The Irrational Fear of Shari’ah

Islamophobes erroneously claim that Shari’ah is infiltrating the U.S. legal system.
Islamophobes erroneously claim that Shari’ah is infiltrating the U.S. legal system.

Is there a clandestine plot by shadowy groups of Muslims to infiltrate the United States legal system with Shari’ah? That is what the multi million-dollar Islamophobia industry would like people to believe. Islamophobes working to stimulate fear amongst the masses have coined the phrase “Creeping Shari’ah” to promote this illusory phenomenon. Creeping Shari’ah is defined as “the slow, deliberate, and methodical advance of Islamic law (sharia) in non-Muslim countries”. The concept of “creeping Shari’ah” would be laughable for many Muslims, especially those residing in the U.S., except that the fear mongers have utilized it as a scare tactic to manipulate the unwitting by inciting fear and causing a divide, while infringing on the rights of U.S. Muslims, and ultimately leading to violent conflict between Americans.

This has spurred state legislatures to introduce anti-Sharia bills. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in the past eight years, 201 anti-Sharia laws have been introduced in virtually every state in the nation. Interestingly, 2011 saw a whopping 52 anti-Shari’ah bills introduced in state legislatures throughout the U.S. This unprecedented push to enact anti-Shari’ah bills may very well be attributed to the interminable claims by white supremacists and Islamophobes that President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim. Unsurprisingly, in 2017, during Donald Trump’s first year in office,14 bills were introduced with Texas and Arkansas successfully enacting legislation.

Out of the 201 anti-Shari’ah bills introduced, 14 were successfully enacted. Idaho ushered in 2018 by passing its anti-Shari’ah House Bill through. It is now on its way to the Senate. The bill slyly copies others throughout the U.S. in that it does not explicitly mention Shari’ah but “adds to existing law to prohibit the application of foreign laws in Idaho courts in certain instances.”

This fear of Shari’ah is not only confined to U.S. borders. The Islamophobia network is a global enterprise and as such has promoted its false creeping narrative in Europe and beyond. Most Islamophobes have no clue as to the meaning of Shari’ah, and in their bid to use it as a tool to rile their base have given it an ill-defined, simplistic and misleading meaning to encourage the belief that Shari’ah is a threat and if implemented will alarmingly curtail life as we know it in the U.S.

What exactly is Shari’ah and is it truly something that non-Muslims should fear? One cannot discuss the impact of Shari’ah on non-Muslim countries without knowing precisely what it is.

Muslims derive Shari’ah from the Divine law of the Almighty Creator found in the Holy Qur’an, which was revealed to the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Shari’ah is not just law; rather, it is also the sum-total of inter-related Islamic sciences that exist up until today. In order to know of the “Law”, one has to be acquainted with what comprises it, and that is the summation of a wide range of Islamic Sciences such as Qur’anic Commentary (explanations derived from intensive study of the Arabic language and Quranic text), Hadith Studies (explanations derived from intensive study of the compiled, written sayings of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him) Arabic Linguistic sciences, and so on) – all of which (if applied judiciously) have an impact on a Muslim society both directly and indirectly. This very detailed body of knowledge not only imparts spiritual peace and enlightenment, it instructs and guides a person/ society which adopts it in the best practices of a way of life which guarantees the just, peaceful, harmonious growth and prosperous development of a family, community, and nation.

In addition to the claim of Shari’ah infiltrating the legal system, Islamophobes also point to the building of new mosques and Islamic Centers, establishment of Islamic graveyards, Muslims contesting local and federal elections and even the recognition of Islamic holidays and the increase of the Muslim population throughout the U.S. as evidence to promote the imagined encroachment of Shari’ah in America. For them, this is incontrovertible proof of “creeping Shari’ah”.

But for American Muslims, the explanation for the burgeoning visibility of Muslims and Islam in America is less explosive than a plot to impose Shari’ah throughout the U.S. American Muslims are interested in what all American citizens are due – the rights afforded under the Constitution granting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Like all Americans, Muslims are also guaranteed freedom of religion, the freedom to assemble and freedom of speech. Of course, this is the last thing white supremacist and Islamophobes want and in order to combat the alleged spread of Islam, they continue to push the false narratives of “creeping Shari’ah. In reality, they wish to uphold a fascist/supremacist grip on society, and for this reason they fear Islam.

One salient point that they are too blind to realize is that Islam has already risen and American Muslims are here to stay.