Fear of Shariah among some in U.S. is irrational and misguided
The promotion of Islamophobia is multimillion-dollar industry. Thirty-three Islamophobic groups had access to at least $205 million between 2008 and 2013, according to a report released by the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California-Berkeley.
Shariah, or Islamic law, is not a thing to be feared; rather, if it’s understood correctly, people can just go about their daily lives without that second glance of fear at the lady with a head covering or the gentleman with a robe. The $205 million used for hate speech could have been spent on helping those in need or funding grants for students.
Shariah is the same as Islam and has been practiced by Muslims, who have abided with constitutions and state laws since the days of the slave trade. Just like any Christian, Jew, Buddhist or Hindu who lives in the United States and complies with its laws, Muslims can practice Shariah while being outstanding citizens of the U.S. The Shariah itself commands Muslims to follow the law of the land. Muslims are content because the U.S. Constitution is everything that the Shariah is, too.
One of the problems I have come across in my observation is what the word Shariah means to the average Muslim is radically different than how the Islamophobes perceive it. To the average Muslim living in the U.S., practicing the Shariah means praying five times a day; fasting during the month of Ramadan; giving to charity annually; trying to make the pilgrimage once in a lifetime; earning a livelihood; getting married and starting a family; and living a moral life.
On the other hand, the Islamophobes want you to believe that the Shariah is all about honor killings, female genital mutilation, terrorism and other crimes. This is just like me defining the Torah’s Halakha law — practiced by many Jews in the U.S. — as condoning decapitation, burning and strangulation for some crimes instead of listing the Ten Commandments and the law of “live and let live” and other ethical practices of Judaism.
The well-known scholar of the Quran, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, who died in 1210, states in his exegesis of the Quran: “It has always been unanimously agreed upon by the followers of Islam that the ordinary citizen cannot take the law into his hands and implement any type of penal laws.” This is something that Muslims have always understood whether living in a Muslim country or otherwise.
That is why there is not one single documented incident of a Muslim in the U.S. implementing any of the penal laws of the Shariah. You may ask: “What about the incidents of honor killing?” To which I will answer that honor killings are cultural, not religious. There is not a single text in the sources of Shariah that instructs honor killings.
I conclude that the fear of the Shariah and Islam among some circles in the U.S. is irrational and misguided. Muslim-Americans need to be looked at just like any other religious followers.
Anti-Islamic and Shariah law protesters draw condemnation at an Islamic center near Cincinnati. Americans should not fear Shariah, an Austin imam writes.