I must applaud my home state of Kansas. It ignored this nation’s lemming-like sprint toward the abyss of political correctness and now prohibits state courts and agencies from using Islamic or other non-U.S. laws when making decisions.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed that bill, dubbed the “Sharia bill,” into law last week. Good for him!
That makes Kansas one of four states to enact such a law. The others are Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee. Oklahoma voters approved a ballot initiative in 2010 that specifically mentioned Sharia law, but both a federal judge and a federal appeals court blocked it.
That has not stopped 20 other states from considering laws similar to the Kansas statute, according to the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures.
Obviously, given the attitudes of the current administration, the federal government has no such pending law so it is up to individual states to keep the onerous edicts of Sharia Law from attacking our freedoms and infesting our lives.
Sharia, or Islamic law, covers all aspects of Muslim life, including religious obligations and financial dealings.
|Sharia Law on Display in Pakistan|
Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in an e-mail that the bill “makes it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions.”
The new law takes effect July 1 and says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.
Muslim groups have condemned the law as discriminatory. However, any American used to our way of life and the broad freedoms we enjoy who has actually examined just what Sharia law is should be happy that Kansas and other states are looking out for them.
Sharia, which means “path” in Arabic, guides all aspects of Muslim life including daily routines, familial and religious obligations, and financial dealings. It is comes primarily from the Quran and the Sunna–the sayings, practices, and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.
Marriage and divorce are the most significant aspects of sharia, but criminal law is the most controversial, a recent Voice of America report explained. In sharia, there are categories of offenses: those that are prescribed a specific punishment in the Quran, known as “hadd” punishments, those that fall under a judge’s discretion, and those resolved through a tit-for-tat measure (i.e., blood money paid to the family of a murder victim).
There are five hadd crimes: unlawful sexual intercourse (sex outside of marriage and adultery), false accusation of unlawful sexual intercourse, wine drinking (sometimes extended to include all alcohol drinking), theft, and highway robbery.
Punishments for hadd offenses–flogging, stoning, amputation, exile, or execution–get a significant amount of media attention when they occur. These sentences are not often prescribed, however, say Islamic scholars.
Nevertheless, the U.S. has seen a rise in so-called “honor killings”–the murder of women by male family members in retaliation for bringing dishonor on one’s family.
The fact is honor killings are a worldwide problem. While precise statistics are scarce, the UN estimates thousands of women are killed annually in the name of family honor. In the U.S. these murders have occurred because of some perceived behavior that is considered blasphemous to the Muslim faith or an affront to the family’s honor. That behavior has included Muslim women dating and marrying non-Muslim men, dressing in a way considered “provocative” by a woman’s father or brothers, or simply acting “too American.”
Other practices that are woven into the sharia debate, such as female genital mutilation, adolescent marriages, polygamy, and gender-based inheritance rules, elicit as much controversy.
It is unfortunate that anybody who opposes sharia law in the U.S. is often labeled a bigot or an “Islam-a-phobe.” In fact, the debate as to whether Islam and democracy can co-exist is a valid one–and that includes sharia law.
In the U.S. it appears that many Muslims who support sharia law would like to see some kind of dual legal system that would allow Muslims to adjudicate certain matters outside of state and federal secular law.
According to a recent U.N. report many majority Muslim countries have such a dual system in which the government is secular but Muslims can choose to bring familial and financial disputes to sharia courts. The exact jurisdiction of these courts varies from country to country, but usually includes marriage, divorce, inheritance, and guardianship. Examples can be seen in Nigeria and Kenya, which have sharia courts that rule on family law for Muslims.
The newly-signed Kansas law would appear to stop such duality in its tracks.
And for good reason. While I don’t expect to see sharia law take hold in the U.S. in my lifetime, in places such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq where it exists life is much different. For example, in those countries it is forbidden to enact legislation that is antithetical to Islam.
Saudi Arabia employs one of the strictest interpretations of sharia. Women are not allowed to drive, are under the guardianship of male relatives at all times, and must be completely covered in public.
Traditional Muslims who understand the Quran and the hadith believe that sharia expresses the highest and best goals for all societies. They insist it is the will of Allah.
In Kansas, at least, it is not the will of Allah that rules. It is the law of the state– Inshallah.