Principle # 1: If you pick up a book that seems to paint broad strokes about Islam, representing all Muslims as one thing—whether positive or negative—this should raise your first alarm of suspicion.
Principle # 2: if the book you are reading employs broad stereotyping and other methods that have been employed by racist ideologies, you might as well put it down. You will not get any wiser about Islam by reading it.
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?
Every language has its word for “God” which is used in translation of Scripture and within any particular culture and language. Allah is the Arabic word for the English “God” just as “Dios” is in Spanish. It is the word that has been used for centuries by Jews and Christians in the Middle East and actually pre-dates the founding of Islam in the seventh century. Bibles translated in predominantly Muslim countries into local languages such as Indonesian, Malay and Bengali use Allah as the biblical reference to the sovereign creator God.
To not use “Allah” for God would require the use of a foreign word that would not be understood in the local language. Ironically, the word “Allah” comes from the same root word of “Elohim” of the Old Testament, while our English word “God” has no etymological relationship to the biblical YHWH or Jehovah. In fact, it comes from the German “Gott” and was derived from the name of a pagan viking deity!
Use of Allah in Muslim literature refers to the God who created the world. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and Ishmael), and other prophets known in the Old Testament. To introduce another identity than the monotheistic sovereign creator deity of the Bible and known as Allah by Muslims would create a formidable barrier to communicating biblical truth.
The concern is understandable that if “Allah” is used in Christian witness that the theological distortions of Muslim understanding will be carried over, resulting in syncretism or heretical concepts of God shaped by ones Islamic background. Certainly, this requires adequate teaching and discipling just as it does in our own culture. And we should be confident that when one comes in genuine repentance and faith to Jesus Christ that God is able to reveal Himself in spirit and truth to a new believer.
Is there more than one God? No, there is only one God, and He can be known only through Jesus Christ. We must not confuse cultural and linguistic bridges of communication in seeking to transcend diverse worldviews.
The sordid histories of both institutional Christianity and Islam are replete with political and military enmeshment. Our Christian forbears left us the legacy of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Wars of Religion—sterling examples of what happens when sincere obedience to Jesus is subverted by a political/military/economic agenda, endorsed by clergy…