Anti-Sharia rallies are bad for America – Mike Ghouse

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The Nation is bracing to manage the chaos coming through the nation wide Anti-Sharia rallies planned by Act for America, an organization committed to pit one American against the other and destroy the fabric of our nation.  American Muslims firmly believe in free speech and are not opposing or participating in it, but are concerned about the safety of Americans. 

These rallies are bad for America, it will generate a lot of animosity towards fellow Americans,  and you will see blatant harassment of fellow Americans on the streets, schools, subways and public places. It will cause law and order issues and make it increasingly difficult to manage the nation and cities in America.  No one will be at peace; the ones who intend to frighten and the ones who are apprehensive will not live in peace, it is a mess for all Americans, is this the America we want?
The ideal thing to do is to sit down and have a dialogue and discuss the issues and find solutions. Some Americans are afraid of the word Sharia, and it is the duty of American Muslims to allay those fears.  The Center for Pluralism, an organization for all Americans has taken the responsibility to inform, educate and bring security to each one of the 323 Million Americans through Education. A Symposium on Sharia is in the making, and Republican Congressman Pete Sessions  and Democratic Congressman Andre Carson have initially agreed to support this initiative. We will invite individuals like Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel on one side and Muslim Imams on the other to present papers and let public listen, learn and absorb. We want to do the right thing for America.

Brigitte Gabrielle,  my frequent combatant on the Sean Hannity show at Fox News is organizing nationwide Anti-Sharia rallies on June 10th.  Her organization, ACT for America is divisive and pits one American against the other. Our organization, Center for Pluralism (CFP) on the other hand is inclusive and brings Americans together under one flag for the safety and security of Americans. I urge Ms. Gabriele to consider withdrawing this gratuitous act and join us in a civilized conversation on Sharia in a symposium we are planning. Let’s stay focused on peace and prosperity and not conflicts and confusion. 

What is Sharia? 

First, let’s get the position of American Muslims out of the way. They have fully subscribed to values enshrined in our constitution and strongly believe in the law of the land.  Like all Americans, they have taken a pledge to defend, protect, honor and preserve the laws of the land. We are all on the same page.
Secondly, they and their institutions are not seeking or asking for the type of Sharia that ACT for America is opposing.
Muslims around the world, like many Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and others believe that their religious laws are God’s laws to follow. As a matter of fact Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, correctly points out in his book that since the Constitution of the United States follows God’s laws which are consistent with the Quran, the U.S. is Sharia compliant. Many of the things that we hear of and abhor, such as an adulterer being stoned is not called for in the Quran. These are not God’s laws but a cultural phenomenon.  
Classification of Sharia

Based on the accountability factor, responsibility and authority to enforce the laws, the Muslim Sharia laws can be classified as Personal and public in nature.
Personal Sharia is a covenant between an individual and God, the accountability, performance or lack of performance of such covenants is between God and the individual and not anyone’s business.  Examples: Praying, fasting, Charity, pilgrimage (Hajj), caring for neighbors etc.  
Public Sharia on the other hand is a covenant between two or more individuals where the third party administers its execution.  Examples: Divorce, inheritance, rape, theft, business or personal contracts, Marriage gift (Mahr) etc.  Performance of lack of it becomes a public issue and the third party’s decision is binding on both the parties and is subject to penalties and punishments.
The issue  
Sharia law like any other law of the land was designed to serve justice to its followers. A century after the death of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the emerging community was facing newer problems and thus the religious men at that time decided to create a body of law to address the conflicts. Most of the laws were derived from their understanding of Quran and Prophet’s practices, but some were from cultural practices at the time, and thus are technically not Sharia.  
Many a Muslims consider it as divine law and as such amendments have been non-existent in the context of changing world.  In contrast, the US constitution has allowed amendments throughout its existence to reflect the prevailing norms and commonly acceptable values of the society.
Muslims like any group of people want justice and they believe the American laws serve the needed justice, and hence they chose to abide by the American Laws for resolving conflicts between two individuals. 
However, some of the immigrant Muslims steeped deeply in religion wanted to follow the laws they were familiar with just as Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other wanted to follow their customs.  As an example a Catholic who marries cannot re-marry under God’s law in their tradition unless the marriage itself was never recognized in the eyes of God. This is known as an annulment and the Catholic Church enforces this law of God as they see it. 
Muslims have never asked that their laws be applied in all disputes but personal disputes, applicable to the individuals to give them comfort and a sense of justice.  
Given the political and economic conflicts we had with a few nations including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan and other Muslim majority nations,  we equated their practices like cutting the hands of the thieves, lashing or stoning the adulterers, forcing women to wear face veil and denying equal space for women as the crude form of Sharia. But in reality, none of this is even in the Quran. It is more culture based and has nothing to do with Islam. As an example, Death Penalty is not universal in all the States of the United States. Even though most of Americans laws have origins in Sharia-like laws, we have moved away from them, indeed they are appalling thoughts in America today.
Most American Muslims are clear what they want, but for a few who have made irresponsible statements that has fueled the anti-Sharia drive.  This is a legitimate fear that drives concerned Americans to attack it preemptively.  No American wants to live in tensions or fear of a fellow American.  Sharia will continue to frighten fellow Americans, if we don’t talk with each other and educate ourselves in this area.  The Muslim segment of the Center for Pluralism is committed to do that.
American Muslims are not looking for the public Sharia (as practiced in Saudi, Iran or other Muslim majority nations) to be implemented in America. However, a few men and women saw the opportunity to oppose Sharia that no Muslim group or institution had even requested it to be implemented.  They made a business out of it and nearly $100 Million dollars have been earned by the opposers of the Sharia – a gratuitous act, and waste of public time.
 Sharia will not make it in America even if Muslims were to become a majority in the year 2117, a hundred years from now. An overwhelming majority of American Muslims have no appetite for the kind of Sharia that fellow Americans fear.
For example, Muslim’s don’t want their hands cut-off, don’t want a woman having a baby out of wedlock to be buried in the ground and stoned to death. They do not want lashes for adultery. American Muslims really don’t want that kind of Sharia, and American Muslims realize it is not what God wants.
The Manmade Sharia is not divine and it is not about justice, fairness, mercy and kindness, where as God’s Sharia is about justice, fairness, kindness and mercy which is not practiced anywhere.   
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