Anti-sharia laws: Legislating religiosity

By David Waters The legendary football rivaly between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers began with a 6-6 … Continued

By David Waters

The legendary football rivaly between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tennessee Volunteers began with a 6-6 tie on the third Saturday in October 1901.

Now, the rivaly may soon find a new date and playing field: The First Monday in October, when the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new term each year.

A number of state legislatures have introduced bills to ban or limit sharia, or Islamic sacred law, but the anti-sharia shenanigans by legislators in Tennessee and Alabama seem particularly suited for future lawsuits challenging their constitutionality.

In Tennessee, two legislators have introduced a bill to make a crime of “knowingly providing material support or resources” to a “sharia organization.”

The bill tries to distinguish between the religious practice of Islam and the political application of Islam by “sharia organizations” — which it defines as treasonous or terrorist organizations.

As anyone in mosque-fearing Murfreesboro, Tenn., can tell you, the core of sharia are the five pillars of the faith — the creed, daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan, almsgiving and pilgrimage to Mecca.

Beyond those essentials, there are many interpretations and applications of sharia within Islam. So, in effect, to keep U.S. judges from using sharia to make their rulings, the Tennessee bill likely would require U.S. judges to use sharia to define what is and is not sharia.

Meanwhile, treason and terrorism already are against the laws of Tennessee and the United States. So, in effect, these legislators are saying that we need extra protection from misguided adherents of Islam.

Civil liberty attorneys, start cracking open new packs of legal pads. If that bill becomes law, the constitutional challenges could go all the way — to the highest court in the land.

“It’s complete nonsense,” Charles Haynes, a senior scholar with the First Amendment Center in Nashville, told Bob Smietana of the Tennessean.

Haynes said the bill is based on a complete misunderstanding of sharia law and the U.S. Constitution. “The government can’t label religious laws as wrong or treasonous or evil,” he said. “The government may not take sides in religion. It may not say what is a good religion or a bad religion.”

Not to be outmaneuvered, an Alabama legislator from — you guessed it, Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide — introduced a resolution to amend the state constitution to ban the use of Islamic law in Alabama courts.

The resolution doesn’t try to distinguish between religious and polticial sharia. It merely and clearly defines sharia as “a form of religious law derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: The divine revelations set forth in the Qur’an and the example set by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.”

As Tim Lockette pointed out in The Aniston Star, the wording of state Sen. Gerald Allen’s sharia definition is “almost word for word . . . the Wikipedia entry on Sharia law as it appeared Thursday.”

So far, Alabama legislators haven’t banned the judicial or legislative use of Wikipedia, but you’d think they’d find a more authoritative source — perhaps the Tennessee legislature?

Allen acknowledged that he couldn’t define sharia. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he told Lockette. “I wish I could answer you better.”

Allen told the Star that he’s not aware of any cases in which Muslims have tried to get Alabama judges to apply sharia law.

“It’s not about what’s happening right now,” Allen told the Star. “I’m thinking about 10 years down the road, 20, 30, 40. Time has an effect on these things, and I’m thinking about the future.”

So are civil liberties groups and constitutional attorneys in Tennessee and Alabama. If both bills become law, the race to the U.S. Supreme Court will be on.

Remember, Alabama and Tennessee fans, there are no ties in Supreme Court rulings.

Which anti-sharia approach do you think is less likely to withstand a constitutional challenge?

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  • EddietheInfidel

    Unfortunately, several of these recent state bills have failed to adequately distinguish between the practice of “sharia law” in voluntary arbitration panels (as used in Jewish and other religious communities), and its application in state civil and criminal court.I have no problem with all the parties in a civil suit agreeing to abide by sharia in an arbitration panel decision, which can then be affirmed as an agreement in civil court. If a muslim woman wishes to give up her rights to equal inheritance to a sharia arbitration panel, that’s her problem.However, the state courts cannot and should not ever consider any concepts of sharia where they have been asked to render a decision in accordance with state and federal law.As embarrassing as it is to admit, a judge here in NJ chose to consider a defendant’s islamic religious and cultural background in finding him not guilty of marital rape. The case was, fortunately, overturned by an appellate court, but the fact that the slime ball judge delivering the original ruling found that commission of a violent crime was “acceptable” because of the defendant’s “beliefs” is appalling.Let muslims practice their archaic and barbaric 7th century customs of “justice” in voluntary arbitration of civil cases if all parties have agreed to said restrictions, within the limitations defined by Constitutional law; there is no need to consider any other legal system in civil cases, and all criminal cases, that come before state and federal judges other than those directed by the Constitution.

  • Sara121

    It seems to me that more people would understand that the No Establishment clause already covers this if they didn’t already think that establishing the Bible as law was perfectly compatible with the First Amendment.

  • persiflage

    This seems to be a preemptive action by an organized coalition of Southern white republican legislators that is not only unncecessary, but as the article states, may even be unconstitutional. I don’t support the idea of Sharia Law existing in the USA as a parallel legal system that co-exists with secular, civil laws. I don’t think religious laws can or should compete in any way with the established laws of the land. However, cultural traditions will likely always be practiced within ethnic, racial, and socio-religious enclaves that are striving to maintain long-established identities through familiar ritualized behaviors and practices – like it or not, they are entitled to do so by law. To the degree that such practices and beliefs stifle assimilation, or wall off opportunities for succeeding generations to assimilate, they may appear to present a negative influence, at least to some observers.It’s unfortunate when politicians mine the distrust and fear of their own constituents in order to serve their own covert political and party agenda, which is mainly that of getting re-elected. Rep. Peter King now seems also to be doing the same in New York, although his Muslim paranoia is probably better established and even more palpable than these republican newcomers down South.

  • IN_IT_WE_TRUST

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  • paulhume

    Actions allowed or even urged by religious law that transgress the civil and criminal codes of the land are already illegal, last I looked. Nor do religious laws trump civil laws except by the consent, and necessary legal steps, of those involved. A Jewish couple may obtain a get (rabbinical divorce) or a Catholic couple and anullment, as provided by the religious laws of their respective communities, but if they don’t touch third and get a civil divorce as well, their marriage in the eyes of the state remains in force.Mind you, the state does give religious beliefs broad leeway, as it must under the free exercise clause. Observe the numerous legal issues which arise involving minor children in sects which do not allow various forms of medical treatment, from Christian Science to Scientology to Jehovah’s Witnesses. And the various freedom of conscience laws in effect or moving forward to uphold the right of medical professionals (for example) to limit or modify the treatments they offer patients in keeping with their own religious positions.Suddenly deciding that shariah is more foreign than Catholic canon law or the Talmud seems to be an expression of a public sentiment that Islam is the enemy, regardless of whether the muslims to be prosecuted are citizens or immigrants, assimilated or not.Any law which would make it illegal to sell halal foods, keep the Ramadan daytime fast, observe the daily prayers, buy an airplane ticket to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj, etc. is going to fall in court faster than you can say “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

  • Garak

    Jesus too fasted in the desert. Came out thinking he was vampire who would rise from the dead! LOL!How to deprogram a Christian? Take them to Auschwitz, visit a child molested by a priest, take them to KKK museum, make them study science.It’s easy!

  • revsuekim

    I just do not get, do not understand, what seems to me to be wild, unrestrained bias, based on hate, fear and ignorance. I wonder why, as there is a God, this God cannot do a sweep of all of us, wiping away the things that keep us at odds with each other.

  • YEAL9

    Bye-bye Shariah laws:The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)Are you ready? Using “The 77 Branches of Islamic “faith” a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true “faith” (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings.” i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs. The First Five of the 77 Branches:”1. Belief in Allah”aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.”2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence.”Evolution and the Big Bang or the “Gib Gnab” (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the “akas” for Allah should be included if you continue to be a “creationist”.”3. To believe in the existence of angels.”A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/devils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No “pretty/ugly wingy thingies” ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as fairies and “tinker bells”. Modern devils are classified as the demons of the demented.”4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore.”Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the uneducated masses in line. Today we call them fortune tellers.Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.”5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)lone.”Mohammed spent thirty days “fasting” (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a “pretty wingy thingy”. Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed’s “fast, hunger-driven” hallucinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the “two-minute” cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy.

  • YEAL9

    Bye-bye Shariah laws:The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)Are you ready? Using “The 77 Branches of Islamic “faith” a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true “faith” (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings.” i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs. The First Five of the 77 Branches:”1. Belief in Allah”aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.”2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence.”Evolution and the Big Bang or the “Gib Gnab” (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the “akas” for Allah should be included if you continue to be a “creationist”.”3. To believe in the existence of angels.”A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/devils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No “pretty/ugly wingy thingies” ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as fairies and “tinker bells”. Modern devils are classified as the demons of the demented.”4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore.”Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the uneducated masses in line. Today we call them fortune tellers.Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.”5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)lone.”Mohammed spent thirty days “fasting” (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a “pretty wingy thingy”. Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed’s “fast, hunger-driven” hallucinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the “two-minute” cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy.

  • eezmamata

    I’m all for reasserting the idea that religious interference in civil law is not only unconstitutional, it is anti-constitutional.This sets an excellent precedence.Start with the muslims, next, the christians. All those idiots who claim we are a nation of christian laws … you’re next.

  • Secular

    I’m all for reasserting the idea that religious interference in civil law is not only unconstitutional, it is anti-constitutional.This sets an excellent precedence.Start with the muslims, next, the christians. All those idiots who claim we are a nation of christian laws … you’re next.Posted by: eezmamata | March 10, 2011 9:35 AM EEZ, the whole anti-sharia movement is much more sinister than meets the eye. The goal is to inject Mosaic law into civil & criminal laws. This is one way of diluting the secular law. They will first enumerate a few religious laws as forbidden. Then they will claim that since Mosaic law has not been forbidden explicitly, like the others then they will claim that Mosaic law as the de-facto law. Then we have the bigots like Scalia, Thomas, Roberts & Alito on SCOTUS, who will discern the original intent that Mosaic law is indeed de facto law. Their reasoning will be like this – the legislators specifically intended to ban certain religious laws they objected to. Since they did not specifically object to Mosaic law, their intention is clearly not to ban Mosaic law.To put in few words I am loathe these pond scum. Another thing to the practitioners of Sharia, don’t tell us how great it is or that it is quite benign. It is as barbaric as code of Hamurabi, or Manu. The loathsome about it is that it does not even incorporate 37 centuries of human zeitgeist from the times of Hamurabi. It is that disgusting.