The answer to this question must be an emphatic NO! There are plenty of situations where Islamists do not resort to violence. But at the same time they face a real dilemma. They want their society to be more consistently Islamic; but how are they to achieve this goal? Are they to work for a gradual and peaceful Islamisation of the country, or are they justified in using force to win power? And what happens when violence is done to them? These dilemmas can be illustrated from the history of one particular Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Not too long ago, North Carolina approved a bill that prohibits judges in that state from considering “foreign laws” in making their legal decisions. Six other states have acted similarly about “foreign laws.” Why didn’t these states mention “Shari’ah law” as did Oklahoma? The reason is that two federal courts ruled as unconstitutional the singling out of Shari’ah. Thus, those states that want to pass anti-Shari’ah laws have had to resort to using the wider phrase, “foreign laws.”
What is the context of the desire to pass anti-Shari’ah laws? It is clear. Many Americans are afraid, angry, and disgusted about what they think Shari’ah law is and what it justifies. They tend to associate it with misogyny—cruel and unjust oppression of women; intolerance—slitting the throats of apostates, unbelievers, and at times even Muslims; and harsh punishments—beheadings, lashings, chopping off hands and feet, burning people alive, stoning, etc.
Americans often believe that these horrifying actions are justified by Muslims who appeal to Shari’ah. Therefore, it is little wonder that these same Americans want to eliminate the possibility for these horrors to take place in America by going to what is perceived as the root of the problem, namely, Shari’ah.
This paper will focus on several issues:
What is Shari’ah?
Is Shari’ah creeping into American law?
If Shari’ah hasn’t yet crept into American law, how likely is it that it could?
What Americans Don’t Understand About Charlie Hebdo
It seems that many in the West still haven’t caught on. Eastern thinking people will defend their honor. One of the worst things you can do to them is to bring dishonor or ridicule on them. In the case of Muslims, they uphold the belief that “with blood I can wash my shame away” (Abu Tammam). As such, when they are ridiculed in the western press, especially through cartoons that stereotype and ridicule them, they feel justified in their violent reaction. No amount of clamoring about freedom of speech will change this. It only makes Muslims more determined to bring Islam to Europe, so that the ridiculing and bullying will stop.
If I published a cartoon that criticizes a well-known person, perhaps making him out to be a pedophile, without any truth behind it, I should expect to be sued for liable. So if a Muslim feels his honor, and the honor of his religion, and the honor of his prophet have been robbed of him by someone’s libelous actions, how does he get the shame removed and honor restored? We do not think of this in our western society. Winning a court case may make some feel somewhat justified, but their reputation will have been forever damaged. Islam’s answer is: this is so important, that it is worthy of a death sentence. So when the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo published their cartoons, they committed an error worthy of the death penalty in some parts of the world. Unfortunately for them, people of that persuasion lived in their own country, and in their own city. Many Muslims just shrug and say: “They brought it on themselves.”
I have often referred Islamic radicals as “proto-evangelists” for the Christian faith. The first of these was the Ayatollah Khomeini. His brutal regime in Iran, whose atrocities and policies have lead many Iranians to leave Iran, has also led to an exodus of Iranians out of Islam. Estimates are difficult, but the numbers significant. Outside Iran the numbers are firmer but no less astonishing. In Sweden, fully ten percent of the Iranian immigrant population has converted to the Christian faith. That is approximately eight thousand out of a total of eighty thousand in the entire country. Some Iranian believers have called the Ayatollah the greatest missionary because he showed us what Islam is really like.