17 Jul On France, Turkey and Shariah
Peace be upon you,
Synopsis: Terror attacks, like the one in Nice last week, are vile and horrendous. Muslim institutions have repeatedly condemn such acts as pure evil and they can never be justified under the Shariah. Calling for a test to deport American Muslims who believe in Shariah is ignorant and racist. Such proposition can never be justified under the United States Constitution.
A French Tunisian drives a truck through a large crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice indiscriminately murdering 84 people, including 10 children. Over 200 are injured, 50 of whom are in critical condition. The truck driver, who family and friends say had mental issues, appears to have been radicalized by ISIS propaganda (drawing some parallels with the murderer who stormed the Pulse club in Orlando last month). Imam Joban condemned this act in his sermon last Friday at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). We have repeatedly said that ideologies like ISIS’ are ignorant, wrong, destructive, twisted, sinful, murderous and have absolutely no place whatsoever in Islam. Despite the fact that Muslim institutions worldwide have repeatedly condemned these acts of terror as non-Islamic there is a question now being posed: was the truck driver following Shariah in his murderous rampage?
An attempted military coup in Turkey leaves 265 dead and over 1400 injured. Muslim and non-Muslim leaders worldwide have deplored the loss of life and the attempt at seizing power through force. Hundreds of Turkish citizens took to the streets to stop the coup and to defend the democratically elected government. These Turkish citizens come from all segments of Turkish society including from many secular groups. They chanted “Allah-Akbar” in celebration. Were they following Shariah in defending democracy?
Responding to the killing in France, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives proposed that the US should test all American Muslims to determine if they believe in Shariah. And if Muslims do, he wants them deported. President Obama called the former speaker’s statement, “repugnant, an affront to everything that we stand for as Americans.” Is deporting American citizens based on their beliefs an act sanctioned by the United States Constitution?
What is Shariah? What is Islamic Law? Who believe in it?
Shariah is the revelation that Prophet Muhammad (pubh) received and made practicing it the message and mission of his life, i.e., the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition. As Noah Feldman, Professor of Law at Harvard University, recently put it, “to ask a faithful Muslim if he or she ‘believes in’ Shariah is essentially to ask if he or she accepts God’s word”.
Fiqh is the huge collection of juridical opinions that were given by various jurists from various schools of thought, in regards to the application of the Shariah (above) to their various real life situations throughout the past fourteen centuries.
Fatwa is the application of Shariah or Fiqh (above) to Muslims’ real life today.
It is important to understand the differences here. Fiqh forms the vast corpus of Islamic legal writing and is often vigorously debated. Fatwas are opinions that can be issued by anybody calling themselves a jurist – whether they are qualified or not or whether they are doing so per some agenda or not. A fatwa issued by ISIS calling for the decapitation of people is not Shariah!
Muslim jurists differentiate the terms above and other terms like qanun (canon or written principles) and urf (tradition or custom) when talking about the body of Islamic Law.
The late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg considered each other “best buddies”. Their friendship and often humorous exchanges are legendary. However, when it came to statutory interpretation their methods could not have been more starkly different. They reside on the opposite ends of the textualism-intentionalism spectrum in interpreting the United States Constitution. There is variety in interpreting the United States Constitution and that is a good thing. Variety in interpretation allows a legal system to stay rooted in its founding ideas while remaining relevant to the current times.
Likewise Muslim jurists over the past fourteen centuries and across the vast expanse of our planet have used different approaches when interpreting Islamic Law. Philosophies of Islamic Law emerged and no less than nine schools of thoughts used various sources of legislation in different orders of priority to advise their followers on matters relevant to the Muslim life. Differences in observation of the religion are often due to these different interpretations of Islamic Law. There is no single set of edicts to “test” all Muslims!
MAPS is working with the International Institute of Islamic Thought to bring a world-renowned scholar of Shariah later this summer to Redmond to discuss this topic of Islamic Law in detail. The conference will be free and open to all. Please look for details in our emails in the coming days and do attend.
Perversion of the Law
There are clear acts that fall outside of the spheres of law. A preeminent fourteenth century Muslim jurist wrote, “any ruling that replaces justice with injustice, mercy with its opposite, common good with mischief, or wisdom with nonsense, is a ruling that does not belong to the Shariah.” A truck driver ramming into a crowd mercilessly killing people is a perversion of Islamic Law and does not belong to the Shariah. Calling for a test on all Muslims in the United States is a perversion of the United States Constitution and is not a statement that belongs in this century.
MAPS has used its pulpit and its platform to strongly and unequivocally denounce perversions of Islamic Law by terror groups and individuals. Will you use your pulpit and platform to denounce perversions of the United States Constitution by racist individuals?