No Conflict between Shari’ah Law and US Constitution
By Akhtar M. Faruqui
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja
Garden Grove, CA: The Shari’ah Law and the American Constitution are not in conflict; on the contrary, they have much in common. This was the consensus at a town hall meeting to spotlight " The American Constitution and the Shari’ah" at the Islamic Society of Orange County (ISOC) in Garden Grove on February 19, 2011. The meeting was jointly organized by the Council of Pakistan American Affairs (COPAA) and the Islamic Society of Orange County.
The meeting turned out to be a momentous concourse with three Congresswomen - Loretta Sanchez, Judy Chu, and Maxine Waters - and leading religious scholar Dr Muzammil Siddiqi, United States Attorney Southern California Andre Birotte Jr., Pakistan Consul General Mrs Riffat Masood, Sheriff Lee Baca, LAPD Chief Michael Downing, California State Controller John Chiang, and COPAA President Adnan Khan unreservedly testifying that Shari’ah is not a threat to the US, but hate and violence are, and could plague the national scene if misunderstandings persist.
The three congresswomen and high ranking officials unhesitatingly assured the audience that Muslims in America will be treated at par with fellow Americans: the American Constitution, promising freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and life, liberty and justice for all, will take its course if the need arose.
The proceedings befittingly started with the Oath of Allegiance, a reiteration of "... one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all".
LAPD Chief Michael Downing observed that while “building blocks of all religions are the same” Shari’ah does not pose “a threat to America.”Congresswoman Maxine Waters testified that Muslim Americans are working with law-enforcement agencies to foil terror plots. “We must foster relations with Muslim Americans,” she forcefully emphasized. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez came out strongly against racial profiling and remarked, “Profiling happens even to someone like me.” Sheriff Lee Baca described Los Angeles as the “epicenter of diversity” and observed that “all faiths have a role to play to keep America safe.” US Attorney Southern California Andre Birotte Jr. commented that “when civil rights of anyone are violated we all suffer.” He went on to say that America is a great country “because of its diversity, not in spite of its diversity… we all deserve to share the glory that is America.” COPAA President Adnan Khan urged fellow Muslims to “stand up and say what is right and what is wrong.” He also exhorted them to let their respective congressmen know what Muslims stand for.
During the course of the absorbing presentations, Dr Muzammil Siddiqi read out the text of a resolution adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) at its meeting in Virginia in September 2011 that succinctly spelled out the Muslim standpoint on the Shari’ah Law: "... Like other faith communities in the US and elsewhere, we see no inherent conflict between the normative values of Islam and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Contrary to erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda of political extremists from various backgrounds, the true and authentic teachings of Islam promote the sanctity of human life, dignity of all humans, and respect of human, civil and political rights. Islamic teachings uphold religious freedom and adherence to the same universal moral values which are accepted by the majority of people of all backgrounds and upon which the US Constitution was established and according to which the Bill of Rights was enunciated..."
The Fiqh Council resolution, inter alia, stated: "As a body of Islamic scholars, we the members of FCNA believe that it is false and misleading to suggest there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens. Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights..."
In her scintillating remarks on the occasion, Consul General Riffat Masood recalled her recent visit to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. The illuminating enunciations of the distinguished American President inscribed on the walls of the Memorial sounded familiar: They were strikingly akin to the message of the Qur'an that she had gained familiarity with as a child and had later repeatedly read and practiced as a Muslim during the course of her life!
Several members of COPAA - Ahmed Ali, Hamid Malik, Ismail KeeKeebhai, Dr Shoaib Patail, Nasir Javed, and Zubair Rawda - acted with becoming propriety in introducing the distinguished speakers. So did Mahrukh Madad in the role of the emcee.