My prior post focused on the myths surrounding sharia. If there is no one pushing the sharia to replace American civil law, why do we have so many states banning the sharia law? This article will shed light on the well-organized, well-funded Islamophobia network.
American Muslims get criticized for following the sharia. Once again, following the sharia is a private matter for American Muslims and does not affect anyone else, just like following of Halakhah is a private matter for the Jews and should not affect the non-Jews.
In fact, following the sharia for American Muslims, and Halakhah for American Jews is very American thing to do.
American constitution allows people to follow and practice their religion as it relates to culture and faith so long as they do not directly conflict the American civil laws.
You may not be aware but there are Halakhah courts that are already functioning within the legal system of America, such as Beth Din of America.
The Beth Din regularly arbitrates a wide range of disputes among parties, ranging in value from small claims to litigation involving several million dollars. These cases include: commercial (such as employer-employee, landlord-tenant, real property, business interference, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, investor mismanagement, defective merchandise and unfair competition disputes), communal (such as rabbinic contract disputes and other congregational issues) and familial (such as family business, inheritance and matrimonial) disputes.
Jews can seek to resolve their disputes within these Halakhaic courts but if the dispute is not settled there, one of the parties can then go to the American civil court and the decision by the Halakhaic court becomes non binding. (Beth Din of America actually requires the litigants to enter a legally binding agreement).
Hudud refers to corporal punishments under Islamic laws for violating the hudud(boundaries) as set by God and according to the teachings of the Qur’an. These include punishments for adultery, false accusation for zina (illicit sex) and theft among other offenses. In many cases, these are very similar to the teachings of the Old Testament, and in some cases, perhaps less severe. Even though they are still carried out in some Muslim countries, these are controversial among the Muslims.
These punishments were rare in pre-modern Islam because the evidentiary standards were often impossibly high, for example the need for producing 4 eyewitnesses for fornication. And false accusations against women is to be punished severely as well. e.g
And those who accuse chaste women and do not bring four witnesses – flog them with eighty stripes and do not accept their witness thereafter (for ever). Indeed they themselves are impure. The Qur’an 24:4
But once again, no one in America is pushing for even the non-corporal punishments and application of sharia.
So who is indeed behind all the hysteria when it comes to ‘sharia’s threat’ to America? and what are their objectives?
Anti sharia movement is part of a larger Islamophobia network made up of a number of conservative ‘non profit’ foundations, think tanks, grassroots organizations, religious leaders, and conservative media and social media outlets and politicians.
As reported by Prof. John Esposito of Georgetown University, this network is heavily funded:
As documented by organizations such as the Center for American Progress and islamophobianetwork.com, this fear was deliberately stoked between 2001 and 2012 by eight donors who contributed more than $57 million to promote fear of Islam, Muslims, and Sharia, claiming that they were working to overthrow the US Constitution and legal system and install a radical Islamic caliphate that will punish and subordinate all non-Muslims. In 2016, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley, examined support for radical organizations. Their report, “Confronting Fear,” based on tax filings, showed that between 2008 and 2013, a US-based Islamophobia Network of some 33 groups received $205,838,077 in total revenue.
The 2016 report named 33 organizations whose primary purpose is to propagate Islamophobia (the “inner core”) and 41 whose primary focus is not attacking Islam directly but which nonetheless contribute to and support Islamophobic ideology (the “outer core”).
For more details, you may want to read the papers referenced above.
Who is behind the anti- sharia laws?
It does not help when the president of the country himself stokes fear of Muslims and sharia. The headlines during the elections in 2016 on Breitbart read:
Donald Trump Calls for Sharia Law Ban
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles ― or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.”
There have been protests to call for sharia ban, as shown in the picture here. (The irony is that reading the accusations on the sign, you might think this was an anti-Trump protest or rally against the Republican right wing!).
One of the major organization behind anti sharia laws is American Freedom Law Center.
The fear mongering is an organized effort, as reported by Southern Poverty Law center.
One of the most successful far-right conspiracies to achieve mainstream viability, the mass hysteria surrounding a so-called threat of “Sharia law” in the United States is largely the work of anti-Muslim groups such as the American Freedom Law Center and ACT for America (ACT), an SPLC-designated hate group. In June, so-called “anti-Sharia” rallies organized by ACT were held across the country and attracted white nationalists, armed right-wing militias and even neo-Nazis.
David Yerushalmi, the father of the anti-Sharia movement, serves as co-founder of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) and General Counsel of the Center for Security Policy. AFLC has pushed its initiative, American Laws for American Courts (ALAC, principally authored by Yerushalmi.
“Anti-Sharia” bills are rarely explicitly labeled as such. Most legislators include the phrase ‘foreign law,’ and present bills as the solution to a larger influence of all foreign countries and religions. However, APPA explicitly says this legislation was created, “to protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law.”
The SPLC further goes on to quote many of Yerushalami’s anti-Islam and Islamophobic statements and writings.
“Islam seeks our destruction … There are of course those conservatives who recognize that Islam is not a “religion” in the Western tradition but rather a license to murder by the wretched of the world. But, they are frightened by a ‘religious war’ against the Muslim Umma. Of course, it is only a religious war because Islam deems it a religious duty to destroy the West.”
— “Is the War Against Terror Rational?,” Intellectual Conservative, August 4, 2006
Muslims aren’t the only group with whom he has a bone to pick. Yerushalmi also rails against liberal Jews and the “progressive elites” he says they influence. He has described black people as “the most murderous of peoples” and reportedly once called for undocumented immigrants to be placed in “special criminal camps,” detained for three years, and then deported.
“There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote. You might not agree or like the idea but this country’s founders, otherwise held in the highest esteem for their understanding of human nature and its affect [sic] on political society, certainly took it seriously.
Islamic Network Group has described these efforts as follows:
Most of the laws follow a template furnished by an organization called American Laws for American Courts (ALAC), led by David Yerushalmi, a well-known Islamophobe. A report by the Center for American Progress describes Yerushalmi’s effort as follows: “Yerushalmi…authored the model anti-Sharia bill, which would make adherence to Sharia ‘a felony punishable by 20 years in prison.’ This template for anti-Sharia legislation was used in state legislatures across the country with the intent of stigmatizing Muslims and creating hysteria about the nonexistent threat of Sharia law.”
These laws are based on the unfounded claim that American Muslims are seeking to replace the Constitution with sharia law; the legislation prohibits courts from using “foreign law.” The original template for these laws in fact specified not “foreign” law in general but “sharia law”; the wording was revised when an Oklahoma law using the latter term was ruled unconstitutional; but, as proponents have made clear, the target of such laws remains “Sharia.”
American Bar Association has also denounced anti-Sharia law bills. In response to an uptick in anti-“Sharia law” bills introduced in 2010 and 2011, the ABA published a formal letter of dissent:
“The American Bar Association opposes federal or state laws that impose blanket prohibitions on consideration or use by courts or arbitral tribunals of the entire body of law or doctrine of a particular religion. … American courts will not apply Sharia or other rules (real or perceived) that are contrary to our public policy, including, for instance, rules that are incompatible with our notions of gender equality.”
A picture is worth a thousand words. Our best response to the fear mongering is as follows: