ACT! For America is planning nationwide “Anti-Shariah” rallies Saturday, and leftist organizations are promising to hold counter rallies, but many Americans will wonder what all the fuss is about.
For them, even a mention of the word “Shariah” conjures up images of Saudi Arabian courts chopping off hands of petty thieves or the stoning of a woman caught in adultery.
“No Muslim in America really wants that type of Shariah,” says Mike Ghouse, president of the Center for Pluralism and an American Muslim who emigrated from India 30 years ago.
Ghouse has come out against the anti-Shariah rallies being organized by Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! For America, which has lined up rallies in 28 cities in 20 states.
Ghouse calls these rallies “a waste of time” and “bad for America.” He has asked Gabriel to cancel them.
“All it will do is create more animosity and chaos in our society,” he told WND.
Ghouse said he believes in what he calls “personal Shariah” but not public Shariah.
“Personal Shariah, no problem. But we don’t want public Shariah,” he said.
He said personal Shariah is no different than “Christian Shariah,” as administered in Catholic circles or “Jewish Shariah” or “Hindu Shariah,” as it relates to personal observance of things like burial practices and private prayer.
In short, for Muslims like Ghouse, the practice of Shariah is more about the personal spiritual journey, not the meting our of justice with beheadings, canings and amputations.
He said the more dangerous public Shariah comes into play when a conflict involves more than two people.
“When a third person is brought in to administer justice, that is public Shariah,” he said. “For example in a marriage or divorce, or an inheritance or contract dispute, if someone violates the agreement, the third party administers the justice. Whereas in the personal Shariah, if you don’t pray, there is no one to administer justice — it is between you and God.”
Ghouse said he believes American Muslims are generally not as strict about Shariah as Muslims in the Middle East or even Europe.
“About 60 percent of American Muslims would agree with me on this, but we are doing a survey to find out exactly,” he told WND.
Are American Muslims different?
Philip Haney, a student of Islamic history, Arabic speaker and former screening officer for the Department of Homeland Security, points out that even if Ghouse is correct in his assessment, that means 40 percent of American Muslims believe in full-blown public Shariah.
Surveys two years ago commissioned by the Center for Security Policy confirm that on various questions related to adherence to Shariah law, between 25 and 55 percent of American Muslims said they preferred Shariah over U.S. law.
“So American Muslims are no different, they’re exactly the same as the rest of the Muslims across the world,” said Haney, who worked for more than a decade at DHS and will be speaking Saturday at the anti-Shariah rally in San Bernardino, California.
Haney said that while he believes Ghouse is a well-meaning, moderate and peaceful Muslim, “Mike doesn’t really represent Islam. He’s a marginalized individual. He wouldn’t survive in an Islamic country, he would be accused of blasphemy.”
Haney agrees with Ghouse that it’s good to have a debate about these issues, and that the time for that debate is now.
“But if there’s going to be a debate we are going to have to set the rules of the discussion, not them, because if they set the rules it will be like the interfaith dialogues — a one-way street,” he said.
The rules of Shariah are based on the Quran and the Sunna, also called the hadith, which are the words and example of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.
“The most important factor of Shariah is the separating factor, which prohibits the assimilation of an observant Muslim into a non-Muslim culture,” Haney said.
Some Muslims become ‘more Shariah-compliant’
Ironically when Muslim migrants come to America and Europe they often become more Shariah-compliant because it’s the only source of order in a foreign culture radically different than what they came from, Haney said.
The first sign of a Shariah-compliant Muslim is the wearing of the hijab.
“Coming to a foreign country can be very confusing and the only way they can find order and not commit unpardonable sins is to adhere more closely to Shariah, and that’s typically what they do,” Haney said. “If that were not true you would not see women wearing hijabs eight or 10 years after they step off the boat, but instead it goes the other way with women becoming more Shariah compliant not less.
“That’s the first indicator, whenever you see covered women, you know shariah law is already there, in the social structure – marriage, divorce, treatment of children – and we cannot interfere in their families. Islam always teaches you to secure Shariah compliance in your own family and work your way out from there, that’s the natural progression and this is exactly what you’re seeing in America today.”
Ghouse says Americans’ fear of Shariah, the public form, is legitimate. Most American Muslims also fear it, he said.
“If you ask, right off the top, 50 percent of Muslim women in America will not want that type of Shariah,” Ghouse says. “If a man dies, by Shariah law his assets will be divided among his family members, and as a woman she will get between 12 and 50 percent of his inheritance, whereas under American law she gets 100 percent. So why would the woman want Shariah?”
Ghouse said he believes up to 30 percent of young Muslim women in the U.S. may have committed fornication or adultery.
“If you’re a Muslim man, and their daughters are sleeping with guys, by Shariah they should be stoned to death,” Ghouse said. “Do you think any American mother or father wants their daughter to be stoned to death for adultery? Hell no.”
Ghouse disputes the commonly cited figure that 75 percent or more of American mosques have at one time or another received Saudi funding.
“I don’t buy that,” Ghouse told WND. “I would say more like 10 percent.
“There will be some imams, there is no doubt about it, who are no different than some of our evangelical pastors — if they get the power they will use it [to control people],” he said.
But Haney doesn’t buy the argument that there is moral equivalence between the two faiths and pastors are just as dangerous as imams.
How many pastors are out there like Sheik Ahmad Musa Jubril of Dearborn, Michigan, he asks. Jubril’s video sermons reportedly inspired at least one of the London jihadists who slashed and killed seven people last week at restaurants after first trying to run over people on the London Bridge.
The fact that Muslims like Ghouse remain in the minority says most are not yet ready for an honest discussion about the dilemma they face in America – whether to submit to Islamic law or American law — says Haney.
“If they are open to saying Shariah is incompatible with the U.S. constitution, then there shouldn’t be any reluctance to have this discussion and have it on American terms,” Haney said. “The fact there is a reluctance tells you their words don’t align with their actions.”
Haney says there are many barriers in Shariah law that are impossible to avoid in any honest discussion about Islam – polygamy, FGM, marriage and divorce law, inheritance law, honor violence.
“And the fundamental one of all is that it’s illegal to leave Islam. What’s going to happen to Muslims who come here and decide they have an experience with the Lord and want to become Christians?” he asks. “It’s illegal under the laws of Islam. So you have all these contradictory forces like currents in the water that makes it very difficult to navigate within a constitutional republic like ours.”
But there is a form of Sharia that is more subtle than that which is practiced in Saudi Arabia or Iran, and even Ghouse concedes that it can be just as pernicious. It has to do with the Islamic blasphemy laws, which marginalizes the free speech of non-Muslims to criticize Islam by demonizing them as “Islamophobic” or “bigoted.”
In Western, non-Muslim countries, applying Shariah blasphemy laws often comes in the form of voluntary submission to Islam on the part of left-leaning establishment types in the media, says Haney.
‘THE PERFECT MAN’ billboards
An example of Shariah techniques playing out right now in America is in Indianapolis, where an unknown group has erected “THE PERFECT MAN” billboard on a highway near the headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America. The billboard does not mention the name of Muhammad, Islam or Muslims, but does present some unflattering facts about the Islamic prophet, such as his marriage to a pre-teen and his beheading of at least 600 Jews in one day at the Battle of the Trench outside of Medina in 627 A.D.
The outcry from Muslims has been growing by the day.
In a single article by NBC News, various Muslims labeled the billboard “hate speech meant to spread lies about a religion,” “fear mongering,” “hurtful” and “based on ignorance,” among other accusations. Yet, no attempt was made to disprove the statements on the billboard citing chapter and verse of the Quran.
“This is a pretty brilliant social experiment because it doesn’t really name him. So what are you so upset for? It doesn’t say his name, doesn’t mention Islam or its prophet,” says Haney, who co-authored the recent book “See Something Say Nothing” about his career tracking dangerous immigrants for the DHS.
Another “PERFECT MAN” billboard has been erected between Dallas and San Antonio in Texas, sparking similar outrage.
Haney says Islamic blasphemy laws are only part of the spectrum of laws used to shield Islam from criticism by placing it above reproach, above questioning.
“It’s a capital offense under Shariah to blaspheme or criticize either Muhammad, Islam or the Quran. There’s also the concept of “Ghiba” or slander, which isn’t quite the same as the Western view of slander,” he said.
Ghiba is also a serious crime. Though not technically a capital crime it often ends up being a capital offense in hardline Muslim countries.
Slander can include the concept of “hurt feelings,” which is a fairly well-developed theological concept in Islam.
“If you say something about me that hurts my feelings as a devout Muslim then you have committed a crime. And that’s exactly what they are saying about the billboard: ‘it hurts my feelings,’ and it hurts the feelings of all Muslims,” Haney said. “Look at the quotations of local clerics, they’re saying it upsets the feelings of all Muslims because it’s during Ramadan.
“So the point is that their feelings are hurt and they’ve been slandered by someone that had the audacity to point out that Muhammad had 11 wives at one time, and the billboard company is guilty of blasphemy.”
United Nations Human Rights Resolution 16/18 was adopted in 2011 to discourage this type of “offense” from happening anywhere in the world against Muslims, Haney said.
“And it plays right into the hands of them playing the victim. Even if it’s a true statement, they offer no proof to the contrary, because it’s in the Quran and hadith that Muhammad had multiple wives and married Aisha when she was 6, but it doesn’t matter, because they’re claiming the billboard is not true, but they never offer any evidence to refute the statement,” Haney said.
“They can claim that it’s untrue or that they don’t like it and it’s hurtful, or it shows bigotry, but the fact is they are the ones defining all these terms,” he continued. “Basically what they are saying is, ‘we are calling it bigotry because it hurts our feelings, but who cares if it’s true or not.'”
This insulates American Muslims from having to answer for, or to give an account, for what the Quran and the hadith actually say.
“They’ve been able to avoid it because they’ve been granted a special class of immunity, because it’s actually a violation of their acquired civil rights for someone to bring up and discuss what they actually believe,” Haney said “The billboards are a perfect example of this.”
The same “hands off” approach to the facts applies to land-use and zoning violations, multiple marriages, FGM, honor violence and all of the problems starting to emerge in American cities.
“It’s not all in one or two obvious places like Minnesota and Michigan, but across the U.S.,” Haney said. “We see it in Twin Falls, Idaho, where a 5-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by Muslim migrant boys and the community was ordered by judges and prosecuting attorneys not to speak badly of Islam or refugees; we see it in tiny Rutland, Vermont, where residents who said they didn’t want Syrian refugees injected into their community were denounced as bigots; and we see it in Sterling, Virginia, where residents protesting a mosque were called racist bigots.
“And now on billboards in Indiana and Texas the big finger of Islam comes intruding itself into our space and says ‘you cannot say that.’ You are not allowed to ask hard questions or point out hard facts about Islam,” Haney adds. “And if you do, we will call you a racist and a bigot and an Islamophobe and, up to now at least, this strategy had the backing of the federal government.”
Haney said America is increasingly becoming like an alcoholic family with a drug-addicted mother and abusive father. “They abuse their own family and they enable it, but everyone tries to pretend that everything is fine in the family, there are no problems at all, until something really tragic happens, then everyone is an expert.”