This is the dream, of course. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the renowned Muslim Brotherhood jurist and “Arab Spring” maestro, brags that Islam will “conquer” the West. He maintains, however, that the conquest will be achieved not by force of arms but by dawa — Islam’s hyper-aggressive proselytism that pushes on every cultural cylinder. While the ultimate goal is to impose sharia standards on a society, “an immense barrier” can be “traversed,” Qaradawi instructs, if Western nations can be “convinced . . . of our right to live according to our faith — ideologically, legislatively, and ethically.”
There are two very effective ways to go about this. The first is voluntary apartheid: Muslims move into neighborhoods and, once there is a critical mass, live ostentatiously and defiantly by their own mores. Life becomes sufficiently unpleasant for other habitués that they flee. Pressure to moderate and assimilate ebbs. In effect, it is the gradual assertion of Islamic sovereignty over territory — without exploding a bomb or firing a shot.
But not all territory is physical. The law, too, is susceptible to Balkanization, and is thus the second dawa target. Here, Muslim supremacists find a willing partner: the Lawyer Left, so sympathetic to claims that Western justice systems are inherently unjust, and that the law is an instrument for social change, not an expression of the society’s unifying principles.
Increasingly, sharia-based claims are finding hospitable audiences. The Australian case mirrors one in New Jersey, where a judge denied a protective order
to a woman who was being serially raped and beaten by her husband. The judge’s rationale? The couple was Islamic, and under sharia a woman is required to submit to her husband’s authority and sexual demands. It would be unfair, the judge decided, to hold the husband accountable when he was really just adhering to his cultural norms. In Dearborn, Mich., Christian missionaries were arrested on “disorderly conduct
” charges after handing out copies of St. John’s gospel on a public street outside an Arab festival. The arrests were outrageous enough, but, worse, the authorities actually went ahead with a prosecution.
To point these cases out, some argue, is to overreact. After all, the system usually works. The Australian case was reversed on appeal, and Belghar ended up pleading guilty to abduction and assault charges. The New Jersey ruling, too, was reversed. And in Dearborn, the missionaries were acquitted. But the vast majority of rulings in lower state courts do not get appealed, and criminal charges are overwhelmingly settled by plea bargains. Generally, it is only trials and appeals that break into the public consciousness. However, trials and appeals, being expensive and burdensome, are rare.
That means we really have no idea how much sharia is seeping into Western law and jurisprudence. A year ago, without breaking a sweat — i.e., by just looking at published appellate decisions — the Center for Security Policy found 50 cases across the United States in which Islamic law factored into rulings. Most of these involved domestic relations — issues involving marriage and child custody. Yet, as a practical matter, there is no telling how extensively sharia has encroached on Western law; we know only that its reach grows as Muslim enclaves multiply.
How could it be otherwise? When not inveighing against the label (some might say the oxymoron) “moderate Islam,” Prime Minister Erdogan can be found bewailing the pressure on Muslims to assimilate in the West. “Assimilation,” the prime minister says, “is a crime against humanity.” For his trouble, Western chancelleries hail Erdogan as a visionary Islamic leader — President Obama’s most trusted friend, with whom he finds so much common ground that Erdogan has become his go-to guy on everything from solving Syria to raising teenage daughters (or, as they are known around the White House, “senior staffers”).
When the administration is not taking its cues from Ankara, it is making common cause with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. This 57-member bloc of Muslim governments (including the “State of Palestine”) sees itself as the global caliphate under construction. Echoing Erdogan — Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood having become two of the OIC’s most influential voices — the OIC’s 2010 report on “Islamophobia” warned (at page 30): “Muslims should not be marginalized or attempted to be assimilated, but should be accommodated. Accommodation is the best strategy for integration.”
Yes, but best for whom? Sharia’s integration into Western law is not apt to be very accommodating for women and non-Muslims.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.