*sigh* Why must I be so naive as to think that I could actually find something positive being written about Muslims and Islam? That is to say, something positive being written by people who are not Muslim? It’s as though the bigots are the only ones blogging these days. Sad, really, because I know of so many non-Muslims who do not share their vitriolic views.
Today, I decided that I would try to find some blogs out there that are being written or maintained by like-minded individuals. It was really nothing more than an attempt to perhaps expand my social circle beyond the princess and prince (also known as the troll and gnome in certain circles. heheh). You know, to be able to have a discussion on something a bit more intellectual than inquiring about the contents of diapers.
As many may be aware, an Afghani Canadian man yesterday was convicted of killing his three daughters and one of his wives (he apparently had two wives, although I do not know if he was actively living with both, or what the details were. He may have only technically had two wives, failing to divorce one before marrying the other). It has been called an “honor killing,” which seems to be the term of choice any time a Muslim happens to kill a family member (it’s simply called “murder” or “homicide” when a non-Muslim kills their family). As expected, it has caused an Internet backlash by those who already hate Muslims, and anyone they deem as “foreign” (they forget that they are descendants of immigrants, unless they happen to be of 100% indigenous blood). I just read a blog which said that the man, (and any other immigrant convicted of a crime) needed to be “sent back to their countries which support Shariah.” You know, as if this (ridiculous) notion of “honor killing” is somehow “Shariah compliant.”
I feel the need to attempt to clarify just what, exactly, is Shariah. There seems to be a great deal of confusion surrounding it, and particular (extreme right wing) political groups are feeding this confusion and using it to garner approval (and votes, of course). To simply define shariah (according to Islamicity.com), it is “the revealed and the canonical laws of the religion of Islam.” Shariah is very complex, and in-depth. It is basically the guidelines by which Muslims try to live their lives. Sharia applies to money-lending and borrowing (prohibiting the collecting or paying of interest), marriage, divorce, burial, etc.
There is a common misconception that shariah is punishment. Yes, shariah does spell out penalties for crimes (the most commonly known and exploited one by bigots being the stoning of married adulterers), but it goes beyond that. Saying that shariah is only about punishment is like saying the American Judiciary system and law codes have the singular role of sentencing Americans. It would be ignoring and denying the fact that there are many laws with the purpose of protecting people. Were it not for these laws, people would run completely out of control (yes, I do believe this). Laws serve as codes of morals and ethics. Without laws (either secular or religious), what would keep people from harming people? What would keep people from living lives of utter debauchery and thievery?
Another misconception (by both non-Muslims and Muslims) is that shariah is somehow at odds with secular laws and governance. This could not be further from the truth, since one of the laws of shariah is actually that the law of the land must be obeyed. Regardless of the religious views (or lack thereof) that the ruling government may (or may not) have, a Muslim cannot ignore or disregard the laws passed by said government (unless, of course, the government is being oppressive. In this case, it is the Muslim’s duty to stand up and speak out. The so-called “Arab Spring” is a living example of standing against one’s oppressive government regime, in hopes of creating a better government). A Muslim must be law-abiding, and cannot say that certain laws do not apply to him or her. If they are living in a country, they have to follow the laws of said country. There is no room for debate or differing opinions. If a Muslim feels that the laws are corrupted, and there is nothing that they can do to change those laws, then they are obligated to leave that country.
Saying that shariah is against American values (another misconception) is nothing more than a reflection of the ignorance that many have in regards to the values of both Islam and America. There is nothing in shariah that goes against American values or laws. Shariah upholds all that is good about America. Shariah does not condone murder, or rape, or torture. Shariah demands that Muslims live their lives in accordance with the teachings of their religion (Islam).
Sharia courts are made up of Muslim scholars with training in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). A parallel can be found in the Talmudic courts that many Jews consult in matters both public and private. These courts are presided over by rabbis who have trained extensively in the laws of the Talmud (the Jewish code of laws), and use their knowledge and understanding to give rulings. Just as Talmudic courts do not have the intention of going against the laws of the country, neither do shariah courts. Muslims and Jews consult their respective legal scholars when they feel that a law is not currently in the books that fits their (unique) situation. Also, most matters that are consulted are of such a deeply religious nature, that due to the separation of church and state (which is a blessing, by the way!), the guidance or rulings that they are seeking, simply cannot be found in regular (secular) courts.
Shariah is not a threat to secular freedom. It is not trying to replace secular governments, nor is it a form of rebellion.
Muslims who firmly believe in the teachings of the Quran, and want to follow shariah, will actually believe that secular governments should be preserved. Freedom of all religions is a must. As the Quran says, “there is no compulsion in religion.” This means that you cannot force a person to believe something. It is up to them. That is very much in keeping with the true spirit of secularism (which is not meant to be anti-religion, rather, it should be all-inclusive).
Oh, and for the record, there is never any “honor” in killing.