Educating Conservatives About Sharia’s Threat
An ignorant column spurs much-needed discussion.
June 18, 2012 - 12:00 am
Matthew Schmitz, deputy editor at First Things, wrote an essay titled “Fears of Creeping Sharia” that was published at NRO on Wednesday, June 13.
The piece was striking in its willful ignorance about:
- the intrinsic nature of Sharia itself;
- the frequency and intensity of efforts by mainstream American Islamic organizations to promote Sharia in America (and we now know these are Muslim Brotherhood appendage organizations, who unfortunately do seem to represent the masses as per the only available polling data we have);
- the legal basis for American Laws for American Courts (ALAC).
Schmitz compounded this fundamental ignorance by maliciously spraying charges of “anti-Muslim bigotry” at those who confront Sharia encroachment. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann were specifically condemned for their alleged role in “dignifying the disreputable anti-Sharia movement.”
I summarized, for Schmitz’s edification, the liberty-crushing, dehumanizing nature of Sharia: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties — including freedom of conscience and speech — enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.
Refusing to acknowledge Sharia’s ugly, living essence, Schmitz instead made a factually challenged, immoral equivalence between totalitarian Islamic law — a form of state governance — and modern Church canon law, which is deliberately confined to religious affairs, even glibly asserting: “Surely Catholics would love to see canon law cover the globe.”
I also pointed out what Schmitz steadfastly ignored: ominous polling data from U.S. Muslims; jihad funding trial revelations and the content of more banal Muslim litigation proceedings; mosque surveillance reports; analyses of Islamic education institutions and their Muslim schoolchildren’s textbooks; the issuance of obscurantist “fatwas” (Islamic legal rulings) by the respected, mainstream Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America; and an open declaration by one of America’s largest mainstream Muslims organizations, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), in its 2010 ICNA Members Hand Book, which calls for the (re-)creation of a global Muslim Caliphate and the imposition of Sharia in America.
But the coup de grace in debunking Schmitz’s diatribe was supplied by David Yerushalmi, who corrected Schmitz’s mischaracterization of American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) legislation (such as Kansas’s recently passed law), elucidated a legal case study cited in the Center for Security Policy analysis I had referenced as part of my rebuttals to Schmitz, and reminded us all that the earliest of these laws (now passed in Kansas, Tennessee, Arizona, and Louisiana) have been in effect for several years without being challenged, let alone overturned.
Yerushalmi also provided a clear, didactic example of the need for ALAC-style laws. He described in brief an appellate court decision from Maryland, cited in the Center for Security Policy Study, where:
The court enforced a Pakistani Sharia court’s judgment of custody in favor of the father even though the mother had argued that she was not provided due process because had she gone to Pakistan to contest the case, she could have been subject to capital punishment for having a new relationship with a man not sanctioned by sharia.
Yerushalmi then summarized the salient facts of the case and appellate court ruling*, as follows:
The Maryland appellate court ruled that since the woman could not prove she’d be executed had she gone to Pakistan to litigate custody in the Pakistan Sharia Court, which is a national-state court in Pakistan, her failure to go to Pakistan and take the risk of execution precluded her from making the void as against public policy argument. ALAC would have provided the Maryland appellate court the legislative clarity to have reversed the lower court’s outrageous decision (emphasis added).
Judge Billings Learned Hand (1872-1961) was a U.S. judge and judicial philosopher. Hand served on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and subsequently the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Judge Hand has the distinction of having been quoted more often than any other lower-court judge by legal scholars and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Apropos to the ongoing Sharia debate at NRO, I re-read Judge Hand’s 1950 opinion from United States v. Dennis, I83 F.2d 20I, 2I3 (2d Cir. 1950). The case involved Communist agitation designed to violently impose a new “utopian” order in America. Hand’s discussion included a little known, if clear-eyed, direct analogy between ancient Islamic and modern Communist totalitarianism, which contained a specific reference to Islam’s inherent militancy.
In his famous conclusion (from paragraph 51), Judge Hand states:
It is of course possible that the defendants are inspired with the fanatical conviction that they are in possession of the only gospel which will redeem this sad Planet and bring on a Golden Age. If so, we need not consider how far that would justify the endless stratagems to which they resorted; and it is not for us to say whether such a prosecution makes against the movement or, on the contrary, only creates more disciples; ours is only to apply the law as we find it. Once the question is answered whether the Smith Act is valid, and whether there was evidence before the jury from which they might hold it violated, we can find no privilege and no right denied them which had substance. We know of no country where they would have been allowed any approach to the license here accorded them; and none, except Great Britain, where they would have had so fair a hearing. Their only plausible complaint is that that freedom of speech which they would be the first to destroy, has been denied them. We acknowledge that that freedom is not always easy to protect; and that there is no sharp line which marks its scope. We have tried to show that what these men taught and advocated is outside the zone …
Earlier, in paragraph 15, Judge Hand — describing the font of militant global Communism, Communist Soviet Russia — made this direct analogy:
By far the most powerful of all the European nations [Russia] had been a convert to Communism for over thirty years; its leaders were the most devoted and potent proponents of the faith; no such movement in Europe of East to West had arisen since Islam (emphasis added).
Jules Monnerot’s 1949 Sociologie du Communisme was translated into English and published as Sociology and Psychology of Communism in 1953. Monnerot made very explicit connections between pre-modern Islamic and 20th century Communist totalitarianism. The title of his first chapter dubbed Communism the “The Twentieth Century Islam.” He elucidates two primary shared characteristics of Islam and Communism: “conversion” — followed by subversion — from within, and the fusion of “religion” and state. Citing Stalin (circa 1949) as the contemporary personification, Monnerot elaborated on this totalitarian consolidation (“condensation”) of power shared by Islam and Communism, and the refusal of these universalist creeds to accept limits on their “frontiers.” Monnerot further observes that to those who did not accept their ideology, or self-proclaimed “mission,” Communism — and Islam before it — were viewed as imperialistic religious fanaticisms. Finally Monnerot underscores how incoherent Western intellectual apologists for totalitarianism — whether Communist or Islamic — promote the advance of these destructive ideologies.
Five years later, Bernard Lewis — still considered by many to be the doyen of living Western Islamic scholars — confirmed Monnerot’s assessment. Lewis, in his 1954 essay “Communism and Islam,” expounded upon on the quintessence of totalitarian Islam and how it was antithetical in nature to Western democracy while sharing important features of Communist totalitarianism — most notably, global domination via jihad:
I turn now from the accidental to the essential factors, to those deriving from the very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and thought. The first of these is the authoritarianism, perhaps we may even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition. … Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are identical-attempts usually based on a misunderstanding of Islam or democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the uprooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify, or rather, re-state, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of Muslim thought to the impact of the West.
Quite obviously, the Ulama [religious leaders] of Islam are very different from the Communist Party. Nevertheless, on closer examination, we find certain uncomfortable resemblances. Both groups profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth; the answers are different in every respect, alike only in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal questioning of Western man. Both groups offer to their members and followers the agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of unbelievers, who are always wrong. Both offer an exhilarating feeling of mission, of purpose, of being engaged in a collective adventure to accelerate the historically inevitable victory of the true faith over the infidel evil-doers. The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, two necessarily opposed groups, of which, the first has the collective obligation of perpetual struggle against the second, also has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. There again, the content of belief is utterly different, but the aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same. The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as “There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet’” was laying his finger on a real affinity (emphasis added).
Consistent with his contemporary scholarly milieu, Judge Hand’s spontaneous comparison between Communism and Islam in a legal opinion reflects a thoughtful, unapologetic mindset free from the corrosive influence of cultural relativism that plagues us today, six decades later.
Notwithstanding the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America’s (AMJA’s) mainstream acceptance, including uncritical endorsement of its seventh annual American conference in Houston (October 15-18, 2010) to train American imams, AMJA has issued rulings which sanction the killing of apostates (here), “blasphemers” (including non-Muslims guilty of this “crime,” here), or adulterers (by stoning to death, here), and condone marital rape. Even more ominously, another Arabic-language fatwa from AMJA’s Dr. Salah Al-Sawy leaves open the possibility for offensive jihad against America and the West, as soon as Muslims are strong enough to do so. When asked whether “the Islamic missionary effort in the West … [was] to the point where it could take advantage of offensive jihad,” Al-Sawy ruled:
The Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensive jihad at this time. With our current capabilities, we are aspiring toward defensive jihad, and to improve our position with regards to jurisprudence at this stage. But there is a different discussion for each situation. Allah Almighty knows best.
Just three months ago (March 14), Translating Jihad put what one might wish to deem as these circumscribed, “purely Islamic” rulings, in a more disturbing — and entirely unacceptable — seditious context. AMJA’s own words make plain the organization’s long-term commitment to superseding the U.S. legal code with its antithesis, a Sharia-based system.
We must regain the thoughtful sobriety of Judge Learned Hand and other intellectuals of that era if we are to preserve our hard-won freedoms from the modern scourge of ancient Islamic totalitarianism, now resurgent, including within the United States as directed by “religious leaders” cum seditious “legists” such as the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America.
* The Maryland appellate court’s own words, cited by Yerushalmi:
Additionally, appellant [the mother] asserts that the Pakistani custody orders were founded on principles of law repugnant to Maryland public policy because the Pakistani courts allegedly “penalized the mother for not appearing without considering the affect of her admission to adultery on her ability to return to Pakistan.” In this regard, appellant points out that if convicted under Pakistani criminal law, her penalty could be public whipping or death by stoning. Although Dr. Malik [the expert] opined that appellant would be arrested for adultery if she returned to Pakistan for the custody proceedings, he also conceded that punishment for adultery was extremely unlikely and that proving the crime was extremely difficult. Given this testimony, the circuit court was not clearly erroneous in not considering the effect of whether appellant’s admission to adultery [under sharia] was “repugnant” to Maryland public policy in its failure to find that the Pakistani courts punished her for not appearing.”