Asma Uddin argues here that the idea of Sharia coming to Oklahoma is absurd on its face, and so no anti-Sharia law is needed. But if that is true, then why is Hamas-linked CAIR bothering to go to the trouble and expense of suing to block the law? After all, a law against a non-existent threat may be silly, but if there is no need for the law in the first place, there is no need to sue to overturn it.
Also, note that Uddin speaks as if Oklahoma had outlawed Sharia as a matter of voluntary private arbitration. That is actually off the point, since the use of Sharia provisions in private arbitration doesn’t constitute the use of a law other than American law to legislate for Americans, which is what the Oklahoma anti-Sharia measure is all about.
“Caliphate on the Range? The Shariah Precedent in American Courts,” by Asma Uddin in the Huffington Post, November 6:
Judging by how Oklahoma voted in the recent election, one might conclude that despite its tiny Muslim population, Oklahoma was on the verge of becoming an Islamic caliphate in Middle America. The reality is of course far different. Oklahoma State Question 755, which passed, asked voters whether state courts should be forbidden “from considering or using Sharia Law.” Similar legislation is being considered in Tennessee, and Louisiana recently became the first state to pass several bills banning international law from its courts. Although the Louisiana bills didn’t mention shariah explicitly, they were apparently motivated at least in part by a similar distaste for Muslims and their religious law, and a desire to “protect” constitutional law. These constitutional law protectors appear, however, to be a little fuzzy on what constitutional law actually means, how it allows for various forms of religious arbitration and what the state can and cannot do to regulate religious freedoms.
In the discussion and debate surrounding Question 755, supporters in search of an example where the bogeyman shariah was permitted inside American courtrooms kept pointing to a New Jersey case where the court denied a restraining order to a woman who was sexually assaulted by her then-husband. The judge ruled that the husband did not have a “criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault” her as the husband was merely under the impression that he was exercising his prerogative as a husband under Islamic law. What’s rarely reported, however, is that the decision was promptly overturned on appeal because the application of shariah, or the “cultural defense,” conflicted with civil law.
This example is noteworthy not just because the decision was overturned because it got the law wrong, or that it is the only one of its kind, but because it is an atypical example of how shariah has made an appearance in American courtrooms. The typical cases are far from frightening. For example, arbitration under shariah law is permitted in the U.S., just like arbitration according to Christian principles or Jewish religious tradition is permitted, or according to any other set of rules two contracting parties may agree to. Indeed, prominent Christian groups like PromiseKeepers have long required Christian arbitration clauses in their contracts with vendors. […]
The role of civil courts in determining matters that individuals choose to regulate according to religious law is an intricate one that the courts have already clearly answered. But are these finer issues of the religion-state relationship of any significance to the backers of anti-shariah measures like State Question 755? Or is the effort a combination of both political advantage-seeking and fear of Muslims — not to mention just pure silliness? Sadly, the notion of shariah, or Islam, “taking over” America in a manner somewhat akin to the Seed Pods from The Return of the Body Snatchers seems to be infecting segments of the national political discourse, despite its inherent absurdity.