by Abdul Malik Mujahid
Reprinted from Sharia101.org
(Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director on the Anti-Sharia Laws: “People don’t know what sharia means, it’s a foreign word”…The proposed anti-sharia laws are “camouflaged bigotry.”)
You might have seen a government-required sign at a McDonald’s restroom telling employees to wash their hands. Muslims do this as a part of living their faith, which is called Sharia in Arabic. The Prophet Muhammad also encouraged Muslims to wash their hands before and after eating. Muslim parents raise their children on many such manners.
The first chapter in almost all books on Sharia is about morals and manners of cleanliness, which Prophet Muhammad said is half of the faith. God’s peace and blessings be upon him.
When Muslims begin anything they say, “In the name of God”. That is Sharia. When they greet each other, they smile and say, “Assalamu Alaikum” (peace be with you). That is Sharia.
Similarly, when Muslims take short breaks five times a day to pray, this is another example of practicing Sharia. Prayer is normally the second chapter in almost all books about Sharia.
Sharia does not present a comprehensive list of pure foods and drinks, although it prohibits ten or twelve things and declares everything else to be Halal or lawful to consume. If Muslims cannot find Halal food, they often eat vegetarian or kosher food. This is all Sharia.
Sharia Is Neither One Nor Static
Sharia is not one monolithic body or a codified book of comprehensive law.
Sharia is based on the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, but not all of Sharia is God’s word. A good part of Sharia is made up of human contributions. There are literally hundreds and thousands of books written in the last 1,400 years, in multiple languages in places as diverse as Timbuktu in Africa to Bukhara in Central Asia, with millions of opinions, judicial reviews, etc. on various issues. Together, they form the body of Sharia.
Sharia Continues To Evolve
A recent development, for example, is a Sharia discipline called Islamic Economics and Finance. It now commands a trillion dollar market, thousands of scholarly works, graduate programs, and the establishment of Sharia boards at hundreds of Muslim and non-Muslim owned banks. This exercise in Sharia is essentially a human contribution of the last fifty years, aiming to offer Muslims guidance on how to invest and conduct their financial transactions in a modern economy in line with their principles as believers. Throughout history, Islam has cherished debates. An important early Islamic debate that continues today was between traditionalists and rationalists over whether the universal principles of God’s law were to be known by revelation or reason or both. These debates have resulted in dozens of schools of thought in Islam.
Is Sharia A Threat To America?
When some American pundits call Sharia, “a growing threat to the United States,” Muslim Americans wonder what in the world they are talking about. Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observance, not with constitutions and laws. All observant Muslims practice Sharia.
Defining Sharia as a threat, therefore, is the same thing as saying that all observant Muslims are a threat.
When you see a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf and a loose dress, or a Muslim man with a head covering or beard, they are likely following Sharia manners of dress.
When in a marriage sermon you hear the Quran recited about piety, loyalty to each other, and God’s advice for clear communication between spouses, that is a Sharia wedding.
Muslims often avoid taking out mortgages due to the Sharia prohibition on Riba (usury/interest). This has led to the establishment of a worldwide Islamic financial industry and Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes. The latter select companies that don’t deal in weapons, pornography, gambling, tobacco, or alcohol, etc. These investments are similar to 30 other “faith-based” investment options, like the Catholic Values Index. These are examples of the practice of Sharia in the realm of business.
All of the above are real-life examples of the totality of Sharia as practiced by the observant among the close to six million Muslims in America and the 3,000 formal Muslim congregations in America. Muslim Americans include doctors, entrepreneurs, professors, cab drivers, and the guy fixing your computer. Their service to their communities is also an example of practicing Sharia.
(Come back tomorrow for Part 2)
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