An interesting debate over Shariah law and democratic society is playing out over at the Huffington Post. Last month, an imam named Faisal Rauf wrote about his belief that Shariah, or Islamic law, can be compatible with American ideals and freedoms.
This drew a detailed and pointed rebuttal Monday from M. Zuhdi Jasser, the Arizona phycisian and Navy veteran whose organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, seeks to confront and expose Islamist ideology from a devout Muslim's perspective.
Islamists, who merge faith and politics in seeking religious law as a form of governance, "are also part of a global movement which stands against western secular liberal democracies," Jasser writes. While many Shariah advocates espouse or engage in violence, many are peaceful. But that does not minimize the threat it poses to democracy:
"There must be a clear demarcation between the domain of the cleric's laws and the domain of our government's laws -- i.e. our Establishment Clause. The American Establishment clause is incompatible with any form of Shariah. Imam Rauf ignores this fact. It is no longer 'God's law' when it is interpreted into any manifestation of human law. 'God's law' is only 'God's law' within the personal relationship of an individual with God. Once a human collective interprets law if it is done in the name of religion, it is theocracy, not God's law. Rauf's linkage to the Declaration of Independence rings on deaf ears. No matter which way he spins it, one faith cannot create a system of laws for all humanity unless it comes from a supremacist theocratic mindset."
He argues that Muslims need to come to terms individually when they seek conflicts between religious and secular law. But the emphasis must be on the individual, or the march toward theocracy begins:
"Thus law cannot be defined by one faith -- it must be derived from reason."
Jasser covers much more important ground in his article, which can be read in full here.