Source: Huffington Post
Asking American Muslims to swear off Sharia law is a violation of religious liberty.
By Carol Kuruvilla; Associate Religion Editor
Following Thursday’s tragic attack that killed more than 80 people in Nice, France, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich issued a call for American Muslims to be “tested” and deported if they “believe in Sharia” law.
“Western civilization is in a war,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity hours after the attack. “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization.”
In a Facebook Live segment on Friday, Gingrich clarified his remarks, criticizing the media for “trying to grossly exaggerate” what he said on Fox.
“If you are a practicing Muslim and you believe deeply in your faith, but you’re also loyal to the United States and you believe in the Constitution, you should have your rights totally completely protected within the Constitution.”
He added that his comments weren’t “about targeting a particular religion,” but about “looking for certain characteristics that we have learned painfully time after time involve killing people.”
However, Gingrich wasn’t clear about how exactly he plans to look for those “characteristics.” And he didn’t walk back on his desire to use belief in Sharia as a test of American Muslims’ loyalty to their country.
The truth is, Gingrich would be hard pressed to find an American Muslim who isn’t influenced by Sharia in one way or another. That’s because Sharia law is an essential guide to Islamic life that encompasses a whole range of behaviors and faith practices ― from praying five times daily to abstaining from pork and alcohol.
HuffPost Religion put together this brief explainer for Gingrich and for others who think discriminating against an entire religious tradition will make America great again.
Sharia is primarily about a personal relationship with God.
Sharia is an Arabic word that means a path to be followed, commonly a path that leads to water. This image of a road leading to the sustenance needed for life is a powerful one. Faraz Rabbani, an Islamic scholar, explained to the BBC: “The linguistic meaning of Sharia reverberates in its technical usage: just as water is vital to human life, so the clarity and uprightness of Sharia is the means of life for souls and minds.”
Sharia is drawn from two main sources ― the Quran, Islam’s holy book, and the Sunnah, or the example set by the Prophet Muhammad. It encompasses both a personal moral code and a general religious law that can influence the legal systems of Muslim-majority countries. It’s also a living body of law ― it developed over the centuries and is still being examined with fresh eyes by Muslim scholars and believers today.
Many religions have legal codes that offer ethical and moral guidelines for practitioners of the faith ― from the canon law of the Catholic Church to Jewish religious rules and practices, called Halakhah (which, like Sharia, also means “the path that one walks.”) And just as opinions about these laws vary greatly within each of these traditions, Muslims around the world fall on a vast spectrum when it comes to how to interpret Sharia.
Asking a Muslim to stop believing in Sharia is like asking her to stop practicing her religion. It is a blatant attack on religious liberty.
Much like Jewish Halakhah, which can influence everything from a person’s diet to the clothes they wear, Sharia is a set of laws that covers all aspects of a Muslim’s life, imbuing even mundane acts with a touch of divine significance.
According to the American Muslim scholar Imam Suhaib Webb, there are five main things that Sharia law aims to preserve: Life, learning, family, property, and honor. From these main goals come laws about things like marriage, eating, worship, financial transactions, and many other essential aspects of living in a community.