In February, 2012, CAIR produced a 38-page legislative lobbying kit to help Muslims lobby against "American Laws for American Courts" legislation that is being considered in 22 states. It can be downloaded from the Internet at: http://www.cair.com/portals/0/pdf/CAIR-Securing-Religious-Liberty-Handbook.pdf
CAIR's recommended tactics and talking points reflect an effort to obscure the true nature of Sharia Law and, instead, to smear the proposed legislation as a violation of their religious freedom and a racist or bigoted attack on Muslims. CAIR also accuses sponsors of “American Laws for American Courts” legislation of tapping into public fear in order to score political points. Those opposed subordinating American laws in the United States to ancient tribal customs can learn a great deal about how to formulate effective countermeasures by reading the CAIR document, primarily through penetrating the fog and forcing the proponents of Sharia Law to discuss its actual content and implications.
CAIR’S MOTIVES: The title of CAIR’s handbook, “Securing Religious Liberty,” implies that somehow their First Amendment right to freedom of religion is being threatened by the American Laws for American Courts initiatives. The United States is one of the most religiously tolerant countries in the world, and people of all faiths are allowed to build houses of worship, proselytize openly, and perform their religious rites in private and public without government or public interference. Sharia Law, however, goes way beyond religious practices. It allows young women to be married without their consent; it allows men to marry up to four wives; it allows men to beat their unruly wives; and it denies women numerous legal rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and state laws. Most of Sharia Law, as a matter of fact, has nothing to do with religious worship or practices.
To understand CAIR’s true motivation for opposing legislation that would reaffirm the supremacy of U.S. laws, one needs to understand how Islam developed into a world-wide religion. The prophet of Islam, Muhammad, began preaching his new cult in Mecca in 610 A.D. For twelve years he preached and tried to convert people to Islam, but gained only 50 to 100 followers. Finally, when he lost the patronage of his uncle Abu Talib, those opposing his religion threatened him so much that he took flight with his band of followers to Yathrib (Medina). With no resources or income, his followers began robbing caravans for their livelihood. Taking booty and raping captive women was not only sanctioned by the God of Islam, but the criminal activity attracted hundreds of new followers. During the next ten years, the number of Muslims grew from 100 to over 100,000, and their divinely sanctioned terror and pillage allowed them to expand their territory with impunity. In short, Islam was spread and maintained by the sword, and without violence or the threat of violence, Islam would probably die off in a generation. That is what CAIR is concerned about with the ALAC legislation.
It is not the religious aspects of Sharia Law which CAIR and other Islamic organizations need to defend, because those are for the most part righteous and humanitarian in their intent. After all, what civil society would pass laws against prayer, giving alms, fasting, or making a pilgrimage to Mecca? Rather, Sharia Law is critical to CAIR and other Islamic organizations for sustaining the religious following – including everything from ensuring submission of family members and the community through violence and the threat of violence to intimidating and preventing any criticism of Islam by non-Muslims through the same tactics – often called jihad. Here are the key elements Sharia Law uses to enforce compliance and respect, as spelled out in the classic manual of Islamic Sacred Law, Reliance of the Traveler:
- Obligation to Command the Right and Forbid the Wrong -- Muslims are obligated to discipline others. If censuring with harsh words, breaking things, or intimidation does not work, Muslims are obligated “to directly hit or kick the person, or use similar measures that do not involve weapons.” (Section q5.8)
- Wife beating – “[A husband] may hit her, but not in a way that injures her, meaning he may not break bones, wound her, or cause blood to flow.” (Section m10.12)
- Honor killing – “The following are not subject to retaliation: a father or mother for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring. (Section o1.2(4))
- Killing an apostate – “There is no indemnity for killing an apostate. Or any expiation, since it is killing someone who deserves to die.” (Section o8.4)
- Obligation to engage in Jihad – “Jihad is a communal obligation upon Muslims each year.” (Section o9.1) The objective of jihad is: “The caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” (Section o9.8) Those paying the poll tax are called dhimmis, and they are “protected” provided they do not marry a Muslim woman, lead a Muslim away from Islam, or mention anything offensive about Muhammad, Allah, or Islam. (Section o11.10)
IS SHARIA A SET OF LAWS OR “A DYNAMIC SET OF INTERPRETATIONS”?
Critical to CAIR’s defense of Sharia Law is to obscure what Sharia Law entails. CAIR does not even use the expression “Sharia Law,” and they insist that it merely “informs how Muslims pray, eat, and defines their obligations to the greater society.” By calling it “a dynamic set of interpretations” they avoid all discussion of the specific provisions of Sharia Law. For U.S. legislators, this vagueness over what constitutes Sharia Law is like the proverbial “pig-in-a-poke” -- they can neither defend it nor oppose it without some idea of what it is. Furthermore, the implication of “interpretations” means that different jurists at different times could make different interpretations – because there is no system of judicial case law connected with Sharia Law. This makes those “interpretations” ad hoc, and therefore arbitrary. By contrast, secular laws in the U.S. are based on the Roman principle of nulla poena sine lege – no punishment without [clear] law.
In truth, Muslims are obsessed with replicating exactly what is commanded in the Quran and what Muhammad did or said 1,400 years ago. Historians wrote detailed biographies of Muhammad, and scholars collected thousands of hadith (actions and pronouncements of Muhammad). There are today five different schools of Islamic law which emerged in the 8th and 9th Centuries – Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanbali, Ja’fari. Except for the Ja’fari school which is Shi’a, the other schools are identical in 75% of their legal conclusions. The rulings were codified and documented by Ahmad al-Misri in the 14th Century into a Shafi’i manual for use by Muslims who were far from the Islamic centers. That manual is called ‘Umdat al-Salik, or in English, Reliance of the Traveller. Not only does the English version of the manual have the approval of the world’s center of Islamic jurisprudence – al-Azhar University in Cairo – but it is also endorsed by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (Herndon, Virginia) and the Fiqh Council of North America, which stated that Reliance of the Traveler inspires “the consciousness of the non-Arabic-speaking Muslim with a sound understanding of Sacred Law.“
In view of the above, there can be no productive discussion of Sharia Law in the United States without reference to the written laws laid down within the pages of Reliance of the Traveler or some other reputable manual of Sharia Law. Not only do such manuals provide a measure of the complete scope of Sharia Law, but they also establish a benchmark for the validity of “dynamic interpretations” contained in fatwas (rulings by Islamic religious scholars) and other legal pronouncements by imams and mullahs. (More about that later.) You will find citations in Reliance of the Traveller throughout this document.
IS THE SHARIA LAW CONTROVERSY ABOUT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OR ABOUT SUBORDINATION OF THE CONSTITUTION?
The Quran asserts the supremacy of Allah’s laws over secular laws. “Is it pagan laws that they wish to be judged by? Who is a better judge than Allah for men whose faith is firm?” (Surah 5:50) This view, of course, contradicts the U.S. Constitution, which states in Article 6: “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”
The CAIR document states on page 19, “Sharia is compliant and consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Sharia mandates that Muslims respect the law of the land in which they live.” This statement is a falsehood confirmed by Reliance of the Traveler, Section w43.5: “Because areas where Muslims reside and there is a remnant of Islam’s rules – even if this is limited to marriages and what pertains to them, for example – are considered Muslim lands… In the light of which, it is clear that there is virtually no country on the face of the earth where a Muslim has an excuse to behave differently than he would in an Islamic country, whether in his commercial or other dealings.” (Section w43.5)
The Islamic goal of subverting the U.S. legal system was documented in a religious ruling (or fatwah) distributed in 2008 by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, which stated among other things: 1) Authority to legislate rests with Allah alone; 2) a Muslim judge must do everything in his power to enact laws that allow the Muslims to practice their Sharia; 3) Muslim judges are not permitted to take this job except to serve Islam and Muslims; 4) Muslims must judge by the rulings of Sharia as much as possible even if by ruse; 5) a Muslim on a jury could be successful in co-opting some of the other jury members to agree with him on the ruling, whereby the Islamic ruling gains a majority of the votes; 6) it is required for a Muslim to be hostile to courts which rule by man-made law and to dislike them; and 7) if you are wronged and demand your rights guaranteed by Sharia, you have no recourse but to go to man-made courts as long as you have hatred in your heart for the courts. (Source: http://www.translatingjihad.com/2012/03/assembly-of-muslim-jurists-of-america.html )
THE RED HERRING MYTH OF SHARIA TAKING OVER AMERICA
CAIR’s legislative strategy is to portray themselves as merely correcting the misunderstanding caused by widespread “Islamophobic” fear that Sharia will ultimately prevail over American law. This is a red herring to trivialize the concern over Sharia Law. The question is not whether all American rulings will someday be based on Sharia Law, but whether any rulings would be based on it. The Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws. Unfortunately, hundreds of court decisions based on Sharia Law have already meted out unequal justice in the United States. Sharia Law dispenses justice unequally based on race (Sections m4.2(1), o25.3(e)), gender (Sections o4.9, L6.7, o24.7(2)), religion (Sections m6.7, o4.9), economic status (Sections m4.2(3), o24.3(3)), and even chastity (Section m3.13(1). Furthermore, Sharia Law sanctions marital rape (Section m5.1), polygamy for men but not women (Section m6.10), taleq divorce (by saying “I divorce you” three times) for men but not for women (Section n2.1), male custody of children regardless of his economic or moral qualifications (Section m13.4), and honor killing of children and grandchildren (Section o1.2(4)). Eighty percent of Quranic rulings are devoted to regulating marital relations and the conduct of women. (Source, Jan Goodwin, “Price of Honor: Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Islamic World.”)
PASSING THE LEMON TEST
CAIR’s lobbying handbook makes much of the use of the “Lemon Test” to suggest that American Laws for American Courts legislation would be unconstitutional. This test evolved from a Supreme Court case in 1971, Lemon vs. Kurtzman, where Rhode Island and Pennsylvania had programs to supplement the salaries of teachers in religiously based, private schools who were teaching secular subjects. The test had three parts: 1) The statute must have a secular legislative purpose, 2) The principal or primary effect must neither advance nor inhibit religion, and 3) the statue must not foster an excessive government entanglement in religion. Clearly, the public financial support of religiously based schools involved problems with all three tests, but in other cases the “Lemon Test” has been ruled inapplicable.
The most prudent way to pass the “Lemon Test” with regard to legislating a mandate of American laws for American courts statutes is to avoid any mention of religion. The driving motivation behind the legislation should be that selective use of foreign laws in contradiction with U.S. laws does not ensure the equal protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This is evident by looking at the specific provisions of Sharia Law, which, of course, CAIR wants to obfuscate. In numerous Sharia court cases in the U.S. which were overturned on appeal, the appellate judges ruled that the foreign Sharia laws were in conflict with state laws or that they denied the appellant due process of law. The U.S. appeal process does not adequately protect victims of Sharia Law, however, because it is rarely used and for a Muslim to challenge a Sharia ruling would be an act of apostasy, punishable by death. (See Section o8.7(14).)
RELIGIOUS LICENSE OR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY?
The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This does not mean that the U.S. government cannot take an interest in aspects of a religion are repugnant to state and federal laws. Statehood for Utah was delayed 47 years until the Utah territorial government statutes that reflected Mormon ideology permitting polygamy and slavery were abolished. The racial discrimination against African-Americans by the Mormon Church was also abandoned in 1978 because it violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that the government may prosecute those who use illegal drugs as part of religious rituals. It said such prosecutions were not a violation of the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. So the “free exercise” of religion does not extend to acts and determinations that violate other U.S. statues. Otherwise, the First Amendment would allow licentious and criminal behavior under the guise of religion.
The CAIR document also quotes from a Fiqh Council fatwa which supposedly proves that Muslims reject terrorism. A fatwa is a formal religious opinion issued by a recognized religious authority. In recent years, fatwas have been instruments of political Islam. “Sheikh” Osama bin Laden issued a fatwa in 1989, “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places (i.e., stationing troops Saudi Arabia during the First Iraqi War).” The fatwa was 26 pages long, and it contained 18 citations from the Quran and numerous other citations from reliable hadith. This fatwa provided the religious justification for the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. More recently, the Fiqh Council of North American issued a fatwa against terrorism. (http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/fiqh_council_of_north_america_issues_fatwa_against_terrorism/) This fatwa was merely two pages long and contained the deceptive use of Surah 5:32 to imply that Islam condemns killing while the verse actually applies to Jews only. As if to add credence to their flimsy fatwa denying terrorism, the fatwa listed the 18 members of the Fiqh Council and 145 Islamic organizations, mosques, and imams who presumably endorsed the fatwa. Of course, the Fiqh Council omitted a much more relevant citation from the Quran – Surah 8:60 – “Muster against [the unbelievers] all the men and cavalry at your command, so that you may strike terror into the enemy of Allah and your enemy.” They also overlooked Muhammad’s own words from a reliable hadith, “I have been made victorious with terror, and while I was sleeping, the keys to the treasures of the world were brought to me and put into my hand.” (Bukhari, Vol. 4, Number 220). Notably, many of the organizations endorsing the Fiqh Council fatwa are affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose motto includes the statement, “Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” The relevance of a particular fatwa is not based on the number of signers, but rather its consistency with relevant Islamic sacred texts.
Rather than address the specific provisions and implications of Sharia Law, CAIR lists a number of tactics under “What Worked” revealing that their Sharia campaigns is a game of deception and intimidation rather than a discussion of what is right for America.
- Personally defame David Yerushalmi, the attorney for the American Freedom Law Center who has been working with state legislatures on the drafting of statutes to make the use of foreign laws illegal.
- Tie ALAC legislation to an “anti-Muslim hate group such as Act! For America.”
- Mobilize large numbers of partners from business, interfaith, and progressives.
- Work behind the scenes because any public debate will energize the Islamophobia movement.
- Dig up dirt about groups supporting American laws for American courts.
Supporters of American laws for American courts legislation must keep the debate focused on the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and on the non-religious provisions of the well-documented Sharia Laws. The advocates for Sharia Law must not be allowed to be vague or dismissive about the many clear injustices reflected in Sharia Law. Above all, the discussion of Sharia Law must be rooted in facts and data, and not deception and victimhood. Nobody is interfering with Muslims’ freedom of religion, but we cannot allow that freedom to erode the provisions of the Constitution or deny basic civil rights to our Muslim and non-Muslim citizens.