On June 10, cities across the United States hosted what they termed a “March Against Sharia.” The event page on social media stated the following rationale behind the event, “If you stand for human rights, please join us to march against Sharia. Sharia is incompatible with our Constitution and with American values. We stand against female genital mutilations and child marriages.” The rhetoric of the march attempted to demonize the Islamic faith, grouping the entire religion with the worst actions of a handful of its practitioners. We have seen this type of behavior before, in Klan marches against African Americans, in the internment of Japanese and Italian Americans during World War II, in the persecution and murder of Mormons, and more.
Today, the world faces a growing fear of and a demonizing of the Muslim faith. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to meet and befriend many Muslims. I’ve worked with members of local masjids to try and build interfaith relationships and unity. I’ve written about some of those interactions before. (https://shaunjex.com/2017/02/26/what-ive-learned-from-valley-ranch-islamic-center/ and https://shaunjex.com/2016/11/25/building-bridges-instead-of-walls/). One thing I’ve learned in the process: as allies we often risk speaking over the very voices we ally ourselves with. To learn about true Islam, ask a Muslim. With that in mind I’d like to share the following thread.
I’ve had the privilege of interaction with Muslim scholar and author Qasim Rashid, Esq. He writes frequently about Islam and social justice and shared these thoughts on Sharia the day of the march. He shared then via Twitter. To help spread this important information, I’ve coped his tweets into paragraph form below:
“As the white supremacist led March Against Sharia goes live—here’s my thread as an American Muslim lawyer on what Shariah *factually* is: Shariah is the law of Qur’an & literally means “A path to life giving water.” Yarrah (root of “Torah”) means same. Shariah is Abrahamic! Shariah has 5 branches: adab (behavior & morals), ibadah (worship), i’tiqadat (beliefs), mu’amalat (contracts) and ‘uqubat (punishments).
Shariah forbids compulsion. (Islamophobes hide this fact) There’s no permission for govt to ever force Shariah—Shariah itself forbids it. Qur’an does not promote any specific form of Govt, but requires govt be based on adl or “absolute justice.” Not religion—justice. HQ 4:59 “Verily Allah commands you to give over the trusts to those entitled to them, and that, when you judge men, you judge with justice. And surely excellent is that with which Allah admonishes you. Allah is all hearing, all seeing.” This is a critical point.
Qur’an: Judge humanity w/justice
Extremists: Judge w/a theocracy?
Q: No, Justice
So contrary to what March Against Sharia bigots say—Qur’an teaches separation of mosque & state. Why didn’t Muhammad(sa) enforce Shariah? He had political power. He had an army. He didn’t b/c Islam forbids theocracy. Plain & simple. Shariah obliges Muslim loyalty to our nation of residence. Thus—American Muslims must adhere to US Constitution as Supreme law of land. Jews have Halacha. Catholics have Canon. Muslims have Shariah. It’s our personal faith on prayer, food, Ramadan fasting, inherit, marry. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of worship. Banning Shariah = Banning Halacha & Canon. It is Unconstitutional.
What about regimes like Saudi & Iran? Isn’t that Shariah? No. That’s theocracy, which the Qur’an & Muhammad(sa) vehemently condemn. Let’s be clear. There’s not even 1 example of a “Shariah compliant” country today. They’re draconian regimes bent on power—not justice. Likewise there’s not 1 example of Muslims trying to enforce Shariah in USA. (http://www.jurist.org/forum/2015/03/steven-schwinn-sharia-law.php) The drive to “ban Shariah” is lunacy. As far as allegedly “violent” verses commanding Muslims “take over” w/Shariah—Nonsense. I address here in detail :(http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/islam-muslim-terrorism-islamist-extremism-quran-teaching-violence-meaning-prophet-muhammed-a7676246.html) .
I sat and read every single case of “Shariah in US Courts” & wrote a law review article dismantling that garbage. (http://claremontjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/America%E2%80%99s-Muslim-Problem-Anti-Shariah-Laws-and-the-Threat-to-American-Civil-Rights-by-Qasim-Rashid.pdf)
Those promoting fear of Muslims & Sharia today are no different than those who claimed JFK would hasten a Papal takeover of America. 2017: Muslims accused of infiltrating USA as “Creeping Shariah.” 1957: Catholics accused of infiltrating USA as “Subtle Conspirators.” US History shows similar propaganda & bigotry against Jews, Mormons, Black Christians, Native Americans, Italians, Irish, Chinese,& Japanese. And just as McCarthyites & Anti-Semites & Segregationists are remembered w/disdain, tomorrow Islamophobes will be remembered w/disdain. But to get there in peace, we need to stand together as a United America against hate. What’s that look like? Here are a few suggestions:
1) Sign up as a Muslim Ally at http://trueislam.com
2) Attend a Ramadan Iftar at http://trueislam.com/events
3) Educate yourself on Islam
4) Reject govt policies that discriminate Americans who are Muslim
5) Speak up when you hear someone promoting hatred & fear of Muslims
6) Support non-profits working to educate & build bridges of interfaith harmony
7) Elevate the voices of American Muslims in media
8) Vote. For the love of God vote
9) Be committed for the long haul. Anti-Muslim hate didn’t come overnight & won’t dissipate over-night
Looping back. Shariah isn’t the enemy—ignorance & hate are. Shariah = justice for all people regardless of faith, just like our US Constitution. We’ve a long way to go but we’ll get there together. Thank U for your solidarity & support. Much love to all of you. Peace!”
Check out more of Qasim’s writing at http://www.qasimrashid.com/
For followers of Christ, we are commanded to love our neighbor as we love our self. We are commanded to love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly with God. We are told that the world will know that we follow Jesus Christ, whom we claim as God incarnate, not by who we exclude, but by how we love.
I believe that a better world is possible, but it will take concerted effort by all of us. It will require us to choose love in the face those who would sow division and hatred. It will take education and a willingness to listen. In a future post, I plan to write more about the historical relationship between Christianity and Islam, as seen in events like the Migration to Abyssinia, in which a Christian kingdom protected persecuted members of the Islamic faith, and the Ashtiname of Muhammad, in which Muhammad declared the respect and protection that Muslims should provide to their Christian neighbors.