Draft Libya Constitution Puts Sharia Front and Center

It's worth stressing that this is a draft. But it's also worth stressing that it appears to be a draft written by the rebels who appear to have dislodged Gaddafi from power. As Rob Bluey nots in his post, it's tough to determine its legitimacy at this point. Nevertheless:

As both the Morning Bell and Washington in a Flash noted today, Heritage Fellow Jim Phillips recently pointed out that Islamist forces “appear to make up a small but not insignificant part of the opposition coalition,” and must be prevented “from hijacking Libya’s future.” Parts of the draft Constitution allay those fears, while others exacerbate them.

Much of the document describes political institutions that will sound familiar to citizens of Western liberal democracies, including rule of law, freedom of speech and religious practice, and a multi-party electoral system.

But despite the Lockean tenor of much of the constitution, the inescapable clause lies right in Part 1, Article 1: “Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).” Under this constitution, in other words, Islam is law. That makes other phrases such as “there shall be no crime or penalty except by virtue of the law” and “Judges shall be independent, subject to no other authority but law and conscience” a bit more ominous.

Ominous indeed. Not surprising really, but ominous. As I've written before, if there's one thing we need to understand about the Middle East after our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq is that as much as millions there do want to be free, and they do, many millions want to be right with Allah and they place that desire above their desire for political freedom. That's why, given the chance at real freedom, Iraqis and Afghans both wrote sharia into their constitutions. Christendom was once dominated by similar thinking of placing faith above political freedom, but hasn't been since at least Martin Luther's Reformation. And in my opinion, there is nothing in Islam to suggest that a Lutherian Reformation is even possible. There is no pope to rebel against, and Islam contains no doctrine of grace to hold onto. It's all judgement, all the time.

Don't get me wrong. I'm hoping for the best out of Libya. But as we've been reminded repeatedly since January 2009, hope is not a plan.