by Abdul Malik Mujahid
Reprinted from Sharia101.org
The Sharia That Muslim Americans Don’t Practice
There are parts of Sharia that Muslim Americans don’t implement in their daily lives.
Since Muslims ran a civilization for over a thousand years, they naturally developed a body of laws to deal with governing society. These laws deal with issues ranging from fighting neighborhood crime to international laws of war and peace.
Muslim Americans don’t practice these laws since they deal with the realm of government and state. Sharia emphasizes that the rule of law in a society must be implemented by the state. It considers vigilantism a major crime and a sin. Therefore, Sharia prohibits Muslims from practicing this part of Islam on an individual basis.
The Quran, like the Old Testament, is not limited to only the Ten Commandments, all of which except for the commandment to keep the Sabbath are to be found in parallel statements in the Quran. Like the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy), it ordains punishments for serious crimes. Unfortunately, it is this penal law that many people wrongly think is exclusively Sharia. This is incorrect.
It is true that Islamic criminal law has been at times implemented harshly, and even wrongly, by some Muslims. Such an application of Islamic criminal law is void of God’s mercy, which is considered His primary attribute in Islam. However, those nations or groups that do this do not speak for all Muslims, nor do they speak for the prophet of mercy, Prophet Muhammad, who would turn his face away when a person confessed his or her crimes. This was to give them room for repentance and forgiveness.
About five countries among the 56 Muslim nations worldwide implement Islamic criminal laws. Virtually none of them implement Sharia in its totality in all spheres of life. Their laws are a combination of local custom and precedent in that particular country, as well as remnants of laws brought by European colonial powers that ruled those countries.
The primary purpose of Sharia is to preserve life and order in society, not to incarcerate and punish. However, many in the Muslim world who are sick and tired of corruption and injustice demand that the criminal laws of Islam be implemented in their countries. Nevertheless, this is not what Muslims in America are demanding. Their practice of Sharia is limited to the personal sphere.
Unfortunately, three U.S. states have passed anti-Sharia laws, and 22 others are actively considering bills against Sharia. Some politicians are now looking to pass a federal law against Sharia. Anti-Sharia bills are a part of a well-funded campaign of fear mongering and intolerance, not unlike previous campaigns in America against Catholics and Jews.
To understand Sharia is to understand Islam. Criminalizing Sharia will criminalize the practice of Islam in America. Sharia mandates that Muslims respect the law of the land. It is also against Sharia to impose Sharia on anyone. Muslim Americans are subject to the same laws and constitution as any other American.
Sharia is in some ways similar to the Jewish Halacha law or Catholic Canon Law, with similar historic roots but far less complex. Unlike Jewish Halacha law which is practiced in Jewish American courts called Beth Din, there is no Muslim court system in the United States, nor is the Muslim community demanding this.