Family Security Matters, by Andrew Harrod, May 19, 2015:
The Very Reverend Gary Hall declared “one of the great blessings” in his life as being able to “encounter Islam” while introducing in Washington, DC, an April 21 National Cathedral presentation on “Islam and Politics in the U.S.” The National Cathedral dean’s words once again set in this “spiritual home for the nation” a politically correct tone for a subsequent discussion naively presenting Islam as morally equivalent to Judeo-Christian beliefs.
An Islamic prayer service in the National Cathedral indicates that total lack of obedience to Jesus Christ in this alleged church which is now more more than a general for rent auditorium.
Like the previously analyzed first session of the National Cathedral’s “Exploring Islam in America” series, Hall emphasized ecumenism before about 60 mostly middle- and senior-aged individuals in the Perry Auditorium. His opening prayer invoked the “God of the Prophet Muhammad” along with the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” and the “God of Jesus.” He then cited religion scholar Huston Smith for the proposition that a Martian “would see one religion with three branches” in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. “Deep continuity” and “respect” marked in his view the relationships between these three faiths claiming ancestry from Abraham.
Other event participants complemented Hall’s ecumenism. As at the previous “Exploring Islam in America” presentations, the late Edward Said‘s sister Grace introductory prepared remarks befitted her brother’s distorted leftist views. She discussed coming from an Arab community in which her Christian faith supposedly harmoniously coexisted with Islam throughout history. “Exploring Islam in America” moderator Yvonne Haddad, a Georgetown University professor from a Christian Arab background like the Saids, likewise emphasized intra-Muslim harmony among Shiites and Sunnis. She discussed how they had lived together and intermarried until the 20th century, overlooking an often bloody history of Shiite-Sunni animosity that has reemerged in recent years to make their intermarriages lethally acrimonious in places like Iraq.
The evening’s featured speaker, Brookings Institution fellow Khaled Elgindy, also asserted monotheistic and moral commonalities between Judaism, Christianity, and an “Islam…firmly rooted in the Abrahamic tradition.” Concurring with Haddad’s assessment that the United States has “shariaphobia all over the place,” he found “no more abused term in the Islamic lexicon than sharia,” in American discussions of which the “vast majority is nonsense.” He cited the Islamic doctrine that sharia protects five fundamental values, namely life, worship, intellect, property, and lineage (a person’s knowledge of their ancestry), goals that could count as “natural rights in a liberal sense.”
Elgindy’s reference to these goals is a popular argument for sharia apologists, but scrutiny reveals the inadequacy of such platitudes in protecting human dignity in an Islamic context. Muslims, for example, cite Quran 5:32‘s text that “whoever saves one-it is as if he had saved mankind entirely” in support of protecting human life. Such citations, though, omit this verse’s exception for killing a person for taking a “soul or for corruption [done] in the land” such as blaspheming Islam, the capital punishment for which the subsequent verse 5:33 brutally delineates.
Likewise the “primary goal of sharia is to preserve the deen” or religion, notes one Muslim commentator, raising questions about worship in Islam suppressing the free expression of non-Muslim faith. References to intellect also do not explain Muslim restrictions on intellectual pursuit of truth to protect against criticism. Property under sharia excludes interest and forbidden items like pork while “penal laws that govern the breach of this right” noted by the commentator include Quran 5:38‘s command to amputate a thief’s hand. That “Islam seeks to protect the lineage and honor of people” in his words can also include prohibitions against criticizing an Islamic faith with which many Muslims identify.
Elgindy found “frightening how pervasive” is “nonsensical fearmongering” concerning sharia, “almost like a straw man,” and decried that 22 states had passed anti-foreign law/sharia legislation to deal with an “imaginary threat.” He repeated stock canards against such American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) initiatives, saying that they could prohibit Islamic marriage or inheritance while analogizing sharia to Jewish religious law (Halacha). He also noted the sharia doctrine that Muslims should obey the laws of the lands in which they live.
Elgindy’s anti-ALAC arguments do not withstand scrutiny. Such laws merely prohibit American courts fromapplying foreign law like sharia in their judgments in violation of state and federal constitutional rights, leaving unobjectionable matters like marriage or inheritance unaffected. ALAC thereby parallels British law, which recognizes sharia contracts, but only upon court review of their conformity with British law as the Center for Islamic Pluralism’s report on sharia infiltration in Western Europe notes.
Elgindy’s sharia-Halacha equivalence is also false. Halacha nowhere constitutes foreign law (not even in Israel) applicable under ALAC and recognizes a country’s civil law as binding, thereby relegating Jewish religious courts to minor ceremonial roles and private arbitration. Additionally, one rabbi notes, “generations of interpretation explain a number of mitzvoth (Torah commandments) out of existence according to the principle of Torah Lo Bashamayim Hi (Torah exists here for us, not in Heaven).” Therefore Old Testament passages contrary to modern human rights norms have no current applicability.
Elgindy’s comments notwithstanding, sharia diverges from Halacha’s subordination to civil law. ALAC, after all, concerns American judicial application of foreign sharia laws, under which Muslims would indeed obey the laws of a land, just not America. Obeying the laws of the land also says nothing about changing a country’s law and practices in conformity with Muslim norms, as evident in various Western societies with respect to matters like polygamy.
To prove that “Islam does not preclude the notion of modern citizenship rights” such as religion-state separation, Elgindy cited as a “social contract” the seventh-century Constitution of Medina drafted under Islam’s prophet Muhammad. This popular Islamic apologia, though, inflates the importance of what was essentially an alliance between the early Muslim community and Medina’s Jewish tribes. This alliance, moreover, ended with conflict between Muslims and Medina’s Jews and the latter’s expulsion and extermination.
Elgindy’s whitewashing of Islamic law has special significance in light of his comment that “not that huge” a distance separates Saudi Arabia from the murderous Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). While Saudi authorities refrain from wearing black masks and publicizing their beheadings, “ideologically there are clearly similarities” between this globally prominent Muslim state and ISIS. The latter’s proclaimed caliphate also has a “very romantic” appeal for many Muslim youth, further refutation of his contention that brutal Muslim groups like ISIS or the Taliban come to power primarily due to political chaos.
Elgindy has previously made ludicrously benign prognoses of Islamic developments flying in the face of facts. This former advisor to the Palestinian Authority, for example, wrote in 2012 that the jihadist terrorist group Hamas’ “shunning by Washington may be…outdated and counter-productive.” Unnoticed by others and perhaps influenced by the Brookings Institution’s Qatari funding, he found that a “growing pragmatism” and “yearning for political normalcy” marked Hamas’ “significant changes in recent years.”
Despite Elgindy’s best efforts, he simply cannot explain away serious Islamic controversies. Problems associated Europe’s “ghettoized Muslim communities” are not simply attributable to, for example, a French “inherited sense of superiority” towards immigrants from former colonies or phobias about “swarthy men.” Sharia-supporting Muslim groups with their dangers are not similar to “revivalist movements” in other faiths like evangelical Christians. National Cathedral personnel like Canon Patty Johnson, however, are unlikely to understand these issues anytime soon. At the presentation’s end, she hawked copies of the leftist Center for American Progress’ report Fear, Inc. on the “Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America” as a “wonderful document…one of the best I have ever seen.”