Sharia Law is a scary word in America these days. Politicians love to hang their platform on that word, “Sharia”. Earlier this week, a Trump spokesperson accused Khizr Khan of supporting Sharia Law.
Why is Sharia such a scary word?
For starters, it’s short and easy to pronounce. When you add the word “creeping” in front of it, it starts to look even creepier. Especially since American people know very little, or nothing, about Islam, according to a Pew Research Poll.
The word “Sharia Law” has Americans conjure up images of guys with turbans shouting “Death to America!”.
But wait a minute― does anyone actually know what Sharia Law even is?
I’m a lawyer and I’m Muslim, so people think I’m supposed to know Sharia Law. I bet many people probably think I follow it, simply because I’m a Muslim.
So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to set the record straight on Sharia Law. After all, who better to explain it than a Muslim lawyer?
Here are a few quick and easy things I can tell you about Sharia Law.
1. I don’t know squat about Sharia Law. I don’t think many Muslims do.
Yeah, you heard me. I’m a lawyer, I’m Muslim... And I still couldn’t tell you what Sharia law is all about. Why? Because law is complicated. It takes complex legal people to understand law, let alone Sharia Law. There’s no way in hell (no pun intended) that a bunch of trigger-happy teenage boys in ISIS can possibly understand Sharia Law. They just want an excuse to blow things up and to blame it on something intelligent and make themselves feel smart, instead of the high school dropouts that they actually are.
Sharia Law is a very complicated body of law (imagine, like, a very difficult to understand Tax Code) and it isn’t something that the average Muslim can understand in depth. And like American law, it doesn’t come from just one book. It comes from many different sources. So like American law, only (some) properly trained legal people can make sense of it.
2. All Muslims believe in Sharia Law
OK, let’s stop for a minute here. To terrified Americans, the word “Sharia” means a Muslim style zombie apocalypse where bearded guys and veiled women will take over their town (kinda like what Dearborn looks like).
I think we have a disconnect here.
To Muslims, the word “Sharia” at the very core simply means the Muslim version of the Catholic Trinity― a belief in God, the angels and the heavens.
So while there are many more rules within Sharia that explain how Muslims are supposed to live their lives, pray their prayers, handle their money, and make governing decisions if they are in power, most Muslims aren’t too obsessed with those legal rules that don’t affect their daily lives.
After all, like I said earlier, reading complex laws like Sharia is like reading an even more boring Tax Code than the one the U.S. already has. When you ask a Muslim if they believe “Sharia Law,” their answer will be “of course” because they all believe in God, the angels, and the heavens.
After all, if you asked a true Catholic if they believed in the Trinity, would you honestly expect them to say “no”?
Now, do all Muslims believe in every rule within Sharia Law? Probably not. Many of those rules are too hard for the average Muslim to understand and frankly, there are too many differing viewpoints. Not everyone agrees on everything, even among the scholars.
3. Muslims don’t want to (and can’t) impose Sharia Law to take over America
First of all, let’s back up to the core message here― Sharia is very hard to understand. So if you think that your bearded neighbor Mohammed is planning a Sharia revolution, you’re wrong. Unless Mo’s got an trove of Muslim lawyers and scholars in his back pocket, he can’t impose Sharia Law on the United States.
Now, here’s the confusion: Sometimes Muslims just want to be able to follow laws privately― laws that involve their own private lives. Such as the laws around their inheritance. If a will is drafted in accordance with “Sharia” (which, again, means Islamic rules for Muslims and not some sinister world domination plot), then some Muslims just want the courts to recognize the will so that they can get their inheritance.
Now, I’m sure there are some crazies out there who want to impose Sharia Law on everyone. There are a lot of crazy people of all races and religions. But just because they’re nuts, it doesn’t mean that they can actually make it happen. In fact, anyone who thinks that Sharia Law will ever take over the U.S. Constitution is a different kind of crazy.
And crazy people, while scary, really can’t make the leadership of a country change.
(Note: This author might revisit that statement after November.)