Islam: Is Integration Working? Part II of III
Another apparent obstacle to integration seems to be the simple act, within circumscribed communities, of questioning. Questioning -- as well as free speech and free thought -- often seems to appear disrespectful and discouraged. A new effort to criminalize free speech internationally has in the past few years been promoted by, of all countries, the United States -- led by then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton in three closed-door conferences between 2010 and 2012. Clinton not only dusted off -- but co-sponsored and actively promoted -- the all-but-dead Pakistani resolution from the United Nations Human Rights Council, Resolution 16/18, misleadingly named "Defamation of Religion." The resolution is, bluntly, an attempt legally to internationalize Islam's repressive "blasphemy laws." Anyone who might wish to question or discuss Islam can be accused of "blasphemy" and possibly sentenced to death. Since the beginning of Islam, anyone who might take steps to leave Islam can be accused of "apostasy," and sentenced to death. As Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi said at the end of January 2013, "If they [Muslims] had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment [death], Islam wouldn't exist today."
What seems unpardonable is that it is our Western governments and institutions that are reinforcing these abuses.
Moreover, in March 2014, the British Law Society set out guidelines for solicitors (roughly, U.S. lawyers) to help draw up "Shari'a compliant" wills, in defiance of the fact that Islamic rules on inheritance are deeply discriminatory. Muslim women will not be given an equal share of an inheritance. Non-Muslims, illegitimate children, divorced spouses, people who have not had Muslim marriages, and anyone outside the kinship-based set of recognized heirs, may not inherit. The ruling tells solicitors (and from them, the courts) to make exclusions from an 1837 law, which allows gifts to pass to the offspring of an heir who has died. This has been done to provide Muslims with separate laws that do not apply to other British citizens. These separate laws also relegate British law to an inferior position in such matters. The ruling has been done knowingly and for poorly thought-out motives by people who should know better. Some motives might stem from a desire to appease the Muslim community, giving them rights that others do not have, rather than insisting on the basic democratic dictum that the law is indifferent to wealth, poverty, skin color, political belief or religious allegiance.
If this ruling is followed by others affecting marriage, divorce, the custody of children and much else, Britain will become a two-tier society in which Muslim men may marry four wives, keep concubines or, for the Shi'a, contract temporary (mut'a) marriages, while non-Muslim polygamists will be sent to jail. Needless to say, protests are already underway.
Pressure to incorporate shari'a law into broader legal systems is spreading beyond the UK.
In the U.S., in 2011, President Obama appointed Professor Azizah al-Hibri to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Hibri, a professor at Richmond University, has a record of involvement in matters concerning the rights of Muslim women and human rights in Islam. But she is on record as saying that Islamic Law "is deeper and better than Western codes of law," that the Qur'an inspired Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers, and that the Saudi criminal justice system is more moral than the American one because it accepts blood money from murderers.
Hibri has also argued that Islam is fully compatible with women's rights, human rights, and democracy, something many in the West would strongly contest. Moreover, to appoint an Islamist to a post as commissioner on a body dedicated to religious freedom, a body that spends much of its time protesting the treatment of religious minorities in Muslim countries seems at the very least indecent. The very idea of religious freedom does not exist in the Qur'an, the hadith literature, or in any book of Islamic law. It is not enough to cite the famous line from the Qur'an 2:256, "la ikraha fi'l-din" [there is no compulsion in religion]. It has to be modified by the laws that enforce belief by threatening death to apostates, or by the conditions imposed on Jews, Christians, Hindus, pagans and other non-Muslims. They are given a choice to convert, die, or live as dhimmis: lower-class, "tolerated" persons, who pay a tribute, or tax, called a jizya, or "reward," for not being killed. The Qur'an itself is explicit: "Fight those who believe not in Allah... [even] people of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued" (Qur'an 9:29).
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