‘Sharia’ Doesn’t Mean What You Probably Think It Does, America

Originally published in the Good Men Project

Sharia, like many Arabic words in a post-9/11 world, is a touchy subject. Enraged thoughts are common from the mere utterance of these words.  This leads to unsubstantiated opinions mixing in with facts. This is evident in Dom’s piece “If Liberals knew these 5 Sharia laws, they’d be ‘Islamophobic’ too”. A writer can, with a few strokes of her pen, easily spread incorrect information. Correcting that information takes more work as it involves citing to references and providing analysis. Two books published this year can do what this short piece cannot: thoroughly answer each allegation against Islam.  Readers should pick up “EXTREMIST: A Response to Geert Wilders & Terrorists Everywhere” by Qasim Rashid and “Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions” by Harris Zafar. To begin, Sharia is routinely defined as “Islamic law”. It’s more than a law. It’s a way to live one’s life. This is why sharia’s literal definition is “the path to life-giving water”. Sharia is formed by the Quran, prophet Muhammad’s practices (sunnah), his words (ahadith), and scholarly opinions (ijma). It covers ritual worship, transactions and contracts, behavior, beliefs, and punishment. If sunnah, ahadith, and/or ijma go against the Quran, then they are invalid. Unfortunately, in today’s world, Muslims do things that are contrary to Quranic teachings, which in turn leads to people having inaccurate views on Islam. Five major misconceptions, as presented by Dom, are addressed here. Freedom of Speech The Quran mentions blasphemy several times. In each instance, no worldly punishment is prescribed. The Quran says, “And the servants of the Gracious God are those who walk on the earth in a dignified manner, and when the ignorant address them, they say, ‘Peace!’”​ (25:64). This shows that blasphemy is not punishable. After all, Muhammad was routinely insulted throughout his life.  Yet, he neither punished his oppressors nor sought vengeance later. Thus, today’s blasphemy laws have no place in Islam. Freedom of Religion Apostasy is when one leaves their faith. In EXTREMIST, Rashid writes, “[T]he Qur’an repeatedly states that Muslims, including Prophet Muhammad, can only admonish non-Muslims regarding religious matters.  The Qur’an addresses disbelief more than 150 times, yet no human being is ever given authority to punish the disbeliever.” Indeed, the Quran seals the deal by declaring, “There is no compulsion in religion”. (2:256). Matters of belief only have standing in God’s jurisdiction.  (Quran, 4:138). Dhimmi means “person under pact of protection”.  These are non-Muslims living in a Muslim state.  Dhimmis are exempt from military service and from paying the Islamic tax on unused wealth (zakat).  They also have a choice of legal system: their own courts or Islamic courts. Muhammad was adamant in protecting dhimmis and honoring their covenants. LGBT rights Islam defines marriage as between men and women and forbids extra-marital sex. Yes, homosexuality is prohibited in Islam. However, no punishment is prescribed for homosexuals. As a result, Muslims killing homosexuals is unIslamic. Women’s Rights Islam was the first religion to grant women equal standing with men before God. Through Islam, women gained the rights to inherit, consent to marriage, divorce, own property, and vote. In Islam, domestic violence is not allowed. Thus, a religion that prohibits domestic violence also prohibits the ultimate domestic violence: murdering one’s spouse i.e. honor killings. Honor killings are ​barbaric cultural practices that sadly exist in all cultures. For example, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in America, and 1,000 women are killed annually by their husbands or boyfriends. Murder is murder — and only ignorant people try to change it by calling it “honor killing.” There’s no honor in killing women and girls and the Qur’an 81:9-10 specifically condemns this barbaric practice. ​ Muslims cannot have sex slaves. The verse Dom alludes to is about who Muslims can marry. (Quran 4:24). This verse simply permits Muslims to marry their servants with mutual consent. This is a revolutionary notion as it shows that Muslims are equal and a master can marry his or her servant. The horrific crime of rape does not require four witnesses and the victim is not to be punished. The four witnesses Dom mentions are required when alleging a person committed adultery. (Quran 24:4). If a person is convicted of adultery, then he/she is flogged, not killed. (Quran 24:2). It is only the Bible, not the Qur’an, that prescribes the death penalty for adultery. ​The death penalty for adultery is unIslamic and finds no validation in the Qur’an.​ Child Marriage In Islam, both parties must consent to the marriage. The popular notion that Muhammad married Aisha while she was a child is false. Here is a detailed repudiation of this myth.​ Historically, Aisha’s parents had all their children before 610 CE (pre-Islamic period). Aisha married Muhammad one year after the migration from Mecca to Medina, which was 624 CE. So, even if Aisha was born in 609 CE, she was around 14-15 years old at the time of marriage. ​This was a marriageable age centuries ago and remains a legal age today in many American ​states and countries. ​Some of today’s sharia courts do a great disservice to Islam.  With continued dialogue and education, we can wipe away the misinformation they have spread. ​Thus, I invite Dom to join us in our campaign for tolerance and understanding, and to condemn the narratives of extremists who practice such barbaric teachings. As the facts and Qur’an demonstrate, the barbaric teachings Dom discusses have nothing to do with Islam.​ – See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/sharia-doesnt-mean-probably-think-america-hesaid/#sthash.sdThXBpF.dpuf

About the author

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Salaam Bhatti

Salaam is an attorney in New York. He hosts a weekly radio show (Fridays at 7 PM) called "The Real Revolution" on www.wlie540am.com which discusses religion in today's society. He lectures on Islam in Long Island. Salaam serves as the National Faith Outreach Director for MKA USA, the leading Muslim Youth organization in America. He enjoys performing stand-up comedy and spending time with his wife.

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