Chris Cuomo's Sharia Folly

In the wake of CNN’s Wednesday revelation that journalist/activist Pamela Geller was targeted for beheading by slain Boston area jihadist Usaama Rahim, CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed Ms. Geller Thursday. Most attention to the interview has been focused on Geller’s understandable reaction to Cuomo’s suggestion that non-profane, free-speech cartoons of Muhammad -- for example, ex-Muslim artist Bosch Fawstin’s thoughtful drawing below, which was awarded first prize at the recent Garland, TX exhibit -- were somehow too provocative.

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Said Geller to Cuomo:

Drawing a cartoon … warrants chopping my head off? That’s too far? I just don’t understand this. They’re going to come for you, too, Chris. They’re coming for everybody and the media should be standing with me.

But the most illuminating -- and in Cuomo’s case, pathognomonic -- segment of the interview (starts at 6:57 of the below clip) was when Geller asked Cuomo:

Where are the mainstream Muslims teaching in the mosques against the [Islamic] blasphemy laws, against Islamic law, the Sharia, the jihadist doctrine?

Geller’s query elicited this breathtakingly ignorant though commonly reiterated media falsehood, here asserted by Cuomo with supreme confidence:

Sharia is not mainstream Muslim thought.

Mr. Cuomo and other media figures across the political spectrum would do well -- before issuing such embarrassing, factually challenged pontifications -- to study the serious work of Joseph Schacht (d. 1969), who was the most authoritative modern Western Islamic legal scholar.

The sharia, or “clear path to be followed,” as Schacht demonstrated, is the “canon law of Islam,” which “denotes all the individual prescriptions composing it.”

Schacht traced the use of the term "sharia" to Koranic verses such as 45:18, 42:13, 42:21, and 5:48, noting an “old definition” of the sharia by the seminal Koranic commentator and early Muslim historian Tabari (d. 923) as comprising the law of inheritance, various commandments and prohibitions, and the so-called hadd punishments.

These latter draconian punishments, defined by the Muslim prophet Muhammad either in the Koran or in the hadith (the canonical collections of Muhammad’s deeds and pronouncements), included:

(Lethal) stoning for adultery; death for apostasy; death for highway robbery when accompanied by murder of the robbery victim; for simple highway robbery, the loss of hands and feet; for simple theft, cutting off of the right hand; for “fornication,” a hundred lashes; for drinking wine, eighty lashes.

As Schacht further noted, sharia ultimately evolved to become “understood [as] the totality of Allah’s commandments relating to the activities of man.”

The holistic sharia, he continues, is nothing less than Islam’s quintessence:

The Sharia is the most characteristic phenomenon of Islamic thought and forms the nucleus of Islam itself.

Schacht also delineated additional characteristics of the sharia which have created historically insurmountable obstacles to its reform:

Allah’s law is not to be penetrated by the intelligence . . . i.e., man has to accept it without criticism, with its apparent inconsistencies and its incomprehen­sible decrees, as wisdom into which it is impossible to enquire [inquire].

One must not look in it for causes in our sense, nor for principles; it is based on the will of Allah which is bound by no principles, therefore evasions are consid­ered as a permissible means put at one’s disposal by Allah himself.

Muslim law . . . has always been considered by its followers as some­thing elevated, high above human wisdom, and as a matter of fact human logic or system has little share in it. For this very reason, the Sharia is not “law” in the modern sense of the word, any more than it is on account of its subject matter.

It comprises without restriction, as an infallible doctrine of duties the whole of the religious, political, social, domestic and private life of those who profess Islam, and the activities of the tolerated members of other faiths so far as they may not be detrimental to Islam.

Most importantly, Schacht elucidated how sharia -- via the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad war -- regulated the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. These regulations make explicit the sacralized vulnerability of unvanquished non-Muslims to jihad depredations, and the permanent, deliberately humiliating legal inferiority for those who survive their jihad conquest, and incorporation into an Islamic polity governed by sharia.