Sharia in Africa

by Clifford D. May

In his typically powerful column today, Andy McCarthy argues that there cannot be “nice, clean, friendly sharia” because sharia’s goal is “ to insulate and fortify the umma for inter-civilizational battle.” He also points out some features of sharia that its apologists prefer to elide:

[S]haria brands homosexuals enemies of the Muslim state. They must be “punished, in fact, killed,” instructs grand ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq’s highest jurisprudential authority – one who is widely reputed to be a “moderate” and who, relatively speaking, probably is. He added in his fatwa that people who engaged in gay sex “should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.” …

[S]haria is not a Chinese restaurant menu, inviting you to pick one from column A and one from column B. It is the indivisible legal framework for a comprehensive socio-political and economic system: Islam. In that system, the state regulates all aspects of human life and seeks forever to expand its dominions.

With that in mind, consider the effort now underway in Kenya to pass a new constitution. A controversy has broken out about whether it should contain a provision recognizing Islamic courts.

Time magazine says that those who oppose such a provision are “playing on the fears of greater Muslim dominance in Kenya.” But a Washington Post piece notes that

Christian leaders say they fear that if the courts are enshrined in the constitution, “sooner or later, you will find an enclave where they will say we are predominantly Muslim and Islamic laws rule here,” said Oliver Kisaka, deputy general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Kenya. “You have created space for the creation of a nation within a nation.”

As evidence, the Christian leaders point to an incident in April in which a group of Muslim clerics in the northeastern town of Mandera, near the Somalia border, imposed a ban on public broadcasts of films and soccer ahead of the World Cup.

To be fair, some Muslim leaders argue that

the courts would stem Islamic radicalism in Kenya. Judges, not mosque imams, would regulate the uses of sharia law. Muslims would feel a deeper sense of national identity.

Kadhis courts are an entity that binds “Muslims to the Kenyan state,” said Hassan Ole Naado, head of the Kenyan Muslim Youth Alliance. “It is for the best interests of Kenya to have such courts.”

Here’s the larger point: An international effort is now underway to import sharia into nations that do not have Muslims majorities. This movement deserves much more scrutiny than it has received. Disinterested investigation, however, is unlikely to take place in the many Middle East studies departments — e.g. at Harvard, Berkeley, Georgetown — that have received tens of millions of dollars in Saudi largesse. If it’s going to get done, it will need to be done by think tanks that do not take money from Islamists.

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