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Peace be on you

Peace be on you

A backlash against imaginary perils

Jul 8th 2010 | Tulsa

THERE are only 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma, a state of 3.7m people, making them well under 1% of the population. That’s still enough to worry some people, though. Rex Duncan, a Republican member of Oklahoma’s House of Representatives, has just had a measure placed on the November ballot that would ban local courts from considering sharia, or Islamic law, in their judgments, a dubious first for the nation.

Mr Duncan describes his proposed measure, which would also bar courts from considering any other forms of international law, as a “Save Our State” constitutional amendment. He cites Britain, and the alleged readiness of its courts to consider sharia (though in fact it is only applied in some civil and family cases when both parties agree, and the primacy of the law of the land remains paramount in all cases) as an example of how prevalent Islamic law might become. Mr Duncan calls it a “cancer upon the survivability of the UK”, and declares that “this is a war for the survival of America.”

The odd thing is that no one has ever proposed making appeals to sharia in America. But proponents of this and similar measures elsewhere point to the example of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has sometimes cited foreign laws in her opinions on cases before the Supreme Court. Opponents worry that such a measure would bring into question any reference to English statute, for instance Blackstone’s useful “Commentaries on the Law of England”. Since the American legal system was originally based on English common law, that would be an inconvenience.

The latest ballot initiative is hardly unique. Oklahoma has become fertile ground for conservatives. In recent months legislators have also focused on tightening abortion rules and weakening those on guns. A new law forces women to view ultrasound images before their abortions; even Texas balked at that one last year. The ultrasound monitor is put in the patient’s line of sight, and she must also listen to a description of the fetus.

The Republican-controlled legislature also passed a law that would have made any firearms or ammunition manufactured in Oklahoma, and remaining in the state, immune to federal regulations, including federal registration requirements. But the Democratic governor, Brad Henry, vetoed that legislation.

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    • One often overlooks that most of Shariah is not codified by Islamic textual laws but enforcement of current standard agreements and contracts based on the Islamic texts demanding that contracts and agreements be honored. Most contracts and laws are based on Urf – or custom. The contracts and agreements of 15th Century Arabia or Africa reflect those values, and the judges of the time said that those contracts and agreements HAVE to be honored based on the text of the quran and Sunnah. As the customs change, so do the contracts and agreements change, but the Shariah standard of HAVING to remain loyal to your contracts and agreements does not. One problem that has fossilized the “law books” in relation to Shariah is that “itjihad” or struggling with the texts was suspended in Sunni theology some time ago. Not all schools have done this and now may seem more progressive, but this is only an illusion. The rules of 18th century massachusetts were based on the same constitution we have today, but we are no longer able to take disobedient children to a judge to be tried for disobeying a parent and be put to death. The Shariah is just the end effect of Islamic constitutional law based on the quran (the constitution) and the practice (restricting and expanding as a bill of rights). To judge the standards of justice in my previous example by todays “itjihad” struggling with the text of our constitution might make some to believe that it is an archaic and outdated document that needs to be revisited and reformed.

      Classical scholars in both fields give the traditions depth, but if either are taken in snapshot in past history, they would be deemed out of date and almost barbaric.

      Reform – I dislike the idea. Reflourish – I Recommend.

      I am sure that we can go back in time and graphically see where the constitution has been either overlooked or misapplied based on custom of the time.

      Equal but separate maybe?

    • Adam

      CAIR is more concerned with the treatment of muslims than a political goal.

      Compare AIPAC to CAIR and you will notice FAR more political motives from AIPAC thatn CAIR.

    • In U.S. vs. Sabri Benkahla on page 58:

      “Moreover, from its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists. See Government’s Memorandum in Opposition to CAIR’s Motion for Leave to File a Brief. etc.. in United States vs. Holy Land Foundation . . . et 01, Cr. No. 3-04-cr-240-G (N.D. Tx. September 4, 2007. Proof that the conspirators agreed to use deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists was introduced at both the Texas trial in 2007 and also at a Chicago trial the previous year. United States vs. Askqai-, el al.. No. 03-978 (N.D. 111.2006).”

      The assitant attorney general in Oklahoma write pro-CAIR pieces in the local newspaper. I am unaware he handles or has handled any hate crime.

    • ConcernedCitizen

      “Brandi” is sponsored by Ann Coulter and she has ties to Nazis.

      I love making random statements with no factual basis. Everyone should believe me because I’m special.

    • robaby

      Brandi, just because he meets with CAIR to deal with hate crime that your followers engage in doesn’t mean he wants to introduce Islamic law. Moreover, CAIR is not an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas, they are an independent group

    • Oklahoma is quite smart to bring this to a vote of the people. Already, there is an assistant attorney general there by the name of William F. O’Brien, who regularly shills for CAIR in the press. CAIR, an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas infrastructure, was brought in to Oklahoma by Muslim leaders there which seems to have caused a divide between the community and Muslims.

    • Adam

      When i say islamic constitution i do not mean sharia law, i mean something like the united states: A constitution based on judeo-christian values, but the governmetn it self is secular, and democratic. This is NOT the case with Iran(if anyone is thinking it) because in Iran,t he real power is with the Muftis. That is not what im talking about with an islamic democracy. Once a constitution is made, cannot be touched by any preist of any kind.

    • robaby

      Btw libertyphile, Islamic law was never created so that it could be applied to non-muslims, for instance in Iran today, non-muslims are allowed to drink alcohol and sell it. I don’t know where you got the notion that Islamic law is supposed to be applied on non-muslims? They have the choice to choose Islamic law or their own laws in Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran, etc.

    • Adam


      Im not talking about bringing Sharia to north america. Very few muslims want that. Afterall, it isn’t exactly our country.

      Im talking an islamically based constitution in saudi arabia instead of a crappy monarchy, or an islamically based constition in Iran instead of Islamic law, an islamically based constitution in syria instead of a repressive regime. Would be alot better than what they already have, in predominantly muslim countries. The discomfort non-muslims would feel under a n islamically based consititution under an islamic democracy would be the same as muslims feel in north america, which is minimal discomfort. but tahts just conjecture so who knows.

    • robaby


      How women fare correlates directly with how society fares overall. The complex and appalling stream of news reports describing Muslim women being punished under Islamic law for everything from wearing pants to not having sex with their husbands to being raped cannot be ignored. Muslim women around the world are being disproportionately abused using outdated Islamic rulings and ages-old customs, while men who commit the same actions often go free.

      At the same time, many small but important victories for women in the Muslim world have been won. In the last decade, women in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Morocco, Bahrain and Qatar have won political and legal reforms that would have been considered unthinkable a decade before.

      There must be awareness-raising campaigns in the United States and Europe about human rights violations committed against women. Ultimately, the realization of women’s rights in the Muslim world will require a multigenerational, cross-societal commitment to social change; the political will of international leaders, and the continued bravery of women who have fought, argued, lobbied, schemed, pushed, and badgered for women to enjoy life with dignity.

      This brief paper( is an effort to expose how patriarchal and distorted interpretations of sharia have been used to subjugate women and rob them of their fundamental rights, in direct opposition to the central teachings of Islam. It is our hope that this analytical framework will provide diplomats, aid workers, and Muslims themselves with some crucial theological tools to be able to argue for the equal status of women using an Islamic framework.

    • LibertyPhile


      I don’t know about Saudi Arabia but I suggest you have a look at the website of the UK Islamic Sharia Council where you will find a full explanation of why a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s. See

      The UK Islamic Sharia Council also charges a fee for Muslims seeking a divorce, the fee for a man is £100 and for women it is £250 because (they say) it is more work to process a woman’s application as her word has to be corroborated.

      Equality, Eh!

      You might also like to know that judges in the House of Lords found Sharia law rules on child custody to be ‘arbitrary and discriminatory’. (M (Lebanon) v Home Secretary ([2008] UKHL 64).

      Also here in the UK, a Family Court judge may find himself presented with an “agreement” produced at a Sharia council that gives custody of the children to the father which in normal circumstances the court would register and enforce. But how is the judge to tell if this is a truly mediated agreement or simply the woman’s resigned acquiescence in Sharia law which does not explicitly consider the interests of children?

      By recognizing Sharia councils as tribunals the UK authorities are saying it is fine for some British citizens to not exercise certain rights, even if UK law and tradition gives them those rights, and to accept deals that are worse than what they would get from UK courts with regular judges.

      Rights are established for the good of society as a whole, and they are often achieved only after a long and hard struggle, so why should a particular group of people be allowed to ditch any of those rights, against the wider interest of society?

      Why should there be two “justice systems”?

      They can only be a barrier to integration and encourage voluntary apartheid (segregation).

      For a summary of the UK situation have a look at:

    • LibertyPhile


      The point I am making in my analysis is that Islamic reform (as described by Esposito) is feeble and ineffective.

      Part of the problem is the need (as Muslims see it) for historical continuity and, for some, a belief that things were better in some distant past. Also, as I see it, there might be some flaws in the original product!!

      Regarding your view:

      I don’t expect answers (as you say, it is a different discussion) but what about all those people who are not Muslims? Why should they live by so-called Islamic PRICIPLES some of which they might not like? What is wrong with your present constitution?

    • Adam


      I read some of your analysis. You oversimplify extremists. 18 century is VERY recent. You thinking it’s a long time ago based upon your own lifespan.

      But as a historic movement, Wahabi/salafism is recent. Not only that, but it is not inherently violent(though it can be)

      Espisito is right. But when you look at the medieval time sharia was applied, it was far more human than many of the surrounding nations. I do not think it has a place today, i think we should have an islamic democracy(constitution based on islamic PRINCIPLES rather than set law)

      but thats a different discussion….

    • islamispeace

      Well, what else can we expect from rednecks? [Holds chin and ponders…]

    • Sharia law is not the same practice in the Western world as it is in places like Saudi Arabia. The Islamophobes (who ultimately want to ban Islam and tell Muslims their can’t practice their faith – and treat them as second class citizens) like to bring up harsh Sharia laws in places like Saudi Arabia. Yes – there are abuses of Sharia in places like Saudi Arabia – but it should be unacceptable to constantly point to Saudi Arabia and say “this is how Sharia will be practiced by Muslims in the West.” It will not…

      The fail to mention that Sharia is not practiced the same in ALL Muslim communities. The intrupertations and practice of Sharia are as diverse as Muslim communities its practiced in.

      First of all, here’s a Tufts University, comparative study of the legal view of domestic violence responses between Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Since Morocco has more experience with the French legal code, it has incorporated it into its own legal code, along with Sharia law.

      Here is the study of Sharia code practice in the Netherlands, by the Dutch justice ministry, which would leave Geert Wilders sobbing out in the cold.

      Dutch Muslims practice Sharia law mainly as it relates to conflict resolution among “those concerned.” It is also a code for daily life as a Muslim. It is a mistake to state that Sharia is practiced the same everywhere, with the same harshness as Saudi Arabia – and that Muslims want to “impose it on others.”

      QUOTE from Page 3: “Respondents did not express a concrete desire to have sharia introduced in an official capacity in the Netherlands, as many of the sharia rules which respondents deemed of importance can already be carried out within Dutch law. More‐over, a majority of respondents maintained that sharia decrees that Muslims must follow the law in force where they live or, should this pose insurmountable problems, move away.

      Nonetheless respondents perceived a normative and regulating role for sharia in the Netherlands. Government, some respondents feel, is missing out by not using the opportunities sharia offers to, for instance, safeguard the position of Islamic women who divorced their husbands according to Dutch law, by also arranging a divorce according to sharia. Also, religious authorities could assist by confronting criminal Muslims over the latter’s behaviour and fear of God.” —

    • Ohh – let me say this too: This is, indeed a “war for the survival of America and the West

      –it’s a war for the survival of our freedoms and liberties, like the freedom of religion, as well as freedom of expression and speech.

      Mr. Duncan, like Geert Wilders – is the REAL threat to our freedom and liberties. If they tell Muslims what and how they can practice Islam, what other religious group will they target next.

      It’s anti-freedom tyrants like Mr. Duncan that are the threat to the survival of America and the West!

    • Of one of the many phony – and outright lies – that Geert Wilders is attempting to pass off is that sharia law is “taking over the Netherlands.” Sutch is futher from the truth! This was found to be outright false by a recent study which points out that sharia law is practiced among some Dutch Muslims, their families and spiritual leaders. There is NO desire for Dutch Muslims to force sharia law on others! This is true for other places in the Western world…

      So – are this ignorant Islamophobes going to enter the personal relationships between Muslims and their spiritual leaders and tell them “you can’t do that?!”

      Not only are they attempting to tamper with the freedom of religion – which is none of their business – but now attempting to get in a relationship between people and their spiritual leaders!

      Is the canon law of the Catholic Church next?

      This is about people calling themselves “freedom loving patriots” attempting to – once again – tamper with others’ freedoms and liberties!

    • LibertyPhile

      This is what Professor John Esposito has to say about Shariah in his recent book “The Future of Islam”

      “Islamic law (Shariah) is often portrayed as a medieval legal system used by religious zealots to oppress women and deny human rights for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. There are good reasons for this perception. Islamic …. has been used to restrict women’s rights and to mandate stoning of women charged with adultery, amputating the limbs of thieves, and prosecuting any Muslim who tries to convert to another religion for apostasy.(p40)”

      “Women in the West often link what they believe is the unequal status of Muslim women to the Shariah, and with good cause. While Islamic law served as an idealized blueprint and moral compass for early Muslim communities, today it is used as an instrument of patriarchal and tribal repression by retrogressive ulama and fundamentalists, most recently in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan, and the Talibans Afghanistan, drawing widespread international criticism and condemnation. (p154)”

      For more on Esposito’s analysis regarding Shariah see this review of his book:

    • mindy1

      BTW, I think i meant to say Halakah courts :p

    • mindy1

      Out of curiosity, IF sharia were to ever be implemented, how would it work? Because, when you live in Orthodox Jewish areas, they have halachiac Jewish courts to render family, divorce and other family type matters. Is that how that would work in the U.S.?

    • David

      Such a bill would not hold up, anyway. Shariah courts are voluntary, as are beis din, Jewish courts, and function like out-of-court arbitration. If shariah courts go, so must the battei din. Or if sharia courts go, but battei din can stay, a legal challenge would kill it. Or, more likely, the Jewish community would finally step up and defend religious courts with no legal status — which is all this stupid fricking furor is about, anyway.


    • Adam

      I disagree with the left and it’s containment of guns. Gun laws tend to be made by those who know nothing about guns. Im not saying we shoudl all have nuclear weapons in our backyards, but atleast let those who know about guns and can handle them make the laws.

      Im a proud muslim as well, i dislike the american right. But Guns should not always be regarded as a rightwing thing, unfortuantly.

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