but rather after repeated challenges and scrutiny.

This is also true with the overriding protection of religious freedom that the beauty of the separation of religion and government provides. Our religious laws should be enacted by choice and choice alone in their whole and in their parts – not as a system one chooses to enter or buck against. Religious practices are only of faith if they are entirely by choice. Establishing a formal legal framework for implementing Sharia may be advertised as “volunteer” in the West on its surface, but at the end of the day will become coercive for the ideological minorities within the Muslim community. The reformists, liberated women, and others seeking equal rights before the clerics will remain at the beck and call of the Islamist majority controlling the courts and the artificial interplay between secular and the Islamist legal system. The only way to prevent this is to maintain one legal system for all as currently exists. Allowing the application of Sharia will give more fuel and power over the minority segments within the Muslim community, further empowering what is already often an oppressive tribal dynamic within Muslim culture.

It is time for non-Muslims, especially those thought leaders speaking for the majority, to stop empowering the Islamists by giving them opportunities to establish deeper more suffocating networks of control over Muslims. It is time for non-Muslim thought leaders to begin demanding that the Muslim community, out of necessity, demonstrate the academic discipline and critical thought to begin the difficult task of bringing Islamic jurisprudence into the 21st Century and into a post-Enlightenment ideology.

Rather than bring British law into an understanding of Sharia law, it is high time for Sharia law, as it is described by leading imams, to first enlighten itself and demonstrate its own broad-minded interpretation and synergy with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Is Sharia ready for primetime recognition in England if it has yet to even recognize the separation of religion and state? Perhaps the Archbishop’s own Church’s history of being forced into this separation by the reformist British is something to which he and other Sharia-philes should be reminded. How would Britain respond to a leading Muslim cleric’s lecture on the “need for Christian Brits to enact courts for the adjudication of Canon Law of the Church of England since secular law has lost its Christian identity?” Why should Western society accommodate itself to a minority faith and allow it to segregate and control its own community when the majority itself has not enacted such so-called religious freedoms?

In many respects, one could compare the current condition of the Muslim theology to the condition of the toxic mixture of religion and politics of 16th Century England. Ultimately, we are blessed to now live in a community that has borne the fruit of a society that finally separated its government from the control of its theologians. Are we going to forget this history and the wars of ideas which led to this separation? Or are we going to allow Muslims the opportunity to have this debate within our faith community without artificially lifting up and legitimizing the Islamist side?

To imply, as so many do, that it is clear where the debate in Islam resides belies the reality of a paralyzed discourse within the houses of Islam. Those who claim that the debate and discourse and critique of authority is alive are the hypocritical Islamists who feed off of the illusion of debate by allowing “Islamism-lite” to have a token voice all the while they deliberately smother, suppress, and marginalize the anti-Islamist movement.

 

This article appeared in Family Security Matters.

 

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M. Zuhdi Jasser, a moderate Muslim, is the founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix Arizona. He is a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander, a physician in private practice, and a community activist. He can be reached at [email protected]
 

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Comments Notes: Keep comments short. Our system cannot separate paragraphs. Comments must be relevant to the topic of the article. We did not regulate the comments but if irrelevant comments, materials, adds of other websites etc. are being uploaded, we will have to regulate the comments and even ban the IP addresses of such nuisance posters.


Name: Steve
Date: Friday February 22, 2008
Time: 19:37:46 -0700

Comment

I am a 62 year old white moderate Christian. Recently I read articles concentrating on the violence of Islam and began to become very concerned for the future of my children. An eerie sence of peril crept over me as I challenged the beliefs in thought. Religious extremism in any form is alarming but it seems the Islamists are bent on destruction and conquest along with the usual power and control. I hope that voices of reason and nonviolence such as yours can become the dominant voive among Muslims. In some venues I get the message that although I mean no harm whatever toward the speakers, given the freedom to act, they would kill me (the infidel) without hesitation. I cannot be alone in this growing uneasiness. Thank you for bring hope. There are many sources of hatred in this world but hatred in the name of the creator is perhaps the most perverse of all.


Name:
Date: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 05:00:47 -0700

Comment

you are wise to fear for the future of your children as Islamism poses the greatest threat to democracy since the days of facism and communism


Name: MURDER AND EXTERMINATION OF THE INFIDELS
Date: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 05:10:02 -0700

Comment

MURDER AND EXTERMINATION OF THE INFIDELS By Larry Houle www.godofreason.com [email protected] In Islam, Muslims must submit to the will of Allah, infidels MUST submit to Muslims and Muslim women must submit to Muslim men. Islam is not a religion but an evil, political, military ideology. The ten commandments teach: Thou Shalt Not Kill. The Koran teaches: Thou Shalt Kill Infidels. In Islam, it is a holy religious duty to murder infidels. The Quran is written in the language of terrorism. It is filled with numerous verses urging the Muslims to terrorize the non Muslims, kill them, and take possession of their lands and properties. The important points to remember is that whatever Muhammad did to terrorize the infidels was actually the actions of God. Among the many verses which exhort Islamist terrorism, the following verses stand out as naked aggression of Allah/Muhammad on the unbelievers: 2:63, 3:151, 8:12, 8:60, 8:59, 9:29, 9:50 9:55, 11:102, and 17:59 These are the Eternal Laws of Allah authorizating murder and extermination as a holy duty. THIS IS THE EVIL INSANITY THAT IS ISLAM. It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. You desire the frail goods of this world, while Allah desires [for you] the hereafter; and Allah is Mighty and Wise [Koran 8:67] When the sacred months have passed away, THEN SLAY THE IDOLATERS WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM, AND TAKE THEM CAPTIVES AND BESIEGE THEM AND LIE IN WAIT FOR THEM IN EVERY AMBUSH, then if they repent and keep up prayer [become believers] and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them (9:5) Verse 9:50 is the extermination of ALL INFIDELS from the face of the earth. It means exactly what it means. Kill ALL INFIDELS. This is an ETERNAL LAW OF GOD FOREVER. FIGHT THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN ALLAH, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, NOR FOLLOW THE RELIGION OF TRUTH, OUT OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE BOOK [Christians and Jews], until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and THEY ARE IN A STATE OF SUBJECTION. (9:29) Verse 9:29 is the extermination of Christians and Jews from the face of the earth. They must either convert to Islam or pay a devastating submission tax and accept slavery as their future or be murdered if they refuse. Kill those who join other gods with Allah wherever you may find them. (9:5-6) So when you meet the infidels in battle, then cut off their heads, and after you have killed many of them by the sword, place [them] in shackles, and afterwards either set them free if you choose or let them ransom [themselves] until the war ends Koran 47:4 Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods for theirs in return is the garden of Paradise they fight in his cause and slay and are slain a promise binding on him as truth 9.111 For those Muslims who slay and are slain in fulfilling the above teachings, murdering Infidels, they are GUARANTEED accession to a sexual Paradise filled with full breasted, lustrous eyed eyes virgins who re – generate as virgins after each sex act to sexually molest for all eternity. The above teachings are EVIL and only a small sample of 1000 teachings of hate, murder, extermination, terror that is the Koran. There is no Allah. Islam is totally bogus. The teachings of the Koran are the teachings of Muhammad. Those Muslim men who follow its teachings will join Muhammad in Hell.


Name: BALAM
Date: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 06:27:27 -0700

Comment

There is no such thing as moderate Islam. There could be moderate Muslims, who see the absurdity of Islam, and do not take it seriously. Islam is still like a virus which affects the brain, but could lay dorment for personal convenience. Like a motionless snake it could still attack you. Allaha, Mohammad ,and Islam are three in one and they speak with the fork tounge. To trust them could be fatal for any body.


Name: ZuK
Date: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 07:16:55 -0700

Comment

I agree with Balaam. "Moderate" Mulims are people trying to turn an acute disease into a chronic disease, or self-desctructive alcohol adiction into social-drinking. I think it's better to get rid of it at all - be cured, once and for ever. Don't you see the absurdity of "comparing" and "moderating" religions? This implies acknowledging that there is a moral instance HIGHER than religion(s): humanitarism, common sense, scientifically based knowledge and human empathy. So, if the religions are NOT the ultimate source of morality, what to adhere to them for? If you are happy enough to be able to see things from a healthy, logical, common sense non-religious perspective, then... free yourself of the burden of religion, for you don't really need it anymore!


Name: Malmonext
Date: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 08:01:20 -0700

Comment

This is how Islam views accommodation with non-muslims: 12-20-07 AP Thailand (90% Buddhist) “The village Buddhist chief’s severed head was found near the other bodies.” Muslims killed 2,600 natives since 2004 when they began demanding their own muslim nation in the majority-muslim southwest provinces. 12/07 “The Dayton Accords ended the conflict in Bosnia by enshrining fractured politics in a state dominated by Muslims, and where today, consequently, "hundreds of mujahadeen fighters are successfully spreading their fundamentalist Islamist views" at the expense of Bosnian Christians, according to Der Spiegel. In fact, tensions will rise this weekend, as the Islamic presidency seeks to impose reforms that will eliminate the semi-autonomy of non-muslims.”

11-16-07

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia–The Philippines government and separatist rebels have struck a deal on creating a Muslim homeland in the country's south, which is expected to lead to a peace accord next year, officials said yesterday. Time, 9/24/07: “Albanian failure to provide a safe haven for Kosovo’s Serbian [Christian] minority…” They say that the only solution is to create an independent muslim Kosovo -- and that’s what happened only last week. Soon to follow? Cyprus, Kashmir...Malmo? And still we have feckless appeasers like this idiot Williams. It's hard to decide which is more despicable: the likes of people like Williams or the relentlessly aggressive Muslims.


Name: Stopmakingsense
Date: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 20:46:50 -0700

Comment

Islamic extremism is, to a large extent, cross pollinated in Mosques. Moderate Muslims go to these Mosques and are radicalised by the extremists. Can you see this vicious circle going round and round and round.....


Name:
Date: Monday February 25, 2008
Time: 15:13:32 -0700

Comment

Islam is a religion that can't change with time as it's considered as the spoken word. Lots of muslims understand this and there for sure will be a revolution within islam either to modernise it or architect its downfall.


Name: Walter Sieruk
Date: Tuesday February 26, 2008
Time: 14:46:08 -0700

Comment

The Muslims in Britain that are trying to establash Sharia Law are actuality ursurpers to th e legitimate goverment of Britain that was generous yet foolish enough to let them in. These ursurpers should be stopped,


Name: Constantine the Great
Date: Tuesday March 18, 2008
Time: 14:55:13 -0700

Comment

Rowan Williams should pay more attention to protecting his own flock than to cow-towing to non-Christians. It was remarkable that in the same week as he made his comments on sharia law, there was a documentary about the plight of Christians living in the rubbish dumps of Cairo - these are people with first-hand knowledge of sharia law, and yet they said they preferred to live in the rubbish and know Jesus than live comfortably among Muslims! Rowan Williams please step out of your ivory tower!


 
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