I have written other articles on Sharia Law*, but feel I must revisit it. As stated before, it is a frightening prospect to have this heinous system implemented in any way in America. It would impact the rights of not only women, but all Americans. It is in direct opposition to our Constitution. How could it be otherwise? It allows for cruel and unusual punishments, it relegates females to second class citizenship (if not actually making them the property of the males in their lives), condones killing of homosexuals, and various practices that trample human rights, civil rights, and American freedoms.
Any American court would consider religious or international law above the law of the land is insanity! We have not voted on these laws, they were not enacted by our politicians, so how can they bear on what happens in our justice system?
How can anyone in our legal system think a set of laws which openly advocates discrimination against others based on gender, sexual preferences, religion, and such, is a suitable basis for deciding a court case in America? Don't we espouse equal justice under the law? Don't we aspire to equality for all citizens? Where is the fairness if the law being used says you are inferior because of one of the aforementioned reasons?
Some are comparing the Ten Commandments** and Sharia Law. I fail to see the comparison as the Ten Commandments are apparently the relatively simple basic tenets handed down to Moses by God. They have been used and observed for nearly 4000 years, as best the date can be figured out based on various timelines. By all accounts, the Ten Commandments we know today are the same Ten Commandments given then.
Conversely, Sharia Law is less than 1500 years old and is an admitted blend of religion, tradition, customs, sayings, and examples. A small basis comes from Allah through the Quran, by way of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and it has all been muddied or reinterpreted by various countries, sects, scholars, and clerics over the centuries. Hardly anything close to the same as the Ten Commandments' clear and untarnished message.
I grant you that much of our present justice system is based on the Judeo-Christian values handed down to us from the Bible and the Ten Commandments. But, I see nothing negative in these ten basic rules that are guidelines for living a moral and ethical life. The Ten Commandments do not list punishments nor do they relegate anyone to a lesser position in society. They merely list what each individual SHOULD do, not what they MUST do. Taken from a secular view and not as religious doctrine, they list personal behavior rules. Additionally they make for a better society because people living these laws (or similar ones) make for better neighbors and citizens.
While some people may take issue with the first four, as they really do deal directly with a person's relationship with God, what can anyone really say against the next five? They deal with doing no harm to others. Even the tenth, advising one to not covet those things which are thy neighbor's, is good advice because the root of all evil seems to be greed. And coveting is nothing more than greed.
Another comparison being made is that of Kosher Law and Sharia Law. They say the implementation of Sharia Law is no different than allowing action against companies that claim to produce Kosher foods, but don't actually comply with the Kosher standards. While I agree this is a religious diet observance, I think it is more of an FDA issue. More about truth in advertising and labeling. People have a right to know what they are eating. A person who eats Kosher expects Kosher if it's labeled Kosher, just as a person who needs a diet free of gluten or peanuts rightfully expects the products to be as advertised. Besides, I hardly think you can compare food preparation regulations to deciding a woman has no rights because her husband is Muslim and observes Sharia Law.
The citizens of Oklahoma voted to bar judges from considering Sharia Law when deciding cases. That law has now been put on hold by an apparent left-leaning activist judge, Vicki Miles-LeGrange, of the U.S. District Court Western District of Oklahoma. Nearly 700,000 Oklahoma residents voted in favor of State Question 755. This was more than 70% of those voting on the measure. The measure would require that courts rely on federal or state laws when handing down decisions concerning cases and would prohibit them from using international law or Sharia law when making rulings.
The population of Oklahoma is nearly 4 million. The Muslim population of Oklahoma is around 25,000. That is .006% of the population. Twenty-eight times that number voted to ban Sharia Law from the Oklahoma courts. No matter which way you view it, the Muslims are the minority. A very small minority at that. Should all other citizens be subjected to Sharia Law because of this insignificant number? I have been unable to verify how many of the Muslims in Oklahoma are actually American citizens, so it is possible the number of Muslim Americans make up an even smaller percentage of the overall population of Oklahoma.
The Sharia Law ban is not anti-Islam. It merely puts American and Oklahoma laws in place as the standard by which justice is meted out. This is not about freedom of religion. This is about equal justice under the law.
I am LDS, AKA: Mormon. I understand about being a little different when it comes to how I practice my faith. My Church has a history of not quite fitting the mold of what the majority of Americans believe and practice in their worship. At one time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints practiced polygamy. When Utah became a state this practice was abolished, except for some fringe elements that eventually became the modern-day religious fanatics that we hear about from time to time.
I bring this up because, using the arguments of those wishing to impose Sharia Law, we should also allow polygamists to practice plural marriage because they believe it is law handed down from God and is a religious right. I am not against religious freedom and even unusual practices. I am against the infiltration of our justice system by laws that are not put in place by our citizenry, or laws that were not enacted by our legislators, or laws that may not in any way adhere to the principles of our Constitution.
I also bring up the polygamist fringe elements because they frequently have a practice that is similar to a tenet shared by much of Sharia Law: the subjugation of women. I find this abhorrent no matter which God the persons practicing it profess to worship. Any society or set of laws which deems one person of lesser worth than another is wrong. Plain and simple! We are all equal in the sight of God and should be deemed so in the sight of the law. Think of the statues of Justice outside many courthouses, holding a set of scales and wearing a blindfold.
This is America. The United States of America. This is not the 57 Islamic States, despite the counting issue Mr. Obama might have in toting up the places he's been in the USA. Being citizens of the United States of America, I think we all have the right to expect our courts to honor first and foremost our state and federal laws. I think we have the right to not expect an activist judge to suddenly pull something out of Islam or some other international magic hat and slam that law into a case. Finally, I think American citizens have the right to ask that their state protects that right by banning Sharia or other non-pertinent laws from court decisions!
* Sharia Law articles
** The Ten Commandments
© Suzann C. Darnall, NOVEMBER 2010