Politics & Policy

America’s Quiet Muslims

Zulfiqar Ali Shah
Muslims who value American liberty must oppose an insidious new campaign.

If America is going to fare better than Europe in halting the development of a de facto sharia society, the unabashed efforts of Muslims who understand the unique value of America’s legacy of liberty will be crucial. Estimates indicate that more than half of American Muslims are quietly appreciative of constitutionally guaranteed individual rights. The challenge lies in persuading them to take a public stand.

The stage is now set for all freedom-supporting Muslims to step up and counter the Islamic Circle of North America as it rolls out its $3 million campaign to convince Americans that the goals of sharia law and the objectives of the United States Constitution are one and the same. As enunciated in a fatwa by the Islamic Fiqh Council of North America, which interprets Islamic law for this continent, Muslim authorities claim there is “no inherent conflict between the normative values of Islam and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights” (emphasis added). The proclamation also asserts that “secular legal systems in Western democracies generally share the same supreme objectives, and are generally compatible with Islamic Shari’ah” (emphasis added).

#ad#The ICNA campaign to soften sharia for American consumption is based on dizzying historical spin, as demonstrated by Zulfiqar Ali Shah (also known as Al Fokkar Ali Shah and Tho Al Fokkar Ali Shah), the former president of ICNA and current executive director of the Fiqh Council of North America. His showcase essay, “Founding Father’s [sic] of America’s Indebtedness to Islamic Thought,” makes the specious argument that John Locke, the authority behind much of the Founding philosophy, had a “political outlook [that] closely resembled the Islamic teachings.”

For evidence, Shah sprinkles into his fable some odd incidentals, like the assertion that the inquisitive Locke owned a copy of the Koran and had friends who were Muslims or Muslim sympathizers — as if these happenstances could prove that Locke was “greatly influenced by Muslim philosophers.”

Shah fabricates whole cloth out of scraps of conjecture extracted from John Locke: Resistance, Religion, and Responsibility, by Professor John Marshall, an outlier in the Lockean-scholarship camp. Shah tries to use Marshall’s material to support his claim that Locke rejected the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. According to Shah’s tortured construction, rejection of belief in the tripartite God implies sympathy with broader Islamic teaching. Yet Marshall noted that there was “no sign that Locke ever felt able to assert that there could not be three infinite persons of the Godhead in only one infinite space,” and he remarked that Locke’s observations were not “invested with Socinian purpose.”

Still, from the report of Locke’s investigation of Socinianism, an anti-trinitarian doctrine, Shah bootstraps the notion that Locke was “an outright Socinian” and “denounced fundamental Christian dogmas such as Trinity, Jesus’ divinity, Original Sin, Ecclesiastical authority, biblical inerrancy and salvation through the redemptive death and crucifixion of Christ.”

Tellingly, Shah steers clear of the salient themes of Locke’s essays on government, natural law, and liberty. For where Locke directly contradicts sharia tenets is in his very principled defense of ordered liberty, popular sovereignty, rights of conscience, and a civil government whose purpose is the protection of individual life, liberty, and property. These foundational components of the Declaration of Independence are all on a collision course with arbitrary clerical judgments, theocratic statism, discrimination against women, and disregard for basic civil and religious rights.

#page#In the light of these truths, Shah’s most dishonest avowal comes at the conclusion of his essay on the purported debt that the Founders owe to Islam, where he declares that “the American dream [of] ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ is a summarized version of the five objectives of Islamic Shari’ah . . . incorporated by John Lock [sic] in his Treatises.”

Shah (under the variant “Zululfokka Shah”) is also listed as a scholar associated with the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America. This committee of Islamic sharia experts, “established in response to the growing need of an Islamic jurisprudence specific to Muslims in the West,” has issued a 47-page manifesto (analysis and translated excepts here; also, an efficient overview by scholar Andrew Bostom here). Presented at a conference in Houston in 2008, the document teaches highest allegiance to Islamic law and reveals fundamental disregard for the American Constitution as Muslims are instructed on the fine points of living and governing under infidel systems, applying man-made law, and working as judges or lawyers.

To the Muslim who must act as a judge applying law other than sharia, the document encourages defiant judicial activism, directing him to “rule by [sharia] in every case brought before him, or at least as close as he’s able.” Muslim judges ruling under infidel law are admonished “to increase the good and decrease the bad as much as possible.” If a Muslim judge follows the AMJA document’s injunction to “in his heart hate the man-made law,” it is certain that his judgments will reflect sharia standards, not the will of the American people expressed as law made by their elected representatives. 

The ICNA campaign to whitewash this activist and anti-constitutional Islamist agenda must be challenged by thoughtful Americans as the town halls that will be part of the campaign are convened. Even more important, previously reticent Muslims should recognize the urgency of confronting hard-line Islamist leadership.

America’s Muslims have the most to lose and so command the highest credibility in this cultural debate. They must stand now to defend America’s guarantees of individual liberty and equal rights. Western Europe offers ample evidence of what life is like as pockets of sharia societies spread.

Zuhdi Jasser, Irshad Manji, and other courageous Muslims have assumed national leadership roles in the defense of American freedoms. For all Muslims who have been inspired by their example, now is the time to confront the totalitarian goals of those who work to impose sharia by subterfuge.

Karen Lugo is co-director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and founder of the Libertas-West Project.

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