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Monday, March 26, 2012

What sharia law actually means


The right wants to ban it in America, but do they even know what it is?
BY JUSTIN ELLIOTT

Home made signs, some with anti-Muslem themes, were abundant as Tea Partiers gather around the West Lawn of the US Capitol in Washington DC for a second 9/12 rally on September 12, 2010. (Photo by Jeff Malet)  (Credit: Jeff Malet)

TOPICS:ISLAM, WAR ROOM, MARRIAGE
Last week in Tennessee, a Republican legislator introduced a bill that would make following sharia — Islamic law — a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. How such a law would be enforced is not clear; furthermore, it’s probably unconstitutional.

It is clear, though, that an anti-sharia movement is growing in the United States. Last year Oklahoma voters approved a measure that bars courts from considering sharia. Similar measures have now been introduced or passed in at least 13 other states. Indeed, anti-Muslim political operatives have been warning of “creeping sharia” and “Islamist lawfare” for years, though the anti-sharia efforts have gained new prominence in recent months.

But even basic facts about sharia — what is it? how is it used in American courts? — are hard to come by. So I decided to talk to Abed Awad, a New Jersey-based attorney and an expert on sharia who regularly handles cases that involve Islamic law. He is also a member of the adjunct faculties at Rutgers Law School and Pace Law School. He recently answered my questions via e-mail.

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