My Hannity Show debate was about State Question 755, which bans Oklahoma courts from considering Sharia in their cases. I am not a lawyer but as an American I see this as a direct violation of the First Amendment and blurring to the line separating state and religion. What’s worse is that this is snowballing into other states like Tennessee and Louisiana! It is an attempt to endorse the legal discrimination against an unpopular minority and their religion, which obviously further stigmatizes Islam in the public’s mind. It was later put on hold for its unconstitutionality which now has caused an uproar.
Shouldn’t Americans be more upset over a law that discriminates against others and that clearly blurs the line between state and religion? Justifying such a law, just like Talk show host Hugh Hewitt did, based on the growing number of Sharia courts in England, is a matter of personal perception but is not based on any facts on American ground. Muslims appreciate American civil law and don’t want to replace it with anything else, particularly Sharia. They appreciate our fair system that treats all people the same to preserve our freedom and democracy that they enjoy. I understand that some Muslims, just like Orthodox Jews and others, refer to their faith in arbitrating personal matters which can only be reinforced willingly. Furthermore, some prefer Islamic banking, which cannot charge high interest because Sharia bans making too much profit and the exploitation of others. Interestingly, the Center for Security Policy had recommended in its Sept. report “Sharia: The Threat to America,” that Congress should ban Sharia compliant banking.
It is ironic how Sharia is now being addressed as suddenly creeping into our society and legal system, when it has been around for decades. It is being enforced to various degrees according to state statutory requirements. For example, California courts wouldn’t enforce Muslim women’s dowry rights or Mahr since this state law forbids “profiteering from divorce,” while in other states, like NY it is enforced. Over the summer, a NJ court denied a restraining order to a woman who was sexually assaulted by her then-husband. He wasn’t seen as having a “criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault” her because he claimed he was exercising his prerogative as a husband under Islamic law. But that ruling was promptly overturned on appeal because the application of his “cultural defense” or Sharia application conflicted with civil law. Obviously, our legal system works efficiently and has its proper checks and balances, even when it considers Sharia and other faiths.
In the case of the 30,000 Muslims in Oklahoma, they actually didn’t lobby for Sharia to be considered in courts and never really advocated its use. So where is the threat? Obviously, State Question 755 and the uproar over temporarily freezing are driven by anti-Muslim fervor that we witnessed with the Quran burning and ground zero center controversy. We should be proud that our legal system embodies and reflects all our diversity as Americans instead of of limiting it for some based on personal preference or fear of a few.