In the past couple of years, a group of conservative pundits, analysts and bloggers have identified Sharia, or Islamic religious law, as a growing threat to the United States. These pundits and analysts argue that the steady adoption of Sharia’s tenets is a strategy extremists are using to transform the United States into an Islamic state.
A number of state and national politicians have adopted this interpretation and 13 states are now considering the adoption of legislation forbidding Sharia. A bill in the Tennessee State Senate, for example, would make adherence to Sharia punishable by 15 years in jail. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has called for “a federal law that says Sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States.”
Unfortunately, overnight people have become “experts” on Sharia and have begun writing policy papers, books, lobbying, legislating and attacking Sharia at all levels. There are even several groups that have begun “No Sharia” campaigns.
Many of these campaigns are being led by individuals and organizations that are lead by racists and have been categorized as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADL and other watch dog groups. For example, David Yerushalmi, a Brooklyn based lawyer, whose story was documented in The New York Times recently, started the Society of Americans of National Existence, teaming with a cadre of conservative public policy leaders. This organization is comprised of former military and intelligence officials who have written reports and drafted anti-Sharia legislation.
ACT for America founded by Bridgette Gabriel joined this campaign effectively becoming a force multiplier. ACT spent $60,000 on robo-calls to promote an Oklahoma ban on Sharia law initiative. The messages were recorded by former CIA Director James Woolsey. Another leader Pamella Gellar who helped found the Stop Islamization of America and Robert Spencer head of Jiahd Watch have both been labeled hate groups by the SPLC. Anders Behring Breivik, the terrorist who slaughtered 77 people in Norway, says he was heavily influenced by both Geller and Spencer.
These individual organizations are well known for their Islamophobic rhetoric. The tangible effect of this movement should be carefully noted by Islamic activist groups such as ICNA. It is to create an alarmist message of Islam, particularly aimed at keeping Muslims on the fringes rather than main stream of American Society.
The main purpose behind their agenda is to generate Islamophobia and the perception that Islam and Muslims shouldn’t be part of the American Society.
But what is quite amazing is that the vast majorities who argue against Sharia know very little or nothing of what it is, its definition, its scope or even the processes of implementation.
Most of the arguments presented are erroneous. They are based on extreme type of scripturalism where one takes verses from a sacred text out of context and argues that people will behave according to that text, whereas people of sound faith do not behave like that. If this were true for Muslims it would of course be true for many of the established religions where one could a religious text or verse out of context.