By Beth Spain
Shariah law is a buzzword for some people, but for many others the term is new and has no significance at all.
To the nearly 1.3 million Muslims in the United States, Shariah law is the set of guidelines defining Islam and is an increasingly controversial principle concerning U.S. democracy.
Mohammad died in 632 A.D. and Shariah law was established hundreds of years later. A group of Muslim scholars then formed the Hadith.
The Hadith is a collection of Mohammad’s life principles, out of which came standards for daily living, instruction on family structure and relationships, religious practices, financial guidelines and five major crimes: adultery, false accusation of adultery, drinking wine, stealing and highway robbery.
Amputation, stoning, flogging, exile and execution are punishments for committing crimes.
Teresa Henson, club chairman of the Madison Republican Women, recently organized a seminar to educate members about Shariah law and allow them to ask questions. About 60 people came to hear Col. James Harding from the U.S. Air Force speak about his experiences with the Muslim culture and his insights of the law.
“What I know of Shariah law scares me as a woman,” Henson said before the event.
Her views did not change much after the seminar.
“I’m concerned there’s a movement to change our government into their government,” she said.
The manner in which Shariah law is interpreted varies among Muslim groups.
Henson said she learned there are three class systems within Shariah: Those who follow the law strictly are the upper class; those who abide by some of the law are considered the working class; and the lower class are those who have other religious ideas, but are not allowed to practice them in front of other Muslims.
Dr. Randall Bush, director of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and professor of Christian thought and tradition, has studied world religions for nearly 25 years.
He noted the similarity of the extreme ideas of Shariah’s punishments to the Jewish punishment of stoning a defiant child, which is mentioned in the Old Testament.
However, Bush said it is the “honor killings” and murders practiced by today’s devout Muslims that alarm people. Strict observations of the law are practiced in countries such as Sudan and Yemen.
What does not seem to concern ctizens enough, Bush said, is the “Trojan Horse” effect.
“Once it’s in you are dealing with the reality of what is inside,” Bush said, referring to Shariah law. “We’ll have a government within a government.”
While religious tolerance and freedom of religion is widely promoted, Bush said the ideas within Shariah law are problematic to U.S. constitutional laws.
Oklahoma had a battle in its courts last November concerning Shariah and international laws as State Question 755 prohibited the courts from consulting any of these laws during a case.
The bill was ruled unconstitutional by U.S. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange when Muneer Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, sued because the bill nullified his will, which was structured in accordance with some Shariah principles.
There has been some concern that Muslims will receive exempt status and will not have to pay the fees for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The waiver is given to very view religious sect.
Cited on page 792 of the bill, members of the religious sect receiving the waiver must have teachings against the provision.
Muslims view insurance as a form of gambling, which Shariah law does not accept.