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Monday, October 03, 2005

Sharia Goes Global

Sharia seems to be something that happens "over there," away from North America, Australia, or even from Europe. Make no mistake: Sharia eventually move in wherever Muslim society has become influential. Sharia had toehold in North America. Fortunately sensible Canadians vetoed the enforcement of Sharia in Canadian law.
Perhaps they took a look at what is happening as Sharia is spreading into Muslim and non-Muslim areas of the world.

There are two types of Sharia a characterized by Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom. According to Marshall, not all Muslims see Sharia in the same way. Some are appalled by the strict and violent form that is spreading through the world due to the influence of Saudi Arabia and Wahabbism.

An interview with Marshall gives us an overview of this troublesome form he calls 'extreme Sharia.'

FP. In the book and in its title, you refer to something called “extreme Sharia.” Tell us the difference between Sharia and extreme Sharia.
Marshall: I’ve spent a good chunk of the last three years in many parts of the Muslim world interviewing people about Sharia. One thing I quickly learned was that Muslims mean very different things when they use the term. Sharia's root meaning is "the way" or "path to the water" and to most Muslims it implies doing God's will, not necessarily imitating the Taliban. In Indonesia, polls show 67 percent support for "Sharia" but only 7 percent objecting to a woman head of state. There it seems to means something like the American polling term "moral values." Polling in Iraq shows a similar pattern: 80% support for Sharia combined with 80% support for equality of men and women.
To many Muslims, criticism of Sharia as such sounds strange because, much as they might disagree with stoning adulterous women or cutting off the hands of thieves, the word implies “justice” or “goodness.” So I use the phrase ‘extreme Sharia’ to describe the laws implemented by the Saudis, Iran and others throughout the world.

"The state enforced imposition of retrograde Sharia law is central to the project of Islamist terrorists worldwide, whether in Iraq, Nigeria, Tajikistan or Indonesia. Their explicit, continually reiterated, program is, in brief, to restore a politically unified worldwide Muslim community, the ummah, ruled by a single ruler, a Caliph, governed by the most reactionary version of Islamic law, Sharia, and organized to wage jihad on the rest of the world. We are in a battle with what is most accurately called the Caliphate movement.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike are the targets of extremists. According to Marshall, many Muslims are afraid of speaking out, afraid that they will become targets. Is this a cop out?

A major factor is intimidation of those Muslims who object. This can range from death threats to fear of being branded “un-Islamic.” Even in Indonesia, the major home of moderate Islam, one high-ranking Member of Parliament told me he is “terrified” of the Islamists. When Muslim scholar Ulil Abshar-Abdalla wrote an article on the historical particularity of Islamic law, he had a fatwa pronounced against him warning that the punishment for insulting Islam is death.
Elsewhere, Muslims who criticize the extremists’ agenda can be attacked by vigilantes or become victims of apostasy and blasphemy laws.

According to Marshall, this intimidation is happening to Muslims in all corners of the world, supporting my trumpeted thesis that violence and extremism drive contemporary Islam and moderate Muslims seem powerless to stop it.

Read the Rest.


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