Misconceptions about Shariah

Many people think Shariah forces Muslims in America to reject the U.S. Constitution while others openly assert that American Muslims want to replace the U.S. Constitution with Shariah. In reality, this is not true. Shariah actually demands that Muslims follow the law of the land. This command is binding so long as they are not forced to commit an irreligious act or prevented from fulfilling their religious duties. Thankfully, this is not the case in the U.S. because the Constitution protects freedom of religion.

As any other faith-based community in America, Muslims may disagree with certain laws enacted by the majority, and may exercise their right to peaceful persuasion, in order to bring about a change. However, this free and peaceful expression of ideas can hardly be deemed a threat, given that the Constitution itself guarantees this right for every individual under the First Amendment. Indeed, a healthy attitude toward differences of opinion is a source of enrichment for our common culture.

The aspects of Shariah related to a Muslim’s ability to practice Islam, such as prayer, fasting, and charity, do not conflict with Common Law. However, differences do arise in some matters. For instance, the laws of inheritance in Shariah are distinct from those in Common Law. In this case, Muslims have utilized means provided by the Common Law, such as writing wills in accordance with Shariah, in order to be faithful to their religion while following the law of the land.

Therefore, attempts to outlaw Shariah are not only absurd, they can potentially alienate millions of peaceful, law-abiding Muslims currently living in America. After all, Shariah safeguards essential rights such as acts of obligatory worship, instructs Muslims regarding their dietary regulations, and encourages them to be pious, truthful, and tolerant individuals. Misguided efforts to outlaw Shariah would in fact impede Muslims from practicing the very basics of their religion, from praying and fasting to consuming food according to Islamic guidelines. Hence, these anti-Shariah bills are far from securing Americans from an impending threat and actually infringe upon the rights of the American Muslim community.

Contrary to its distorted image, Shariah is a comprehensive social and legal system which is an integral part of a Muslim’s life. Its guiding principles are based on mercy and compassion and its core objectives are designed to achieve benefit and justice, on an individual as well as collective level.

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