Sunday, May 31, 2015

Can Sharia Law and U.S. Law Coexist?

Image result for islamic law sharia

What most Americans associate with Sharia law are things like the stoning to death of adulterers (mostly female), gays and apostates and the practice of mandating Christian-owned businesses to have a cross outside their businesses and Jewish-owned businesses to have a Star of David outside theirs, so that Muslims will know not to conduct business there.

Those are ALL abuses, rooted in the medieval codes familiar to most major religion’s pasts. Since Islam has never had a Reformation, those medieval codes still persist in the religion today.

BUT there are other aspects of Sharia law that would probably appeal to many Westerners.

In the 1940s, Sayid Qutb, man who is believed to have started al Qaeda, laid out the 3 main principles of Sharia law;

1) Absolute freedom of conscience.

2) The complete equality of man (before the law, it does NOT presuppose that people are all of equal abilities, etc. NO viable system presupposes that).

3) The firm mutual responsibility of society.

While many Westerners would question the Muslim world’s living up to the first two, most would accept those principles to be very good ones for all of us to aspire to.

However, it should be noted that in many senses, Sharia law does more to protect “the people,” than Western law ever has. As an example, under Sharia law, BOTH parties must demonstrate a full understanding of the pact or contract before it can be entered into. Neither the seller, nor the buyer can omit, or obfuscate any pertinent facts about the pending sale.

In Western law, what the buyer doesn’t understand is his/her problem and sellers are allowed to omit, or downplay any disadvantages to the sale. NONE of that would be accepted under Sharia law.

But it is the 3rd principle that Qutb chronicled that most Westerners neither fully understand, nor accept.

Exactly what does “the firm mutual responsibility of society” mean?

Well, it means that any person who commits a crime (especially a violent crime) must take full responsibility by yielding up an exact equivalent of the damage they did. Qutb quoted the Koran on the punishments for killing or wounding; “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth and wound for wound.”

What Sharia Law DOES that Western law DOES NOT is to make the victim the centerpiece of the law. Western Law DOES NOT recognize a crime victim’s right to retribution, the “crime” Western law acknowledges is ONLY “a crime against the state.”

While it can be argued that that is NOT what America’s Founders (especially Thomas Jefferson) intended, for in his own writings Jefferson was clear that while “the accused” had full rights and a presumption of innocence,” an individual had no rights and did not exist within the purview of the law, during the commission of a crime.

Unfortunately, that view was NOT accepted in the final draft of America's Constitution, perhaps due to the difficulties of that day in often determining who was the victim and who the aggressor in many conflicts. With today's DNA evidence and ubiquitous surveillance cameras, that is far less of a concern.

Sharia law’s making the victim, NOT the state the primary party in the criminal process appears to deliver more fairness and return real justice to that system.

The idea that “the death penalty doesn’t deter future crimes” is complete and utter nonsense on virtually every levels.

For ONE thing it deters the executed felon from ever committing such a crime again, and when done publically and brutally, as in the Muslim world, it DOES appear to deter others, as well. Among those nations with the very lowest murder rates around the world today are those Muslim nations where such public and draconian punishments are meted out. (

STILL, there are many aspects of Sharia law that are simply antithetical to Western standards of tolerance. Like many ancient religions, Islam views “fornication” (sex outside of marriage) as a serious crime. According to Qutb, “It involves an attack on honor and a contempt for sanctity and an encouragement of profligacy within society.” THAT is where the above mentioned penalties for adulterers and gays come from.

That is completely incompatible with Western traditions.

At this point, absent a serious Reformation, Islam and Sharia law are and will remain completely incompatible with Western law and Western traditions.

The idea that “many Muslims in the West don’t adhere to, nor desire Sharia law be imposed here,” is simply ignorant and misguided. The truth about that appears to be very different. Recently Ami Horowitz went to Minnesota to interview “moderate Muslims in that area, asking “Do you feel more comfortable living under American law or Shariah law?”

They ALL answered Sharia law.

And that’s Sharia law, as it is, NOT the reformed version (that would eliminate the draconian punishments for “fornication”) that I’ve mentioned above.

Without such serious reforms Sharia law and the Western tradition will remain incompatible.

While there are reform movements throughout the Islamic world, it’s too early to tell whether they have a very real chance at some relatively immediate impact.

But IF there’s ever going to be a bridge between Islam and the West, then the West will also have to make some changes, in order to meet that culture half way, for there is really no other way for us to truly coexist.

No comments:

American Ideas Click Here!