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Friday, October 6, 2017

[mukto-mona] Afraid of Sharia? by Rabbi Jack Romberg

Afraid of Sharia?

A bill is making its way through the Florida Senate, SB 58, whose stated intent is to limit the influence of foreign laws in American courts. 

This sounds benign enough on the surface, but upon examining the bill, and its sponsor, multiple red flags appear. Lawyers will point out 

that legislation of this sort presents problems of interference between the branches of government. After all, don't our judges know what 

is or is not admissible into their courtrooms? Should they not have the latitude to decide what is relevant to a case? Further, there is the question of how a state can enforce a law that affects federal courts. But all of this is for the lawyers to argue. For me, there is a question of intent behind this law that reveals a rather scary mind set.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Alan Hays. He previously introduced a bill, that failed, which mentioned Sharia law in particular. When asked to give an example of Sharia law influencing an American court, his response was to compare his legislation to inoculating against a disease. In other words, he had no examples. His legislation is born out of his fear of a word – Sharia – which given the history of the past 12 years in the United States has become a rather radioactive word.

Sharia is to Islam what Halachah is to Judaism and Canon law is to the Catholic Church

A key difference, however, between Sharia and Halachah on the one hand, and Canon law on the other, is that neither Islam nor Judaism have a central institution or leader whose interpretation of law binds all members of the faith. 

The Church is an ecclesiastic authority headed by the Pope, and all Catholics have an obligation to follow the law as interpreted by that authority. Whether they do or not is another issue, but the authority exists.

In Judaism the authority of each rabbi in his (or her) community is to be respected by other rabbis. There is certainly a long tradition of fierce debate and argument over the application and interpretation of Jewish law among rabbis, but once a rabbi makes a decision for their community, visiting rabbis are obliged to respect that decision. This ideal is not the reality, as there are fierce divisions between the various streams of Judaism; thus an ongoing argument over whose interpretations are authentically Jewish. This just underscores the fact that NO rabbinic authority can claim to speak for all Jews. Even within denominations there is politicization over the exercising of authority. The Orthodox rabbinate in Israel, for example, is not recognizing conversions by all American orthodox rabbis – to the consternation of the American orthodox rabbinate. Further complicating this scene are the ethnic differences between Jews from various regions. The minhagim (customs) of Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Greek, and Yemenite Jews, just to name a few, are very different. There is no unified Jewish voice on halachah.

The same can be said of Sharia law. Interpretation of Sharia varies in Islam according to the stream (e.g. Sunni and Shia), according to geography and according to time. All of Islam agrees that the Quran and the teachings of the prophet are the law, but the interpretation of verses of the Quran depends on the cleric and the perspective of the group he is leading. Islamic law, like Jewish law, is a living organism, that is evolving with time. New circumstances require new insights into the divine word of each religion. What is fair for Americans to ask, and what Moslems (and Jews) can answer is this: what is the relationship of your religious law (Sharia, halachah) to American law?

For Jews, halachah holds sway for religious ritual, but for criminal, tort and civic law the law of the land prevails. Most Jewish authorities see no conflict between the basic values, basic ethics that drive halachah and American law. We see them as compatible. The American Islamic community takes a very similar perspective. American Moslems see the underlying values and ethics of Sharia reflected in the underlying values and ethics of American law. There is no need for the United States to adopt Sharia law as basic American values make it possible for Moslems to practice their religion freely in the United States. In some areas where Islamic law allows a practice that is not in accordance with American law, the Moslem community does not ask for an exception. An example of this is polygamy, which is allowed under Sharia. It is rarely practiced but it is allowed. American Moslems happily conform to American law.

So what drives Senator Hays and others who seem so afraid of Sharia? It is a conflation of all of Islam under one heading – one that defaults to the harshest applications of Sharia. What is lost on Senator Hays, and those who fear Sharia, are the many Moslem scholars who see these applications (or misapplications) of Sharia as shallow, literal, and not moral. Ironically, Senator Hays, in his arguments for his bill, heavily quotes Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, rabbi of Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, MA. Rabbi Hausman aligns himself with the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who, among other things, wanted to make the construction of mosques in the Netherlands illegal. Hausman has spoken at an affair co-hosted by the JDL – the Jewish Defense League – whose founder, Meir Kahane embraced the physical expulsion of all Moslems from Israel and the West Bank before his murder by an Arab gunman in 1990 in Manhattan. It is not surprising that the most radically violent wing of the Jewish world would characterize the entire Islamic world as violent radicals (that is, after all, what radical Moslem groups do – characterize all of the Jewish world by the actions of its most radical elements). What is disconcerting is that an American politician would draw on the fringe of any group to support a law that could have devastating effects on Americans of all types.

That is what makes the mindset so scary. When we react to the cartoon version of a word/concept/belief as opposed to making the effort to research and understand it, the result will be destructive; not only to the party it is intended to harm, but to others in society as well. To pass a law for which there has been no demonstrated need, just a reaction out of fear and ignorance, creates a potential for harm to be done to all Americans.

Post script: In doing some research for this post I have been struck by the many parallels and similarities between Jewish law, halachah, and Islamic law, Sharia. More on this to come.

The Jewish Observer

সম্পর্কিত বিষয়:

Tantra shastra is a secret and most powerful science in the Indian occult tradition.
It is a part of oldest science which the Indians have practised for centuries and still do .
Although this science was subject to suppression from time to time due to various
misunderstandings and allegations. The presiding deity of tantra shastra is Devi, the so-called feminine deity to whom
all mantras, mudras and other elements of worship are devotionally dedicated. The
act of bathing, dressing, sitting for worship, offering various ingredients, sacrificing
animals, cohabiting with husband or wife or companion, accepting the offered foodstuffs
and many other acts are performed in the spirit of total dedication and devotion.

bengali tantra mantra

Have Fun:

মাত্র ৩ দিনেই যে কোন নারী বা পুরুষ কে প্রেমে আবদ্ধ করার পরীক্ষিত কামাখ্যা তন্ত্র

জীন কোথায় থাকে কী খায়? কিসের তৈরী? দেখুন.. 


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"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
               -Beatrice Hall [pseudonym: S.G. Tallentyre], 190