Atanu Dey On India's Development

The US Constitution: Made in Arabia

| 6 Comments

I bet you did not know that the US Constitution is “sharia compliant.” No, seriously it is. Ok, I am not an expert on the US constitution, and quite frankly I don’t know the first thing about sharia except that I believe that it is about Islamic law and that all Islamic countries have to conform to sharia. So that’s why it came as a bit of shock to learn that the US constitution was sharia compliant. Here’s how.

Out of the goodness of his heart my friend in Mt View, CA sends me links for my edification. Today I received an education that I would like to share with you, out of the goodness of my heart. It’s a 2-part article by Ibn Warraq in the National Review Online. When you have some time, click on the previous link on the wiki article on Warraq. But for now, keep your attention on Warraq’s article.

It’s in part 2 of Warraq’s article — The Two Faces of Feisal Rauf — that I am astonished to learn that the US constitution is sharia compliant. The imam in question is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, now famous for being the champion of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” formerly known as the “Cordoba House,” and now generally referred to as “Park51.”

Many devout Muslims are aware of the abysmal lack of scientific achievements of the Islamic world in the last thousand years — but they commonly have recourse to the ingenious notion that the Koran anticipated all the Western scientific discoveries of the last thousand years; thus one can find electricity, quantum mechanics, relativity, and embryology in it. Rauf does something similar with the Islamic world’s lack of American values, claiming that “America is substantively an ‘Islamic’ country, by which I mean a country whose systems remarkably embody the principles that Islamic law requires of a government.”

Wow! So I guess sharia is all about freedom of expression, the rights of individuals, the equality of sexes, the separation of church and state, and representative democracy. I guessed that maybe the framers of the US constitution were a lazy bunch and looked around for something to use as the basic template. Noting that the Islamic countries are the most successful, they must have figured that the answer lay in sharia. So they checked it out and found that it was perfect. Being practical men, and lazy on top of that, they figured that a cut-and-paste job was all that they needed to do. Change a word here, alter a line there, and voila — The Constitution of the United States of America. Basically the US Constitution (c. 1780CE) is Sharia 2.0 (c. 700CE). Who could blame them. Sharia 1.0 was in the public domain, considering that 1,000 years had passed since it’s publication. The US constitution is a derivative work created under the creative commons license, I figured.

On the next page of that article, I realized that I guessed wrong. Here’s how Warraq explains it:

Rauf’s claim is complete nonsense. Sharia is totally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Women are inferior under Islamic law — their testimony in a court of law is worth half that of a man; their movement is strictly restricted; they cannot marry non-Muslims. Non-Muslims living in Muslim countries also have inferior status under Islamic law; they may not testify against a Muslim. In Saudi Arabia, following a tradition of Muhammad, who said that “two religions cannot exist in the country of Arabia,” non-Muslims are forbidden to practice their religion, build houses of worship, possess religious texts, etc. Non-believers or atheists in Muslim countries do not have “the right to life”; all the major law schools, whether Sunni or Shia, agree that they are to be killed. (Muslim doctors of law generally divide sins into great sins and little sins. Of the 17 great sins, unbelief is the greatest, more heinous than murder, theft, adultery, etc.) Slavery is recognized as legitimate in the Koran. Muslim men are allowed to cohabit with any of their female slaves, and they are allowed to take possession even of married female slaves. One does not have the right to change one’s religion if one is born into a Muslim family; here is how the great commentator Baydawi sees the matter: “Whosoever turns back from his belief, openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever you find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard.” And here are the punishments in store for transgressors against the Holy Law: amputation, flogging, crucifixion, and stoning to death.

Here I will pause to note that non-Muslims are generally ignorant of what Islam is. Some have an idiotic fanciful notion that all religions are about love and goodwill, and live and let live, and every now and then will give a plaintive cry, “Oh why can’t we all just get along!” Never having bothered to read the Koran (Qur’an), they cannot imagine that a religious ideology can be viciously and murderously hateful of all non-Muslims. Jews and Christians, as “people of the book,” at least are allowed to live as “dhimmis” under their Muslim overlords. But Islam mandates its followers to outright kill people like me — an idolater.

Well, you’d say, it’s just the ideology. No true Muslim actually goes about killing idolaters. Tell that to the Kashimiri pundits languishing in the refugee camps in India for decades. Tell that to the Hindus of Deganga in West Bengal who have been the victims of on-going Muslim rioting. Refer to the injunction in the Koran (sura 9, ayah 5) “when the holy months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you may find them. Arrest them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere for them.” The holy month of ramadan got over.

Just by the way, when I read that I thought, “Shouldn’t the order be first ambush, then besiege, then arrest, and finally slay?” Anyway, god moves in mysterious ways, as the monotheists say, and who am I to question his word since I am a disbelieving atheist idolatrous kaffir?

Getting back to the matter at hand, here’s more from Warraq about some books by imam Rauf:

While, in his later work, Rauf gushes about “our common Abrahamic faith,” and about the U.S. Constitution’s being “Sharia compliant,” in the earlier work, he states (rather than argues) that Islam and sharia are far superior to Judaism and Christianity, and also to any man-made laws such as those in the U.S. Constitution. He accuses both Judaism and Christianity of having “eviscerated the spiritual dimension from Sacred Law.” Islam is, says Rauf, repeating Sura 3 verse 110, “the best religion on earth.”

You should read Ibn Warraq’s 2-part article. Go now and read part 1 (“One Imam, Multiple Messages“) and part 2 (“The Two Faces of Feisal Rauf“).

  • http://www.indianliberals.org Ashish Deodhar

    @Atanu

    I agree almost entirely with your article above, except for the last part. Yes Koran doesn’t preach love and brotherhood and the rest, and having read the Koran, I take pride in the fact that non-believers are the first point of attack for the book. It gives me a kick to know that Koran finds non-believers most threatening! :)

    But I can’t get myself to agree with you that all “true Muslims” are violent and out to kill all non-Muslims (I know you didn’t say ALL but I take it that it was implied!). Those who use this or that religious book or communal appeal to justify their violent acts are unfortunately not unique to Islam. After all, we’ve had, and will continue to have, many Hindus who would not tire of referring to Krishna’s address to Arjun or Ram’s war with Ravan to justify their violent aggressions against other communities. That doesn’t make every “true Hindu” violent!

    I think it’s important to make a clear distinction between Islam and Muslims. I know it sounds rather impractical but I think there is some difference. The muslim identify is tied to a specific culture, language etc. as much as Sikh identity is tied to its. Not everyone who goes by the Muslim identity follows the Koran (many haven’t even read it!) They may believe that their god is the only god but they are happy for others to believe the same about their respective gods too. There are many muslims women who are fighting misogynic Islamic regimes and those women are “true Muslims” too!

  • Kiran Jaisingh

    @Ashish Deodhar:

    Having lived in Jeddah, Jubail and recently Jakarta since 1989 I often get to see first hand what it is like in a fundamentalist “true” islamic country, and compare it with a liberal society like Indonesia.

    In Saudi, first of all we are non-muslims, and second, I am a woman. Being non-muslim makes us Dhimmi. You are, by law, second-rate residents with far fewer privileges. The Koran clearly states that. It is the rule of their law. Did you know that it is also the duty of muslims to aim to establish a global islamic sharia society? A literal reading of the Koran says that. Look it up.

    Islam is considered perfect, the Koran considered the last and unchangeable word of god. By its very nature, what the Koran dictates is incompatible with other religions, and in fact even sub-sects of Islam such as the sufis and ahmadiyyas. A true muslim following the literal (sp. Wahhabi) interpretation of the Koran can and will never tolerate non-muslims. I have seen this first hand over and over again in Saudi because their beliefs and expectations are fundamentally at odds with the rest of us at a very basic level.

    Jakarta is far more open and tolerant because the people are not “true muslims” per your definition. Women have pretty much equal rights in most places other than those fringe islamic autonomous regions like Aceh.

    I am not sure if you have even read through the Koran. I have, and it is filled with violence. You are encouraged again and again to “bring people to the path of the prophet” by coercion or by the sword. I don’t even have to talk about the punishments in Islam – you get parts of your body cut off.

    I completely disagree with your observation and must say that Islam is at its roots a fundamentalist and violent religion. There can never be peace when Islam has to interact with other communities.

    Just take a map of the world and remove those problem regions like Pakistan, Afghanistan, parts of the middle east, Somalia, Sudan, some of the Balkan republics, south Thailand, some Indonesian provinces, the Xinjiang region in China, and some of the troubled regions in south and central Africa. With these gone, the world is really a pretty peaceful place. All these regions have islam related problems. Why is that?

  • http://www.indianliberals.org Ashish Deodhar

    @Kiran

    I think you misunderstood me. I never said that Islam is a religion of peace. In fact, I hold an opinion that it is one of the most oppressive and intolerant dogma of all.

    And I don’t define “true” or “false” Muslims. All I was saying is that there are many Muslims, identified more for the languages they speak, the foods they eat than for the book they religiously follow, who are happy to live in a liberal and secular society and don’t fit the stereotypes of violent, intolerant people. For the lack of any better examples, look at Shahrukh Khan who is a practicing Muslim but is happily married to a Hindu woman and works and lives with people of all other faiths. Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Pataudi are just some more popular names. Trust me, there are many many more ordinary Muslims like them in India and elsewhere in the world.

    For one Saudi Arabia, there are Turkeys and Egypts and Moroccos that show us the more secular and tolerant face of Muslim nations.

    My argument, not only here but whenever I speak about Muslims, is that not all Muslims consider their faith as incompatible with others just as not all Christians consider homosexuality and contraception a sin.

    We must continue our fight against Islam, as much as with all other dogmas but we must be careful to not typecast everyone as dogmatic. Hope that clarifies my position.

  • TiredProf

    I don’t know guys… I lived in the enlightened West, not the middle ages middle East, for over a decade, and I felt like a second-class non-citizen (“non resident alien”, to be exact) every single day.

  • SJA

    The thing is both Bible and Qu’ran are violent if you interpret them word by word.

    Although the Christians would like to indulge in little adventures now and then, it is far less violent than followers of Islamic philosophy? Why?

    The interpretation of Bible has changed according to the times, while Qu’ran stays the same, pretty much no academic work worth mentioning is taking place to move the religion to much more forward pace. Instead of changing themselves to match with the times, the higher echelons of Islamic society would like to go back to dark ages. Although there are attempts to modernise selectively, it is highly doubtful that any of those experiments will pay off.

  • Q

    Check this out- Lasting Peace ideas for India & Pakistan right from the mullah’s mouth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI-iQQGj9Ng