We create an enormous barrier to communication if our starting point is, “You Muslims are worshipping a different god from the God we worship. We worship the true God; you are therefore worshipping an idol or something that doesn’t exist.” Even if we don’t state it quite as bluntly as this, if we assume it and communicate it, there is a huge barrier to overcome. How much better to start with…
The Application of Sharia Law in the United States
In the effort to understand this controversial and inflammatory subject, his explanation proved very helpful. Here is a list of what is and is not allowed in the American judicial system: Allowed: Distribution of inheritance according to religious motivation Not: Asking the court to divide inheritance according to shariah law
US law allows freedom of contract and disposition of property. One may divide one’s property in a will according to whim, or ask a religious scholar to divide it according to shariah law. But the court does not accept competency to interpret religious laws, and would reject a request asking it to do so. Allowed: Application of foreign law to determine marriage or overseas injury Not: Specifics of foreign law against US code or procedural discrimination of testimony
US law will accept that two foreign individuals are married if they were legally married according to the law of their country of emigration. If in foreign nations marriage is determined according to shariah, then US courts must take this into consideration for the determination of marriage in a domestic dispute. Foreign acceptance of polygamy, however, has no application in US courts. Similarly, if an American is injured abroad and sues a company with representation in America, tort laws are determined by the nation in which the injury occurred. But should foreign tort laws limit the value of female testimony, as for example in some understandings of shariah, this has no carry-over consideration in the American lawsuit. Allowed: Exemption from work rules for religious reasons Not: Unless it imposes ‘undue hardship’ on an employer or is against government interest
US law permits reasonable accommodation for religious belief, evaluated on a case-by-case basis. So wearing a hijab at work or taking time from the work day to pray may or may not be granted, based on the nature of the employment in question. A famous ruling allowing Muslim taxi drivers to decline a customer carrying alcohol may or may not have been judged correctly, but what is important is that it was based on existing American precedent, not in understanding what is right in Islamic shariah. Allowed: Granting accommodation to students or clients that impose only modest costs on the granting institution Not: Evaluation of these requests on the basis of which religious group asks for them
US law allows public and private institutions to better serve citizens and customers by appealing to their religious sentiments, as long as this does not damage the public interest as a whole. Banks have offered sharia-compliant loans, for example, and schools with high density Muslim populations have granted a full day off on holidays rather than just excusing Muslim students. Examples of this sort apply equally to all religious petitions, and must not be judged on the basis of which religion benefits. Allowed: Efforts to legislate Islamic morality in heavily populated Muslim areas Not: Unless it violates the Free Speech Code or Equal Protection Clause
US law permits citizens to lobby government to pass laws reflective of morality. In local areas therefore, Muslims are as free as others to pass legislation barring alcohol, for example. Should any locality, however, seek to encode restrictions on “blasphemy” or limit the rights of women, it will stand in clear violation of existing US law and be struck down by the courts.
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…
Christian Heritage and the Rise of Islam in Somalia
The idea that Christianity is the white man’s religion exported to Africa recently is a vast misconception that is deeply detrimental to missionary efforts across the continent. Very early Arab sources indicate a Christian presence in Somalia beginning in the 10th century. It is speculated that Christianity remained in Somalia as late as 1500 until Islam overtook and became the religion of the nation.