By Saima Sheikh
Recently, Texas legislature heard two House bills, HB 562 and HB 670. HB 562 deals with family code and prohibits foreign laws relating to marriage, divorce & child custody issues from entering U.S. courts. HB 670 is “Relating to the application of foreign laws and foreign forum selection in this state” and will ensure that judges do not base their decisions on foreign laws. Why are our legislatures fearful of foreign laws taking over American courts? I don’t think that the U.S. Constitution allows judges to base their decisions on foreign laws. The U.S. courts are bound to uphold only the U.S. Constitution. Are these unnecessary laws being passed due to the fear of Shariah taking over the U.S. which is spread widely by rising Islamaphobia and fear mongering? Yes!
Do these legislatures know what Shariah is? It literally means “A path to life giving water.” It has the same meaning as the word Yara (root of the Hebrew word Torah), which means “to instruct,” or “to teach.” Torah itself is not only a “law,” but it is God’s “teaching” and “instruction.” The same is true of the Muslim Holy Book, Quran. It lays down the law and commandments, codes for their social and moral behavior, and contains a comprehensive religious philosophy. Basically, the Torah and the Quran are similar to each other.
Islam is a religion not a foreign law or power. Why are our legislatures scared of it? Shariah is the Islamic code that guides everyday Muslim beliefs and actions. They are codes for marriage, prayers, funerals, etc. They are similar to the daily religious laws and codes for Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and adherents of other religions.
Shariah is not a separate book. It is based on the Holy Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. Shariah teaches me freedom of conscience and religion. Shariah teaches pluralism and respect for others beliefs. The Holy Quran says, “There is no coercion in religion” (2: 257) Quran doesn’t mention any specific type of government or that Muslims have to implement Shariah if they are in power. Quran specifically commands that any type of government should be based on justice, “Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency and manifest evil and transgression. He admonishes you that you may take heed.” (16:91).
But this is not what the so-called Islamic countries are doing today. Countries that claim to follow Shariah have used it as an excuse to gain power and sanction religious extremism. No country in the world has implemented a system of government that truly follows Islamic Shariah. Extremist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS or ISIL invoke Shariah to justify the killing of the innocent and vulnerable people. They abandon the Quranic principles of governance in favor of discriminate and grossly improper applications of Islamic law.
As a Muslim who believes in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and member of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I am instructed to live as a loyal citizen in the country where I reside and am required to obey the law of the land. The Holy Quran says, “O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority among you.” (4:60) It doesn’t says that Muslims are supposed to be loyal to Muslim governments only. This is further reiterated by Prophet Muhammad, “Love of one’s country of residence is part of faith.” The law of the land has predominance over all other laws which in this instance is the United States Constitution.
Therefore, Shariah is nothing to be scared of. Every religion has some sort of laws and codes that its adherents follow. The same is true for Islam as well.
Follow Saima on twitter at @SaimaGSheikh