Do Blasphemy Laws Really Protect the Best Interests of Muslims?

June 8, 2008

We have witnessed a series of Muslim outrages over Westerners’ remarks or art about Islam. To name a few, there’s the movie Submission, the Danish Mohammed cartoons, the Pope’s quotation of Pope Benedict XVI, and recently, the movie Fitna. These outrages are always followed by (or even, as in the case of Fitna, preceded by) calls for self-censorship and/or hate speech laws.

Self-censorship, typically called ”showing respect for religion” or “responsible free speech”, in this case basically comes down to a voluntary internalization of Islamic blasphemy laws. Who decides what kind of speech regarding Islam is “respectful” or “responsible”? Why, that would be Muslims.

Hate speech legislation, or laws against “defamation of religion”, basically comes down to a government’s official adoption of Islamic blasphemy laws. Who decides what speech regarding Islam is “hateful” or “defamatory”? Why, that would again be Muslims.

It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could think Muslims should determine what non-Muslims can and can’t say about Islam, any more than Christians, Republicans, Democrats, Communists, or any other group of people should decide what non-members can and can’t say about their ideology. This notion is indefensible on its face, and to even consider going down that road is to take the fist step toward a theocracy.

Muslims don’t get the notion of what constitutes an outrage out of thin air, but from centuries-long traditions of dhimmi laws, subjugating non-Muslims under Islamic rule. Just one small part of this subjugation is controlling non-Muslims’ speech. Andrew Bostom notes, following Muslims’ outrage over the Pope quoting Pope Benedict XVI:

The ultimate source of the convulsive reaction to the Pope’s speech is the Islamic belief that spiritually and physically debauched infidels have no right to express opinions—least of all negative opinions—regarding Islam’s sacred text, the Koran, the Muslim prophet, Muhammad (Ecce Homo Arabicus), or the sacred Islamic Law (Shari’a), which includes the permanent institution of jihad war.

Such deep-seated intolerance has always predominated under Muslim rule….

Blasphemy laws and their first cousins, heresy laws, are currently used to persecute religious minorities including Christians, Hindus, and Bahais. Accusations of blasphemy can also provide cover for the murder of non-Muslims in Muslim countries.

Many observers have commented about the dangers to non-Muslims of restricting our speech concerning Islam in the West.

Islamic Blasphemy Laws Are Bad for Non-Muslims. But Are They Good for Muslims?

It may seem as though blasphemy laws are bad for non-Muslims, but good for Muslims. However, the question is: Which Muslims? Unorthodox Muslims are among the primary victims of blasphemy laws. For example, in Muslim countries, the peaceful Ahmadiyya sect is typically deemed heretical and is stifled, even in a “moderate” country like Indonesia. Other “heretical’ sects are persecuted elsewhere in the Muslim world, such as the Alevis in “secular” Turkey. Then there are the well-known conflicts between the Sunnis and Shias, much of which is kept alive through charges of blasphemy. Pretty much any Muslim sect can be considered heretical by other Muslim sects.

In addition to heretical sects, individual Muslims are punished for blasphemy. Arifur Rahman, a 20-year-old cartoonist in Bangladesh, was recently sentenced to six months amid public demonstrations calling for his death. He wrote a cartoon making fun of a local custom involving the name “Mohammed”. Parwiz Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old Afghan student journalist, has faced the death penalty for downloading and distributing articles that were said to question some tenets of Islam. (So far as I know, he is still in prison pending final appeals.) Street thugs sometimes mete out punishment vigilante-style: Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian novelist, was stabbed in the neck by a Muslim who was angry at his portrayal of God. Jawaad Faizi, a Pakistani journalist in Canada, was beaten for criticizing an Islamic organization. Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed Taha was kidnapped and killed in Sudan for publishing an article which he personally disagreed with, questioning the ancestral lineage of Mohammed. These are just a few examples.

Muslims who choose to leave their religion, even in the West, had better keep quiet about their thoughts on Islam. Just ask Salman Rushdie.

Muslim and ex-Muslim reformers are often hurt by blasphemy laws and Muslim vigilanteism. Rashad Khalifa in Tucson, Arizona, founder of the “Submitters” sect, was declared to be an apostate due to his blasphemous ideas and assassinated. Farzana Hassan Shahid, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress who receives death threats from other Muslims for her views, explained: “There is an underlying fear all the time…that uneasy feeling is part of my daily life. I have been declared an apostate twice, for opposing the Sharia [Islamic law]….” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the well-known Somali ex-Muslim, wrote “…the reformists are shunned by their families and communities and live under the constant fear of assassination.”

Of course, blasphemy laws and fear of vigilante punishment also cause immeasurable harm to all the unorthodox Muslims we don’t know about because they dare not speak or publish their views freely.

Islamic blasphemy rules for non-Muslims are somewhat different from those for Muslims, because non-Muslims endure the added element of dhimmi subjugation, as noted above. Certain things could be considered blasphemous for non-Muslims to say, but not for Muslims to say. Nevertheless, all Islamic blasphemy laws share a common assumption: the Islamic orthodoxy gets to regulate what people can and can’t say about Islam. Any time the West gives any credence to this assumption, we strengthen and legitimize it.

So even if, in a fit of madness, we non-Muslims cared nothing about our own interests and only about the interests of Muslims, we would still need to decide which Muslims’ interests would be important to uphold. It would be absurd to throw the peaceful Ahmadis and reformers under the bus, to “respect” the religious thought police who would persecute them. Given the harm caused to unorthodox Muslims by blasphemy laws, we should think twice before adopting them ourselves. We may not be able to do a lot for the Ahmadiyya sect in Asia or for young cartoonists like Rahman, but at least we can set a good example by protecting freedom of expression in the West. If we do not protect it here, freedom of expression may well disappear from the world.


What is a “real Muslim”?

January 4, 2008

Who is excluded from any group helps define who is included. We can gain an insight into the orthodox meaning of a “Muslim” by taking a look at what defines a person who has left Islam, according to Islamic Law (Sharia). This is also essential for understanding the basics of Islamo-Fascism. There are Muslims who do not subscribe to the orthodox view; but substantial numbers, probably more than half of Muslims worldwide, do. I’m defining orthodox as believing the Quran was written word-for-word and letter-by-letter by Allah; believing Mohammed was a superior human worthy of emulating; believing in the authenticated Hadith (traditions) and the Sira (early biographies); and believing in the ijma (consensus) of mujtahedin (great scholars) of Sharia. Many Muslims who are orthodox by that definition are unaware of the full implications of accepting that list of doctrines.

My source text for this article is from Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, 1994 Revised Edition. This manual represents the Shafi’i school (and it’s worth noting that all four schools agree on 75% of their rulings, according to the introduction to Reliance of the Traveller). Dr. Taha Jabir al-‘Alwani, President of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and President of the Fiqh Council of North America, writes “There is no doubt that this translation is a valuable and important work, whether as a textbook for teaching Islamic jurisprudence to English-speakers, or as a legal reference for use by scholars, educated laymen, and students in this language….In view of the utility of this eminent work of Islamic jurisprudence and its rank among well known standard Shafi’i legal texts, its translation into English is regarded as a useful, auspicious step….” The book is certified by the prestigious al-Azhar University, whose certification states: “…we certify that the above-mentioned translation corresponds to the Arabic original and conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community.”

In addition, the editors had the option to omit anything they felt was not pertinent information for our times. The introduction states that “rulings about matters now rare or nonexistent have been left untranslated unless interesting for some other reason.” For example, rulings on slavery have been left untranslated (even though slavery and near-slavery are still practiced in parts of the Muslim world.) Additionally, Muslim reviewers of the book on Amazon.com generally find the book to be of practical use.

Reliance of the Traveller lists 20 “Acts that entail leaving Islam” (pgs. 596-598), while mentioning that “There are others, for the subject is nearly limitless.” I’ll be discussing five of these 20 acts:

  • Act that entails leaving Islam: “(7) to deny any verse of the Koran or anything which by scholarly consensus…belongs to it, or to add a verse that does not belong to it….”

So, Islamic Law mandates acceptance of every verse of the Quran. Anyone who denies “any verse” is an apostate. Picking and choosing the desirable verses is not good enough. Here is a small sampling of the verses which a Muslim is not allowed to deny, according to Sharia [bracketed words added by me for clarity]:

“Fighting is enjoined on you, and is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.” (2:216)

“Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” (4:34)

“Say: O followers of the Book! do you find fault with us (for aught) except that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before, and that most of you are transgressors? Say: Shall I inform you of (him who is) worse than this in retribution from Allah? (Worse is he) whom Allah has cursed and brought His wrath upon, and of whom He made apes and swine, and he who served the Shaitan; these are worse in place and more erring from the straight path.” (5:59-60)

“So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (9:5)

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.” (9:29)

“Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Taurat and the Injeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement.” (9:111)

“Indeed, there is for you a good example in Ibrahim and those with him when they said to their people: Surely we are clear of you and of what you serve besides Allah; we declare ourselves to be clear of you, and enmity and hatred have appeared between us and you forever until you believe in Allah alone– but not [a good example] in what Ibrahim said to his father: I would certainly ask forgiveness for you, and I do not control for you aught from Allah– Our Lord! on Thee do we rely, and to Thee do we turn, and to Thee is the eventual coming.” (60:4)

If you believe these verses could mean something drastically different from what they appear to mean, read here to find out how mainstream Muslim commentators have interpreted them.

  • Act that entails leaving Islam: “(14) to deny the obligatory character of something which by the consensus of Muslims (ijma…) is part of Islam, when it is well known as such, like the prayer (salat) or even one rak’a from one of the five obligatory prayers, if there is no excuse….”

This manual defines ijma: “Scholarly consensus (ijma’) is the agreement of all the mujtahids…of the Muslims existing at one particular period after the Prophet’s death…about a particular ruling regarding a matter or event….[T]he ruling agreed upon is an authoritative part of Sacred Law that is obligatory to obey and not lawful to disobey. Nor can mujtahids of a succeeding era make the thing an object of new ijtihad [expert legal opinion], because the ruling on it, verified by scholarly consensus, is an absolute legal ruling which does not admit of being contravened or annulled.” (pgs. 23-24) There are also specific conditions for ijma to be reached: that a number of mujtahids live concurrently, and that they all without exception agree on a conclusion which each expresses individually and explicitly.

So, it would seem that according to this manual, in order to be a Muslim, a person must support the ijma of mujtahedin. Excerpts from Islamic manuals indicate that this ijma includes: jihad, death penalty for apostates, lower-class (dhimmi) status for non-Muslims in a Muslim state, and more. To deny any one of these, according to this manual, would constitute apostasy. It is understandable that reform efforts within Islam have not succeeded in the past 1000 years.

  • Act that entails leaving Islam: “(17) to believe that things in themselves or by their own nature have any causal influence independent of the will of Allah….”

I have included this one to illustrate why the Islamic world has been in stagnation for about a millennium. While the Christian world embraced scientific principles and strove to discover natural laws, the Islamic world took the position that the concept of natural laws was blasphemous, because it meant that those natural laws ruled the universe rather than Allah. Recently, in a quick backpedal, Muslim apologists have been “discovering” that all of modern science is miraculously in the Quran, without providing any explanation for why Muslims are now learning science from non-Muslims. Despite the backpedalling on matters of science, Islam has somehow also retained the belief that Allah is micro-managing the universe, as shown by the frequent use of “Insha’Allah” (if Allah wills it). Nothing happens without Allah’s will.

  • Act that entails leaving Islam:“(20) … to deny that Allah intended the Prophet’s message…to be the religion followed by the entire world….”

Thus, to accept other religions or non-religion as equal to Islam is to be an apostate.

And what happens to apostates? According to this same manual, “There is no indemnity for killing an apostate (…or any expiation, since it is killing someone who deserves to die).” (pg. 596) In fact, there is an Islamic practice of “takfir” which means declaring a Muslim to be an apostate. This is often used by Jihadists as an excuse to kill Muslims. It’s against Islamic Law for a Muslim to kill another Muslim, but if the intended victim is declared an apostate, suddenly it’s legal. This is what happened to Rashad Khalifa in Tucson, Arizona, who was declared to be an apostate and assassinated.

However, before rushing off to pronounce takfir on someone, it would be good to also be aware of another way to become an apostate:

  • Act that entails leaving Islam: “(13) to describe a Muslim or someone who wants to become a Muslim in terms of unbelief (kufr)….”

So, if Muslim A declares Muslim B to be a disbeliever, but Muslim B is in fact a believer, then Muslim A has, presto chango, made himself an unbeliever.

Given the importance of being correct when pronouncing takfir, a Muslim’s willingness to do so is a good indication of his confidence in his position. Pronouncing takfir is also a way of marking the “line in the sand” between who is a Muslim and who is not. For this reason, it is not a good sign that currently, the most noticeable group who uses takfir to define Islam is the Islamists.

What would let us know the Muslim world no longer advocated fascist doctrines?

One indication that Islam has been successfully reformed and lost its fascist edge would be if and when the following acts would cause a person to be declared an apostate by all Muslim religious authorities, and all Muslim organizations would declare the following acts to be “un-Islamic”:

  • to express the belief that violent Jihad can ever, under any circumstances, be justified;
  • to express the belief that there should be any penalty whatsoever for apostates, heretics, or critics of Islam;
  • to express the belief that non-Muslims or women should be treated differently from Muslim men under the law;
  • to express the belief that every verse of the Quran (in its traditionally accepted interpretations) must be believed and taken literally as the word of Allah;
  • to express the belief that Mohammed’s actions, as recorded in the Sira and Sunnah, are to be emulated;
  • to express the belief that Islamic law should rule any land.

As I’ve never heard of any one of these acts causing a fatwa of takfir by any prominent group of clerics, I’m not expecting this transformation to happen this week, and perhaps not ever.


Resources for Further Study of Sharia, Islam and Jihad

December 18, 2007

If you want to look further into Sharia, as well as the closely related topics of Islam and Jihad, here are some recommendations.

Ex-Muslim Sites Opposed to Sharia

First, here’s a general comment about ex-Muslim sites. As we’ve discussed, many Muslims believe ex-Muslims should be killed. For this and other reasons, many ex-Muslims are very angry at Islam. They also are among those who understand Islam the best, from the inside. These sites are a tremendous resource, but be prepared for strong language.

Faith Freedom. This is among the best-known of the apostate sites, run by the famous Ali Sina. It includes articles, a lively forum, one-on-one debates, and more.

Islam Watch. This site also includes a great deal of information, including a whole section of online books.

Apostates of Islam. This site comes from a humanist perspective.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. This is a political activist group with specific human-rights goals, listed on their Manifesto. These types of organizations are springing up all over Europe. We hope they reach their goals, and we also hope the United States prevents some of the issues they are having to address in Europe.

Wafa Sultan famously said on Al Jazeera TV that the world is not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism. She is interviewed here.

Muslim Sites Opposed to Sharia

Irshad Manji. Author of the book, The Problem With Islam Today, Irshad Manji is calling for Muslims to open the gates of ijtihad.

Muslims Against Sharia. This group is truly looking their religion square in the eye and is willing to do whatever it takes to remove the objectionable portions, even if it means removing a few hundred verses of the Quran.

19.org. This site was founded by Edip Yuksel, a former student of Dr. Rashad Khalifa, who founded the Submitters sect and discovered a preponderance of the number 19 in the Quran. Khalifa was assassinated by a Muslim for apostasy and heresy.

American Islamic Forum for Democracy. This is a membership organization that makes a stand against Sharia in the United States. Among their stated goals and beliefs, they recognize no clergy in Islam.

Muslim Canadian Congress. This is a membership organization committed to a secular Canada.

Non-Muslim Sites Opposed to Sharia

Answering Islam. This is a Christian site with a wealth of information, including an A-Z index on Islam.

Jihad Watch. This website is directed by Robert Spencer, expert on Islam and Jihad and author of numerous well-documented books on those subjects. This site will keep you up to date regarding Jihad worldwide.

Dhimmi Watch. Another site directed by Robert Spencer, this one focuses on the creeping condition of “dhimmitude”, in which non-Muslims take on a subservient, second-class role relative to Muslims.

Blogging the Quran. This is Robert Spencer’s ongoing blog which covers the mainstream Muslim commentators and their interpretations of the Quran. If you have any interest in studying the Quran, this is a great tool, because you will find out what authoritative Muslims have said on the subject. Blogging the Quran is hosted by HotAir.com.

Mapping Sharia Project. This is a group who are gathering intelligence about the 4500 Islamic Centers across the United States. They intend to provide information to law enforcement and the public regarding which Islamic centers promote Sharia, and therefore Jihad. Although I put this in the non-Muslim section, their group includes Muslims as well.

Middle East Forum. This site is directed by Daniel Pipes, a Middle East specialist who promotes US interests in the Middle East. The Middle East Forum has a special section called “Islamist Watch”, which focuses on “Lawful Islamism”.

Sons of Apes and Pigs. The name of this site refers to the Quran’s description of Allah transforming a group of Jews into apes and pigs (2:65, 5:60, 7:166). To this day, some Muslims believe that Jews and/or Christians are the sons of apes and pigs. This site was established by Egyptian Coptic Christians, who know about dhimmitude first-hand.

Political Islam is specifically focused on the dangers of Sharia and Jihad. Their unique approach is to study the foundational Islamic texts using a statistical analysis. In addition to a series of articles, they also have published a number of books explaining Islam from their viewpoint.

The Religion of Peace offers news and information, and has a special feature of a running count of deadly Islamic terror attacks since 9/11. Last I checked, it was up over 10,000.

Islamist Watch has a fantastic resource of quotes from Islamists, as well as a nice introduction to what an Islamist is.

Dhimmitude.org offers a great selection of articles on the subject of non-Muslims subjugated under Muslim rule and forced to live as a persecuted underclass. This is what will happen to us all if the Islamists have their way. Site edited by Bat Ye’or, renowned researcher into the subject of dhimmitude.

Dhimmi.com is the site for a civil rights group, the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights. Members include, primarily, various religious minorities that suffer as dhimmis under Sharia law.

Andrew Bostom has written numerous books and articles about Islam. His blog is very informative, as well.

Deafening Silence is a liberal blog against Islamo-Fascism! I’m thrilled to find one. I have maintained that the threat of Islamo-Fascism is too important to be a wedge issue between liberals and conservatives. I believe that many, if not most, everyday liberals would be appalled to know the extent to which liberal leadership in academia, the media, and politics have already acquiesced to the Islamist agenda.

The Center for Vigilant Freedom is an international citizens’ network with over 1000 members who are working to defeat Jihad and Sharia and defend the West. They are associated with The 910 Group, a group of anti-Islamo-Fascism bloggers including Gates of Vienna.

Sites with No Clear Religious Identity Opposed to Sharia:

Secular Islam. I have been unable to confirm who is running this site, but I believe it’s a group of humanists. They promoted a Secular Islam Summit with a mix of ex-Muslim and Muslim speakers. This Summit met in St. Petersburg in 2007 and produced a manifesto, The St. Petersburg Declaration, which affirms specific secular ideals.

These sites can keep you up late for the foreseeable future, and there are more! [Last updated 02/14/08; I have moved this material to the “Resources” page accessible from the top menu, so I will no longer be updating it here.]


What About A Peaceful Jihad?

December 9, 2007

There are Muslims who wish to accomplish the goals of Islamic Jihad peacefully. Would this be an acceptable alternative to violent Jihad? We cannot answer this without a thorough understanding of the goals of Jihad.

What Are The Goals of Jihad?

The global Jihad movement takes on a number of different forms in different local environments, but there is one overriding goal of Jihad: to remove all un-Islamic regimes from power and install Islamic government, ultimately to be united under a global Islamic Caliphate. Technically, it is against Islamic law for offensive war to occur against non-Muslims without the authority of the Caliphate; however, the Jihadists define “defensive war” loosely enough that it’s kind of a moot point. Any grievance can justify defense, and who doesn’t have a grievance? The Jihad movement takes advantage of local grievances; they “think globally and act locally”. There is a great deal of evidence that this is true. [1]

What is an Islamic Caliphate?

The Caliphate would be the Islamic world if ruled by a Caliph. There was an Islamic Caliphate from the early days of Islam until early 20th Century, although from time to time there were some areas of the Islamic world that were ruled independently of the Caliphate. For example, in recent times, parts of Asia were on their own. The Caliphate was abolished in 1924 by Ataturk, a democratically-minded ruler of Turkey. In 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt, with the goal of re-establishing the Caliphate. Once the Caliphate is established, the goal would be to subjugate the rest of the world under Islamic Law. [2]

What is Islamic Law?

The implementation of Islamic Law (Sharia) has varied from time to time and place to place. However, even when the implementation was weaker, the more severe versions of Islamic Law were never removed from the books, and haven’t been to this day. There are four major schools of Sunni Islam, which encompasses the majority of Muslims. There is a consensus of the four schools on 75% of their legal conclusions. These schools were founded about 1000 years ago, and have remained basically unchanged to this day. The reason for this is that about 900 years ago, “ijtihad”, which means “free thought on religious matters”, was closed down. It was then declared that everything of importance had already been decided, so any further innovation would be heretical. This decision also marked the beginning of the end of the Islamic Golden Age, and since that time there has been very little development in the Islamic world in areas of philosophy, mathematics, medicine, science, or literature. [3] Today there are brave reformers, such as Irshad Manji, who are trying to open the gates of ijtihad, but their influence would be difficult to discern at present.

Here are some common elements of Islamic Law:

Apostasy: Anyone born to one or both Muslim parents is required to be Muslim. Any Muslim, whether by birth or conversion, is required to remain a Muslim. For a Muslim to leave Islam is punishable by death, if it’s a man. This is agreed by all four schools of Islamic Law. One of the four schools would give the same penalty to a woman; the other three would give her life in prison. [4]

Freedom of expression: It is illegal to criticize Islam, Mohammed, or Sharia. Attempts at reforming Islam or Sharia can be called “heresy”, which is illegal. Attempts at converting Muslims to other religions is illegal (but Muslims are free to proselytize). [5]

Women: Women are treated as minors their whole lives. They are always under the protection of their fathers, brothers, husbands and/or sons. They may be married off at a very young age, even before puberty, with no say. Their testimony counts as half that of a man’s in court. Their inheritance is half that of a man’s. They can only prove rape with four pious male witnesses; otherwise, to allege rape could get them punished for illicit sex, which is the woman’s fault. There’s no such thing as rape in the context of marriage. Wife-beating is clearly sanctioned in the Koran. A man can divorce his wife by saying “I divorce you”, in which case he has custody rights; a woman cannot divorce her husband. Although it is legal, at least in some circumstances, for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman, the reverse is not legal. Because Muslim men are allowed to have up to four wives, this potentially puts more of the child-bearing capacity under Muslim control. It is also legal for a Muslim man to have sex with his female slaves, whose marriage (if any) is instantly dissolved upon capture. (Slavery has been abolished throughout much of the Muslim world, but continues to be practiced in some countries.) Abortion is most likely illegal. Then there’s the headscarf, or other means of coverage for women. [6]

Non-Muslims: A non-Muslim’s testimony in court is inferior to that of a Muslim. Non-Muslims cannot practice their faith openly, or display religious symbols. Non-Muslims cannot hold a position of power over Muslims, as in government. Non-Muslims have to pay extra taxes (this one is required by mainstream interpretations of the Koran, see 9:29). There have been poll taxes, property taxes (since they’re really just renting the land from the Muslims, rather than owning it), and sometimes double the regular taxes that Muslims pay. Treatment of non-Muslims has varied from time to time and place to place, but Islamic Law is very clear on the principle that they are second class citizens. Their payment of extra taxes is in exchange for their lives being tolerated (protection money). At times, a group of non-Muslims has been singled out for especially harsh treatment. Here are a few extreme examples: As recently as the 20th Century, Yemen has had a law that Jewish orphans must be forcibly converted to Islam. Iran once had a law that Jews could not go outside in the rain, since rainwater could splash from the Jew onto the Muslim, thus defiling the Muslim. There are many, many other examples of discriminatory laws toward non-Muslims that I am not listing here. [7]

Gays: Under Sharia, homosexuals would be killed.

Note that currently, very few countries live under the full Sharia; some experts say just Saudi Arabia and some also include Iran. This is one reason that Jihadists target Muslim countries: they are trying to make Muslim countries more Islamic. Worldwide, more Muslims than non-Muslims are victims of Jihad. Strategically, it makes sense for Jihadists to go after Muslims first, because after reaching their goals in Muslim countries, they would then have more potential recruits with which to go after non-Muslims.

It would also be useful here to mention that there are many examples throughout history of other religions persecuting their religious minorities and mistreating women. However, so far as I know, there is no other religion at present which has a global movement for implementing a legal system like Sharia, so fundamentalist Islam is really the only one which poses a current threat.

However, when I say “fundamentalist Islam”, don’t make the mistake of thinking this means a small fringe group. There is reason to believe that fundamentalism is really the mainstream of Islam; in any case, it’s not a tiny band of extremists, and many observers say it’s growing.

To What Degree Do Muslims Support Sharia?

This is a big unknown. This is partly because in the West, due to the impoliteness of saying anything critical of non-Christian religions, few people are even fully aware of what Sharia is. I think most Westerners think that it would be a good thing for Muslims to pursue Islamist goals non-violently, because they don’t really understand what Islamist goals are. This is one reason more education about Jihad ideology is needed: we need to nip the whole Sharia movement in the bud.

It is clear that not all Muslims support Sharia; perhaps even a majority in the US do not. In Canada, there was a referendum to impose Sharia family law on only the Muslim citizens, which failed. If this had succeeded, a baby born in one house would have had a different set of rights than a baby born next door. This referendum was defeated mainly by women. However, keep in mind the Islamists see themselves as part of a 1400 year old ongoing struggle that will only end when their goals are met. They do not see a tactical defeat as an end, merely a temporary setback.

There are some disturbing indicators of fairly widespread support of Sharia in the US. First, to my knowledge, no mainstream Muslim association or organization in this country has denounced Sharia. It is the small reform groups who have denounced Sharia.

Second, a fair number of Muslim spokespeople have said openly they do want to have Sharia replace the Constitution in this country one day.

Third, the first Muslim congressman in the US, Keith Ellison, who took his oaths of office on the Koran rather than the Bible, has refused to denounce Sharia.

Fourth, according to polls, a very significant number of Muslims have sympathy for the goals of Jihad. [8] So, even if it’s true that Islamic Jihad itself consists of a tiny fringe group, the same cannot be said for those who support the Jihad’s goals. If anything, I would expect the numbers indicated by polls to be understated, because it’s known that some people tell pollsters what they think the pollsters want to hear.

What to do about it?

This is a problem that cries out for more public discussion. I think it’s quite possible that some Muslims support the idea of Sharia because they feel it’s their duty to support it, perhaps without even fully knowing what’s involved. If so, then this, too, needs to be discussed.

In addition, the stigma needs to be removed from those who oppose Sharia, who are currently often branded “racist bigot hate-mongers”. Opposing Sharia is no different than opposing a Christian theocracy, for which there is currently zero threat, but lots of people opposing it. It is no different than opposing Communism, Fascism, or any other political system. Quite a few Muslim reformers want more non-Muslims to speak out against Sharia. It makes no sense to associate opposition to Sharia with hatred towards Muslims; on the contrary, Muslims would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the demise of Sharia, and many Muslims are already aware of this.

Some mainstream Muslim spokespeople will accuse those who oppose Sharia of being on a Crusade against Islam, but Westerners have no excuse for going along with such accusations. What it really boils down to is this: If Islam is just a personal religion and Sharia is not integral to Islam, then going against Sharia is not going against Islam. If Sharia is integral to Islam, then everyone who cares about individual rights should oppose it, and support those wanting to leave it or reform it.

On the other extreme, some Muslims insist, incredibly, that Sharia is not a system of law at all. These Muslims have a lot of explaining to do. If they are right, it should be no problem for them to convince all mainstream Muslim groups to denounce the implementation of the Sharia as a system of law.

References

[1] Front Page Mag: The Muslim Brotherhood “Project”, Patrick Poole

Daniel Pipes: What Do the Terrorists Want? [A Caliphate]

Front Page Mag: The Caliphate is Coming, Rachel Ehrenfeld

[2] Wikipedia: Caliphate

[3] Islam Watch: The Nostalgia of Islamic Golden Age vs. the History of Science, Syed Kamran Mirza

[4] Light of Life: The Penalties for Apostasy in Islam

Challenging Islam: What is the Shariah?, Mentat

[5] Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller, Rev. ed. (Beltsville, Maryland: Amana Publications, 1994), 595-598, 609.

[6] Opinion Journal: Unfree Under Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Challenging Islam: What is the Shariah?, Mentat

[7] The Jizyah Tax:
Equality And Dignity Under Islamic Law?, Walter Short

Dhimmitude: History: Dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or

Challenging Islam: What is the Shariah?, Mentat

[8] Telegraph: Poll reveals 40pc of Muslims want sharia law in UK, Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite