Entries in Shariah Law (2)


Tennessee Lawmakers Propose Ban on Islamic Holy Law Shariah

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- An uproar has erupted in Tennessee over the most far-reaching proposal in the nation against the Islamic religious law known as Shariah.

The legislation would make practicing some versions of Shariah a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  The bill declares that Shariah is a threat to homeland security because it embraces jihad and "requires" followers to overthrow the U.S. government.

Shariah -- which means "path" in Arabic -- governs many aspects of Muslim life and influences the legal code in a majority of Muslim countries.  But there are many interpretations of Shariah.

In some countries, strict interpretations "are used to justify cruel punishments such as amputation and stoning as well as unequal treatment of women in inheritance, dress and independence," according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Radical Islamist groups, such as al Qaeda, go further, claiming that Shariah justifies jihad, or holy war.

In Europe and even in the U.S., Shariah is being blamed for cases of spousal abuse and so-called "honor killings" of females at the hands of their spouses or male relatives, sometimes stemming from the victims seeking divorce, or dating outside of their religion.

But Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders in Tennessee said the bill is so broadly written that it would make it illegal to be a Muslim.  They held a news conference in Nashville Tuesday to denounce the proposed state measure as an attack on religious freedom.

Conservative groups, such as the Tennessee Eagle Forum, back the bill, which has a high-profile sponsor in Rep. Judd Matheny, the state's Republican House speaker pro tempore.  They said Muslims who peacefully practice their religion have nothing to fear.

Lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shariah when rendering decisions in such matters as child-custody disputes and divorces.  Voters in Oklahoma approved such a law last fall, but a federal judge has temporarily blocked it from taking effect.

The Tennessee legislation goes much further, critics say, potentially making the practice of Sharia -- and Islam itself -- illegal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shariah Law Outlawed in Oklahoma State Courts, Ignites Debate

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- A new chapter in the age-old debate about the role of religion in government is playing out in Oklahoma this month as a federal judge considers the constitutionality of a ballot initiative that forbids state courts from considering Islamic Shariah law in their decisions.

Although sponsors of the measure produced no evidence that Shariah law -- the body of law based on the Koran and the religion of Islam -- is actually being used in the courts, voters approved the measure by a 70 percent margin Nov. 2.

Oklahoma Sen. Rex Conrad, who penned the legislation, told The Los Angeles Times, "Oklahoma does not have that problem yet.  But why wait until it's in the Courts?"

Opponents of the ban say it is an unconstitutional scare tactic aimed at discriminating against Muslims.  They say it will have a broad impact in the areas of family law that come before the courts and could prove to have national implications.

Muneer Awad, Oklahoma executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed suit in federal court two days after the election.  Awad claimed the measure violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids the government from giving preference to one religion over another.

He says that the sponsors have tried to stigmatize and segregate his faith as something to be feared, while Shariah can play an important role in the areas of marriage and probate law.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio