Those defending US Constitution from sharia must have failed high school civics
Those like Newt Gingrich who try to exploit sharia hysteria to foster fear of Muslims in the US not only fail to understand sharia, they also fail to understand the ideals of religious freedom upon which America was built.
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But what happens in Iran, Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia is not an indication of how Muslims in the United States practice their religion. American Muslims are just as unwilling as non-Muslims to accept sharia as a form of penal or civil code in the US legal system, according to a new study by University of Windsor law professor Judy Macfarlane for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.Skip to next paragraph
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That said, it is important to understand that sharia is not just a set of punishments. Sharia is a comprehensive code of conduct that guides Muslim beliefs and practices.
When Muslims wash their hands and feet before praying, that is sharia. When they refrain from eating pork or drinking alcohol, that is sharia. When they greet each other and say, “As-Salam Alaykum” (peace be with you) that is sharia.
When Muslims marry, or have children, or get divorced, or die and are buried, they do so according to the principles of sharia. Millions of other Americans – Jewish, Catholic, Mormon, and otherwise – follow religious codes in their daily lives and actions.
That is why the federal court blocked Oklahoma’s anti-sharia legislation. It is why all the similar laws being debated across the country will also ultimately be blocked. Muslims, just like all other religious communities in America, have the right to rely on their own religious laws to govern their day-to-day lives, as long as those religious practices do not inflict harm on others or violate state or federal laws.
ANOTHER VIEW: What are US students learning about Islam?
Religious freedom is the law of this land, and those who seek to overturn it for one particular religious community or those who try to exploit sharia hysteria to foster fear of Muslims in the US not only fail to understand sharia. They also fail to understand America and the ideals of religious freedom upon which this country was built.
Reza Aslan is founder of AslanMedia.com and author of “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” and “Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization.” Harris Zafar is the National Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – America’s oldest Muslim organization – and frequent lecturer about Islam around the country.