October 23, 2011
Sharia über Alles versus Western JusticeBy Andrew G. Bostom
How is it that intelligent people cannot see the lesson of history when sharia enters a non-Islamic society, step by step? Yale Assistant Professor of religious studies Eliyahu Stern's 9/2/11 NY Times op-ed ("Don't Fear Islamic Law in America") vilifies those who seek fair, rational legislative remedies to the encroachment of Islamic law (Sharia) in America as "stigmatizing Islamic life"1. Stern's vitriol is directed specifically at SB 1028, a bill which was recently passed by the Tennessee General Assembly, and includes this straightforward language regarding sharia2:
Michael Nazir Ali was the first bishop of Raiwand in Pakistan's West Punjab (1984-1986), who emigrated to become the initial non-white diocesan bishop in the Church of England. During September 2009, he gave up his English bishopric to work full-time in defense of beleaguered Christian minorities, particularly within Islamdom. Nazir Ali has authored Islam: A Christian Perspective (1984), Frontiers in Muslim-Christian Encounters (2006), and From Everywhere To Everywhere (2009)3.
Contra Stern's distressingly uninformed polemics4, Nazir Ali offered these scholarly and experience-based observations from his adopted Britain (8/7/11) -- observations which support Tennessee's eminently reasonable legislative solution5.
Karl Binswanger was a German scholar renowned for his pioneering 1977 study of the discriminatory and degrading conditions imposed upon non-Muslim "dhimmis" -- predominantly Christians -- subjugated under Ottoman Turkish sharia in the 16th century6. Binswanger describes the key role played by the creation of Muslim "satellite" colonies during the Islamization of these vanquished Christian societies6a:
During 1990, Binswanger published three remarkably prescient essays on the (primarily Turkish) Muslim immigrant community of Germany6b. Binswanger opens his 1990 essay, "Islamic Fundamentalism in the German Federal Republic: Development, Inventory, Prospects," with this ominous illustration6c:
He then demonstrates how the strident re-affirmation of Islamic identity within Germany's Turkish immigrant population engendered6d "an increasingly intense demonization of the culture, legal and social order of the host society: the image of Germans as enemies."
Central to this disturbing process was the inculcation of validating Islamic (i.e., Koranic) motifs which promote hostility to non-Muslims6e:
Arguably the most accomplished (and easily the most unapologetic) scholar of how the Ottoman Turks progressively imposed the sharia on non-Muslims, Binswanger became alarmed by the obvious modern parallels to that phenomenon he observed in the behaviors of their contemporary Turkish descendants in Germany. Thus, he concluded in 19906f:
Twenty-one years later, author and veteran television journalist Joachim Wagner has just published his analysis of the parallel sharia-based Islamic "legal" system burgeoning in Germany, entitled Richter ohne Gesetz ("Judges without Laws"). Consistent with Nazir Ali's assessment of the deleterious impact of Britain's Muslim "tribunals," Wagner's alarming investigation -- summarized in English during a two-part Der Spiegel series -- elucidates how what he terms "Islamic shadow justice" undermines Germany's Western constitutional legal system, ultimately abrogating even German criminal law6g.
The parallel, indeed superseding application of sharia within Germany's Muslim community is a widespread, dangerous phenomenon according to Wagner's research7.
Sheikh Abu Adam, wife-battering8, polygamist9 imam of the Darul Quran Mosque in Munich, illustrates the tragic, dangerous perversity of Germany's tacit acceptance of sharia as a "communal" alternative legal system.
A Munich-based arbitrator, Sheik Adam maintains that it is a religious duty to mediate among the Muslim faithful. The imam, who lives with three women, and, in accord with classical Islamic understanding10, believes that Islam is an all-encompassing theo-political ideology, described to Der Spiegel how he applies his sharia-based legal method11.
Adam added unabashedly, despite ignoring accusations of running a shadow justice system12:
Sheikh Adam gave a lecture at Munich's Catholic University entitled "An Islam which distances itself from violence," shortly before being arrested (12/10/10) for allegedly assaulting his spouse so violently that she suffered a broken nose and shoulder and numerous cuts and bruises. Media reports claimed that the woman, who has borne one of his ten children, wanted to live a more "Western" lifestyle, and was allegedly attacked by him after expressing this wish to her husband. An icon of Germany's Islamic parallel Islamic "justice" system, Sheikh Adam purportedly shouted Koran 4:34 at his wife as he beat her13.
(E.g., Shakir translation14: "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great[.]")
Sheik Adam's abusive (if Koran-sanctioned) misogyny (and polygamy; see Koran 4:315) notwithstanding, there is no debating that his defiant rejection of Western evidentiary methods for establishing legal truth (and right versus wrong) reflects mainstream sharia-based jurisprudence. Joseph Schacht (d. 1969), arguably the pre-eminent 20th-century Western scholar of Islamic law, made these salient observations about evidence and legal proof according to the sharia in his classic "An Introduction to Islamic Law"16:
N.T. Coulson, another renowned 20th-century scholar of the sharia, elaborated further on "matters of procedure" under Islamic law antithetical to Western conceptions of the rule of law17a. Coulson reaffirmed the flimsy nature of sharia-based "evidentiary proof" while elucidating, under the sharia doctrine of "siyasa" ("government," or "administration"), which grants wide latitude to the ruling elites, how arbitrary threats, beatings, and imprisonments of defendants were permissible to extract "confessions," particularly from "dubious" suspects. Moreover, plaintiffs too could be subjected to bizarre, and equally arbitrary and painful, procedural methods for ascertaining "legal truth"17b.
Clearly, Sharia "standards" which do not even seek evidentiary legal truth, and allow threats, imprisonment, and beatings of defendants to extract "confessions," while sanctioning explicit, blatant legal discrimination against women and non-Muslims, are intellectually and morally inferior to the antithetical concepts which underpin Western law.
The late Kirsten Heisig, a juvenile court judge in Germany, underscored a year ago the inevitable consequences of relegating legal decisions to Muslim arbitrators such as Sheikh Adam18:
Moreover, Joachim Wagner's "Judges without Laws" documents judges' and prosecutors' recollections of threats toward public officials and systematic interference with witnesses. For example, Stephan Kuperion, a juvenile court judge in Berlin, noted, "We know we're being given a performance, but the courts are powerless." And federal public prosecutor Jörn Hauschild provided this ominous warning: "It would be a terrible development if serious criminal offenses in these circles could no longer be resolved. The legal system would be reduced to collecting victims"19.
Wagner himself made this astute diagnosis of the current predicament to Der Spiegel, and proffered an uncompromising interim resolution20:
But Wagner is keenly aware of the more profound, fundamental incompatibility of Western law and sharia, the latter being21:
Nearly six decades earlier, Robert H. Jackson, an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court (1941-1954), who also served as the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, made these more expansive, complementary observations in his foreword to a treatise on Islamic law22:
Joachim Wagner's modern study has led him to conclude that even the ostensibly limited application of sharia arbitration within Germany's Muslim community nullifies the state's Western conception of legal justice23.
Past as prologue to the present, application of the sharia has had obviously negative societal repercussions, for both Muslims and non-Muslims. How this undeniable truth somehow escapes the mental and moral calculus of Western sharia apologists such as Yale's Eliyahu Stern 24 is astonishing and reveals the frightening, delusively self-righteous cultural relativist mindset of the American academy. If Stern was truly desirous of protecting the unique Western freedoms many Muslim immigrants to the U.S. cherish in common with non-Muslim Americans, he would applaud the Tennessee state legislature's bill SB 102825 instead of condemning it.*
(*POSTSCRIPT: It is perhaps an ironic footnote that the language about sharia which Professor Stern fulminated against was actually pruned out of the final Tennessee bill (House Bill No. 1353) when state legislators came under intense pressure from local Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated "advocacy" groups. House Bill No. 1353 never mentions the words "sharia," "Muslim," "Islam," or "Islamic law." Sharia dictates that non-Muslims in particular have no right to criticize this divine, perfect, and immutable "law"26.)
1 Eliyahu Stern. "Don't Fear Islamic Law in America", The New York Times, September 2, 2011
2 SB 1028
3 For a mini-biography of Michael Nazir Ali, see, Sharia in the West, edited by R. Ahdar, N. Aroney, Oxford, 2010, p. xi.
4 Stern, "Don't Fear Islamic Law in America"
5 Jonathan Wynne-Jones. "Sharia: A Law Unto Itself", The Telegraph (London), August 7, 2011
6 Karl Binswanger. Untersuchungen zum Status der Nichtmuslime im Osmanischen Reich des 16. Jahrhunderts : mit einer Neudefinition des Begriffes "Dimma", München: R. Trofenik, 1977. Beiträge zur Kenntnis Südosteuropas und des Nahen Orients, 2. (Investigations on the Status of Non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire of the 16th Century, With a New Definition of the Concept "Dhimma")
6a Ibid, pp. 327-328 (English translation by James Hodge)
6b "Islamischer Fundamentalismus in der Bundesrepublik. Entwicklung-Bestandsaufnahme-Ausblick" ["Islamic Fundamentalism in the German Federal Republic: Development, Inventory, Prospects"], pp. 38-54; "Ökonomische Basis der Fundamentalisten", pp. 81-93; "Fundamentalisten-Filz-Getrennt marschieren-vereint schlagen", pp. 129-148. All three essays were published in Im Namen Allahs. Islamische Gruppen und der Fundamentalismus in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Koln, 1990
6c Binswanger, "Islamic Fundamentalism in the German Federal Republic: Development, Inventory, Prospects,", p. 38. (English translation by Michael J. Miller)
6d Ibid, p. 41
6e Ibid, pp. 50ff
6f Ibid, p. 53
6g Part 1. "Islamic Justice in Europe" -- 'It's Often a Dictate of Power' ", Spiegel Online, 09/01/2011
Part 2. Maximilian Popp. "Parallel Justice -- Islamic 'Arbitrators' Shadow German Law", Spiegel Online, 09/01/2011
7 "Islamic Justice in Europe"
8 Allan Hall. "Muslim imam who lectures on non-violence in Germany is arrested for beating up his wife", The Daily Mail, December 2, 2010
9 Popp, "Parallel Justice"
10 Joseph Schacht. "Sharia", in H.A. R. Gibb, J.H. Kramers, The Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1953/2008, p. 743 ff.; G-H. Bousquet. L'éthique sexuelle de l'Islam. [The Sexual Ethic of Islam] Paris, Maisonneuve 1966/1990, pp. 10-11.
11 Popp, "Parallel Justice"
13 Hall, "Muslim imam who lectures on non-violence in Germany is arrested for beating up his wife"
14 Shakir Koranic translation of verse 4:34 at:
15 Shakir Koranic translation of verse 4:3 at:
16 Joseph Schacht. An Introduction to Islamic Law, New York, 1982, pp. 195,198,132.
17 Thomas Patrick Hughes. A Dictionary of Islam, London, 1885, p. 153.
17a N.J. Coulson. "The State and the Individual in Islamic Law", International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 1957, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 49-60.
17b Ibid, pp. 57-58
17c Born about 760/1358 into a scholarly Medinan family of Andalusian origin, after travels to Egypt and Syria Ibn Farhun became a jurist in Medina in 793/1390 and is claimed to have revived the Maliki (one of the four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence) rite there. He died in 799/1397. His Tabsirat al-hukkam fi usul al-akdiya wa-manahid̲j̲ al-ahkam is a sort of manual for qadis containing details of procedure, rules of evidence, etc. (See, J.F.P. Hopkins. "Ibn Farhun", Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E. Bosworth; E. van Donzel; and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2011. Brill Online. Brown University. 30 September 2011 [http://www.brillonline.nl/subscriber/entry?entry=islam_SIM-3160].)
18 "Islamic Justice in Europe"
22 Robert H. Jackson. Foreword to Law in the Middle East. Edited by Majid Khadduri, Herbert J. Liebesny. Washington, D.C., 1955, pp. vi-vii.
23 "Islamic Justice in Europe"
24 Stern, "Don't Fear Islamic Law in America"
25 SB 1028 (http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/billinfo/BillSummaryArchive.aspx?BillNumber=SB1028&ga=107)
26 State of Tennessee, Public Chapter No. 497, House Bill No. 1353
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