Monday, February 11, 2008

Opposing Sharia law

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently said that "Sharia law is inevitable" in the UK, and claimed that it will "bring about social cohesion." Yeah, right. He is under fire from his statement, though some have stated that somehow it is 'Islamophobic' to be against Sharia law for Muslims in the UK, because the system would be voluntary, anyway. Ali Eteraz (who I have taken issue with in the past) wrote a very compelling entry on his blog, explaining exactly why Sharia would be so terrible for Muslims. (please note that he is a practicing Muslim who wrote this) The important part to note...

2 - Islamic family and inheritance law has issues that have not been resolved.

Men get a presumption when it comes to custody (it should be an issue of best interest of child).

Child support ends after three months (it should be as in US law where children “share in the good fortunes” of their divorced parents).

Boys get more in inheritance than girls (should be equal).

Men get bulk of marital assets (should be equitable distribution).

Apostasy automatically ends the marriage (yeah, I’m sure this one won’t be abused by evil in-laws). Think of how easily Muslims accuse one another of kufr.

In a divorce, a parent revealed to be (or more likely accused to be) a homosexual has no claim over the child (”your dad’s a fag, kid, you are fatherless!”). I mean, jilted women have never been known to demonize their exes like this.

A man can divorce in one sitting but a woman needs the permission of a religious authority.

This list is endless, please feel free to add to it.

The purpose of the law is to reflect and respond to social realities. Many parts of Islamic family law — as it stands today — don’t do that

It is a maxim of fiqh: “Changes of al-ahkam (judgments) are permissible with the change in times.” I don’t see changes.

Eteraz wrote much more, but one thing I take issue with is his moral equivalence - he states that the Beth Din in England somehow would be equivalent to the Sharia courts. Firstly, Jewish law is relatively well settled, after the publishing of the Shulchan Aruch. (at least compared to Sharia law) Yes, rabbis will publish responsa to situations as they come about - but this is nothing like the confusion of Sharia. Eteraz noted it as such...

5 - There is no standardized version of Islamic law

Sharia is not codified. It can be anything based on the whim of the arbitrator. For law to be law, it needs standardization. Who is going to do this? Muhammad Fadel and Khaled Abu el Fadl? Abdullahi an-Naim? Irshad and Reza Aslan? Faraz Rabbani? Taqi Usmani and Nameless Arab Guy? Suhaib Webb and Yasir Qazi? Yale University? Harvard’s Islamic Law Symposium? Remember, we’re a community that still haven’t been able to standardize what day to start Ramadan or celebrate our biggest festivals so let’s not get too carried away with pipe dreams about standardizing Islamic family law. If codification has not even been accomplished in numerous Muslim countries then how can you even think about getting a Sharia court going in the West?

And, I assure you that if you get the standardization issue going, its quickly going to devolve into an Islamic civil war — Sufi v. Salafi v. Liberals v. Right-Wing-Islamophobes (what, you don’t think they are going to show up at the public meetings?)

So that is difference one.

Difference two is what goes to the crux of the matter. Namely, there simply is a difference in Sharia law v. Halacha (Jewish Law). Please read Hugh Fitzgerland's explanation as such. Essentially, there is a difference in the way Jewish law is viewed - certainly not as supreme over the secular laws - and the way it is applied. Moreover, there is a difference in the goal; Jews do not hope to one day rule over England with Halacha.

It is for all these reasons and more that we have to be vigilant in our fight against Sharia law. We have to remind ourselves that Sharia is not just the 'Muslim equivalent' of Halacha. It is not. Unless and until Sharia is a) reformed; b) codified, it remains the law of the dark ages. Under the aegis of 'religious tolerance,' why are we okay with letting women be treated as second class citizens? Why? Why are feminists arguing this is actually a good thing? Did the feminist movement mean nothing? Why are so many liberals acting illiberally?

UPDATE: Christopher Hitchens wrote a great essay explaining the very real dangers of Sharia right here. To sum it up: allowing Sharia will mean that honor killings will go unpunished to a much larger degree. And most importantly, it will lead to oppression of women. Feminists, where are you? *taps feets* I am waiting to hear from you!

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