Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Rauf a moderate Muslim when it comes to Sharia Law?

Imam Feisal Rauf, the Muslim leader planning to build an Islamic cultural center with mosque two blocks from the site of the destruction of the World Trade Center by Islamic militants, also heads the Shariah Index Project, an ongoing evaluate the Sharia compliance of the nations. Rauf has said to US audiences that the USA is a Sharia compliant state.

And another muslim was recently quoted in the New York Times saying that Sharia is compatible with the US Constitution:
Camie Ayash, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, lamented that people were listening to what she called “total disinformation” on Islam.

She said her group was stunned when what began as one person raising zoning questions about the new mosque evolved into mass protests with marchers waving signs about Shariah.

“A lot of Muslims came to the U.S. because they respect the Constitution,” she said. “There’s no conflict with the U.S. Constitution in Shariah law. If there were, Muslims wouldn’t be living here.”

When I read that, I wondered if this was a Muslim "Talking Point" now and how the reporter could print it without asking some basic questions about obvious conflicts between the U.S. Constitution and Sharia Law.

Let's look at Rauf's presentation of Sharia Law at a meeting of the Shariah Index Project in Malaysia to see how the two are irreconcilable. As the reporter summarized Rauf's presentation:
The pillars of Shariah are based on five – some say six sacrosanct rights and principles. Breaching any of them is considered a major sin that requires punishment.

The most important is the protection and furthering of life.

Then there is the protection of religion – which includes all three Abrahamic faiths and, through most of Islamic history, other religions as well. It was this principle that the Muslim world evoked during the controversy over cartoons lampooning the Prophet that were published in a Danish newspaper. The same principle prohibits Muslims from satirising elements of any religion.

In the video, Rauf said that Sharia provides the "right to freedom of religion". That's not the same as "protection of religion". It is in direct conflict with the US Constitution's 1st Amendment protect of speech and of the press. We have seen how Muslims have silenced free speech in our own country through threats of violence as the country has begun to self-censor.
Another pillar is the protection of dignity and honour, which can be used as a basis for punishing slander, which recently became a crime in the UAE under the country’s new media law. The same principle is behind UAE cases where drivers have been prosecuted for making rude gestures at other road users, who took it as an insult to their dignity. Similarly, a woman can sue a man, even a stranger, for a lewd or inappropriate comment that “undermines her honour”.

What he doesn't say is how this is used to punish those who are raped and seeking help. If the rape charge cannot be proved, then the one making the accusation is punished for slander. And it is very hard to prove rape when the Quran requires four witnesses. Here is an example I posted a while ago about a student in Saudi Arabia who said his school principal raped him.
Protection of lineage, another pillar of Shariah, is the basis for criminalising adultery and, as was decided by muftis in Dubai last year, for banning IVF.

And remember, the Quran provides for the death penalty for adultery.
Protection of the mind or intellect includes the protection of sobriety, the basis for prohibiting Muslims from drinking alcohol or using any mind-altering substance, except under a doctor’s orders.

The final pillar of Shariah is the protection of property, an element that many scholars say contributed to the economic growth of early Muslim states.

Rauf says in the video that Sharia is the "fulfillment of five fundamental rights: "the right to life, the right to freedom of religion, the right to family, the right to property and the right to mental well being." But as the punishments from the Quran are applied in Sharia Law:

The right to freedom of religion means the death penalty for criticism of religion.
The right to family means the death penalty for adultery.
(I'm not seeing the right to life in this.)
The right to property means cutting off the hands of thieves.
The right to mental wellbeing means lashing those who drink alcohol.

What is a moderate Muslim when it comes to Sharia Law? Isn't Rauf just talking up a good game for us when he knows the Quran requires these punishments? It reminds me of the story of the Muslim man who convinced a Jewish alcoholic to convert to Islam.

And what good is the US Constitution's 8th Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment when this is the usual punishment and Allah is merciful? (So if you are going to be lashed for drinking alcohol and even question the punishment as cruel, are you insulting religion and insulting Allah, so now you get the death penalty?)


LL said...

Well researched and well written!

Perpetua said...

Thank you, LL. I love your blog. I don't usually write such long pieces, but I've been pondering this, so when I read your post this morning I decided to try to weave it together.

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